- Jun 4, 2019 at 5:24 am #3596131
Gatheing ideas for a MYOG pack, I noticed a comment on how my ULA Catalyst’s 4-strap/1-buckle hipbelt is a sham. Pull on the upper (or lower) straps on each side and the “V” straps to the buckle just equalizes/cancels the effect. How did I not notice this all these years?
Then I see SMD has a big, funky four-point buckle. And LiteAF uses a simple buckle, but sews the webbing right next to the buckle to isolate each leg of the “V” straps. Both of these designs look like they would actually adjust the cant/fit of the hipbelt.
Would you agree?Jun 4, 2019 at 10:54 am #3596149
Take a look at the 4 strap system on the Seek Outside hipbelts. They use two separate buckles for the top and bottom straps and I find it quite comfortable. It allows you to set the tension on each independently to get a good fit.Jun 4, 2019 at 11:41 am #3596152
James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Well, 4 straps is a big waste. I use a 3/4″ “belt” hip strap that is sewn in to the sides of the pack. For any loads up to 30-35 pounds, it is fine.Jun 4, 2019 at 12:17 pm #3596162
Depends on your body type. I have to cinch a narrow hip belt very tight to get it to hold. A wider belt with 4 straps I can leave looser.Jun 4, 2019 at 7:13 pm #3596197
James—HYOP (heft your own pack) as they say. I prefer a pack with a padded hipbelt.
Rob—Yes, I’ve seen those two buckle hipbelts on Seek Outside’s, as well as on McHale’s and also Paul McLaughlin’s MYOG packs. (Photos are way down the page.)
If I can get most of the same effect with one buckle, I’ll go that route for ease of buckling and unbuckling my pack. Hence my curiosity about SMD’s and LiteAF’s approach.
Anyone with one of those packs have thoughts on the hipbelt adjustments?Jun 4, 2019 at 8:41 pm #3596215
I love the 4 strap hipbelt on my Zpacks Arc Haul.Jun 4, 2019 at 9:04 pm #3596220
Your pack looks like it has the “V” straps sewn next to the buckle which makes sense.
Thanks for chiming in!Jun 5, 2019 at 5:42 am #3596313
Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Not sure how much control of the “cant/fit” of the belt can be achieved by different types of connections between the belt and the belt buckle. The good ones I’ve seen do simplify tightening the belt, and help maintain its conical shape. The goal IMO is to keep the back of the belt from sliding downward, and the buckle and belt front from pulling against the tummy. If that occurs under one’s usual load, the suspension is not working, regardless of the design, make or model of pack.
For those with steel-like musculature, that may make little difference, and not substantially hamper comfort. But for many, it creates discomfort in the short run, and injury to the spine in the long run.
The conical shape of most belts no doubt helps to keep a pack from slipping downward. However, with enough weight and enough distance, the pack will slip. And since different body shapes will fit different cone shapes, there is no ‘one size fits all.’ If the front of the belt is free to ride up, the back of the belt is free to ride down to some extent, no matter how well the belt fits the body contours, and how well the straps connecting the belt to the buckle help maintain the belt’s conical shape.
At one time, Osprey had ovens in pack shops that heated up the foam in belts to mold to different body shapes. But the full suspended mesh back bands were strung so tight, they were inferior to a simple foam back cushion. More recently, Osprey has tried to limit the amount that the front of the belt can ride up by stiffening the belt, and making the connection of the back of the belt to the pack more rigid to keep the front of the belt from riding up. That seems to be a work in progress, as haven’t seen too many raves about Ospreys lately.
Despite all the focus of BPL on lighter and more compact gear, a lot of the packs in use are quite large, and do not seem to have shrunk very much. This led me to begin by limiting the size of the pack, and then finding and using gear that will fit into it comfortably. With lighter gear becoming available, along with MYOG, this can be accomplished. The tough part is to either find, or design and build, a pack suspension that addresses the above issues, especially taking the pack weight off the back and placing it on the “hips.” A look at skeletal shapes suggests that this means resting the weight over the Iliac crests.
It is said that this places all the weight on the feet, legs, knee and hip joints; however, that’s all we have between the body and the ground, so that is where the weight is going to fall regardless. The goal is to get the weight off the back. Knees can be replaced (granted not as a first resort), but spines cannot. Concern for both suggests that the real road to pack heaven is to lighten up. Along with a very light kit, this also means food caches no more than seven days apart, or less; footwear and pack suspensions that remain comfortable for extended periods; and avoiding camping near bear populated areas that require heavy and bulky food canisters. This involves trying before buying and test runs, and often it is not possible to ‘try before you buy.’ For me that has been the most expensive part of backpacking, but well worth it for the enjoyment. And unlike footwear, packs and suspensions are susceptible to MYOG, and that cuts way down on the expense of repeated pack purchases.Jun 6, 2019 at 7:57 pm #3596558
Sam—I’ll find out how well my MYOG pack’s hipbelt stays up when I get it all done and try it out. I don’t have a problem with my Catalyst’s belt slipping down, so I’m hopeful.
I live in California and love going up into the Sierra, so bear cans are part of the price (in more ways than one) of my trips. The whole focus of my MYOG project is to hold a can sideways. Once I get a mockup made (or maybe after the final pack), I’ll post it on the forum.Jun 7, 2019 at 12:47 am #3596588
Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
I noticed a comment on how my ULA Catalyst’s 4-strap/1-buckle hipbelt is a sham. Pull on the upper (or lower) straps on each side and the “V” straps to the buckle just equalizes/cancels the effect. How did I not notice this all these years?
