Jan 25, 2006 at 9:12 am #1217608
I’m currently using the GG Mariposa and really like it.
I’m trying to put a system together whereby I can carry my 4×5 setup–I could do it with the Mariposa–but it would not be as convenient to get to equipment.
Just wondering if anyone is familiar with a front loading pack that is at least sub 2 lbs. that might work?
RonJan 25, 2006 at 9:27 am #1349249
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
I’ve been on a similar search, as I much prefer front (panel) loading. Until just recently, it seems like all UL/frameless packs are toploaders, as it is lighter to cinch up the top with a piece of cord and cordlock than using zippers.
However, Ron Moak of Six Moon Designs recently came out with the Essence Pack, which boasts front loading and weighs just 13oz!Jan 25, 2006 at 9:27 am #1349250
@kdesignLocale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Take a look at the new 6 Moons Design “Essence”. I would be careful about high density loads w/ such a light pack,however.Jan 25, 2006 at 10:37 am #1349257
The SMD Essence pack ordered ~3 wks ago arrived today. A “ReaderReview” is in progress at this time and will be updated for some days to come as time permits and more experienced is gained with the SMD Essence pack.
In case my poorly written review creates more questions than it answers, feel free to post back here and I will attempt to concisely answer any questions posted. Please, feel free to point out any errors in my review, or ways to improve it. Many thanks, pjJan 25, 2006 at 11:03 am #1349259
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Thanks for the quick write up of your initial impressions of this pack. Can you post a few pics? I am especially intrigued about this pack’s front loading and would like to see how it all works.Jan 25, 2006 at 11:19 am #1349260
I’m sorry. I’ve never owned a camera, film or digital.
Once either Franco, or Rick Dreher adopt me and I move in, I should have access to plenty of camera equipment.
All I can say is that the pics of the Essence pack on the SMD website don’t do it justice. I wish that the original pics of the pack which were removed from the webpage two or three weeks ago, IIRC, were still present. There were blue hyperlinks and one provided an excellent view of the ext. collar and storm flap. Of course, one of those pics was of the initial design for securing the pad in place.Jan 25, 2006 at 12:02 pm #1349263
Thanks for the in depth comments. Just to correct a note of confusion in your posting. The only places grosgrain webbing is used in the pack are in the haul loop and the ice axe loop. All other webbing used through out the pack is standard Nylon webbing. While heaver than grosgrain it has the best wear life available. The webbing in the hip belt is 1.5 inch wide.
As to the buckles, they are something we are monitoring. The longest delay in bringing the pack to production was in trying to secure small light buckles. I spent over 6 months looking at suppliers around the globe and couldn’t find exactly what I’m looking for. We’re still looking at different options for future production. Needless to say if problems with existing buckles arise in the field we’ll quickly address any problems.
I hope to get better photos of the pack on the website. I only had the production prototype a couple of hours before needing to send it back. Plus my photography skills are somewhat lacking. There’s only so many hat’s I can wear well. Anyway I’ve got a professional photographer lined up and we’ll try to get more photos up on the web. Don’t have an exact date but bear with us.
RonJan 25, 2006 at 12:18 pm #1349264
I noticed in your description of the Essence pack that you didn’t mention anything about hipbelt padding. Does this indicate that the hipbelt doesn’t have any padding? If not, are the 8-9″ of the back padding material that connect the webbing to the pack wider than 2″ webbing, creating unpadded, wide “wings” like Golite has on a couple of their packs (dawn, gust, jam)?Jan 25, 2006 at 12:19 pm #1349265
Just finished firing off an email to you & I decide to check back here and found your post waiting. Many thanks for the clarification. I really never knew the difference between plain webbing and grosgrain. I’m still not sure that I got it down. I will update the Review using your guidelines. If I still get it wrong, please let me know again.
BTW, the pack looks great. “WOW” was all I could keep on saying to myself. You and Six Moon Designs sure do NOT disappoint. I should have expected such an excellent product with such a high level of design and construction after using your Lunar Solo ‘e’ tent. Can’t wait to get the Essence pack out on the trail and put it through its paces.Jan 25, 2006 at 12:22 pm #1349267
Correct, no padding in the hip-belt. Yes – it’s wider than the webbing portion of the hip-belt.
Here’s the dimensions:
1) those “rectangles” of additional connecting/support material = 4″ wide x ~4.5″ long.
2) the super-“wings”/non-webbing portion of the hip-belt: 5.5″ wide near the pack-bag tapering down to 3.5″ wide where the webbing initally attaches. It’s also 9” long (lucky guess on my part).
I should add that the non-webbing portion of the hip-belt (i.e., the super-“wings”) also function as the back of the hip-belt pockets.
