Ecopak EPL/EPX Ultraweave
May 6, 2022 at 7:23 am #3748578Adam KilpatrickBPL Member
@oystersLocale: South Australia
Yeah puncture resistance for crazy scrub is where its potentially at with these fabrics. I’ve managed to puncture (about a 15mm cut) the heavy duty grid-locked canvas that One Planet the Australian manufacturer uses for their heavy duty packs. Just sharp, Australian Eucalyptus hardwood in really thick scrub off-track. I was pretty amazed, and dissapointed when it happened! Be interesting to see if say the 200D versions of these fabrics is enough to resist that. I dare say its a yes. In which case, though I’d never actually wear out such a pack most likely… its kind of a winner to me.May 6, 2022 at 8:06 pm #3748627Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Dead eucalyptus is rough, but burnt Ti-Tree and Hakea is even worse.
CheersAug 8, 2022 at 12:53 pm #3756817baja bobBPL Member
Interesting thread on the reddit ultralight sub talking about two people getting holes in their Durston Kakwa packs made from Ultra. The aluminum stay poked a hole through the fabric in one case and another owner got abrasion holes in the bottom of the pack and has significant wear at the bottom of the pack where the end of the aluminum stays contacts the bottom of the pack.Aug 8, 2022 at 2:09 pm #3756826Dan @ Durston GearBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
The main issue there was for a frame that was not inserted into the pack correctly (e.g. not inside the channels) so it did put a ton of pressure on the fabric but not really the fault of the fabric or a normal scenario – more just user error combined with that it would be good if we put a warning label on how to properly insert the frame as some people don’t notice the frame channels are two piece.
For the second issue, it does look like that Ultra took a lot of wear. It was sliding on rocks and did get some abrasion/holes in the bottom and at the lower ends of the frame, but it looks like it’s from quite hard use. Other materials on the same trip didn’t have this, but it also can really vary between people (e.g. how much is one person sliding vs another). But yes certainly it is possible to abrade Ultra.Aug 8, 2022 at 2:54 pm #3756832baja bobBPL Member
Seems there is quite a bit of excess wear on the two points where the stay contacts the bottom of the pack (the one that didn’t remove the stay), unless the owner was somehow dragging the pack just on those two contact points. Point is, the Ultra fabric being some kind of game changer is looking less so.Aug 8, 2022 at 4:24 pm #3756836Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
You can NOT stop dumb novices from trashing any gear. Certainly not UL gear, anyhow.
CheersAug 9, 2022 at 8:07 am #3756856
Down climbing face out usually is tough on any hard spots near the bottom of packs, Ultra or not. Low angle stuff, such as sandstone in canyon country, is a common offender.
Granted a thru hiker on a trail will rarely do this, but for some hikers this type of activity is par for the course.
It’s more difficult to design and sew a pack for off trail use. Price will go up just to accommodate the few adventurers out there.Aug 9, 2022 at 11:45 am #3756880Christopher SSpectator
Very true – I always go specifically for packs with a much tougher fabric on the bottom – barely increases the weight but I do not like to baby my gear.
For that reason the bottom pocket never made sense to me….. it does sound convenient and easy to reach but I feel like I would destroy that stretchy fabric way too fastMar 30, 2023 at 1:49 am #3777592Jon SolomonBPL Member
Widespread delamination issues being reported on Ultraweave packs.
by u/ThoughTheFalls from discussion r/Ultralight – "The Weekly" – Week of March 27, 2023
in UltralightMar 30, 2023 at 7:54 am #3777603Ron Bell / MLDBPL Member
I think that saying it is “widespread” is a bit of a stretch at this time. Note that there are probably 6k-8k+ Ultra packs out there and many for over a year now. I watch very closely and learn from all those various posts and am thankful for the posters who are sharing actual data and info. I know one of the very posters (they post in places multiple times and so it may appear like it is multiple users) has one of our packs and I have seen it. It does have some delam in some high wear/use spots. Excluding a few very early posts about 2+ yrs ago with the prototype fabrics, I know of only about 3 separate hikers that posted their Ultra packs had any delam and that one of those hikers reported they saw a couple other hikers with a few issues. SO, an only small handful of first hand reports. Yes, there are a few with some delam issues but note that none of those packs had any structural issues outside normal wear and tear and a standard pack liner kept them hiking 100% OK. Also not known if all reported packs were seam taped or not. Let’s remember-no UL pack fabric is perfect in all conditions and for all users. We all are aware of multiple hikers who got 3+ long thru-hikes from one UL pack and others with the same pack that tore it up in a month. YMMV.Mar 30, 2023 at 9:21 am #3777609
I think it is time for builders to look really closely at this fabric, the kind of look that penetrate shallow hyperbole.
