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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm starting to build some new backpacks and am looking for new ideas. After reading many posts, it looks like there are many preferred brands. MR, Kifaru, and the ranger packs.

Anyone have deign concepts they would like to see in a new pack? I am working with a SEAL, and members of mountain rescue teams. They both have different needs.

Ideas?
 

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Wanderer
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Nearly everyone has "different needs". That's why there are so many different pack designs on the market, and they all sell.
Personally, I prefer a pack of about 3000-4000 Cu In., with ice axe tie downs (great for carrying axes), a daisy chain on each side and the bottom, hydration pocket, at least three smaller pockets on the outside - more is better. The large main compartment should have a couple smaller pockets inside for better organization. Shoulder straps and waist belt should be well padded, with plenty of adjustment, and the waist belt should be able to accept additional gear by ALICE clips or similar attachment means. Zippers should be large, durable, and snag free, with long cordage pulls. Padding in the lumbar area is great, too. All made of a very quiet waterproof fabric, ideally in a useful general purpose camo pattern such as Realtree APG or NaturalGear.
Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for commenting. No such thing as one "size/type" fits all, agreed. Specific design ideas are welcome.

Thx
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
25 years ago I worked for REI and EMS doing gear repairs. I saw many design flaws, and successes. Bags that I have built don't fail, unless my dog chews them up!
 

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I’d like to see a contoured hard shell (polymer probably) pack, moderate size, with molle webbing on the outside sides, top, back, and bottom. Top lid, large hatch on the upper two-thirds, and a hatch on the bottom third. Adjustable suspension on front of the pack.

Having two or more sets of padded shoulder straps is awkward when wearing a harness, plate carrier, and pack. I’d like to see an integrated/layered harness system that will take packs of various sizes, front and rear that can be removed from the harness without taking off the harness, leaving on the harness what is needed to maintain an operation. Then the ability to drop most of the load, including the padded straps and belt, leaving only the emergency gear on the now lighter and more compact harness.

Not a pack, but to carry heavy loads when travelling medium to long distance, I’d like to see a custom two wheel cart, based on the designs of a game cart, configured to carry combat loads, a patient, or evacuation supplies with an easy disconnect waist harness attachment system. Parking stand to keep the cart upright when not connected. Parking brake to keep it from rolling when not connected. Inflatable bag underneath to provide flotation when crossing water obstacles, and drop down skis for use on snow.

Just a few thoughts off the top of my head.
 

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I want it to be waterproof, made of ripstop nylon, no less than ten pockets, include a Batman-esque utility belt, and have a built in Cappuccino maker! Haha , jk.

I generally don't ask for much in my gear, just that it is idiot proof and can go through the hell I put it through. One thing I would like to see altered in the packs I have had and seen is all the wasted space. No matter how I organize the pack, all the equipment settles down to the bottom, and there's a good cubic foot or so of wasted space, while everything is vying for a spot at the bottom of the bag. My mother has a makeup bag thing that zips open and then folds out for several layers of multi-tiered pockets (if that makes sense). Maybe implementing that into some of the smaller pockets or something would be an interesting feature.

Another thought I had would be if you made cardholders by the pocket opening so one could write what is in that particular pocket.

Good for you for listening to what people desire in a pack
 

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Shoulder straps and waist belt should be well padded, with plenty of adjustment, and the waist belt should be able to accept additional gear by ALICE clips or similar attachment means. Zippers should be large, durable, and snag free, with long cordage pulls. .
+1,

I have always found the quick release buckles on the shoulder straps of the ALICE ruck sacks to be a great feature. I got hung up in a strand of old barbed wire once after falling down a steep incline when I used to do search and rescue, and they saved the day. I hesitate to use any other pack with out this feature!
 

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Here is what I would like if I could customize a pack. A blend between the ILBE and any of the Kifaru packs of medium/large size. I like the ability to carry a lot of gear if I choose. The only thing that I would like to see on said pack is more pocket and compartments outside and internally. 2-4 seperate internal compartments would be nice with 6-8 pockets on the outside. Currently I use 8-9 color coded nylon drawstring bags to seperate my seperate kits; first aid, fire starting, cooking, food, water treatment, spare parts/misc items, etc, etc. Having them seperated in different areas of pack would make it even easier than opening the top of the pack and digging something out of the bottom. Also, the option to have the pack top loaded and front loaded would be very nice. If I could have this "pack of my dreams" built I would have it attach to a seperate frame much like the kifaru Freight Hauler. This way once I get to my destination or camp I can release the pack form the frame and gather large loads of firewood, water or whatever else I may need to survive. Check the Kifaru site for the Freight Hauler design.

If possible, the pack would be able adjustable for the larger framed person. Maybe two models. Persons 5' 6" to 6' tall and another bigger version for those 6'+ and 280 lbs + There is nothing worse than a sasquatch that looks like he is carrying his kids school pack, fitment wise.
 

