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Old 10-12-2019, 07:12 PM
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Post Fabric Backpack Vs. Hardshell backpack



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After my renamed brand backpack collapsed because of its zippers (I admit, I abused a little of it in the last years), I have been looking for options and found a good one. Itīs a hardshell, IP 67 classified so nothing inside will get wet. It floats, and has a pocket for documents. I am a fan of hard cases because of my work in the oil fields. I could try them extensively and appreciate all of the advantages they have. Maybe theyīre a little heavier, but with a weight under 3,5 kilos itīs fine because of the level of protection they offer.

Those things can take a beating, trust me. I have carried backpacks in dense brush and the fabric is prone to get stuck in branches and stuff. As well the external pockets and belts. This does not happen with a hard shell.



Any opinions? comments?
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:35 PM
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HARDSHELL may take a beating but it is limiting in that it will not conform to the odd object you throw in that won't fit the closed design.
IE.. you have a sword you want to carry that is 2 inches longer than the hardshell, no way to fit it, no stretch or shape change...whereas a soft bag can be tweaked to find that extra length.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:18 PM
William Ashley William Ashley is offline
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I'm really looking forward to nanocellulose and nanocarbon fibre packs as once they gear up production - they are harder than steel and lighter.

None the less, its all about how much you want to carry, and what you are carrying.

This discussion is one me and my brother disagree on --- he is an avid hiker, he thinks the key is just pick a light pack, thin light fabric, breathable... carry light food non hydrated , have a water filter and find a water source... the key is only the essentials.

Personally I like the military stuff - that is a lot heavier in general my unloaded pack is probably 1/4 to 1/10th his entire load. However I trust my cordura and military zippers more than the fine commercial zippers.

Its taken me upwards of 10 years to start to develop some pack configurations I really like.

My current testing is pretty standard...
Personally the elements are a tactical combat vest similar to https://www.amazon.com/Barbarians-Ta...dp/B074MZ1ZNK/

The reason I like this style is because it has the molle webbing in the back... an area for a plate in the back that can act a bit like an external frame..
the issue I've had wit mine is that the zipper although the exact same size as the 2nd generation US ECWS (iraq era acu) jackets (this was the I think the 4 level system before the 7 level system came in) the zipper is the same size but the fabric on the bottom of the zipper is detaching making the vest difficult to zipper.. considering using crazy glue or something to harden the frayed fabric on it.

None the less.. the pack can be rigged up with a camelpak to attach directly or you can use the MOLLEII ruck composite external frame, that can take a lot of abuse before it cracks.. and even if it cracks it is still usuable.

The issue with the molle II staps is that they slip after a few years of use if you have moderate weights in the pack -- I think you can manually tighten the pads or add some type of friction layer to them to fix that though, I think the slippage is just due to them wearing down a bit with use.

That said the US packs will rust as they use metal eyelets (likely painted steel eyelet) but the zippers etc.. are all coposite, which melt if exposed to fire -- a negative on that as I had bug netting get stuck in the zipper and I tried burning it out not realizing that the zipper was also composite plastic not a form of metal, resulting in teh zipper melting in that area... in fact it melted easier than the bug netting.

Again the best carry system is what you plan on usuing it for. I like the fact my backpack can be used as a pillow or wind break... I think if you have a hard shell you would want it to be usuable as a wind break and refletor for heat, so that you can use it to redirect energy from a fire in your direction. imo some type of reflective solar laminant panel would be ideal.

In addition to the cc total volume, its also the shape, like how the russian packs have their sustenance packs attached in a way that you can put tools between them and the pack... imo the russian sustenance packs are better in general but the us sustenance packs can fit a good size rubbermade tupperwear dish, the russian ones are much more tubular and longer whereas the us ones are wider but shorter.. both are good and I would happily add 40l in carriage between my two russian and two us sustenance packs.
Overall the russian pack is a much thinner material and use actual metal rather than composite, so it is more prone to rustig... the zippers on the russian bag were much lower quality and are worth replacing with US zippers because they wear down and the metal in the zipper pulls becomes fragile and breaks with use. The us zippers are very very strong but are suseptable to fire.
The russian padding was generallly better and more firm, the US padding on the molle II pack belt was more comfortable originally but flattened out after a few years of use, still a good belt as the us belt has molle webbing teh russian belt does not.
The us bag can be used standalone by using the more peranent strapping into straps by some fiddling around but overall use of one or two belts with molle webbing attached to them, and the tactical vest (if you cna get milspec.. with molle webbing on the back to attach the molleII ruck to. thing is though that the back padding on the russian pack was much better than the shoulder webbing back padding ... an dis more similiar to the MLBE.

