Wednesday, August 27, 2014

eBay find: experimental PCU jacket

Another mystery for the archives, a seller posted several of these all at once but they went for far to much for me to scoop one up. They were all solid colors, various greens and tans:

The seller claimed they were Goretex instead of the DWR nylon of the normal Level 5 garment this is obviously patterned off of, but with eBay seller's tenuous grasp of fabric terms this is unconfirmed. While I think the hoodless PCU level 5 garment is a fantastic jacket (in some ways better then the new hooded version) I have mixed feelings about hoodless goretex jackets in general. I think the cut of this jacket has advantages over the ECWCS and PCU level 6 jackets, and maybe with a helmet it makes sense to ditch the hood. I wouldn't know, I only ever wear a hat.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vintage PVC pack frame

Probable the oldest plastic pack frame I have seen, it certainly predates the Coleman Ramflex/Peak 1 frame, and unlike most flat plastic frames this retains the tubular design of most metal frames.

made by Alpine Designs, I am assuming this frame is in fact heavier then an aluminum and probably more fragile as well. With the lack of plastic tube-frames in the wild or on the market this should be a safe assumption.
I think plastic frames have a place, but unfortunately they all seem to be saddled to sub-par suspension (Walmart frames or the coleman) or are ridiculously short (the military's Down East frames). With carbon fiber frames being the new hotness I'm not expecting a resurgence in plastic anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

REI Yosemite 75 UPDATE

As promised earlier, I finally got to REI with a camera and snuck some shots of the Yosemite 75 hip belt.

Not many backpacks come with hipbelt instructions printed on the lumbar pad.

Maximum setting. I don't know how many inches difference there is between settings but I'd guess 4ish.

Hypalon reinforced stay port and hypalon stay pockets on the belt wings

On minimum setting there is some overlap of the wings that creates a lump, it is noticeable through the lumbar pad but I don't know if it really affects comfort much.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What winning at storm collars looks like

I'm not the biggest fan of cinch top storm collars (also known as snow collars, shrouds, and probably something quaint in the UK) but probably my favorite design to date is the FILBE:

 It has a double row of draw cords (I could take or leave the bottom one) set in a doubled over layer of 200d uncoated packcloth. This allows for very smooth cinching with none of the bunching that can occur with coated fabric. For durability the grommets are set in a narrow strip of 500d Cordura.

The real magic is opposite the cordlocks, a slit was made and finished with edge binding (uncoated packcloth frays like nobodies business) that allows access into the very wide channel created by the doubled over packcloth. This makes repairs infinitely easier then the usual narrow channel that you have to thread your replacement cord through. Despite what I first thought the cord stays put at the top of the channel and never seems to wander around, or if it does it makes no difference when you go to cinch it up.

I'd bet money this is one of Mystery Ranch's design influences, because after the ALICE and MOLLE grommet-and-paracord closure failure I can safely say the US military couldn't come up with something this slick. I haven't looked at a Mystery Ranch pack up close so this could be a standard feature on MR top loaders that I am ignorant of, but regardless it's the way to be.