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Proverbs 22:3
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Everything modular. Small or big pockets, even main pockets interchangeable. So you can have a custom design for whatever you are using it for.
I loved my alice pack,h harness, web gear and butt pack. Great system.
 

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Here's what I want;

Lightweight, durable, comfortable. It should be versatile enough to carry 40 lbs, but still compress down to a size suitable for a day pack. And everything in between. This means a real suspension and frame, not just a padded back and a 1" web waist belt. It should be made in several sizes for correct fit to body size.

I don't need molle all over the pack, but a couple loops on the back, sides, and waist belt would be handy. Adding endless rows of molle just adds weight, and I'll never use more than a few, so a few well placed loops are ideal.

The harness should have some loops on the shoulder straps as well for attachment of small pouches or a chest rig.

It must be hydration bladder compatible.

A nice variety of colors for various uses is nice, but leave off any reflective strips. Black is always a good color, and a washed black or dark gray is useful too.

Az
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
GREAT FEEDBACK!

This is exactly the comments I was hoping for! As we progress, I will be posting pictures of what we are building. Keep posting ideas....

Custom PAKs
Durable construction and materials
Modular pieces add and subtract pieces
Military and civilian finish (color, molle, buckles)
Capacity adjustable
Size adjustable
Customizable harness lengths, padding, materials
Light weight minimalist options
Made in the USA, by citizens
Bullet proof warranty- if it breaks we will fix it.


These are some of the intended concepts. Bags that I built for friends 18 years ago are still working without failures.
 

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All great suggestions.

I'd say the biggest downfall I've seen of military style packs is weight and torso length (adjustability).

The biggest downfall of civilian packs is material durability.

You have to find a compromise between durable materials and weight. Naturally ultralight packs are made from ultralight materials, and usually use a frame sheet rather than stays. That of course limits the weight that can be carried in the pack and the durability of the pack in general.

If I were to pick my favorite pack manufacturers in business today (civilian market) I'd pick McHale and Dana Gleason (Mystery Ranch). Both are expensive as hell, but they are still in business because of the innovation they have brought to the industry. If I were designing packs, I'd utilize the best of both of them. The custom fit of the McHale, the innovation of Mystery Ranch, and then I'd combine those with the durability of the fabrics used in military style packs and the versatility of capacity adjustment that military packs utilize.

There is however a reason that McHale is listed first. They are just about as close to perfect as it gets. The true nature of the custom pack is that it is built for your frame, and no one else's. Now if I could call up McHale and say now use 1000 denier cloth and put this many lines of molle webbing here, here and here; I'd be saving every penny I could scrape up.
 

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DIYers can add nice additions

I like packs with straps and cinches. About 3,500-sq. inches is about right. I also like D-rings, even thought I rarely use them, you never know when you'll have to attach a line or a carbiner. My ideal pack would be a bag that extends along and below an Alice 2 pack frame. I've got the frame, I just need to find some heavy cloth and stitch in up on my Singer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Another thought I had would be if you made cardholders by the pocket opening so one could write what is in that particular pocket.
the guys on the mountain rescue asked for this too.

the biggest downfall I've seen of military style packs is weight and torso length
are we talking about the distance from the hip belt to the top of the shoulder straps? or the length of the bag itself?

attachment of small pouches or a chest rig
I built a pack like this for the ski patrol to carry radios and first aid gear. Chest rig was attached to the shoulder harness for balance and weight distribution

adjustable for the larger framed person
i guess this is frame length adjustability too?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I just need to find some heavy cloth and stitch in up on my Singer.
That is how I got started. Today you can buy nylon fabric from several places. Try seattlefabrics.com, rockywoods.com, or questoutfitters.com. Please feel free to add other sources if you know them.

I started building bags in 1983 after joining REI and buying fabric from them. There were only a few companies selling nylon fabric and buckles at that time.

keep the ideas coming...
 

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Short comments, there's never enough room inside a pack so I'd ask for Molle straps on sides and front, daisy chain down all four corners and inside molle straps on the back. Inside straps are to hold small pockets for things that will find their way to the bottom of the pack. Could also tie stuff to them. Outside pockets would be modular with two tall side pockets and two wide front pockets one on top the other. Full frame and harness with as much adjustment as possible. Rigging points on bottom and top.

I have several day packs and a feature I'm fond of is a small zippered pocket on the back of the top flap for a cell or compass. they're usually not real big but always handy.
 

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are we talking about the distance from the hip belt to the top of the shoulder straps? or the length of the bag itself?
We are talking about the torso length of the pack. Measured from the iliac crest to the C7 vertebrae on the individual. Most military packs don't have adjustable torsos. Meaning if you aren't exactly the same size as the model the pack was built for, odds are it won't fit you. When a pack fits properly, you hardly know it's there.

Many folks don't realize that because the alice pack was designed around someone who is 5'11", or whatever, doesn't mean it will fit you because you are 5'11". That's like saying every 6' person has the exact same inseam as every other 6' person.
 
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