It takes 15 seconds of accelerated wear simulation to destroy the bond between the PET film and the main weave, using four fingers. Another 15 seconds crack and crumble the PET followed by weave disintegration. No other fabric in my extensive sample box can be separated that effortlessly. Not even close.
How can this sort of simple assessment, likely performed by most makers considering using Ultra, not raise alarms prior to a very expensive multi-roll order and hundreds of hours of subsequent labor?
I’ve seen videos of makers tearing cheap silnylon tent material with the same four fingers I used on Ultra, before picking up their own, far superior sil and even with considerable effort coming up short of tearing anything. This is the sort of transparency we need again; not just chasing the hype train.
The smart thing to do atm is stop making packs of Ultra weave until we know more.Mar 30, 2023 at 12:10 pm #3777619talagnuBPL Member
can you post of video of this four finger destruction?Mar 30, 2023 at 4:33 pm #3777642Eric BlancheBPL Member
@eblancheLocale: Northeast US
15 seconds of four fingers to destruction? …hah just playing.
I’ve been messing around with some of the 200 version. I’ve really worked the fabric around areas penetrated with metal grommets and certainly have some concern of the PET film delaminating starting at these points.
Time will tell.Mar 30, 2023 at 5:01 pm #3777643Mar 30, 2023 at 5:46 pm #3777645Dan @ Durston GearBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
It’s an interesting topic for sure. Ultra is a new material and thus does have some unique strengths and weaknesses. What is challenging is connecting all that back to real world performance and longevity because different tests approximate the real world to quite variable extents. Since almost everything is good at some things and not good at other things, it’s difficult to go from lab testing and small batch field testing, to solid conclusions about overall long term performance.
In terms of weaknesses, it is true that if you apply focused pulling in one spot and cycle that pulling on the bias (diagonally) where the face fabric has a fair bit of movement, that can fatigue the adhesive joining the backing and cause delam. It should be noted though that both the focused nature and orientation of this stress (right on the bias) are a worst case scenario (compared to pulling more inline with the fibers and distributed stress) so it is not clear the extent to which failures here are representative of real world outcomes. As Ron mentioned, it’s not accurate to say there are ‘widespread’ issues. I think a poster on reddit first said this and now it is repeated here, but that was really referring to a handful of cases that are being repeated/echoed. We sell a fair number of Ultra packs and thus far we’ve never had a customer report of delamination. That’s not to say we’ll never seen one, but it hasn’t been a real world issue thus far and is not on track to be a substantial issue.
Ultra also has advantages, like higher abrasion resistance. Other fabrics would look bad if you abrasion tested them side by side. Also many of the main alternatives are PU coated on the inside which has it’s own issues (also prone to cracking/wearing/peeling off). You can ruin a PU coating quickly too. So how do you sum all that up into an overall conclusion on it’s merits? It takes time and patience not to jump too quickly to conclusions (whether favorable or disfavorable). I think it’s clear that it works reasonably well as a pack fabric since lots of packs are using it with good outcomes, but it also has some weaknesses. At this time, an overall judgement on whether the pros and cons add up to be better than the alternatives is hard to make.Mar 30, 2023 at 5:47 pm #3777646Eric BlancheBPL Member
@eblancheLocale: Northeast US
Nunatak, thanks for sharing! What flavor of ultra is that?
After first video looks similar to what I have seen. I’m going to attempt the same 15 second hand treatment tomorrow on Ultra200 and report back.Mar 30, 2023 at 5:55 pm #3777648Murali CBPL Member
Thanks for the demo Nuantak! Appreciate your honest view on this matter.
It seems like every pack maker’s defense is “so what if it delaminated, structurally it was still good” or “oh, the person was able to continue with the pack even with the delam for several hundred miles or so etc”. If that is the case, you can reduce further weight by not including the waterproof layer and call it an Ultra-Ultra weave and charge lesser.
I love the 5 oz DCF and that is a proven material in my view for backpacks. I mean people have done multiple thru hikes with those without delamination. If not DCF, XPAC is another proven material – I love the X33 camo.
I do like the EPX200 fabric which is what Alien Outdoor Novum pack is made out of. Seems waterproof, white color doesn’t get dirty easily, doesns’t show sweat stains like black/white Ultra. Lets see how that fares in the long term.Mar 31, 2023 at 7:54 am #3777690JCHBPL Member
Regarding Nunatak’s video demonstration(s), and in light of Ron Bell’s and Dan Durston’s comments, I having a very hard time imagining how MY pack usage would ever inflict that kind of fabric stress/abuse. Not saying it can’t or won’t happen, just that the way I use a pack, I can’t see it happening.
