Pockets design: Hipbelt, shoulder, pack
Apr 23, 2022 at 8:09 am #3747355
Let me start by saying that I do not know how to sew. But there is a question that has been nagging for a few years. Whether it’s removable hip belt pockets, shoulder pockets, or pack pockets (side pockets, front pockets/talons)…. We have been working with DCF, Xpack, Ecopak for quite a few years now. We have these close to waterproof fabrics, but these pockets can have a significant amount of water coming in. On my last rainy outing, while using two hipbelt pockets from the same manufacturer, one side had a significant amount of water (over a tablespoon), while the other was just moist… I made sure to close both “tightly”.
So how can we reduce water ingress into these pockets? Three possible construction options come to mind for me:
Rolltop would be the easy answer. Because of the taller collar, this design may work better in a hipbelt where the pockets are situated lower in your body, making it easy to see in. Or perhaps on pockets attached to the main back, such as side and front pockets, since these are typically accessed when putting the pack down (although it would be hard to ask someone to fetch things for you without taking the pack off unless they are significantly taller than the user). I don’t think this design would work well on shoulder pockets because the collar would perhaps reach too high.
I also feel that the current designs could be maintained by simply sewing the zipper a bit higher on the lid, i.e. extending the lid edge past the point where the zipper is sewn. This way, the edge of the lid would go over the full width of the zipper and have water roll over it. I think this design would achieve two things. First, it would eliminate the need for less durable waterproof/resistant zippers. Second, I feel that the design would look nicer and cleaner without that black line of zipper being visible, although I guess the zipper pull will still be there.
Third option, which I think would be my preference on removable side and front pack pockets, would be a sort of 360 lid. Kind of like the picture below. I have seen Zimmerbuilt employ a similar pocket design on a couple of custom packs featured on his site, I think. Although I can’t find them right now. This design may work well for shoulder pouches, but I am not sure about hipbelt ones. One advantage of having this design on the shoulder would be that for the same dimensions, you get a full opening rather than having the zipper limit entry. Another is that folks in environments prone to zipper failure wouldn’t have to worry about it. What I mean by this 360 lid is what is sort of what is pictured on this linkApr 23, 2022 at 7:06 pm #3747399Eric BlancheBPL Member
@eblancheLocale: Northeast US
I have often thought of the idea of a hip belt pocket with a simple flap or lid to prevent water ingress (from above/side). I’ve never used or seen a roll top style hip belt pocket but feel it would be too heavy due to extra material/stiffener/etc.
Again for hip belt pockets, the waterproof/resistant zippers are less durable and not really waterproof anyways. Less waterproof even more as it ages and has been used. A simple solution seems to be to add a flap as in traditional zipper designs limiting water ingress. I suppose the trick would be to make sure the zipper with flap has little/zero chance of snagging.
There should not be any issue keeping rain out. Of course, total submersion would soak everything.Apr 24, 2022 at 5:24 am #3747410AmberBPL Member
It’s been my experience that the weight of extra material, etc., needed for a roll top hip belt pocket off-sets weight of the zipper by quite a bit. Obviously, there are many other factors to consider, like fabric choice and hardware, that will effect the weight.Apr 24, 2022 at 1:43 pm #3747431
@Eric: I love your idea of having the lid pocket attached to the short side for some applications, for example the hip belt pockets. I only had thought of attaching it to the long side. I really like the idea of a lid that attaches with a buckle, as zippers are prone to breakage sooner or later. And packs are getting expensive…
I also agree with you that rolltops could be heavier and more complicated. Requiring two hands is another reason why I prefer a lid setup. But I have a pack with a sort of rolltop front pocket a la the Seek Outside Talon that works rather well.
@Amber: Of course, weight does creep up, particularly as you start adding pockets. I should have realized that as a downside of rolltops. Perhaps a lid with buckle like the one on the link I posted would be able to achieve a similar weight. Both constructions would also eliminate failing zippers and be more water resistant, so I personally would be willing to trade a bit of weight for durability and better water resistance.Apr 24, 2022 at 11:59 pm #3747525William ChiltonBPL Member
I have often thought of the idea of a hip belt pocket with a simple flap or lid to prevent water ingress (from above/side).
