Future Of Backpacks

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freestone
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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by freestone » Wed May 16, 2018 12:13 pm

Pretty hard to avoid the act of sweating when backpacking, the only discomfort I hate about back sweat is the bone chilling coldness I get when putting the pack back on after a break. In fact, the warmer the day, the more bone chilling the remount becomes.


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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed May 16, 2018 2:36 pm

To me it seems there are more backpackers in the market for going UL than those who want a pack that carries 55 pounds. Not that wanting to carry 55 pounds is wrong, but probably not a big enough market to make the economics of transferring that military design to civilian use at a price that people are willing to pay. I am no where near being "UL" yet I can do a 2 week trip with about 40 pounds starting weight on my back. I am fairly happy with how my backpacks have performed.

But you are correct in that some military designs/gear have been transferred to the civilian world quite successfully. Since our tax dollars support the military, it would be nice to think that eventually we would also benefit from their research and technology.

What we CAN do right now, at no extra cost, is make a wider range of sizes to fit a more diverse group of people. My husband is annoyingly "Mr. Average" and EVERYTHING fits him perfectly! Lucky guy. Me, little fits. And what does fit, is designed more for "style" than function. It is amazing how small changes in a backpack either in design or adjustment, makes a huge difference in comfort.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by mrphil » Wed May 16, 2018 3:23 pm

That's the thing about backpacks, you're already sweating profusely with what you have now; back, shoulders, hips and stomach, chest (pretty much your entire torso anyhow). And because it's all coming as a result of straps, pads and panels that necessarily have to be thicker and burlier (less breathable) because of their limited area of contact, but still be comfortable, you don't really change the fact that you do already sweat. You spread that weight transfer out, you not only carry it with more of your body and also eliminate raw spots from the digging in from those small areas and necessarily thick materials, you gain the ability to start thinking about using thinner materials like nylons, Gore-tex, and mesh... Use it efficiently and in the right places, more actually has the potential to become less when it comes to materials needing to be heavy-duty, trapping heat and making you sweat. You throw on a vest that just happens to have a backpack attached to it. And all that padding would never again pack out over time again either. And then you also gain the ability to include compartments on the front for storage (think Anorak meets Napoleon pockets and fisherman's vest), not only balancing your load more evenly and decreasing the volume needed in your pack to carry what you have to, but that quickly adds up the lbs, but you have a really optimized version of all the silly, yet convenient, little pouches that everyone throws on their shoulder and hip belts these days.

I just thought it would always make some sense, so given the venue being available, I'm just brainstorming for the sake of it. And I can't tell you how many times I've wished that that little piece of 3/4" webbing that is my sternum strap, or those 3" shoulder straps cutting into me were actually much wider and that I could spread it all out over my entire chest and shoulders. If I can eliminate the pain, I'll take the sweat, any day.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by mrphil » Wed May 16, 2018 3:47 pm

Daisy,

It wasn't that the average backpacker would need to routinely carry those kinds of weights, it's that when a soldier does, it's done more or less differently than what we consider the norm. Throw 25-30 lbs on instead of 55 or more, and you have a system that isn't even close to maxing out in its potential, but is designed entirely to do so.

Think about how much of a pack's weight is in the suspension system (internal vs external frame, for one), then try to find that "perfect" fit that you're looking for, which is eluding you. What could be a better solution in terms of less weight, more even load distribution, and a better fit that could be essentially tailored to fit you exactly than a vest with a pack on it? "Average", petite, fat, tall, short....no difference in concept, just sizing right. Aside from considerations in how much volume you need, your shirt size basically becomes the way you size your pack. Make it micro-adjustable in the field with Velcro or something like that. No more generic, "Well, you're about somewhere between a small and a medium. Sorry, that's all they make. Here's 20 lbs of sand bags, walk around the store for an hour and see how it feels." Heck , the vest could even be purchased as a separate fitted item that could then be fixed to the pack itself. Companies like Osprey already do it with their suspension systems as an option, and think of how manufacturers are all looking for the holy grail of selling you more stuff. They would eat that up, and you might even get exactly what you want out of it.

Make it fit, make it part of you, make it breathe, and you have exactly what everyone is looking for.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by AlmostThere » Wed May 16, 2018 6:18 pm

If not for the bear can, I would use an Aarn pack all the time.

