Tuesday, September 12, 2017

eBay find: Vintage Karrimor

But not so vintage, this one is actually made in Korea. Classic straight foam shoulder straps with no contouring, and a simple rectangular backpanel. As stiff as the backpanel appears in profile I assume it may be one of the foam frame sheets with integrated metal stays.

Karrimor is one of only a few makers to put a hanging belt on an internal framed pack. This particular one is attached at both sides and bottom and appears to have a good bit of adjustment for ride height.

A wide attachment area provides stability, but it can't be too securely anchored or you can prevent the belt from contouring the body properly.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

eBay Find: Mystery Ranch OD 3DAP

oddly right after I see the first OD MR military pack in my memory I stumble upon this oddity; an OD green 3 day assault pack with multicam webbing.

My assumption is that this is either a one-off for an employee or friend, or could be a limited run for the Japanese market.

Also interestingly the Futura Yoke appears to be Foliage green. If it weren't for this contrast I would have assumed this pack was foliage itself and only funny lighting was making it appear OD.

Even the seam binding inside is Multicam, someone had fun with this one.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

eBay find: Conterra Deek's Advanced Airway Medical Pack

Another brand and pack I only find out about by surfing some of my favorite eBay sellers:

Several features made it stand out to me; I am becoming more mindful of grab handles/haul loops on backpacks and this pack has one not only on the front panel of the bag (nicely padded with a length of tubing) but also on the lid itself.

The zippered top opening is reinforced with a buckle (likely to reduce stress from the top handle) and the aggressive taper of the whole pack towards the bottom isn't super common. The shoulder strap arrangement is decidedly Dana Designs in style, with a loop field and hook-clad webbing for strap length adjustments.

The side zipper wings along with the zippered top-loader are reminiscent of the First Spear Pack that not so long ago took Pinterest and social media by storm. Obviously the FS pack has many differences, but I wonder if there are other medical packs out there with this feature that predate both packs.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dana Design Arc Altitude Jet Pack

No matter how much time I spend digging, I still turn up Dana Designs packs I haven't seen before. Looking at some old catalogues online I found this cat:

It is probably the first time I've seen a major deviation from DD's famous torpedo front pockets. It is constructed in much the same way, as one continuous piece of fabric divided by a daisy chain (on my DD packs the pockets are actually connected if you care to stick your finger between the bartacks), but obviously this stops before the bottom. The entire bottom third of the pocket appears to transition to one full-width pocket, I cannot say this is terribly appealing as most anything you would put in the pockets would fall and mingle, losing the organization gained by splitting the pockets. Since this is the only pack I've seen without the full split I'll assume other's agreed.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

eBay find: Custom ALICE panel

Appears to be a custom or small-batch MOLLE panel for an ALICE frame, no brand or label mentioned in the auction.

What I find most interesting is the shape of the pad on the suspension side, it has more coverage then nearly anything else I've seen slipped over the ol' girl's shoulders:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

eBay find: OD green NICE frame

Just as it says, I haven't seen too much OD anything from Mystery Ranch (except of course the accents on the green and grey Mountain packs); I was quite tempted:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

eBay find: Dana Designs Flip

A fairly simple, stripped down DD pack from what I assume is the early, leather-patch days.

A few features I thought worth calling out; like several Dana packs the compression is one continuous strap with the buckles on the user side. Some Dana packs are tacked in the middle of the strap to keep it from wandering too much, but the plastic slots imply to me that this one is not. Also like many Dana packs the top ladderlock is set on a longer piece of webbing then the bottom, I assume there is a very good reason but I have not found it yet.

The panel layout (distinct and contrasting front and side panels) with the zippered top-loading is an obvious ancestor to the current Hill People Gear Ute and Umlindi packs, probably even more so then the continuous panel Kifaru Lateseason and Day Stalker that is easy to assume is the main source of DNA for their packs.

The backpanel is kept typically spare, with a slight flare at the bottom corners providing a bit of wrap around before turning into a simple web belt.

The bottom shows two things, the dimension in the lower portion of the pack is actually supplied by darts, and not panels, as most modern packs use. Also the wrap around in the bottom corners is encouraged by the bottom panel, allowing them to be stuffed and shaped with the pack contents if the user is patient and fastidious enough.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

eBay find: Down East MOLLE panel

Another bit of new trickle-down surplus, I assume a specialized bit for breachers or other heavy-hauling tasks.

The core of the system appears to be a slip-over flat PALS panel for the 1606 frame with a standard MOLLE II hipbelt and shoulder straps.

