Mountaineers continue to push the boundaries of fast and light in increasingly impressive Alpine ascents. In the quest for success climbers have been traveling farther, faster and lighter, and they require a pack that mirrors the dynamic nature of their climbing style. The prototype pack that I have designed and built can do just that.

Features

  • Articulated harness that follows the movements of your body with thermoformed foam straps
  • Unique Dynamic compression strap system handles a huge range of load sizes (15L – 70L)
  • Modular bag can be removed and replaced, as can the brain
  • Constructed of entirely waterproof materials, with water resistant taped seams
  • Bottom zipper access
  • Ergonomic water bottle pocket
  • Dual ice axe holders
  • Front kangaroo pocket and easy access map pocket on brain
  • Easy to see reflective zipper pulls

At its core, the pack is designed around freedom of movement. The harness was inspired by and mimics the way in which the human skeleton moves, without sacrificing the compressive stiffness required by a frame to cary heavy loads. The harness is centered around a lumbar pad that is contoured to rest on the muscles of lower sacrum of the spine and buttocks. Extending from this piece are the thermoformed hipbelts, the same of which are found in the Gregory Response harness system. They are mounted on freely moving universal joints, allowing a huge range of motion. This is important because the hips can move front to back by as much as 10 degrees relative to one another. Finally, the frame to which the pack is attached comes to a single point, also a universal joint, on top of the lumbar pad. All of this combines to give unrivaled freedom of movement, without sacrificing the ability to transfer heavy loads to the hips.

Why all the focus on freedom of movement? Consider a climber who is moving fast on an approach over a boulder or ice field. They are likely carrying a heavy load of climbing equipment and potentially placing little or no protective gear. In this situation, balance is key. The ability to move fluidly with your load, to be able to reach hand holds, or stem your feet out could prevent a disastrous fall.

click the link to see a deomonstration of how the suspension works     |     Backpack harness motion

The innovation in the pack doesn’t stop there. What about on summit day or an acclimatization hike, when you don’t need a full 70L pack? This pack also incorporates a novel compression strap system. Like other systems, it has sewn into the bag plastic stiffening stays that run the length of the main sack, preventing the “slumping” and bulging of loads when the pack is compressed to smaller sizes. The straps running under the bottom of the pack greatly increase functionality in a totally new way. Instead of being anchored underneath and up against the back, the straps are anchored mid way in the bottom portion, sewn directly into the seam. They then run back to the harness where they areredirected through a central stay on the main frame of the pack to terminate in a buckle in the usual place. This design allows one to nearly completely compress the bottom of the pack, almost like an accordion. In addition to preventing similar bulging underneath the pack when compressed, this serves to move the bottom of the pack up, out of the way of possible harnesses, or reducing snagging when scrambling.

Other human factors inspired features include reflective zipper pulls so they’re easy to spot at night when using a headlamp, or an easy to reach water bottle pocket. An elastic map pocket is also included on the brain, so that one can easily access their map without having the hassle of digging blindly in the brain of the pack. The brain is articulated and removable, and sits on top of a telescoping drawcord collar on the pack. The entire pack is modular, meaning you can exchange hipbelt and shoulder strap sizes, as well as remove the entire pack. This could allow the harness to be adapted to carry construction materials for base camps or a person in a rescue situation, for example.

See photos of the design and construction process

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