Thursday, December 31, 2015

eBay find: Hybrid Scandinavian sweater

As I've mentioned before I like Nordic sweaters. I also have an ongoing curiosity towards hybrid knit/woven garments. Here we have both:

I woven upper yoke area, extending down the tops of the sleeves. The collar and placket are included in this, something I appreciate. I tend to dislike buttons on knits as they seem to pull at the buttons if you utilize any of the benefits of the stretch. The woven collar might also stand up a bit better then a knit one would, better protecting the neck.

In theory this design would add some weatherproofing and durability to the tops parts of the garment, the only thing I find odd is that the armpits are barely included in the woven section, perhaps one of the places where knit is the most desirable:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

eBay find: Dana Designs Cold Creek

A while ago I wrote about the Lowe Alpine Double Dipper, at the time it was the only waist pack I'd seen with its peculiar water bottle pocket placement. Now I have found another and I begin to wonder if it was a more common arrangement then I thought:

In general the design details are much simpler, I'm not good at judging chronology but it strikes me as an early-to-mid era Dana pack.

The bottle pockets are small and appear to be neoprene-y.

Classic Dana lumbar pad and hypalon grip-panel on the back side, and a thinly padded waist belt.

What strikes me as the most interesting design feature is how the waist belt is attached to the far side of the pack and routed through a webbing slot to keep it pointed towards the wearer. My theory is this behaves as the compression mechanism and removes the need for the separate stabilizer straps that so many lumbar packs sport.

The search is on for more specimens!

Monday, October 12, 2015

eBay find: Wool pullover photograph

Continuing an infuriating trend of finding images of garments that just cannot be found anymore:

Images of pullover garments used by lumberjacks and sportsmen of yesteryear are not hard to come by, extant examples are. This appears to be a caped shirt-jacket with a very wide placket.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

eBay find: OLD school Mountainsmith pack

Possibly the oldest Mountainsmith pack I've seen yet. Crazy purple webbing and a flat lid.

While much simpler then most there are still some of the distinctive Mountainsmith features such as the long anvil-grossgrain clad stabilizer straps connecting the far side of the pack to the belt.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

eBay find: MR mossy oak daypack lid

Adding to the list of limited run camouflage patterns you can find older MR packs in; a mossy oak patterned daypack lid:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hoops Elite Max Air Team: Nike's middle finger to Mystery Ranch

(I will preface this post by saying I am making the assumption that no licensing agreement was made between Nike and Mystery Ranch. Given MR's open discussion of their collaboration with Camelbak, I don't find this a stretch)

A brief history of the trizip.
From tidbits garnered from interviews with Dana Gleason (I think mostly the Carryology interviews) It seems that Dana wanted a zippered top loading pack (like the Kletter Flip) to have better access, more like a panel loader. Playing around with a third zipper and the angle of the top access they eventually invented the Trizip:

According to their website the Sweet Pea was the first pack to use this new access. Fast forward and some military guys wanted an assault pack with better access. Throw some PALS webbing on the Sweet Pea and you have the 3DAP:

Wild success, fame and fortune followed. Everyone wanted one, but not everyone could afford one, what to do?

At some point (I don't pretend to remember when) Mystery Ranch licenses their design to Camelbak to make a more affordable, imported version. The TriZip is born:

While I applaud them for being humble (practical?) enough to go to another (better) pack designer for features I never liked this bag. Crappy camelbak belt, traded out the wonderful bottle pockets for gimmicky side organizers and maybe cheaped out on the zippers a little. I don't fault either company for wanting a lower cost imported option, that's just good business. (I noticed the Trizip is now listed as "discontinued" on Camelbak's website, I conjecture that with MR moving their outdoor department overseas they no longer want the competition in the lower price bracket)

Of course the Chinese had to jump on board:

It doesn't look like Cheaper Then Dirt carries a version anymore, but I seem to remember this (or something like it) being made by Condor/Fox/Voodoo/Whatever, and just like all the Maxpedition stuff they've stolen over the years, they'll probably get away with it. (Possibly its absence from CTD indicates that someone did take action, if so; Bravo)

