Current letter update: 6/28/17 Geez - already!
(CLICK red link above - secondary menu). This is where some subjects end up that have been part of the letter....like how to measure pack volume to compare volumes of different brands. You can't compare the different numbers companies come up with, so get the measuring tape out. Email Contact; email@example.com
OK, here we are with a normal mostly gray dyneema X grid S-Sarc P&G with some seriously dyed full Spectra. The enlarged image has a slightly darker exposure of the blue kangaroo pocket.
I have been putting off photographing this pack below for a few days. I stuffed it up - it holds a lot - and is almost as tall as I am. It was an expedition to get it to the photo room! It's a Super Critical Mass II - 7,000 + cubic Inches with the large quick-release pocket that lashes to the rear (not shown). It's made of that magical fabric known as Full Spectra. This one is going to Germany. I made the first of these 40 years ago - but not in Full Spectra - that didn't start until 25 years ago! The design goal at the time was to put a full wrap hip-belt, like those found on the hip-loading external-frame packs of the time, on an internal frame pack, and to also give it a super strong frame. I recall just thinking about doing that for about 5 years before I finally did in 1977. It's original name was INEX - short for Internal Expedition.
The mountains are crowded today and there's no wind for sailing so I stuffed up the latest Full Spectra pack going out the door. This one is for a local that has been wanting a McHale Pack for 20 years. I'm glad we are still here for him! It's a S-Sarc P&G.
An LBP 34 goes out the door!
Another LBP 41, better known as the Sarc-Chasm, hits the streets.....of Wyoming. You know, I have not updated that map for quite awhile, that map called 'Where Do All Those Packs Go?' Oh well.....I was thinking about a slogan that would be in the category with that old McDonald's 'Under One Billion Sold' slogan. Maybe I could take that one - surely they have discarded it.....but I'm sure I have used it at least once. For now let's just say, ' We Ship Packs Every Week'. I like the ring of that.....came up with it just this week! Click the image for a larger one.
It's been awhile since we've made a pack for a really tall person. In this case tall is 7' tall. This is a S-Sarc - 42" in circumference and 39" tall as is. The green is a 500 cordura and the brownish black is a fabric called 640 which is like a Hi-Tenacity 420 but a heavier version.
Here's the purple, orange, and green full spectra panel loader mentioned down below. This is a large daypack size, what was once called a day and a half pack in the industry. This pack will be reflecting sunlight in Colorado! The artsy label is one I made 16 years ago when I contemplated sewing a unique label for each pack when I ran out of my standard labels. This one is made with full spectra thread sewn on black 1000D Cordura. My customer saw it on the website and had to have it.
Here is the other full Spectra pack mentioned below. The purple one is next. This one is an LBP 40 P&G. Although I make and sell Full Spectra packs, I make it clear that 2 packs made of more conventional fabrics like spectra grid can be purchased for the same price. These are unique for sure though.
Wow, it's April 1st! New photos soon.....I promise. Denali Season is finally over, and I have a couple of cool Full Spectra packs to show. Here's a sneak preview of one of them; a purple, mint green, and orange panel loader.
It's Denali Season. These are big ones. An UnLtd S-Sarc+3 should be enough room. The bigger the pack, the lighter it is per cubic inch. The orange one made of 200D Dyneema X Grid almost floats! The black one is made of 400D grid and isn't much heavier, especially considering the amount of work it will be doing.
I have recently added some tips on waterproofing packs on the Pack Damage page in the Secondary Menu Link above.
Third pack photo of the year! This is an LBP P&G made mostly of Dyneema X Grid with Full Spectra bottom reinforcing.
Second photo of the New Year! (below) This top load / panel loader is 42" around, making it a S-Sarc. It's starts out in roll-top mode and grows! Just add water.
First pack photo of the year! (below) This is a top load / panel loading LBP P&G 37 with the bayonets (upper frame), Bayonet straps, and top pocket stripped off. This pack is a dedicated roll-top pack - meaning there is no drawstring.
For you camera capture clip enthusiasts; did you know
you can just poke a hole in the bottom of a light stuff sack and put
the clip screw through the hole and then attach it to the camera?!