Additional pouches came with the kit, their non-standard size implies a fairly specific use but they are certainly beyond my abilities to ID. The panel also seems to include an integrated cargo flap similar to many hunting packs.

Flat PALS panels are reasonably common for ALICE frames, which would normally be compatible with the 1606, but this one at least appears to be purpose built for the newer style frame and the picture is too cropped for me to guess if it is backwards compatible.

Monday, May 22, 2017

eBay find: Mystery Ranch Tall NICE frame

A truly unique specimen, I can only assume this predates the current load lifter kit. The shortcoming of the Nice frame has always been its short height, this solution (simply extending the frame) presents backward compatibility issues since it would move every MR pack up too high on the frame.

I find it particularly interesting that they chose to change the basic geometry of the frame for the increased height, the center frame stay splits into a "Y" to the upper corners, rather then staying parallel like other MR frames.

A more studied MR aficionado could probably date this pack more accurately by the optifade colorway which I know was only offered for a short period.

While the new Guidelite and SPEAR frames solve the height issue handily with no backward compatibility issues, it is always fun to think of what might have been, if MR had went with this frame height from the beginning they probably would lost millions in government contracts, but perhaps had more market share in the hunting world.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The first Mobility Bag?

I find mobility bags interesting.

It is certainly a niche part of the market, and one category that still has quite a bit of room left for innovation. Despite the push for multipurpose gear and lighter base weights in the UL community they still don't seem to hold much market share.

I'm also very interested in the origins of things. Even focused on the relatively young outdoor gear market, this is seldom an interest that I can exercise with any certainty, but in this case I might have caught a break:

I'm not sure where I first found this picture, but the only source I can find currently is an article over at Science in the Cold War. According to the caption on their version of the photo it hails from 1959, at Ladd Air Force Base in Alaska. Its easy to see that the older canvas shelled feather bag was employed for this experiment, which is made easier by its center zip, which modern mobility bags seem to be largely returning too.

I think it safe to say for the moment that this is the oldest example of a modern sleeping bag with arm and leg openings, so for now at least I'm declaring it the first true mobility bag.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Unique elbow articulation

I'm always on the lookout for unique articulation in garments, this is one of the more unique elbows I have seen:

I did not record the details as well as I should have, I only know it was a woman's jacket for sale on eBay. It goes without saying that pleats placed perpendicular to each other are uncommon.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

eBay find: Jansport water bottle innovation

Not something I've seen before, and a placement I've only joked about:

Of course it would only really work with bike bottles which I don't care for, but it would likely allow for fast access with less contortion then is required for most low mounted bottle pockets.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Boreas Sapa Trizip

As evidenced by the dead link on my previous trizip musings, Boreas once again discontinued their trizip offering.

When asked at a trade show the response from a Boreas employee was that it was removed from the line because the Boreas designer and Dana Gleason are "good friends."

What I read into it is that MR didn't mind so long as their focus was on military and hunting sales, but now that MR has switched focus back to a recreational pack line the Boreas was much more of a direct competitor.

If this is in fact what happened this could be a comforting case of mutual respect and accommodation that is often all too lacking in the outdoor gear industry.

But on the other hand, it appears to still be for sale in Germany:

de.boreasgear.com Sapa trek

Saturday, April 22, 2017

eBay find: T3 Tora Bora Pack

The trizip is spreading.

I assume this pack has been out for awhile but I only here about most things when they trickle down to eBay:


Appears to be a stripped-down trizip bag, but with a worrisome omission of front compression.

Uses non-waterproof zippers, but they at least appear to be good #10s

This one is on some kind of updated ALICE frame, but it doesn't appear to be either the Tactical Tailor or TAG version judging from the flat crossmembers. Possibly LBT?

The belt and shoulder straps seem to share a lot of DNA with the now discontinued TAG ALICE stuff, I wouldn't be surprised if they manufactured these for T3.

As evidenced by the T3 homepage, the belt is both ALICE and MOLLE compatible, the version on their site ships with a Down East frame. If more ALICE upgrade makers built their belts this way there would be a lot more good MOLLE retrofit options.

Due to the lack of mention I think it is safe to say this design is not under license from Mystery Ranch. Since I do not believe the trizip is patented it is basically fair game, but it is still a bold move in a segment of the industry traditionally quite sensitive to IP and reputation in general.

The one real difference I spy between this design and a Mystery Ranch is the addition of a zipper pull at the bottom of the vertical zipper, allowing access to the bottom of the pack without opening the whole front.

I have no time table on such a prediction, but it certainly seems likely that this form of pack opening will continue to spread until someday it may even be considered a normal sight.