Fast forward again, and Camelbak takes some liberties with the design to offer something new and different, and uniquely theirs:

Once again, I applaud their effort. A good looking pack in its own right, and doesn't feel like some red-headed step sister of the 3DAP. But, unfortunately, it seems to have opened the gateway:

Enter the Nike Hoops Elite Max Air Team:

As if the name wan't already three strikes, it's sad to see such an innovative company just steal a major design innovation from someone else (I'm sure not for the first time). My theory (formed from a tenuous grasp of patent law) is that by shifting the zipper from the middle of the pack the design is changed enough to not infringe the patent. Or if the patent is infringed, it is nebulous enough that it's not worth anyone's time to go head-to-head with Nike's lawyers.

Why is this significant? I doubt anyone is really surprised a huge corporation like Nike would do something less then scrupulous. What I think it heralds is the beginning of the trizip's transition into a commonly accepted form of backpack access, rather then its current position as a fringe design. While I don't think it will ever reach the point of being listed among Top Loader, Panel Loader, Roll Top, unlike other sub-species of access (reverse lid, wrap-around panel loader, hybrid top/panel loader, split-shroud roll top) the trizip doesn't seem to cleanly fit in any of the big three, and I think it will mostly exist to one side with an * by it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Center zip sleeping bags come full circle

It seems to me that center zip sleeping bags used to be quite popular. From the earliest military bags (both wool and down) to the vintage Eddie Bauer and REI bags an eBay prowler could assume that they were once all the rage.
In recent decades they mostly got sidelined by "traditional" side entry bags, be they mummy, rectangle or other. There have been several more fringe bags that held on to the tradition, Golite's adrenaline bag, Wiggys military, a few higher end down options and some mobility bags such as the Exped dreamwalker and Feathered Friends Rock Wren.

As of a few years ago center zips started gathering steam, and have now officially gone mainstream:

Both The North Face and Mountain Hardwear now have center zip bags, the Inferno and Hyper Lamina respectively. 
I probably first noticed the trend when Sierra Designs released their Mobile Mummy and Kifaru switched their contentious Slick Bag to a center zip, but looking back there have been more trickling into the market recently.

Whether the change can be attributed to better technology (improved baffle designs?), a more cut-throat market for ruthless efficiency, or simply a desperate quest for newness is beyond me but I am very interested to try one. I have in the past used a zipperless bag I quite liked and my return to a more traditional mummy has left me underwhelmed so a center zip is next on my list. For one, with an adequately long zipper (not the short 1/4 zips on the ultralight bags) entry and exit may be easier, I think their are gains to be had in hood design, and half-asleep middle of the night adjustments may be more intuitive. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

eBay find: Woodland Dana Designs

According to the auction this was one of twelve packs made for the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team and was built off an arcflex pack.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

eBay find: vintage internal frame

This pack comes from the interesting space in history after pack makers switched to internal frames but before hipbelts were considered mandatory.

I will admit I have a soft spot for leather and felt shoulder straps no matter how outdated (or uncomfortable) they may be. The grommet matrix for strap adjustment is interesting, especially considering that with no belt torso length is a rather abstract concept.

The presence of load lifters is also interesting, as they seem to be pretty rare on older packs, and even more rare on beltless packs. Also notice the bottom of the shoulder traps is anchored directly into the frame stays via bolts.

An old McHale pack

Dan McHale posted this pack on his website as a "blast from the past." I think the most interesting part of the whole thing is his unique sleeping bag access. He said the customer didn't want any zippers so he used a side mounted drawstring protected by a flap:

I wouldn't be surprised if another older pack had the same feature but I've certainly never seen it anywhere else.

eBay find: Multicam FILBE

The only color variation I have seen to date, I full muticam FILBE pack:

Oddly enough the auction is from Poland, no theories on how it got there.

As near as I can tell there have been no modifications other then the color. Since the shoulder straps are solid cordura even the insides are printed. Apparently the interior stretch fabric for the waist belt could not be sourced and is boring old Coyote.