Last pack finished and photograhed in 2016 below: An LBP 37 P&G
A great way to finish the year!
Another pack going to Mt. Everest below. It's a full spectra S-Sarc+3. I think I can get one more photo done before the New Year - another orange dyneema X grid pack.
This just in below; This guy was just tagging along on a demo pack in Hawaii. It gives new meaning to the term 'Branding'.
Once in awhile a Hybrid/Cuben pack comes off the line - below. This one is about a pound heavier than the lightest on the market, but it's in a performance class of its own. We made it for somebody that wanted the versatility to backpack with his family yet strip down for his paragliding flights off peaks. The orange coloring is from the down parka stuffed inside. In the stripped mode in the left photo it weighs 3 lbs.
Ah, an LBP 40 P&G - the biggest of the LBPs below. The gray and brown Full Spectra is popular. I can see why. This is a top load / panel Loader of course. There's even some bear can straps hidden under the lid.
Here's a new color for the packs - orange Dyneema X Grid. I like it. This is an LBP 39 P&G. It has won the contest to be the pack photo for December! It has a Full Spectra bottom, and the rear quick release daypack pocket is also Dyneema X grid.
Here's the latest Full Spectra pack; an LBP 40 P&G and the pack photo for November. The Full Spectra Daisy chains qualify it to be a Halloween pack though.
Some of the latest packs finished and shipping this week. - These will be website shots for October: First is a Full Spectra LBP 36 P&G. This is a copy of the Headliner pack on the LBP 36 page that is made of full dyneema from a few years ago. The 2nd pack is a S-Sarc P&G with Full Spectra reinforcing over Dyneema X-Grid, and pack 3 is a S-Sarc+2 P&G for a tall guy. It's made of periwinkle Hi-Tenacity nylon with a Full Spectra kangaroo pocket. He wanted a colorful pack for going out with his kids!
No, this will be the photo for September below. It's a Critical Mass pack - one of the big load carriers. This one is a Top Load / Panel Loader with a removable daypack that protects the rear of the pack and quickly releases to swing away from the main pack opening. The bottom of the main pack and parts of the daypack are made of full spectra to take the brunt of abuse.
Below: It's about time I post a photo of a S-Sarc that is not Full Spectra. This is the more common form of S-Sarc P&G made of Spectra Grid but with just the bottom areas and the kangaroo pocket made of Full Spectra. This will have to count as the September photo since Labor Day is coming up. The second photo is in roll top mode with the top pocket, upper 2 sections of the 4 part frame, and bypass straps removed. This is almost its simplest mode for easily carrying 35 lbs. It weighs 4 lbs in this mode. It could easily be lighter by lightening up some hardware. It has some extras like an extra kangaroo daisy chain (outrigger), and these daisy chains in general are heavy duty rather than the tape option, and it has extra large water pockets. All 6 compression straps and their buckles can still be removed. The lid straps can be 3/4" instead of 1". There is a good size list of components that could easily get it down to 3.5 lbs. May the Ulralight games begin!
Below: Here's something more ordinary than those darn Full Spectra packs. It's an LBD - Little Big Daypack. It's a panel-loading daypack made with our Bump and Merke style frame systems but with a zipper panel. Fabric is Dyneema X Grid with a full spectra bottom.
Alrighty then......this must be the photo for August below. It's another S-Sarc P&G made of full spectra. I don't really push spectra, it's just that the colors are the most unique. I can't help but show them. They are so much work to make I would just as soon make the regular packs - they outnumber full spectra packs 5 to 1. It's actually pretty facsinating working with the Spectra and the Cuben lining and the dyes and etc. It's kind of a labor of love - and that only goes so far! After spending so much time with them I'm left with only photos so I have to show them! A green and brown one made between these two snuck away without photos!
Below: Finally, orange! Pretty Tangy! If it was hot out this one may make you think about juice too much.....or at least the people following would be thinking that way. It's a full Spectra Super-Sarc (S-Sarc). I'll let this be the photo for the month of July. Next one will be another 'blend in' pack of a 'is it gray or is it green' color.
