SWD Big Wild by the numbers

It is tough for me not to be effusive to the point of utterly lacking objectivity about this pack, which Superior Wilderness Designs sent me (for free) to evaluate.  Design and construction are polished, clean and professional without being showy, and represent the absolute best of the burgeoning made in the US cottage backpack industry.   And if that weren’t enough to stir my heart, this particular model is largish, burly, simple, and versatile.  It is where I’ve wanted ultralight packs to go for over a decade, and seeing what is likely the first fully realized incarnation of that, at least that I’ve seen in person, is exciting.  So I’ll be holding off on substantive impressions for a while.  What follows are the facts for this prototype.


50.8 oz fully equipped; main fabric is X50

3.1 oz of straps

5.1 oz belt

43.75 inch top circ  (11 inch back, 12.75 inch front, 10 inch sides)

40 inch unrolled height

36 inch bottom circ (11 inch back, 9 inch front, 8 inch sides)

The numbers don’t tell the full story, as the shaping of the main bag is sophisticated and involved.  It is also worth highlighting how many, fully modular straps are contained in that 3 ounces.  An adaptable compression system that is durable, quick to use, and strippable without leaving a rats nest has long been an ideal.  Time will (shortly) tell how many of those boxes the Big Wild checks.

In summary. I haven’t been this excited about a backpack in a long time.


11 responses to “SWD Big Wild by the numbers”

  1. Suspension frame type (none (foam)/metal stays/plastic sheet/etc)?

    1. Dual alu stays with a bit of externally removable foam padding in the torso.

  2. Hi Dave,
    I wonder why SO didn’t chose for a similar harness solutions to the Flight,
    Can you share your thoughts?

    1. I’m quite at a loss on that one. Based on the one I saw last year the hipbelt will always be the weak point. And by a pretty big margin.

  3. Hey Dave, wondering if you’ve had any more thoughts on this pack with additional use? Especially curious about how you like it compared to the SO (external) framed packs you’ve had extensive experience with. Thanks!

    1. For loads under 50 pounds I’d take the Big Wild, for more I’d take the SO.
      The Big Wild is a bit lighter, but the feel, it being closer to the back and more flexible/agile, drives that choice. The Seek frame being absolutely rigid with something like a 60 pound load provides better load transfer, and more especially, stability.

      1. Thanks Dave, appreciate the response.

        1. Somehow I thought I had written more on the subject last summer. I owe it a full post this year.

        2. I’m mostly coming from a MYOG perspective – I’ve made a number of SO framed packs and have liked that platform quite a bit. But I rarely carry over 50 pounds so it seems a bit overkill at times. It’s so simple to build packs for that frame.

          I’ve built a few prototypes/versions based on the Big Wild design and have been pretty happy with the load carriage. But my testing has been limited to short walks with an artificial load this winter, not real-world testing. I’m looking towards my next project and have been hemming and hawing about which platform to pursue, so I appreciate your feedback from real-world use.

          It’s not actually that hard to make a lightish pack with a stout frame – whether using a SO-style tubular frame or 7075 internal stays. You kinda end up with a burly stuff sack with vertical stiffness. To me, the challenge is finding a design that fights barrelling and doesn’t require ultra-careful packing – which can be inefficient. I think my next pack project will mimic the Big Wild design, but have a small mid back frame sheet of corrugated plastic or similar.

  4. I hear you. Mostly I find myself not minding having to pack carefully, but when you get above 40 pounds a bit of lateral stability in the structure does seem to help with load carriage.

    If you a machine that can handle it, I’ve found sewing 1/16″ HDPE sheet into various places to be quite effective in this, without going to the extreme of something like a horizontal stay (which creates abrasion points, among other downsides). Sewing it in place adds quite a bit of stiffness over just having it not fixed in a slot.

    1. That’s a good idea about sewing in a framesheet – I’ll think about that for my next pack. I have an industrial machine that will sew through it easily. I’ve thought about a horizontal stay, but never came up with a design that seemed satisfactory.

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