Like everything mankind has ever created, it works well when used as intended…less well (perhaps MUCH less) when not. Choose a material for how it well it’s properties align with it’s intended use.Mar 31, 2023 at 8:26 am #3777695James TaylorBPL Member
It does seem that normal usage wouldn’t inflict the damage shown by Nunatak above. However, I went and checked one of my Ultraweave 400 packs, and there is a part of the design that is normally subject to similar stress as shown in Nunatak’s videos, and is showing initial signs of delamination in my pack. This pack only has about 10 days use on it.
The pack is a roll-down design, and I usually roll it tightly, as intended. Inside the very top of the side crease (where the side of the pack folds back toward itself 180° and then is rolled down) is subject to folding and stresses from several directions. Attached are several photos.
The first photo shows the area that’s beginning to delaminate. It’s only a couple inches square. Compare the center of the photo (delaminated) against the area just above it (healthy) and you can see the difference clearly. It’s not the light, it actually looks that way. The second photo is from another angle. The final photograph shows the general area that I’m talking about in case you’re having a hard time picturing where it is on the pack.Mar 31, 2023 at 8:36 am #3777696Ben WBPL Member
Lots of chatter about the delam but I think Ultra underperforms in the field vs what it’s taber test would indicate.
The delamination issue isn’t going away because of the fabrics lack of stretch. That’s caused by the high uhmwpe content, so it’s an inherent trait of the fabric. That’s why we see seam finishing guidance and companies using a stretcher fabric such as gridstop for shoulder straps. See what Palante does to the back panel for an extreme example.
Less suspension components means the force of the load is localized to a smaller portion of fabric. So as a generalization, you’ll see more delam on frameless packs than framed.
In terms of abrasion resistance, I became interested in Ultra because that durability seemed like a good match for SA-style routes in southern Utah.
The large gauge yarns used in a loose weave do it in. Taber tests abrade a flat piece of fabric, but in real use, any ‘bend’ in the fabric is pretty fragile. The abrasion can be localized on just a few yarns and that’s where I’m seeing the increased or equal wear versus previous packs.
I’m just a guy on the internet, but I’ve seen it with both formulations of the 400d and 200d ultra. I’m comparing it to 210d gridstop, vx21, and 150d DCF with an apples to apples use case. My ultra packs will live on and be patched up for quite a while, I’m sure. But next time around I know the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.Mar 31, 2023 at 8:42 am #3777697HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: The West is (still) the Best
On the flip side, I have yet to see any delam in an Ultra 200 pack I bought from LiteAF (a Curve 40L) in Aug 2021. Granted my gear is pretty minimal (down quilt, silpoly shelter w/no hard supports, food). Still, haven’t abused the pack but I have used it nonstop in 2022 on trips, a 2 week desert trip (sun, heat, w/a little rain) then a couple 3 day weekends in the summer PNW (a little more rain). Also being black colored, .. it’s been my “carry-on” stowed in the top luggage bin which is probably as harsh. It’s really only the mesh pocket wearing , and me stabbing its ripstop pocket with a trekking pole tip that has me putting it away for non-Ultra repairs. Even put a bear canister vertically inside the pack for a couple days for a Sierra trip that ultimately was cancelled.
For 2023 though, I plan to abuse some ultraweave.. (already seeing some blowdowns on a planned hike)Mar 31, 2023 at 8:44 am #3777698Murali CBPL Member
Nuntak was pointing out that Ron has videos demonstrating how gridstiop from China tears easily with his fingers while gridstop that he uses doesn’t and Nunatak’s demo is no different. I don’t know if anybody is trying to tear a backpack like Ron’s demo. BTW, I love my gridstop MLD Prophet/Burn etc. So, I don’t have anything but good things to say about MLD and Ron.
Take a floating hip belt that is constantly grinding against the back fabric of your backpack – isn’t that similar to Nunatak’s test? Heck, I have had 420 denier nylon get holes from my hip belt grinding against the back fabric in my Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor.