Transition is complete! The pack from below now weighs 3 lbs,12.4 oz. on my digital scale. The large bottom is clam-shelled closed and all compression straps and roll-top straps, and water bottle pockets have been removed. And instead of doing a top dry bag closure I'm utilizing the compression strap attachment buckles for an even simpler and effective closure that has height adjustment without straps. The main lower adjustable length frame is still in the pack and so is the heavy duty back padding and hipbelt. The upper bayonet section of the frame stays have been removed. This pack can still carry 40 lbs better than any other sub 4 lb pack. Lighter weight frame stays, pack pad, and belt can still be installed or these can just be removed. The pack will also roll down to the shoulder pad level. The Eagle has landed!
Here's that same pack from below stripped down a little more. People want to know what things weigh these days. At this point with the Brain gone and the rear daypack removed, and 4 of the side compression straps and center roll-top strap removed, we're at 4 lbs, 11oz. That's not bad for 7,000 cubic inches of pack with a magnum 7075-T6 extendable frame, full belt and back padding. That Petzl extendable ice ice is pretty classic and light too. My rebar workout poles are another story! These are the 3/8" version. I also have a set of 1/2". They are among my most prized possessions. No room for LOL here - I'm serious! The pack even has what I call a 'heavy' full spectra bottom - twice the strength of the normal stuff that is in the sides.
Below: OK, I know it's not July 1st yet, and I'm not trying to speed things up. I drag my feet trying to slow the calendar, so this is just preempting the monthly pack shot program. It's not a small pack. It's a large S-Sarc++P&G. It's 49" around at the bottom and 44" at the top.It looks kind of tactical but I think the gentleman client is only taking his young daughters backpacking. I left the top off to give it a brainless look. The top pockets are known as brains.....lol. Barbie and Ken and the new Star Trek dolls are in there somewhere.
Below: This one is an LBP 38 P&G in Full Spectra. To the right is an LBP 34 P&G in Full Spectra in opposite colors.
Below: I just finished this pack before midnight the last day of April and photographed it just after midnight. It's perfect for the first day of May. It's all Full Spectra and Full Dyneema.....a Super-Sarc +1 P&G.
I've been waiting for this CM pack to get finished! That's because I had to do the finish work on it. I had to wait for myself! Anyway, it's Dyneema X grid with Hybrid Cuben yellow rear pockets and a Full Spectra bottom. The harnes side and should pads are a 400 weight Dyneema Grid. It will be headed to Denali this Summer.
Even the biggest CM packs get small. It's almost always better to keep your big pack with you on daytrips to insure that you actually take enough gear and so you can help your friends if somebody gets in trouble. This also keeps them from getting stolen or eaten by animals. Below, the CM with the lid off and the upper frame folded down or removed, and in rolltop mode,and the bottom clamshelled closed, although it's difficult to see this because of the waterbottle pockets blocking the view.
The 3 packs below are S-Sarcs recently shipped. They represent the most common type of pack we make; Spectra or Dyneema grid fabrics with Spectra fabrics for reinforcing in the highest wear areas. The first pack is Blue X Grid and the other 2 packs are a heavier 400 Dyneema grid.
All of the packs get smaller and lighter too (below right). The lids come off and those buckles plug into the sides of the drawstring to transform to a roll-top pack. The upper frame comes out along with the 'load-lifter' straps. All of the other straps can be removed and the bottom clamshells closed.
Below: A S-Sarc+1 made of black High-Tenacity 400 nylon with dyneema grid and blue dyed full spectra on the Kangaroo Pocket and top pocket. The bottom is also full spectra. The areas where the Spectra is are the high wear areas. This pack represents what most of the packs that go out the door are like....this and the lighter Dyneema X Grid version.
Below: Here's a flashy one. This is a Top Load / Panel Load LBP 36 P&G. The yellow bottom is 1000D Full Spectra. The rest of the yellow is 400D Full Spectra/Cuben laminate. The zipper panel is 400D Dyneema Grid, while the rest of the pack and Grid is 200D Dyneema X-Grid.
Below: Latest MB-CMII pack coming off the line. It's our 1000D Full Spectra. The person getting this pack likes carrying heavy loads and working out with heavy loads. This pack should last a few years (not that a pack made of 'normal' fabrics woudn't either)!