Zpacks used to make hip belt pockets with a fold-over lid, as in this Gear Swap posting (view it quickly before GS gets purged). Perhaps they could be persuaded to bring them back.Apr 25, 2022 at 5:35 am #3747529matthew kModerator
That seems like a very simple design. It’s not clear to me if the open end has a drawcord or if it’s just elastic. You could use a lighter buckle or maybe even a mitten hook for closure.Apr 25, 2022 at 7:34 am #3747536William ChiltonBPL Member
It’s not clear to me if the open end has a drawcord or if it’s just elastic.
It was just elastic.Apr 26, 2022 at 1:20 pm #3747679Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
For simplicity and weight savings, a water resistant zipper pouch works fine unless it’s a downpour or prolonged rain, in which case you can line the pocket with a zip lock bag. And if you have a Packa, poncho or similar rain gear, they are worn over the pack to provide further protection of your pouches and backpack pockets as well.Jun 20, 2022 at 12:09 pm #3752906
I don’t always get the notifications on follow up replies. That Zpacks pocket looks great, William!
I just noticed that Superior Wilderness Designs has some new hipbelt pockets that are zipperless. I really like the way they look https://www.swdbackpacks.com/product-page/hip-belt-pocketJun 20, 2022 at 12:41 pm #3752910Robert SpencerBPL Member
@bspencerLocale: Sierras of CA and deserts of Utah
Cool zipperless design. Simple is always a good goal, and it looks to keep the rain out assuming the material stays waterproof. Not much weight savings (if any) with the addition of extra flap material and elastic top. It might take a little more care when dropping your pack depending on what is flopping around in the pocket. An energy bar is one thing, but I would opt for a more secure spot for keys, etc.Jun 23, 2022 at 2:05 am #3753463Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Have made a number of packs with drop panels supported by zippers, with a flap over the zips, and have never had a leak. So maybe the problem is that the fabric is not waterproof, or the seams were not well sealed, or the zippers, which come down a little over half way to the pack bottom, are not adequately protected.
The zipper flaps are extensions of the the top and sides of the the pack. The drop panel has a strip of WP fabric sewn at angles to the panel, and the zip is sewn to the strips; so that the panel zip nests inside the side flaps. In early models, also added some cord inside the side flaps that could be tightened with a cord lock; but it proved to be unnecessary to keep water out, so left that feature out. I think it is the nesting of the panel strips and zipper well inside and under the flaps that does it. Of course the seam that holds the side strips to the drop panel has to be well sealed.
As for degree of exposure to hard rains, I’ve hiked many long days in pouring rain, so don’t think that is an issue. It is important that the bottom third of the pack be totally sealed, and two layers of fabric sewn into the pack bottom, again with well sealed seams. So when the pack is set on the soggy ground, there is no leaking. Since the packs now are side-arm packs, it is easy to open the arms a bit to keep the pack standing up after it is set down.
All this has led me to love the convenience of the panel loading packs, with no leaks. And see no reason to add the weight of a roll top. While much of the inside of the pack is open, there are zippered flat pockets on the inside of the drop panel, and a zippered rectangular squarish bag that attaches underneath the top of the pack and fits in horizontally. The bag contains small stuff and can be easily detached and used in the shelter. And it can be easily accessed by opening the drop panel a few inches to get at the stuff inside, be it a camera etc. All of this is supported by a framed shelf on the top of the pack that uses bungee cord to hold the food bag on the shelf where I can get at it, or leave it for a bear if there is no other means of escape. Years ago, a poster named Buck chastised me for such thoughts; but even though he came from bear country, he might not have appreciated the exigencies of being caught about ten feet from a couple of marauding grizzlies. Odor proof bags are sealed inside the heavier kevlar food bag, but that close, they can smell right through it. Even with no food inside, they went for the bag and not for me, backing slowly away toward the protection of a ravine.
So that has worked for me, and satisfies the KISS principle.Jun 23, 2022 at 5:38 am #3753471Bill in RoswellBPL Member
@roadscrape88-2Locale: Roswell, GA, USA
That new SWD pocket is Huge! Easily hold a day’s food. That fold over flap looks like the ticket but want to try it with one hand.
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