Bottom line if the hardshell has molle webbing you are probably ok as you will be able to attach more a hardshell pack with webbing could be converted for extra modularity. If the hardshell was usuable as an external frame then you would essentially be buying a hardshell pack that could adjust to ad on a ruck sack or assault pack or day pack for added volume.

Again it is all your needs, living out of a bag is way different than hiking with a bag or using a bag to carry some stuff for a couple days of luxury.
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Old 10-12-2019, 11:04 PM
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I was about 10 when my mom got tired of putting new zippers in my packs, so she sat me down and showed me how to sew in a new one. After I replaced the next one, I started to take more care. Suddenly the zippers started to last a very long time.

Whatever works for you is the ticket.

I packed a HP laser distance measuring unit in a fitted hard case for 2 summers on the Cadastral Survey crew. Was about 38 pounds with extra batteries. Was hard to carry 2 gallons of water in hard canteens with it.
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Old 10-12-2019, 11:40 PM
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If your pack's zippers are popping, you might be able to solve the problem by adding a few lightweight cinch straps. They'll transfer the load to the pack's frame or straps so the zippers aren't carrying as much of the load. They also tighten up the load so it won't slide around and compromise your balance.
I like packs made of heavyweight nylon with a large, lightweight, waterproof nylon stuff sack inside to keep things dry. If you know someone who sews, you can buy the waterproof nylon material and have one sewn that fits for your pack.
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Old 10-13-2019, 12:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg5791 View Post
Itīs a hardshell, IP 67 classified so nothing inside will get wet. It floats, and has a pocket for documents. I am a fan of hard cases because of my work in the oil fields. I could try them extensively and appreciate all of the advantages they have. Maybe theyīre a little heavier, but with a weight under 3,5 kilos itīs fine because of the level of protection they offer.

Those things can take a beating, trust me. I have carried backpacks in dense brush and the fabric is prone to get stuck in branches and stuff. As well the external pockets and belts. This does not happen with a hard shell.


Any opinions? comments?
Saw an ad today while youtube surfing for a hardshell backpack designed to carry cats...

Watched half the ad in amazement before snapping back to reality. It looked stout.

No idea how or why youtube decided to show me that ad before my video and hope it was just a random thing with their algorithm thing or something. If it continues to reappear over and over like the ads for the stretch tube thingie that fat chicks worm into to make it 'appear' that there is no fat gut going on down there I am going to lose it and ditch the internet for good.
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Old 10-13-2019, 12:46 AM
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Is this something your carrying long distance?
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:30 AM
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I would see a hard-shell pack as something very mission specific, but if the suspension is adequate to carry and the volume capacity and load capacity work, why not? I do think NW GUY is correct in that such a pack would be limiting in several ways.

Worrying about zippers on a pack has been put to rest 20 years ago, seriously. I've deployed to combat and conducted numerous exercise all over this planet from jungles to deserts and never had a problem with "quality" pack zippers: Kifaru, Arc-Teryx, Mystery Ranch, Eberlestock, etc. While I currently only have zippers on smaller belt pouches, I have zero issue with main compartment zippers from reputable packs.

The biggest disadvantage to a hard-shell is load management. As your pack stores drop, items in the pack will be shifting around and can cause balance issues. If you resupply, you'll have a difficult time expanding the capacity, and if you're maneuver tight spaces, it will have no give compared to a cloth-material type pack.

And while 3.5 kilos (or 7.5 pounds), is similar to some of the mega-capacity 1000-Cordura packs, that's a lot of weight. Similarly tough packs made from much lighter Dyneema fabric will weigh less than half that and that extra 3 pounds is an extra 2.5-3 days worth of food or 30-45 miles.

