Aug 27, 2014 at 3:54 pm #1320353
@jakesandwichLocale: S.F. Bay Area
My 3400 Porter arrived today and I really like the way it carries and the flexibility of the roll top. I will be using it for shorter and longer trips, and I am thinking of returning it and ordering one with the following modifications to make the pack more flexible for different length trips:
1. Extend the shorter daisy chains on both sides of the pack to match the length of the longer daisy chains. This would allow for the attachment of custom pockets as needed at the upper side of the pack (kind of like the upper pocket on the GG Mariposa).
2. Add a second buckle to the Y-strap at the junction with the shoulder strap (to match the other buckle) so that the Y-strap becomes removable. For shorter trips I can't see using it, and it will just be in the way.
3. Add a buckle to the front strap to make it removable as well. #2 and #3 will allow for removal of the Y-strap system (other than the buckles).
4. Get a hip belt without the HMG pockets. They are deep but small, and I prefer a shallower pocket with more surface area. I suspect Zimmerbuilt or Zpacks options would be better for me. I am already planning on getting the Zimmerbuilt "3D" water bottle pockets previously discussed in the Gear forum.
Input from Porter users would be much appreciated.
PaulAug 27, 2014 at 9:30 pm #2131026
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
I've been hiking with a Porter as my sole pack for the last two years (for all trips, overnight to seven days out), and I personally can't see the need for any of the mods you listed. Just a few thoughts to consider, from my hiking experience:
1. Custom pockets aren't really that useful with the Porter. The attachments aren't as secure as sewn-in pockets, meaning that's what is inside tends to flop around to a mild extent. It's much better in my opinion to just use the three straps to hold whatever you need in, and the items are much more secure and locked-in that way. I do have a pair of Zimmerbuilt side pockets, and they are well-built and nice. But I rarely use them after getting a Porter stuff pocket on the front of the pack–less shifting and easier to use.
2 & 3. If you're going to be using the pack with smaller loads (which I do often), the Y-strap is really useful for compressing the load. Frankly, I have yet to find it in my way–it only takes a few seconds to buckle in–and it helps significantly in keeping things from shifting in the pack. I have no desire to hike without it, even when I don't need it for a particular trip because it is, at the very least, mildly helpful and never in the way. More often, it's even more useful than that.
4. Do what you'd like about the hipbelt pockets. I don't really care for HMG's current pocket design as you have to unzip the whole pocket to access what's inside (based on the shape of the pockets and location of the zipper). They're plenty big enough for me, and it's a minor issue. But it's also not worth getting too worked up about either way. Personal preference here.
—-The only mod I would in any way advocate is to have the Ice Pack Belt put on the Porter. I have a minor variation of the Ice Pack Belt (described here), designed to allow me to use either a Granite Gear and ULA belt in addition to the HMG belt. But personally, I like the way the HMG belt carries so well, that I see no need for another company. If I were doing it over again, I'd just have the Ice Pack belt put on. I do think that it carries modestly (but noticeably) better than their standard Porter belt (for lots of reasons I won't go into here).
Other than that, I think it's an extremely well-built pack by a fantastic company.Aug 27, 2014 at 9:46 pm #2131030
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
I'll second Clayton's opinion. Its solid pack as is. I used the 4400 a lot this summer. I don't much care for the pockets but I can live with them. A front pocket is nice, I made my own but the HMG one might be better. If you want quick water bottle access I suggest hanging it on your shoulder strap rather then fooling with removable side pockets.Aug 27, 2014 at 10:50 pm #2131046
@jakesandwichLocale: S.F. Bay Area
Thanks for the detailed responses. After reading your posts and fiddling with the Y-strap and various loads, I am quickly abandoning mod #2 and #3. It's tough when you have to decide if you want any custom mods before you have a chance to try a pack in the field for a while. I am still pondering ditching the hip belt pockets as I am not a big fan, possibly coupled with asking for the Ice Pack belt mod suggested above. I assume the Ice Pack belt carries better in part because it is a true wrap around belt? No need for a full explanation, but I would love some further comments. At this point I am tempted to just keep the pack "as-is" and enjoy it. I can always sell it used later and upgrade with any desired mods once I have significant field experience with the pack.
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