The GoLite Gust and Jam have mini-wings which seem to do an adequate job for the pack weights they are intended to carry. The SMD Essence pack’s “wings” (if I may call them that, for lack of a better term, they are really much more than wings) are really much more substantial and “wings” (???) is probably NOT the proper term to use to describe them.
I’ll update the Review tomorrow afternoon (EST) after I load the pack up and jog up and down some stairs for 5 or 10 minutes with ~20lbs in the pack.Jan 25, 2006 at 2:08 pm #1349286
Ryan FaulknerBPL Member
Last night I took a long hard look at my first ul pack, a gregory advent pro, and decided, I was going to cut it up :-). I never use it, it was 2lbs 10oz in size large, so I cut off basicaly everything except the side pockets, now the weight is 2lbs.
sadly, I will still never use it and now cant sell it. oh well, mabey for an expedition snow shoeing trip in the future I will need the volume? but for even a week, I dont need more than 2200cu in.
any way, it is a good front loader for a lightweight backpacker, but 1000 cu in too large for me. :-)Jan 25, 2006 at 2:36 pm #1349294
Mark W HeningerMember
@heningerLocale: Pacific Northwest
I got my pack today, so I’ll post some picts tonight hopefully.
As an aside, I am quite impressed with the pack. Its quite a beautiful thing to look at and I’ve already learned a few things from its contruction that I’m going to apply to a pack I’m sewing for SUL stuff (6 oz pack).
My only concern is that the way the shoulder strap is attached to the pack at the shoulder. It does not seem to have the same reinforcement I’ve seen in other UL packs. Maybe they’ll hold just fine, and I have no doubt SMD will stand behind it under normal usage, but something I’m going to really watch.
I’m going to go on a 4 day trip next week, where this pack will serve duty and I’ll write a review on my return.Jan 25, 2006 at 3:15 pm #1349300
I’d have to say the response for the Essence was extremely overwhelming. We sold out the first production run in under two weeks. There are a number of people on this site who’ve ordered packs but will need to wait until the next production run to receive them. I’ve still got a few packs left to ship, if you didn’t get in the initial run, you’ll be notified individually.
However, the speed of the sales has caught me in a bit of a bind. Normally it takes quite sometime to sale that many packs. As a result, I’ve got time to clear the cobwebs of the first design and factor in feed back from users before starting the next production run. As many of you are well aware of, I’m very receptive to design enhancements and to making changes that will make the packs better.
I’m holding back the start of the next production run for about 30 days in order to gather feedback and resolve any unforeseen issues. If we uncover any problems affecting the initial production run, of course we’ll correct them. So for those of you lucky enough to get yours first let me know what works and what doesn’t. Those who follow will be sincerely appreciative.
RonJan 25, 2006 at 8:09 pm #1349318
Thanks for all the input with regard to my original post—The Essence pack sounds precisely what I am looking for–in fact I would have to say at 13oz. it exceeds what I thought might be avaiable in a front loading pack..
I’m only sad that its not available until March now–but intend to get on Ron Moak’s list!
Thanks Paul for your detailed review!Jan 26, 2006 at 2:01 am #1349326
OK. Who can sleep when they’ve just gotten a new pack? Certainly, not me.
To find the new info, scroll down to the bold heading: Wednesday Evening GMT-5:00, 25jan2006 for the new info.
Only minor spelling, grammar, and wording changes have been made to the previous info.Jan 26, 2006 at 9:47 am #1349344
@kdesignLocale: Mythical State of Jefferson
When’s the book coming out? ;-)>
Looking forward to your field tests.
You should consider getting involved in the Backpackgeartest.org circuit.Jan 26, 2006 at 11:16 am #1349348
Sorry ’bout the length. Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I felt that since I couldn’t post photos since I don’t own a camera that the thousand words would, in some small part, make up for no photos. I sure hope someone else can post some photos. It’s really quite an impressive looking pack.
I’ll keep the field test shorter.
>>”You should consider getting involved in the Backpackgeartest.org circuit.”
Nah. I’m a hack.Jan 26, 2006 at 11:40 am #1349351
Does the SMD Solo Lunar fit in the Essence pack well or should it fit outside?Jan 26, 2006 at 12:02 pm #1349358
@foodLocale: Colorado Rockies
It is a perfect fit in the long mesh pocket of the Essence.Jan 26, 2006 at 12:04 pm #1349359
Mike, Haven’t tried. It’s packed away for the winter. I’ll dig it out and post back later – prob. this weekend. I’ll make a new post so that it shows up on your “New Posts” listing.Jan 26, 2006 at 12:13 pm #1349360
Hmmm… I just might have to get on the waiting list for the next production batch.Jan 26, 2006 at 12:47 pm #1349362
I received my Essence pack today. It weighs 369g (13.01 oz) as advertised.