People are always asking me what to do about the interior coating that eventually flakes off pack fabric. I've been meaning to post something for quite sometime. I'll put this on the Pack Damage Page in the Secondary Menu Index Link above:
The pack in this photo below is a 15 year old McHale Pack that is like new again. Although it is called Tent Sure, in fine print at the base of the bottle it says Coated Fabrics. Every time I use this product I have great luck. Just turn the pack inside out, stuff it full and paint one panel at a time with the foam brush that comes with it. Don't stuff with valuable items since the urethane soaks through when the old coating is completely gone. 2 coats may be need for far gone packs or cordura fabrics. If some of the old coating is still there it becomes reassimilated - it's cool stuff. For climates like here in the Pacific NW coat the outside too! It spreads thin and is hardly noticeable. For seam sealing I like it too, because of the way it can soak into fabric, thread, and thread holes and look better than Seam Grip. Seam sealing can also add to a packs durability by keeping seams from unraveling after they are damaged. The dark spot to the right of the bottle is an abrasion that has been sealed with SEAM GRIP. The new container for Tent Sure (right photo) for 2016 is smaller and has more of a dabbing type foam spreader. This can be pulled off of the bottom to access the urethane more quickly.
The new Tent-Sure container doen't seem like a squeeze tube but it is. Below: here zipper tape on a top pocket is being saturated. Don't worry - it won't glue the zipper closed like SEAM-GRIP would and application is fast.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
How about Sea Hawk colors? This is a Critical Mass pack. The goal was to get it to look Sea Hawkish. Not bad! A Sea Hawk pack going to California - my favorite export country. The photo even fell into place easily, but I did work on the light room first.
Below: Here's the stripped and compressed S-Sarc +1 with the double roll top buckles (they unplug from the top pocket and plug into the drawstring rim), side compression cords that replaced the compression straps, and the clamshell bottom tabs.
Finally, that lime is looking better. This is the same pack as below completely stripped. No upper bayonets or lid or compression straps or buckles. It still has the main frame and padding and hipbelt and comes in at 3 lbs, 14 oz. The full deal below weighs 5 lbs, 5 oz. Not bad for a pack that is over 5,000 cubic inches made of such tough materials. In this light mode it can carry 35 lbs like it's not there, rather than the drudgery of many UL packs. Next, I'll set it up with UL cord compression on the sides, the clam shell compression on the bottom, and the double roll top closure on top. The weight won't change much since the center roll top strapping can be removed.
Here's one of those new demo packs made with the 400D Dyneema grid. It's actually Lime in color. It's a S-Sarc +1 P&G. The rear Kangaroo pocket is a hybrid 500/1000D cordura cross, the bottom is full spectra, and the camo color water pockets are 500 cordura. It was a little tough to photograph, hence the pumpkin for distraction! Anyway, the 400 Dyneema grid is for people that want something a bit more robust than the Dyneema X grid version. It's tough as pumkins! In other words it's pretty bomber without being 'heavy'. It's great stuff if you are a normal backpacker, as opposed to an endless miles thru-hiker.
Kiss October goodbye! I'm back and working again after a couple weeks off to the Eastern Sierra. It was wonderful as usual! I finally made it up to Sawmill Pass. I just never made it up there with all the other things to do. I love those big climbs with a heavy pack.....LOL. But I really do! Then again I was only carrying 40 lbs., and we dayhiked to the Pass from Sawmill Meadows! I'm still rehabing the broken ankle from 2 years ago - trying to not overdo. Photo below from below the Pass looking at Sawmill Lake. My main task was carrying the Expedition Bearicade bear canister vertically in my S-Sarc+1(I forgot bear can straps). The funniest part of the trip was leaving the lid off the can our last night with the can 10 feet from the tent. Nothing happened.......I think all the thunder and lightening keep the bears hiding!
We made some nice new demos with our new supply of 400 dyneema grid while I was gone, so I'll be putting up a photo of one of those soon also. The show goes on. Lately I've been hoping I can still hike till I'm 80 and keep lugging heavy loads up high passes. There's nothing quite like it.
