- Sep 11, 2019 at 9:00 am #3609777
I’m trying to finalise the design of a MYOG backpack. I’m familiar with conventional cinch-cord lids and rolltops, but the GG Over the Top design is an interesting alternative.
I’d be grateful for feedback on the pros and cons from anyone with practical experience of the GG design.Sep 11, 2019 at 12:34 pm #3609782James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I have a couple with the Over the Top designs. In particular the older 2012 Murmur (nearly identical to the Kumo, except no top pouch and straight front pouch. The newer murmurs have a roll top design.)
I have used it on about 1000 miles through some rather rough terrain in the ADKs. Peak bagging, a couple 140mi trips on the NPT, through the 5 Ponds area, etc.
Generally I like the design. When the pack is very full, it closes over and compresses the pack. However, with too much pressure, it tends to bulge the pack into your back. With a firm pressure, it produces some curve matching the curve of your back. I also use a 5 layer nightLight pad in the pad keeper to supply stiffness and for sleeping on shorter 2-3night trips. This provides plenty of resistance for the compression of the OTT design.
The design also allows me to keep my sweater, rain jacket under it. I get a lot of intermittent showers, thunderstorms and it makes putting them on and off easy. You can put a bear can under it, but, it needs a firm cinch (see above,) and, it takes up as much room as dropping it in the bottom of the pack. The overall geometry means I do not put a bear ball up there, simply putting it under my compression sack inside the pack.
It seems rugged enough, but I am sure a MYOG pack will be better built. Over the miles I put on it, I did some bushwhacking, and, many miles of trail maintenance. A couple times I need to carry a chainsaw, gas/oil for that. On a bushwhack it can snag if you do not keep it fairly tight, though. The upper corners (once cinched down) can be annoying traveling UL because I run out of cinch adjustment to tighten it down sufficiently, the pack itself is too big. It is not the best for the combination UL travel and bushwhack. A smoother roll top, dry bag style is smoother.
It does keep rain from getting in the pack. Better than the typical drawstring type closure, provided you waterproof the material. But on a canoe trip, I dumped it in a bad landing and it did let a lot of water into the pack. It leaves the main body open under the lid. Good in rain, lousy if it gets submerged. For hiking it is excelent, for boats not too great.
The Murmur was my main go-to pack for 5 years. The lower cord locks pulled loose twice. I finally just sewed them in. I used it more before I got the HMG Windrider 2400. With no insurmountable geometry problems, it is nearly water tight in any submergence. But, it has the same problem iff you use the lower lid mounts. I just roll it down fairly tight and clip it together dry bag style to avoid the arcing/bulging that can occur. I cut the lower buckles/web strap off and sealed the seam holes because they were just added weight.Sep 11, 2019 at 1:12 pm #3609786matthew kModerator
I like the closure on the Kumo. It’s quick to open/close and compresses well. Over tightening does tend to curve the pack away from your back but a quick shove/bend fixes things. I prefer the older version of the Kumo closure that used 2mm lines with lineloc quick release buckles over the more recent versions that use straps
I have grown to prefer the simplicity of a drawstring closure with a single top strap. I just pull the drawstring (usually I don’t bother with the cordlock) and then roll it a few times and secure with the top strap. I feel like this is the quickest, simplest system. I don’t get rained on very often but it seems adequately waterproof when rolled.Sep 11, 2019 at 7:08 pm #3609822dirtbagBPL Member
I like the over the top closure. Love it on my Murmur, Kumo and Mariposa. Many reasons why, 1 in particular is that it’s another space to put a shirt, sweat shirt, or jacket, rolled up and under it for quick access if needed or just to take it off and slide it under there and keep moving.. Again, it’s there if needed quickly.Sep 11, 2019 at 10:53 pm #3609846
Thanks folks – very helpful.
Matthew – I like your idea of the drawstring with simple strap, especially if it’s a Y strap that you can stow stuff under. Not something I’ve seen, but like you I’m attracted to the simplest solution.Sep 11, 2019 at 11:21 pm #3609852JCHBPL Member
I like your idea of the drawstring with simple strap,
This is the design of the older GG Crown 60. It is a great design and perhaps my favorite overall.Sep 11, 2019 at 11:25 pm #3609854matthew kModerator
Geoff, drawstring plus a strap is how MLD used to do their packs. Here’s a photo of a Burn I recently sold.
