Always one more thing

I’m sure there are folks out there who build something and nail it the first time, but I am not among them. I design from past experience and towards future use, but there’s always something which doesn’t work out as I anticipated, or something new I learn and can use to make things work better. I try to embrace the mutability and human flaws of every product, even one which took a lot of time and money to get to the first functional state.

So too with my latest pack. This weekends trip was typical of what it will be used for most; one night, badish weather so plenty of clothes, heavy luxury food, and some sort of odd contraption to strap on (in this case skis to give a 4 mile ride up to the snow line). Not a proper heavy load, but not a light one, and rather awkward.


The carry was more than satisfactory, evidence of the excellent Seek Outside frame and belt, as well as the fact that I’ve finally gotten smart enough to get the torso length exactly right. The main issue was with weatherproofing; the top collar was just too short, and the offset cut didn’t really do anything. The second issue was lack of any kind of inside pocket to keep a few little things more easily at hand.

I solved these problems in tandem by cutting off the existing top a few inches below the seam line, and adding back on taller one.  Four inches taller than before, for a height along the back panel of 35 inches unrolled. I solved the second problem by integrating a small zippered pocket into the collar seam, along the front.


The top of the pocket is sewn in the seam, while the sides are anchored with one small bartack towards the bottom of either seam (you can see the left one above).  These match with the topmost bartack on the daisy chains, resulting in no ugly exterior stitching floating in bare fabric.  The pocket has a dividing seam going halfway up, to help separate contents.

We’ll see how these two tweaks for out over the winter and spring.  Based on the first non-day outing, the pack did very well.  The wider, narrower (no deeper than seven inches, even crammed full) bag keeps weight in close, and even with a pair of relatively heavy AT skis lashed on diagonally across the back, the total weight was innocuous.  Diagonal ski carry, with straps through the top and bottom pockets of the daisy chains and the pocket cinched over the skis, was very stable.  Stable, motionless skis carry better, and reduce the wear on fabrics, thus making wear patches not necessary for those who only occasionally carry skis.

I will keep everyone updated.

P.S.  I/we recently passed 400 followers, and the past two weeks had the highest readership of any such period in the 8 years and 4 days this blog has been around.  So thanks for reading and participating.

12 responses to “Always one more thing”

  1. I always felt that more pockets were better in winter/bad weather hiking, seems there is more stuff to grab. Have you ever considered a pocket like this with an outer zipper (sort of like the Exped Lighting pack). You’d give up some weather-proofing but its darn convenient. What happened to that two chambered orange talon you made?

    1. Same question. And why to sew sides of the pocket to the back panel? If they are not sewed you can put a pocket on top of the load – it is simplier to grab items from the pocket this way and pointy things in the pocket are not pressed to the back.

      1. Outside-access pockets need to be baffled on the exterior in my experience, to keep them useable when the pack is stuffed full. That adds complexity, especially in a design like this which tries to minimize seams.

  2. Dave,

    Glad to see the continued increase in readership, I know I speak for more than myself when I say that it is truly OUR pleasure to follow your posts. If only you would finally write that book!

    On a more specific topic, your pack design/philosophy progression has had big impact on what I look for in packs, yet I find that no one is doing it quite like you.

    Keep it up.

  3. p.s. we have some online community here with about a hundred of active every-day users and we are watching you.

  4. Congrats for the 400 followers! At least for me it’s a joy reading your blog and I find about 90% of contect highly interesting even though I live on a different continent… The ventures into optimal backpack design are among the very interesting ones.

    Just out of curiosity, do you think the higher amount of gear-centered posts lately (i.e. “the shit that works”) has helped to drive the traffic or has it been just steady organic growth? Nothing wrong with this, I was just wonderign as gear posts seems to draw a lot of attention.

    1. No question gear posts draw extra attention. It remains to be seen if the recent surge will be any sort of durable trend; traditionally winter is the most active season for readers (northern hemisphere!) as well.

  5. Great looking setup. I too would like to know why you went away from the dual pocket talon back to the single.

    Also, could the talon have a smaller zippered pouch on it for misc items?

    1. I still have the blaze camo dual pocket talon, and use it on the Unaweep and the Big Pack. I wanted to keep this pack smaller and streamlined, ergo the small pocket. Two rather than three compression straps also limit the size in this aspect.

  6. Meant to post on the previous pack article. You often build, or at least come around to post, your packs as pairs; big pack – small pack. Does it derive from an technical-analytical standpoint – testing similar concept and scalability or the creative juices just keep flooding? One of course does not exclude the other – exact the opposite of course.

    1. Usually both, though in this case it was different fabric purchases and builds almost five months apart.

  7. Congrats on the success! May it continue.

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