I feel there is a little bit of marketing on Ron/Dan’s part going on here when they say thousands of backpacks have been sold and there are only a miniscule number of issues. We all know that very few people do big miles on their backpacks. The real data is *not* how many backpacks have been sold – it is how many have been used with big miles – like thru hikes like AT/PCT/CDT etc. I hope we can get numbers from Thru hiker surveys and they will start including fabric type used. Thru hikers tend to use grid stop more than DCF just for durability reasons. That said – there are a large number of HMG DCF backpacks that do great on long distance trails. And I am sure Xpac as well. The most popular backpacks on long distance trails tend to be ULA’s robic backpacks. I have used HMG DCF backpacks for 400 plus miles before I sold them – and they look as good as new in spite of several encounters with blowdowns etc. I have seen HMG DCF backpacks after 2500 miles and they are as good as new (black ones; white ones are dirty – but still intact).
I would definitely like to get the fabric data from hiker surveys before jumping to conclusions.
We do know that there has been delamination (far away from seams and near seams) in Ultra backpacks that have been used to put big miles. It will be good to know the ratio of how many backpacks have been used for big miles and how many of those didn’t have delam issues.Mar 31, 2023 at 9:14 am #3777703HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: The West is (still) the Best
Curiosity got the better of me, so I just did an internet search for related terms. This is from about 2 yrs ago on Reddit:
… (Gusha) here from <redacted cottage pack maker>, been testing Ultra400 all summer, have ~1500 miles on my Cutaway with 1200 of that being a thru-hike on the Pacific Northwest Trail. Thousands of blowdowns and miles of bushwhacks later, it’s still pristine outside of all the stains. No delamination, tape still holding well… I’d be 100% confident in starting another 2000+ mile hike with the same pack, which honestly feels overbuilt with U400.
Blowdowns. May need to check out Ultra 400 the way trees are coming down out here.
Then again I saw an Ultra 400/800 model (another company altogether) trashed from another maker after a summer but it was really abused by the hiker .. sitting on it during breaks on rocks, asphalt, etc.. The guy was ex-Army and wanted to be a wildland firefighter so sitting on a pack like it’s 1000D mil-spec will wear these fabrics down.
Think I’ve mentioned it before but at 2000 miles in Oregon on the PCT more than a few years ago on other hikers using the same pack from the start, I saw one almost pristine DCF HMG pack, then another with the top fabric where the roll takes place, delaminating. So there is a bit of difference between users. Not only hard use (blowdowns, rock scrapes, etc.), but also are they constantly rolling/unrolling it through the day vs just at night?
There’s also keeping edges and pointy things in packs.. Maybe even construction differences? (plus design)Mar 31, 2023 at 10:05 am #3777709Jon SolomonBPL Member
A few years ago, there was a lot of discussion about Xgrid fabrics. Most agreed that they weren’t sexy or perfect but did the job reliably.
Nevertheless, higher abrasion resistance and greater water resistance have always been a dream. People have jumped at each progressive chance to gain performance improvements in those areas: XPac, DCF, Ultra…
Long ago, I decided that while higher abrasion resistance is definitely valuable, waterproofness isn’t — at least not at the “pack” level. Pack fabrics that try to do both seem to run into issues like what’s being seen here.
Back when full Spectra didn’t cost even a quarter or third of what it does now in a pack, it was easy to choose full woven UMHWPE fabric. Not waterproof at all, it was extremely abrasion resistant for the weight. I prefer to confide the task of waterproofness to pack liners and covers that are cheap, replaceable, and, most importantly, more reliable in extreme wet conditions.
I just wish that I understood why full woven UMHWPE fabrics are not less expensive today, especially now that “eco” versions are available.
Soooo, just on my personal trip, I’ve been very happy with the Dyneema double gridstop that Seek Outside used to offer and if I needed to look for a replacement I’d rather that choice were made available again. The Ultragrid MLD Prophet that I purchased at the beginning of the year looks beautiful, has recycled content, and is sure to be a solid performer. That it was 20% cheaper than the Ultraweave version was nice, too (Note: the Ultraweave version is seam sealed, which obviously increases the cost).
These “traditional” fabrics are still my first choice. I know that lots of people have rocked DCF and love it but I didn’t like it so much when I tried it. McHale made me a prototype in DCF for bushwacking before anybody else was offering DCF packs and it didn’t hold up well. (Instead, I got a second one in full Spectra). In addition, the two decades I spent in tropically wet and damp Taiwan has led me away from laminates in general for packs, because of reports of delamination from friends.
To conclude, I value abrasion resistance and don’t place stock in waterproofness for pack cloth.Mar 31, 2023 at 11:26 am #3777714talagnuBPL Member
would pre taping high wear areas (say, the upper portion of a roll top that gets twisted regularly, like on the black & teal pack posted above) help? I see that rocky woods has the ultra tnt tape available
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