Below: A recently finished full Spectra LBP 39 P&G. The 3 photos below it show the 3 types of roll top closure: Rear roll top, strapless drybag type, and side roll top using the lid straps and an upper bayonet frame stay in a tube and rolled up with the fabric.
The Eclipse. It's almost October. The spiders reign.
Here's that Pink LBP mentioned below. It's almost the color of tonight's eclipse.....almost.
There's is always interest in panel loaders but I have not posted one for awhile! I should get them back onto the website. This one is all 1000 cordura for travel with some grey medium and heavy duty full spectra. With the combined Bayonet and Q-Bayo frame it can handily shorten for carry-on. Upcoming photo will be: A black dyneema X grid LBP 36 P&G with a light pink spectra kangaroo pocket!
As usual, summer is going by too fast! Here's a full spectra pack pic that I never posted, but some are repeats of basic themes posted before. White dyed spectra Kangaroo pockets with red daisy chains on gray or black Dyneema X grid packs have been popular. I'll post another of those soon.
Below: This is a very similar pack to the one below it, for a tall person and medium in volume, it's a Cuben Hybrid LBP 37 with no bayonets. It's all Cuben Hybrid except for the bottom that is Spectra Hybrid, and except for the dyneema X grid shoulder pads. It's headed for the CDT. Thru-hiking has become popular since the publication of A Walk in the Woods. I know, you weren't expecting THAT book!
Below: The latest pack going out below ( a number have packs have gone out since this one now! ) It's a light LBP 41 (over 4,000 cuin for this one), no bayonets, light 140 dyneema grid fabric. In the first photo the sides are compressed with the compression cords, and the bottom layer is clamshell closed. The side compression are interchangeable with the slightly heavier compression webbing system. In the first photo without lid, water pockets, or backpad, it weighs 3 lbs, 2 oz. Keep in mind this is for a tall person and the twin 7075-T6 stays are 25.5" long. The 5.4 oz backpad makes it 3 lbs, 7.4 oz. In the central photo with the pad and water pockets (set of water pockets=3.6 oz) the pack weighs 3 lbs, 10.8 oz. The weight in the 3rd photo with the 5.2 oz lid, with internal pocket, weighs 4 lbs.
......below, an LBP 40 P&G 'Top Load / Panel Load' - green dyneema X grid and yellow dyed spectra and a gray dyed Full Spectra bottom. Click images
Below: the same LBP 40 P&G with a high capacity top that as an option can also be a hip-pack or fannypack. The other smaller top is called a 2 Layer Summit Flap. There is also a single layer flap, the lightest. All lids can be fitted with our bear canister straps..........see the Secondary Menu Index link at top of page.
Below: another LBP 40 P&G that was made at the same time - this one with a full rear kangaroo pocket rather than the pocket combined with a rear opening. These photos show the pack with the top pocket, water pockets, upper frame extensions (P&G) and side compression straps removed for lightpacking games. Then it is shown at full height with the lid and compression straps reattached. All Mchale Packs have this conversion capability.
Here's a plain pack below. Our customer wanted all black and gray but I added some color just for photos. Pretty much all the straps can be changed at any time. Being Full Spectra though, it aint too plain. This is a Super Sarc.
I reshot below. The gray on this pack is actually a bit darker than this but Spectra never turns out right in photos. Oops...... forgot to get the black compression straps back on around the water-bottle pockets.
One more photo below: Most McHale Pack frames can shorten. Here the upper extension of the frame, the P&G Bayonets, have been pulled out, the top pocket has been removed, and the pack rolled down and clipped on the sides (optional) since there is already a center roll-top strap and drawstring on the pack opening. The top pocket can also be attached lower down to the short frame. The lower pockets can be removed and the sides of the pack can be compressed in. Even the bottom can clamshell closed with the tabs visible down low.
Below: Here is what the copper/orange/yellow pack in the pile below looks like.
