This is generation two of Seek Outside’s backpacking/all purpose pack, the Divide. Specs on this one are ~4500 cubic inches. 35 inches of unrolled height along the back panel, 32 inches of effective height (shown in first photo, below) with two rolls of the roll top. Top circumference is 40.5 inches, bottom is 36. The bottom panel is a trapezoid, with a 14 inch side against the user, 10 inch side on the front, and six inch side sides.
This is the pack fully loaded, with a Voile XLM shovel blade in the front pocket. Fabric is X42, in the very fetching new olive color.
The Divide is “optimized” for a 24 inch frame, which means that the top of the cordura/hypalon pockets which hold the frame in place are 24 inches above the bottom of the pack. I have a nearly 21 inch torso, and while the pack would settle a bit with a load heavier than the blankets I used for these photos, this length still gives me functional load lifters up to around 50 pounds. I used this same frame at 24 inches for this trip, and only wanted a wee bit more height when we took on 8 liters of water at the start of day 4. You can run either 2 or 4 inch extensions, but that will put the bag higher and create a bit of empty space below.
For hunting packouts, or if I need more load carriage and extra cargo space for backpacking, I’ll run four inch extensions, pictured at left. You can install extensions with a totally loaded pack. This puts the load lifter up by my ears, and allows for some gear to be strapped on a la an old external frame pack. Of course this makes the side pockets mostly unreachable. Otherwise (middle photo) they are very easy to use.
The virtue of this shorter, wider design is that you can get your capacity by making the pack taller and skinnier, or shorter and fatter. The far right photo shows the pack rolled down to the top of the frame and not compressed at all, an ideal setup for bushwacking.
One of several “why didn’t I think of that” features on the Divide is the Horizon cross stay, which is a length of 7075 bar, in a webbing and velcro sleeve. It attaches across and behind the frame, and is curved to prevent emphatic stuffing of the pack from pushing into ones back. The first versions of the Unaweep and Divide were in essence frameless packs with a frame added, and having only a layer of fabric between the user and load created issue if said load wasn’t carefully put together. I’ve been messing with a stay in this spot for a while now, with success, but this is a far simpler and cleaner way of adding it.
The side pockets have a scalloped panel in the base, and user-replacable shock cord. Again, a very clean and simple to build design that I should have thought up years ago. There is a drain slot in the lower corner, vital in truly waterproof fabrics like X42.
The two fixed compression straps work via aluminum “bachelor buckles” which are light and unbreakable. They will come unhitched if they aren’t tight. The top strap attached via the same method, as do the detachable lower lash straps. These buckles are great here, as when not in use they leave only a loop of webbing behind.
The roll top can be clipped to itself, and the side straps normally dedicated to the roll top clipped across as a third compression strap, attached to a compression panel, or removed entirely.
The Divide addresses a number of small quarrels I had with the original Unaweep. The most obvious is the bottom panel, which is tapered both in and up. This will be much less likely to snag stuff while downclimbing rock and brush.
One of the byproducts of this tapered bottom is that I’ll be running the belt in the lower grommet. This extra slack allows for a better wrap around the user and thus better load carriage. In spite of this I always ran the Unaweep in the upper grommet to keep snags to a minimum. The new Divide also features a large, prominent, and bomber haul loop.
Yesterday I wrote about the potential complexities of getting stuff for free, and how it isn’t just Christmas-like days when boxes of shiny new radness appear. I did get this pack for free, after my Unaweep (which I also got for free) developed a warranty issue. Yesterday was absolutely like Christmas, when I busted open the cardboard box and pulled out a pretty new pack which, as I delved into the details, only became more and more awesome. With Little Bear about, and sleep no longer something taken entirely for granted, I’m much less inclined to throw hours into sewing projects, and it’s nice to have folks down in Colorado who make the pack I wanted, and make it better in terms of features and construction than I could.