Sweat issue was the same as ever. But the load distribution and the lower center of gravity were great.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed May 16, 2018 7:31 pm

Shoulder straps should never dig into you because a properly fit pack loads mainly the hips. I actually hate sternum straps- do not use them because they mess with my breathing. I am trying to visualize how one would take off a loaded "vest" pack. The idea of a loaded vest even makes me feel claustrophobic. Oddly, I really prefer external frame packs, if someone would just make them lighter.

Nevertheless, it is exciting to think of an entirely different concept for a pack. A friend of mine once wondered if the "wasted space" of the inside of the tubing in an external frame pack could be used to store fuel. If it is strong enough to carry 60 pounds or more, it should be able to withstand being pressurized. When you run out of butane, just go to an outdoor store and refill, which eliminates the waste of fuel canisters. Or perhaps fill the inside of the tube with water and have a "bladder" system. It is amazing what you come up with when confined in a tent when it is pouring down rain all day.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by mrphil » Wed May 16, 2018 8:06 pm

It's not rubbing so much as fatigue on the shoulder straps. I'm in the opposite camp, I cant' wear my hip belt most of the time because I have virtually no discs left in my lower back, mostly when I need to marry it to myself more closely to book it on flats and downhills, certainly not ascending. It cuts off circulation to my legs. I hate the sternum strap too. I'm not UL by any means, but if you see someone out on the trail lugging a 75 liter pack, sometimes with 60 lbs in it, using only their shoulder straps, it's probably me.

AT, those Aarns are a step in the right direction. Have you tried one?

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by AlmostThere » Wed May 16, 2018 9:16 pm

mrphil wrote:
AT, those Aarns are a step in the right direction. Have you tried one?
I have one. I wrote a review for it and got to keep the pack. Unfortunately the provided pack was not big enough for the larger bear cans. I can fit a Bare Boxer in, but the pack is designed in New Zealand where there are no bears, and so the back pack is designed to hold the weight up close to the spine -- not hold a big round item inside. And also my version does not have space for the hydration bladder, another negative for me, although the water is supposed to go in front in the pockets on the front packs where it counterbalances everything in the back pack, so I am less likely to forget to drink and it's easily accessed.

I use it in places where I can still hang food, and sometimes in winter. Or if I am not the one carrying the bear can - the significant alien sometimes bears that burden while I carry the kitchen gear and a couple other shared items like the water filter or the tent. They are marketed for active people - the weight is felt, does not magically vanish as with traditional packs, but the way it sits on the hips is comfortable for me. It allows you to move with accurate proprioception.

I also loan the pack to others upon request. It is one of the most easily customizable packs around - a single metal bar runs up the spine. Bending it slightly adjusts the pack to comfort level of the person wearing it, though it takes having a friend to do it for you - namely me, adjusting to the person I'm loaning it to.

The front packs have adjustable bars in them as well, to hold the pack off your body in the front, providing air space.

It is awkward to put on, but once on it's like a glove. Guaranteed to get you repeated comments from other hikers -- "Man, you are serious about this" being the most often said.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Eiprahs » Wed May 16, 2018 9:34 pm

Fabric of pack is photovoltaic, converting incident light to electricity. Electricity is stored in integrated battery which can charge your cell, spot device, digital camera, flashlight, etc. Or, for the ultralighters, your electric devices plug into the pack and their batteries become the pack battery.

Pack generated electricity can run fans, like those in your laptop, to provide air movement and cooling. Think what a breeze between your back and the pack would feel like on that next climb over Sawmill pass!

And further down the road, when we finally invent super conductors that work at typical backpacking temperatures, the pack generated electricity powers micro Peltier heat pumps that can heat or cool you. Ideally these would be integrated into your clothing. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoelectric_cooling

Could make back packing a totally electrifying experience! Yes, shocking, I know!
Dave

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by bobby49 » Thu May 17, 2018 12:18 am

Wandering Daisy wrote: Oddly, I really prefer external frame packs, if someone would just make them lighter.
Zpacks has a line of backpacks that have _some_ external frame, but it is not a great deal of frame. They used to have exclusively cuben fiber backpacks, but now they are changing the materials slightly. Still, they are lightweight. I had considered to buy one of those, then discard the external frame to save weight. I haven't used any backpack with an external frame since the Nixon administration.

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