It’s a good setup. KSS will do this. I’ve seen an Atom like this on IG. ULA CDT/Ohm come like this by default. It’s just easy. YMMV but I don’t feel a new to have Y strap.Sep 12, 2019 at 1:02 am #3609877
Thanks for the details. I tend to buy robust gear and use it forever, so my experience of different designs is a bit limited. This isn’t something I’d have though of, but it’s pretty obvious once you see it.
My only need for a Y strap would be for a bear can, which as a Brit isn’t something I have experience with. But it would be better to dimension the pack so I could fit it inside, in which case the single strap looks fine.
I see that MLD are using a conventional 3 strap rolltop design these days. Why do you think they changed? It seems that Ron feels there’s a drawback with the drawstring approach? I’m going to add good side compression, so I’m not too fussed about top compression. Apart from that, have you experienced any issues?Sep 12, 2019 at 1:15 am #3609879Mark FowlerBPL Member
As one who likes a top pocket on a pack I can recommend they way Laufbursche incorporated a top pocket into a rolltop type closure. Unfortunately they have ceased production but I expect you can find details of their Huckepack model.Sep 14, 2019 at 11:28 am #3610146
From what I can see the Lufbursche takes a similar approach to the GG Over the Top lid. In his review, Hendrik Morkel says he much prefers it to a conventional rolltop, and as you say it offers the option of including a lid pocket, which can be handy.
Sadly, their site and Facebook page still seem to be inactive. Hopefully Mateusz is recovering after all he’s been though, but it doesn’t seem promising.Sep 14, 2019 at 12:04 pm #3610152David PBPL Member
Superior wilderness designs does a roll top, Y strap, you can add top pocket. This design is nice in that the pocket stays accessible when the pack is closed. But the pocket, when full, limits the amount of times I can roll the roll top even if my pack isn’t full (3 X). Not that big a deal for me just something to note.
The Osprey Exos has a drawstring and removable lid. I rarely use the lid. When the lid is removed it exposes an over the top flap that covers the drawstring hole. This design is nice too. You could add a pocket to the underside or on top of the flap. The flap gives a little compression and like mentioned above provides another exterior spot to lash a pad or coat etc… as well, the drawstring is maybe faster, compared to roll top, to get in and out of the pack, if you do a lot of that. I tend to only open the main compartment once at end of the day because of ample exterior storage for hiking necessities on both packs.
Not sure why Ron doesn’t use drawstring anymore… maybe production speed/easier? The only other negative perhaps is a drawstring top Without a flap could mean water intrusion through the little hole that’s left on a drawstring, whereas water sheds better off a roll top? Maybe he had customer complaints building up to fuel the change over?
please keep us posted as you finalize your design!Sep 14, 2019 at 11:33 pm #3610234
Thanks for the advice everyone.
What you realise when you start designing your own gear is that even something as apparently simple as a single compartment pack or a tarp involves a host of interlocking decisions, and you begin to understand why so many of the big brand designs are ho-hum. I think it’s more likely that a cottage maker or MYOG enthusiast will put in the time and effort to design and prototype something truly excellent. Which is why suppliers like GG and Laufbrusche make such interesting products.Sep 17, 2019 at 4:13 pm #3610567David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
I liked the way GG did the closure/pocket on the older (140D gridstop) packs. That type of closure works well for a pack whose volume isn’t going to vary a ton. As mentioned by other folks, it doesn’t handle overloading. The hunting company Kifaru does a variation of this design (drawcord, lid pocket on the shroud) with the possibility of adding a traditional four strap lid when the drawcord is maxed out. Effective, but more complex (heavier) than UL backpackers will want.
Roll tops are popular because they are the easiest/faster/cheapest way to finish a pack, by a considerable margin. Very forgiving. Because roll tops don’t require a top strap for volume control, I like to build them with a slash pocket just above the termination of the suspension, which especially with wider (>11 inch back) packs makes for a pretty functional “lid” that can fit maps, snacks, etc. This is currently my default for packs bigger than 50 liters.
Drawcord with a single strap is my preference for under 50 liters. It’s a hair lighter for the same volume compared to a roll top, faster (especially if you use a loop of grosgrain to capture the cord lock), and handles wide fluctuations in volume well (put the anchor for the top strap 4-5 inches below the level of the top of the suspension). Sizing and neatly sewing the cord sleeve/extension collar can be a bit of a nuisance when using a light stretchy fabric paired with a totally non-stretch one (e.g. adding sil to either Xpac or Cuben).
All three approaches have their place.Sep 18, 2019 at 8:59 am #3610653
Thanks Dave! Your blog is a treasure trove of insight into pack design, so your opinions carry a lot of weight.
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