Feb 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm #1285681
Looks like this pack will be hitting stores soon. I'll be testing this pack extensively over the next ~5+ months, and along with another long established UL frameless pack from major manufacturer doing a review which will discuss in depth not only the features and load carrying ability of each pack, but why each pack has the load carrying ability and characteristics is does. Which aspect(s) of each pack fails first when loaded beyond capacity, things like that.
The jury will be out on that for months, so what follows is the basic numbers and some descriptive photos to better guide any potential early adopters.
First weight. My size large is 1 lb 15.4 oz for the pack, and a further 12.8 oz for the folding foam pad which comes stock.
The pack is between 10 and 11" wide, around 8" deep, and 37" from the bottom of the backpad to the top of the roll top.
Torso length. The issue of proper torso length, with and without load lifters, will be addressed in depth in the article. There's a little more than an inch of up-down adjustment with the velcro hipbelt attachment, under the lumbar pad.
The lumber pad is a thinish bit of dense foam atop a piece of plastic sheet. The upper back pad is thick 3D mesh over a corrugated plastic sheet.
The stock foam pad is a pragmatic 20" by 48".
The joints are cut down and sewn to facilitate low-profile folding. It's a very dense, rubbery closed cell foam, which explains the hefty weight for the thickness.
Fortunately you can fold it so the creepy, abstract bird eyes are not visible.
Using another pad will be tricky, as most won't be long enough. The zipper above the load lifters is a waterproof #5, and leads to an inside compartment.
Upon which LNT guidelines are printed.Feb 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm #1839569
Shoulder straps are thick, very dense foam. Against the skin is a light, wicking fabric.
The stock belt is very thin. I'll be testing the pack with both this one and the thicker Alpine belt MH offers.
Ice axe loops. I reckon the blue ones wouldn't work on many axes, and I'm not sure why there are two.
The bottom fabric sure feels like Dimension Polyant DX40, or something darn close. Should be burly. The body of the pack (dark blue) is a densely woven 100D nylon which seems like it should be a good balance between burl and lightness.
The compound back pocket on the Thruway looks fantastic. There are no dividers between the side pockets (easily reachable with pack on) and the back pocket which is quite deep. My experience building packs with similar features has shown this to be a very versatile design. An interesting addition here are the secondary, upper side pockets, also stretch mesh. They are totally open at the bottom, so presumably meant to help hold things like poles and fishing rods. The bottom compressions strap does seem to close them off, so they could likely be pressed into service to hold rain gear and the like.
The roll top buckles fit together, and the straps for the roll top can be buckled together across the back of the pack.
I'll be interested in seeing how this performs in the field. The feature set and materials are certainly to my liking.Feb 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm #1839616
Interesting looking pack. Are the two blue string loops (one of which is holding an ice axe in the picture) possibly designed for holding a pair of trekking poles?
(The tips of the poles might fit through the loops, while the mudguards just above the tips would catch on the loops. Presumably there is another strap further up to secure the rest of the poles?)Feb 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm #1839624
That's the only plausible explanation I've been able to think up. The little bungies near the top of the outside pocket would hold them.
One interesting thing I forgot to mention: no provisions whatsoever for a hydration system.Feb 14, 2012 at 9:03 pm #1839635
Wow, after that brief synopsis it looks far more well designed than when I first heard news of it. Before I just thought it was another run of the mill pack, but they put a lot of effort into it.
David, I don't know if this is in your plans but it would be nice as a side note to see if the back pad can be pressed into service as a sleeping pad. If it's as dense as you say it probably won't be any more comfortable than existing products but insulation may make up for its weight. Of course maybe cutting a regular thinlight type pad to spec may provide the same support for less weight.Feb 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm #1839661
I really dig the design of the "double" side pockets. Very nifty.Feb 15, 2012 at 7:08 am #1839723
Dustin, that has to've been the intention of MH. No other reason to go out of their way to make the pad such a good size for bivvying. I'll be integrating the stock pad into my sleeping system, and investigating how using different pads affects load carry and torso collapse.Feb 15, 2012 at 9:49 am #1839811
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
Those smaller blue loops are definitely trekking pole loops. Deuter (and maybe another manufacturer or two) has been doing them for years. Other than Osprey's Stow-on-the-Go system, they're the best method I've seen for storing the poles while not in use. Of course, a small zip tie can quickly turn a larger ice axe loop into a double one.Feb 15, 2012 at 9:55 am #1839814
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
After reading this in more detail, I am quite impressed with the design of the pack. I like the roll top system, more straps if you clip it up, or the option to clip it down. It looks like it could perform well in winter too if you can rig a way for the roll-top straps on the side to carry skis. Have fun beating this thing around Glacier and the Bob.Feb 15, 2012 at 11:02 am #1839832
I'm not sure about that pad, but everything else looks great. Simple, aesthetically pleasing, with features there if you want them, and versatile.