I'm back! Back from too few weeks off in Bishop, California. The ankle I broke down there last year held up pretty well to the abuse I gave it. I did a short backpack trip in the McGee Creek area, climbed Boundary Peak, did some bicycling, got in few days of sport-climbing in the Alabama Hills, some day hiking.......It all went too fast - that's the way it always is - sure was sunny though! One thing I did not get to do was 'subdue' the climb that broke my ankle. I'm just kidding about subduing it - but it sure subdued me! Somehow 'reduing' the climb just did not happen. I went to the base and looked though, and thought about it quite a bit! Next year! Here is one of my favorite photos from the trip home. I took it from an alley in the town of Mt. Shasta. Click images.
Now, there's plenty of work to catch up with, plenty of new orders, but please, keep those orders coming! The show must go on! Here's the current pile I'm finishing below. I'll have to post a photo of that yellow and purple Spectra pack sitting on top when it's finished.
Previously below: A S-Sarc P&G..............I had to get at least one shot of it before it gets shipped off. It's funny, I can stuff a pack, take photos, and get them on the internet in 1/2 hour. That's pretty different from the 90s! The process of fitting a customer and making the pack, however,......that has not changed much!
An LBP P&G with our new dyed Dyneema below:
Same LBP 36 P&G below with top pocket and top pocket straps, water bottle pockets, extended frame stays (P&G bayonets), and all compression straps and buckles removed for light-packing.
Bumpity Bump....this Bump 32 was made to look like the 'UnLtd S-Sarc going to the Yukon' if you scroll down some below. It's immedieately below the white and blue UnLtd S-Sarc+2. This Bump is made of 500D Cordura. Saying that made me think of a new slogan ' This Bump's For You! '
Blast from the Past below! I made a big zipperless pack for somebody while I was still in Boise in 1977, and then about 1987 somebody in Seattle wanted a zipperless pack so I made another and also a sistership. This is it. The top has a rolltop closure, and the bottom has drawstring closures on both sides. JanSport made sleeping bag opening like this way back in the 70s too - they may have been the first. It can be stuffed and stuffed with no problem closing the sides. The rear pocket on this has a zipper though, but it's a #10 and there is a zipless pocket behind it under the velcro flap.
It's a version of the Critical Mass and Alpineer packs with a full wrap belt bolted to the stays - I started making packs to develop these. All of the extra space below the side openings can be drawn up with the lower straps and there is also an internal drop away shelf. For the hipbelt, I was attracted to those dive-belt buckles because the webbing could be drawn through on an angle thereby canting the belt angle around the hips. They were also quick release of course. I was using Boeing Surplus 7000 series metal back then. Some of the dimensions of the bar stock where too wide so I modified a saw to rip them down the center. Talk about labor intensive! Now of course I just have 12' x 4' sheets of metal sheared to size but do the rest of the finish work in shop.
Bump; a pack about the size and shape of a speed bump but it won't slow you down! This one is made of a ripstop milspec 420 fabric with full spectra reinforcing on the rear to handle carrying heavy skis. It's a Bump 33. Bottom is full dyneema. Bring on the snow......no wait, I'm not finished with summer!
Below; Here's a pack ready for the PCT. Total weight is 3.5 lbs including Q-Bayo frame system. It uses 3 types of the dyneema/spectra fabrics. The main body is Dyneema X grid, the bottom reinforcing and side walls are Full Spectra, and the rear kangaroo pocket is a new fabric that is Full Dyneema in one direction with a mix of polyester and Dyneema in the other direction. This pack could easily last through the Triple Crown without repairs.
The roll top can be set up in a variety of ways below:
The 4th way below. The side pull roll tops don't even need to be rolled in most cases:
Speaking of the Muir Trail, this pack below will be working its way through that backcountry, its owner recording the beauty along the way. This is a monster 46" circumference top load/panel load UnLtd S-Sarc.
Below: Here it is stripped down and with the bottom 'clam-shelled' closed to reduce volume. Remaining compression straps can still be removed or used to make it flatter against the back. An upper bayonet stay can be inserted into a tube and be used to help keep the fabric rolled. Think in terms of a straight bar being able to roll on a flat surface while a bent rod cannot. Click images.
I finally mounted my new Muir Trail sign (purchased in Bishop) in my front yard. Now I don't have to drive so far to go backpacking.