I’m not sure that’s the purpose of the V-straps. I think the fact that the strap slides in the buckle enables the belt to passively follow your body contours while still holding both edges of the wide belt snugly against you. A single strap in the middle would concentrate pressure, limiting the benefit of a wide hipbelt. Two separately adjusted straps could work, but you’d have to get both straps adjusted perfectly for the belt to follow your contours. The sliding “V” is a good design IMHO.
Yes, ULA could have used a single adjuster on each “V” with the other end hard-sewn–and still get the benefit of the sliding “V”–but the dual adjusters work just fine.Jun 7, 2019 at 7:06 pm #3596684
Todd—That’s a very interesting thought. I can’t quite visualize all the forces and which might be better: the ULA design or the two buckle design. Of course, I could try making both and try them out on some trips, though that’s a lot of sewing and work!
Waymark Gear has the V-straps with one adjuster on each, which is simpler to tighten.Jun 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm #3596787
Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Dartmoor, Devon
When in doubt, I’d suggest following Dan McHale. He’s a wise old bird, and I’ll bet he’s tried pretty much every solution in his time. This is how he does it:
Not the most convenient, perhaps, but I’ll bet that it’s effective. And you’re wearing the pack far more than you’re taking it on and off, so my thinking would be that functionality trumps convenience for this application.Jun 9, 2019 at 3:31 pm #3596907
Geoff—Yes, thanks. I did mention above that I’d seen McHale’s method and I still might try it sometime.Jun 10, 2019 at 12:14 am #3596965
Kenneth KeatingBPL Member
@kkkeatingLocale: Sacramento, Calif
My Elemental Horizons used to have the single buckle, 4-Strap V arrangement. But having the single buckle just equalized the tension on the upper and lower straps. I had them custom build me a hip belt with four straps, two buckles, and this arrangement allows me a lot more adjustment. I can tighten the upper set of straps differently than the lower set, and this works out great. I’m thin, and with single buckle the hip belt would slid down past my hips no matter how I tight I tighten the straps. With two buckles, I tighten the upper set to a smaller diameter that the lower set, and this prevents the upper set from sliding down past my hips. Works great!Jun 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm #3597061
Ken—Now that’s a very clear comparison. Thanks for chiming in!Jun 14, 2019 at 8:37 pm #3597867
Sam CBPL Member
I have both a 2014 Fusion 50 (SMD) and an Ohm 2.0 (ULA). You can definitely see Brian Finkel’s influence on the SMD belt and both belts are interchangeable with each brand. In my opinion the ULA belt is far more comfortable and if anything the plastic sheet in the SMD belt is the scam however with the SMD belt, unlike with the ULA belt, is that you can adjust only the top or bottom. The SMD buckle also digs into my belly while the ULA buckle does not. Well, at least not as much.
I am not really sure why the ULA belt has two sets of adjusters per side; when you pull one (top or bottom) it tightens the other and as you say, “cancels the other out”.
One thing that I have done with both belts is to remove their own respective buckle systems and then to replace each with a two strap system with each strap having its own buckle. I am not sure why, but I find this to be more comfortable.
There is nothing wrong with a single 1″ strap/buckle attachment, either, and 1 1/2″ strap and buckle may also be a consideration.Jun 15, 2019 at 5:29 am #3597955
Sam—Another vote for two buckles. I can see how that’d give you the best adjustablility.
However, I’m going to stick to one buckle and sew the V-straps right next to it on each side (like LiteAF and Zpacks).
I figure I’ll get much of the effect of two buckles and I’ll only have to “do up” one buckle, keeping the operating of the belt simpler.Jun 15, 2019 at 11:04 am #3597965
Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Dartmoor, Devon
I’m still questioning the way that you seem to be prioritising convenience over effectiveness.
In a typical day I’ll be adjusting my hip belt for perhaps 1 minute, but I’ll be walking for 10 hours.
Personally I’d rather have the most effective possible belt design, even if it took a few more seconds each day to adjust.Jun 15, 2019 at 11:43 am #3597969
I appreciate Geoff’s point of view and cannot logically argue against it. While the Zpacks single-buckle/2-adjusters-per-side design works well, I think the double-buckle design offers comparatively more adjustability and would be an improvement.
I suppose the real question is, do you need that improvement or does the single buckle design work sufficiently well for your purposes?
I do strongly prefer the adjusters to be located at the belt attachment point rather that integrated into the buckle. MUCH easier to tighten/adjust by pulling forward rather than backward.Jun 15, 2019 at 3:44 pm #3597991
Geoff—Well I haven’t tried both ways, so I’m just going on imagination. I don’t like to much fiddle factor, so I’ll try the one buckle method and see how it goes.
My ULA Catalyst has been rather comfortable and it doesn’t have real upper and lower strap adjustments on the hipbelt. If I sew the V-straps as I’ve described I’ll have a real improvement.
The Catalyst’s two side buckles for the roll top are one too many for my taste, so I’ll use one instead. Another example of reducing the fiddle factor.Jun 15, 2019 at 3:49 pm #3597993
JCH—Like I said to Geoff, I’ll see how the Zpacks style buckle arrangement works out.
I’m with you on liking the forward pull design (which my Catalyst has). McHale has a side pull on his two buckle design which looks pretty good too (though it might end up with long strap ends dangling.)
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