I think they have merit where they're carried little, such as part of the luggage load in a canoe, where portaging is necessary for shorter distances. Having them waterproof and float, isn't a bad thing, but I don't think hard-shell designs are mature enough to consider as a long distance pack just yet; however I can appreciate the OP's experience with their use and thinking outside the box...

ROCK6
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Old 10-13-2019, 12:41 PM
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Question Backpack or?

Quote:
Originally Posted by charliemeyer007 View Post
I was about 10 when my mom got tired of putting new zippers in my packs, so she sat me down and showed me how to sew in a new one. After I replaced the next one, I started to take more care. Suddenly the zippers started to last a very long time.

Whatever works for you is the ticket.

I packed a HP laser distance measuring unit in a fitted hard case for 2 summers on the Cadastral Survey crew. Was about 38 pounds with extra batteries. Was hard to carry 2 gallons of water in hard canteens with it.
It had straps to carry as a backpack? (I guess it had)
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Old 10-13-2019, 12:44 PM
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Post Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John_Auberry View Post
Is this something your carrying long distance?
Letīs suppose you have a bugout kit with some fragile stuff. In my area it rains a lot. Every time I hiked, all of my gear (even being inside my old ALICE pack recycled from the Venez army) got wet for some reason or another. (I was a kid back then, but still...)

Youīll have all of the gear you may need, inside.
Pros, itīs going to remain absolutely dry.
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Old 10-13-2019, 03:37 PM
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honestly it would seem to be wich one is more comfortable for you to wear. If you get a lot of rain and “grabby” plants that snag a lot then the hard shell one might be better. But if it is uncomfortable to wear you are less likely to practice using it before something happens.

I’ve found a lot of things are a personal fit thing like firearms boots jackets ect.

Yah it’s nice to have an item but if it’s uncomfortable to use now you probably won’t know how to use it later.

If you can find a used one cheap to try out I’d do that first and see.

Just my opinion
D
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Old 10-13-2019, 04:59 PM
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Yes, youīre right. I have plenty of confidence, but Iīm looking for long term equipment, dude. There is a LONG list of items you canīt find in Venezuela now. Good quality replacement zippers is one of them. Anything imported costs a lot. If you can invest wisely in your gear now you may save a lot of money in the future.

Thatīs my approach. Oh, and once I can buy one of them I will make some improvements. If you are going to carry a sword, for example...why have to get it inside the pack? I mean there is some logical stuff one has to think on first. I am sure someone else will find it quite useful, same as me. But wanted to hear the opinion of other people. Itīs always good to learn what equipment is around for us to enjoy.
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Old 10-13-2019, 09:11 PM
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Great way to evaluate the quality of a pack or sleeping bag is to look at and operate the zippers. You'll know a quality zipper when you see it.
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Old 10-14-2019, 12:47 AM
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Youīre right. My goal at this age is to get a few pieces of gear that will outlast myself. In a few decades I wonīt be able to carry a backpack, and leave as an inheritance a piece that could fail without any possibility to be repaired...well, itīs not cost-effective to me.

I have never trusted zippers for some applications. Itīs just a preference. Iīd rather trust in velcro for clothing with a overlap of a buttoned piece. Oh, and donīt make me start about the problem with the jean zippers biting some delicate parts (Ouch).
A Hardshell could always be rigged with some outer MOLLE webbing, resulting in an awesome pack. And in those smaller attached pouches, itīs ok. You can have your zippers.

I was hiking once, in a bugging out drill. I slipped and fall over my Alice, with the gear absorbing the entire impact of my 90 kgs. A small alcohol water popped, as well as another bottle of iodine tincture; and my oatmeal, rice and an entire packages of my favorite cookies broke or stained with the iodine. Under the pressure, the ziplock bag popped open and made a mess. The worst part was the alcohol, as I relied in that kit for disinfection, obviously. Thatīs when I started to believe that maybe a hard shell would work for me.
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Old 10-14-2019, 01:54 AM
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I'm 63 and an amputee (right leg below the knee). The only thing I have given up on for now is cross country skiing (I can't get in a proper snow plow) and at 90 MPH going down hill stopping is important.

