Sometimes the timeframe between design idea and final product is pretty short. There are those designs that take years to tease from concept to product. The Feather Pack is one such design.
Over four years ago, I was working on some Super Ultralight designs to get my basic backcountry kit down to the sub six pound range. With most of the rest of my gear sorted out, I turned my attention to the pack. But what kind of pack should it be?
Face it there's a bunch of SUL Packs already on the market today. They are all based in large part by lightweight materials for the core, light mesh pockets on the outside, a small volume to reduce materials and an absolute minimum of features.
I sketched and tossed out numerous uninteresting and boring designs. Finally I stopped designing and ask myself, "How do I use my pack?" I tried to look at every aspect of how I used my pack, from the time I wake up in the morning and load my pack, through the course of the day as stop for breaks, lunch, take off and on rain gear or warmer clothes, get water, check maps, etc.
In my case, I like to keep everything on the outside that I expect to need in a hurry. This includes my Gatewood Cape (as shelter and rain gear), my wind shirt, daily snacks, maps, water, water filter (when I carry one) and maybe even a down jacket to toss on during rest stops on cold days.
Inside of the top of my pack is my food bag that I can quickly access for my Breakfast and Lunch. I like to hike and hour or two in the cool of the morning, locate a nice sunny spot with great view to relax and soak up the morning sun while eating breakfast. The rest of the contents of my pack, rarely get touched before stopping for camp in the evening.
Since I like to pack a bunch of stuff on the outside of the pack, I wanted a nice sized pocket to keep it well constrained and protected. This called for a larger than normal exterior pocket. To allow the pocket to hold a wide variety of gear, I made a single pocket that wraps around the pack. With a depth of up to three inches, it can hold a lot of gear.
Having a large pocket simplifies storage. Having one made out of mesh can be a nightmare. The extra mesh is more subject to snagging on brush. By making the exterior pocket out of our toughest Dyneema Diamond rip-stop, we solve two problems at once. No more snagged and ripped mesh and I'm using our toughest material where it'll do the most good. To allow the contents of the exterior pocket to breath, a strip of mesh is sewn into the bottom of the pocket.
After several days of hiking, the food bag shrinks and the pack starts to get a little floppy. To enhance the compression, I've added two compression straps that wrap around the body of the pack. Since the straps run under the exterior pocket, they don't compromise the contents of the pocket.
For improved carry comfort, I've incorporated a simple pad pocket into the pack. When used with one of our optional hip belts, it can help transfer the load from your shoulders to your hips.
Personally, I like packs that are neat and tidy. Few things bug me more than seeing a pack out on the trail that looks like a Chinese laundry. So I designed a dual closure system. In most cases the top of the pack is secured by a water resistance zipper closure. This make the pack look clean and keeps your contents dry. For those cases where you need to pack a bit extra, you can close the top via a roll top and expand the capacity by several hundred cubic inches.
I've incorporated a zippered pocket in the top of the pack. It's perfect for storing maps, wallet or anything you'd need easy access.
For people wanting a bit more storage and support, the Feather has been designed to work with either our Wing Belt or Webbing Belt.
Over its four plus year development cycle, I've tested the Feather on hundreds of trail miles. These include along the Continental Divide in New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana. I've carried it through the High Sierra and the lava mountains of Oregon Cascades. It's become my go to pack for Super Ultralight adventures.
The Feather Pack will be available the 1st Quarter of 2012. Price is still to be determined.
Weight: 11 oz.
Volume: 2300 - 2500 cu. in. (depending upon size)
Exterior Pocket: Dyneema Diamond
Core Pack: 210 Oxford
Extension: 70D Silicon Nylon
Bottom: 420D Pack Cloth
Body Contact: DriGlide - Low Friction and Dissipates Moisture