So I made the SimpleLight pack for my dad about four years ago now, and he has used it a lot. By his accounts, it has gone over 100 day trips, but countless uses around town. I always love seeing gear get used, but the pack has finally started to come apart. In some places the stitching is just starting to pull apart, in other places the fabric is actually rubbing pretty thin. On our last day trip together, I took the opportunity to grill him about his thoughts on the bag, secretly planning to make him a new one for his birthday.
The pack is finished now, and I am pretty happy with it. In generally, I changed nothing about the original pattern, but I did make tweaks to the materials used as well as some of the peripherals on the pack.
First of all, I went with much more durable materials for the main pack and collar. I used some 1000D Cordura I had laying around from making a chalk bucket for the main pack body and got some 70D coated ripstop nylon for the collar. Hopefully my amateur stitching or the pocket mesh will fail WAY before either of these fabrics do.
The pack originally came with daisy chains going up the pack vertically, and I fashioned a pocket to attach to those that could be removed when not desired. However, based on his particular style, I learned that he never took it offer or changed configurations using the chains, so this time I went with a beavertail style pocket instead. This way he still had an external pocket, which he has come to love, but he also got some side compression and a good way to stash his rain jacket when not in use.
I also tweaked the shoulder straps some. I removed any foam from the straps, and just went with a layer of 3D mesh plus a layer of Cordura. For the weights and time spans he is using this pack at, I think the foam is overkill, and he is a huge fan of being able to fold this pack up and shove it into his carry-on on work trips. Without the foam, this will make life easier. Second, I decided to try out a new way of handling the chest strap. I always hate having it pull so unevenly across the straps, so I bought two sided hardware specifically so that I could have the strap wrap around the shoulder strap. I had to buy the hardware 10 pieces at a time, and they were much more expensive than the normal hardware, but completely worth it, and I love the design.
Other than that, I put some loops and shockcord as an after thought at the bottom of the pack, because he told me he was having issues finding a way to carry his trekking poles. The shockcord, along with the compression straps for the beavertail should solve the problem pretty well for him.
Finally, I used a label that my lovely wife had custom ordered for me years ago for the first time. The design was something I had kind of thought up while on a trip, and she happened to tell me she wanted to help me design as label as a birthday gift only a couple of weeks later. So the timing worked out well, and I made a buttload of them. I think it adds a nice personal touch to the bag.
As for critiquing the whole thing, these are the notes I want to track:
- The waterproof coating on the 70D nylon is not drawcord friendly. It is too sticky. That combined with the heavier weight of the fabric, versus 30D silnylon (which is so slick), means the collar does not draw shut easily. I’m hoping that with some use that will smooth out some though. I will probably go back to just using silnylon in the future though for drawcord tops and save the 70D stuff for rolltops.
- The Cordura was hard to work with in several places just because of the thickness. Once you have multiple pieces coming together, and are then trying to roll a seam to hide it, it gets bananas. The fabric is still great, but having some better way to deal with it would be nice. Any suggestions are welcome.
- I really want a cleaner way to make the straps. I think they are going to work great, but they still don’t look “professional”. I want to work on designing them a bit more to see what I can come up with to hide edges and make the whole thing look a bit better.
- The beavertail compression straps need to be higher. Right now, they are about 2″ higher than the top of the pocket. The really bring the pocket up and not just out, I think it needs to be another 2″ higher up than that, so a total of 4″ above the pocket.
That’s what I’ve got. Any further thoughts I come up with, I will be sure to drop on here.