For 13oz you can get a full-length Z-rest or the like. I hope that "frame" is super stable, because the thickness doesn't lend itself to much warmth. Maybe not as multi-use as it seems, and makes the pack much heavier than spec.Feb 15, 2012 at 11:42 am #1839855
The foam in the stock mat is very dense, and my assumption is it will provide more resistance to torso collapse than just about any CCF of comparable thickness. This will of course be quantified.
Clayton, good to have confirmation on the trekking pole holders. Makes sense.Feb 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm #1840045
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
Will the side straps accept skis do you think, Dave?Feb 15, 2012 at 7:59 pm #1840053
I don't see why not. Will find out soon.Feb 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm #1840059
Do you know what the design brief was for this pack?
I think the name is throwing me off because sitting back here in the peanut gallery, the pack almost seems more suited for low-angle mountaineering than thru-hiking. (And those double side pockets look almost perfect for holding wands and possibly pickets.)Feb 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm #1840082
Nicholas, the MH website says it's great for thru-hikers. That said MH does have a climbing pedigree (and customer base) so it's no surprise that a lot of climbing friendly features found their way into the design.
Personally I think this may make a great alternative for my Osprey Talon 44. The outer pockets and roll top seem much better designed than the Talon and weight is comparable depending on set up. Also with the optional hip belts this single pack seems to cover a wider gamut of trips. It's kind of following the "systems" approach of UL hiking to allow it to do double duty.
I'm very interested in seeing how this pack performs. Much more interested in a piece of gear than I have been in the past.
EDIT: To confuse things even more, the thu-way has a long distance hiker description yet is categorized as a "climbing and sport" pack on their website. I think MH has no clue what they designed. Hopefully it'll be a quality generalist pack regardless of your outdoor pursuits.Feb 16, 2012 at 7:21 am #1840152
I certainly can't claim any insight into the MH design process, though I'm inclined to think they didn't just pick the name completely out of thin air. It is odd that it's in the climbing section of their website, and that this pack gets grouped with the gear designed by or in collaboration with Ueli Steck.
Perhaps they're hedging their bets. MH isn't exactly know foremost as a backpacking company, and I do think alpinists will find a lot to like about this pack. We'll see how the market reacts.
The real x-factor is going to be load carry. They went all-in on a not especially conventional suspension, which is nonetheless fairly heavy. If it tests out in the upper echeleon of contained foam mat packs (ie the Jam and Pinnacle, with 95% torso collapse at around 30 pounds), we'll be cooking with gas.Feb 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm #1840272
Good points all. I look forward to the review.Feb 20, 2012 at 8:27 am #1841854
The pack in use this weekend.Feb 20, 2012 at 8:37 am #1841858
My ThruWay 50 doesn't have the Owl eyes on the pad…maybe they thought people would get freaked out…
Here is it next to my ULA Circuit for comparison. BTW is was 34 oz. out of the box with everything (20"x48" CFF mat = 4 oz., Waffle plastic backpanel insert = 1.45, Waist Belt = 3.63 oz.). Looks pretty cool and looking forward to trying it out for a NET thru in a few weeks or so.Feb 20, 2012 at 8:54 am #1841868
Dave, do you think you can get a bear canister(bearikade)in on it's side or just vertical in there?Feb 20, 2012 at 9:46 am #1841899
Weird that what is apparently the production mat is so different! I assume it's more akin to a Thinlight to achieve such a weight?
Ken, I'm not very familiar with bear cans, so others can likely give a better answer. Just got a new Jam 50L for the same article, and the dimensions are similar (Thruway seems a bit taller). So if it fits in a Jam, it probably fits in a Thruway.
I will track down a bear can for testing in the article, as that's obviously a bit deal for an increasing number of folks.Feb 20, 2012 at 10:01 am #1841907
The production backpad is as close to being a sewn up Thinlite as I can picture. Feels just like it, looks just like it, and seems about the same thickness (maybe a little thicker).Feb 20, 2012 at 10:02 am #1841908
I noticed that too. With, what looks like, a much softer/lighter pad I wonder if the suspension will be adversely affected.
Also, does this pack have stays of any kind, I don't recall reading that it does anywhere. Then again the big companies rarely use that terminology so it just may have been lost by the marketing department?Feb 20, 2012 at 10:45 am #1841926
No stays. Just the removeable pad and the plastic bits in the center backpad.
I intend to do torso collapse testing with many different sorts of pads. Should be interesting. In any case, this definitely falls under the traditional definition of a frameless pack.Feb 20, 2012 at 11:31 am #1841950
The logo is in a different spot compared to my pack, mine is in the top left portion. Just curious as to the differences.
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