I won’t even attempt the voluminous treatise of pj but will refer to some of the points he made.
1) extension collar cord lock slippage – mine slips too. I thought perhaps the cord was too smooth for the cord lock to grip. I tried braided masons line that was somewhat coarser that slightly improved the grip. I then tried a light weight
round cord used in mini-blinds thinking the round cross section might help. It didn’t, perhaps because of its fine finish. Note that the cord lock used in the compression system is identical and holds well on a larger diameter round cord with a somewhat coarser finish.
I don’t believe this is as big an issue as pj because there won’t be much tension on this cord lock when the compression system is in place.
This cord lock may be the lightest I’ve ever seen. It weighs 1g and I cannot see the steel spring contained in a typical cord lock.
2) The top pocket is way cool! Without removing your pack you can easily undo the zipper behind your head and access an area that can easily hold my wadded up rain gear, my insulation layer and wind shell. I chill easily, so frequently I start the day wearing my insulation layer then once I warm up l need to remove my pack to stash it inside. With the Essence I can easily stash it in the top pocket without taking it off.
3) belt pockets – I have one minor issue with the zipper on the left belt pocket. When trying to zip it closed after being unzipped to its fullest extent it binds. My preliminary assessment is this because the zipper is going around the outside corner of the pocket and traveling back towards the belt, almost as if the zipper is 1/2″ too long. The zipper on the right side pocket ends at the corner and works easily with one hand.
Ron, congratulations on selling out your first shipment of packs, you got a lot of convenience designed into 13 oz.Jan 26, 2006 at 1:13 pm #1349365
Mike, Since my memory already failed me once today, even though I was very confident of my answer this time, I wanted to actually check – just in case I was getting confused with another shelter.
Ok. The SMD Lunar Solo ‘e’ fits no problem at all either inside the pack or in the tall side pocket. Also, the original HS Squall which packs both narrower and much taller even fits. The ID eVENT Unishelter fits easily. I’ve placed its sectioned hoop pole between fold of the GG Nightlight torso pad to further support the v-frame. I’ll be taking the ‘Uni’ just in case I bivy overnight in the nearby State Park.
I’ve loaded the pack up with winter gear (what little I actually have) and more water than I need. Weighed the pack at 20lb.
The pack is stuffed. Could fit only a bit more in it based upon how extended the storm flap retaining/compression straps are. However, I don’t have a down winter sleeping bag yet. Temps may dip into the teens, so the WM Highlite won’t do. What’s adding weight and VOLUME to the pack is a MtnHW Trekker (short) 20deg 3D bag at 44oz. Guess it’s simulating some food volume and a bit of weight over a 20deg winter down bag. The BMW Cocoon and Montbell Thermawrap pants and some down socks should easily get me into the teens even though I’m a cold sleeper.
Pack carries real nice and feels comfortable. Really need 12-14 hrs on the trail to find out though.
I added a second cord lock to the ext. collar cord. Both combined hold real well. I’ll probably just remove the original one even though it’s very small and light and leave the second.
I found one minor issue now that I’ve loaded up the belt pockets. The outer surface of the web pocket was accidently stitched to the back of the pocket where the additional rectangular piece of belt material is stitched furthest from the pack bag. I just snipped the thread. The thread holes in the silnylon of the belt pocket are virtually invisible and are not facing upwards. It shouldn’t be too difficult to seal with some seam sealer for silnyon.
I’ve “popped” more of the buckles, once retensioning the pad in position after inserted the “Uni” poles. It is still intact and functioning perfectly, as is one of the five outer buckles that “popped” open (no…not the bottom one again). I’ve been paying more attention to how hard I pull on them and didn’t think that I was over doing it, but apparently I was. Three times now with no damage to the buckles. They continue to hold well even after being over tensioned.Jan 26, 2006 at 3:44 pm #1349381
>> I’ve “popped” more of the buckles, once retensioning the pad < < It may seem that the buckles are an item that needs to be scrutinized. Not having seen them, I wonder if getting a different (more reliable?) buckle would be more advantageous when considering the difference in overall weight. I have already placed my order for the next production. I hope these items that have been revealed will be addressed by then. I have the SMD Lunar Solo-e and like the product, with one exception and that is how the velcro closure of the vestibule is positioned, but that is easy to live with.Jan 26, 2006 at 5:20 pm #1349397
Mike, Check out the SMD website for the Lunar Solo ‘e’. Here is an excerpt:
* New for 06 Zipper Vestibule Closure makes opening and closing the vestibule a snap.
* New for 06 Single Piece Bathtub Floor makes a more watertight floor.
As far as the buckles, maybe it’s just me – pulling too hard. The buckles don’t break and still function fine.
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