I'm working on an INCH cart (a modified wheelchair) design to tow behind my mt. bike or pull rickshaw style. I plan to have the stays push up on my back pack frame by adjusting the center of gravity. In the seat will be 3 to 5 of the MTM large ammo crates for my INCH stuff.

https://www.amazon.com/MTM-ACR8-72-C...QD0YZK5JEYDGQ6
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Old 10-14-2019, 04:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg5791 View Post

I was hiking once, in a bugging out drill. I slipped and fall over my Alice, with the gear absorbing the entire impact of my 90 kgs. A small alcohol water popped, as well as another bottle of iodine tincture; and my oatmeal, rice and an entire packages of my favorite cookies broke or stained with the iodine. Under the pressure, the ziplock bag popped open and made a mess. The worst part was the alcohol, as I relied in that kit for disinfection, obviously. Thatīs when I started to believe that maybe a hard shell would work for me.
That sucks and most of us who have spent longer trips in the outdoors have similar "learning experiences". Planning and preparation likely mitigate repeated issues like this, but from a bugout perspective, you may very well have to carry items in their original container.

While I'm not opposed to your idea, I just haven't seen such cases as packs. I have used Storm and Pelican hard-cases in Afghanistan and Iraq; they can take some serious abuse. The downside for me is simply the weight and while I'm mentally 15 years old at times, my body reminds me my true age after the first 20-30 miles on the trail...weight is a significant factor and my biggest challenge these days outside of maintaining my physical conditioning.

Keep us updated on your progress and evolution of a hard-shell pack...

ROCK6
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Old 10-14-2019, 10:30 AM
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I own a pelican 1615 Air and itīs great. This backpack is made by a company that manufactures Pelican clones, but they are great quality. Price is a little bit over 300 but considering my case was about 220 without foam, itīs not bad. I bought my Swissgear laptop backpack for 55$ in 2012 and now zippers are useless. The main reason I donīt want to use zippers again is because that very same backpack almost made me lose my precious laptop while riding my motorcycle in a rainy day. The zipper on the special laptop pocket got loose, opened up and my brand new laptop almost falls down without me noticing it. Thatīs why I donīt want anything else with zippers, and sturdy enough to last a lifetime.

https://imgur.com/a/iBAzp7I
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Old 10-14-2019, 11:27 AM
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Interesting thought concept, but not for us.

The perceived benefits of a hard cased pack are far outweighed (literally & figuratively), by soft packs.

Dry bags & trash compactor bags are a super handy packing method, as are small hard cases for electronics/optics etc if needed.

It’s kind of like looking for a solution to a problem that doesn’t actually exist, IMO.
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Old 10-14-2019, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big-D View Post
honestly it would seem to be wich one is more comfortable for you to wear. If you get a lot of rain and “grabby” plants that snag a lot then the hard shell one might be better. But if it is uncomfortable to wear you are less likely to practice using it before something happens.

I’ve found a lot of things are a personal fit thing like firearms boots jackets ect.

Yah it’s nice to have an item but if it’s uncomfortable to use now you probably won’t know how to use it later.

If you can find a used one cheap to try out I’d do that first and see.

Just my opinion
D
Why not just use a pack cover and liner?
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Old 10-14-2019, 03:31 PM
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I have a Gregory that is more pack than most people will ever wear out. It's 30 years old now. I have a W.A.V.E. pack for the wife, it's 25 years old. Company is gone, but the pack lives on.

Never had a problem with snagging on things,

Zippers and straps on quality packs simply don't break or tear out unless you are being an idiot, period.

Now...there are a TON of less than quality packs out there. Choose wisely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg5791 View Post
I was hiking once, in a bugging out drill. I slipped and fall over my Alice, with the gear absorbing the entire impact of my 90 kgs. A small alcohol water popped, as well as another bottle of iodine tincture;
Those are in a hard case in my bag, or inside the MSR cook pot with my Whisperlite, or inside a large mouth Nalgene bottle. NEVER give wet stuff the chance to screw up your life.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg5791 View Post
and my oatmeal, rice and an entire packages of my favorite cookies broke or stained with the iodine. Under the pressure, the ziplock bag popped open and made a mess. The worst part was the alcohol, as I relied in that kit for disinfection, obviously. Thatīs when I started to believe that maybe a hard shell would work for me.
A package of cookies? OK...that's a different level of packing than I usually do.
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