The compression straps and buckles can be removed from all of our newer packs. This is called MX Compression. The buckles and straps can also be reversed, and even quick release buckles can be added. You can also just use a cord-lock and cord for compression as shown below. I prefer to use a wheel-lock cord-lock rather than the standard one shown for a real positive grip - 3rd pic. Click images.
Another colorful pack meant to be seen below. It's a Full Spectra S-Sarc P&G.
Another colorful pack designed to be seen. This S-Sarc P&G is red 500 Cordura with a Spectra/Cuben Kangaroo pocket, our Heavy Spectra bottom, with Spectra Mylar on the water bottle pocket bottoms. It also has Full Spectra shoulder pads. Those are Xlg Crest belt pouches.
Below, I like the dark emerald dye on the spectra. It's my favorite green now. This is a S-Sarc on it's way to Canada. Usually X Grid S-Sarcs are under 5 lbs but this one has our heavy version of the Full Spectra on the bottom and it has a full secondary extention and drawstring. It came in at 5 lbs, 4 oz. With the bladder holder under the lid, a basic hip belt pouch, and a large Crest hip belt pouch it came to 5 lbs, 10 oz. It also has the full layer zippered map pocket on top of the hip-pack top, and double pocket water bottle pockets, both included in the 5,4 weight.
Below: I just had to post this one. It's a big pack. It's an INEX CMII - full spectra, the works. We'll make one using Gray 500 cordura soon and post it....proof you don't have to buy Full Spectra!
Hello Denali! Below: This might be the last pack we are making for Denali this spring. It's another UnLtd S-Sarc made of Full Spectra. The top and water pockets are a Hybrid Cuben Fiber. The Spectra is Hybrid in the sense that it is laminated to a light Cuben fabric also. The bag itself can extend to 43" tall. It is 46-47" in circumference. UnLtd S-Sarcs sport taller belts than standard S-Sarcs, heavier duty frames, taller bayonets, larger circumference and taller pack bags. This one even has an upper 'floating' Tensegrity crossbar. It is relatively light for such a robust 7,300+ cubic inch pack ......5 lbs, 9 oz. Everything strips off quicly to make it lighter, including the compression straps. Click images
Happy New Year! This was the first pic of the new year below. This pack was cut many months ago and did not get finished until recently. We are no longer using Full Dyneema, which the pack is made of, but I wanted to show the color. This is an LBP 38 P&G headed for the PCT. I think I will make a Full Spectra version..........a customer beat me to it and ordered one. That pack is to the right; an LBP 39 with a Kangaroo pocket and 2 layer Summit Flap. The pack is Full Spectra laminated to a light CubenFiber. Dyneema and Spectra are actually the same thing. Although what the fibers of the two materials is made of is the same, the weave between these two is different. The dyneema was a more exotic and rare fine weave, while our new spectra is more cordura-like. This is actually 100% Full-Spectra, unlike the partial Spectra/polyester combinations some manufacturers are using. We spare no expense!
Here's the rear shot of the new pack:
Packs going to climb Denali this year: This Critical Mass MB-CMII is going, and then there are a few S-Sarc UnLtds going that I'll photograph in the next few weeks....... This pack is a combination of Full Spectra (harness side and bottom area) and Green Dyneema X Grid.
Here's a S-Sarc P&G version below going to Denali soon. It's an UnLtd S-Sarc. It's 46" in circumference with the ability to go over 50" tall. I forgot to weight it as usual but it's as light as it can be and get therough at least 2 expeditions safely. Officially it's an UnLtd S-Sarc+4. Next to it to the right is a S-Sarc+1 with removable full spectra ski-guard side panels. It's also got some reflective compression straps.
Below: Here are a couple things to inspire that I picked up last fall in the Owens Valley. The tile is from a shop in Lone Pine and is made by handnhanddesigns and the sign is from that well known sign shop in Bishop. I'm going to put the Muir Trail sign in my front yard just to confuse people! Click images.
I knew the refractions were going to be part of this photo below when I took a bunch, but I didn't think it might fit in with the holidays. CHEERS! This is the North Ridge of Mt. Whitney just below the Russel/Whiney Col. Click image.
My time in the Sierra this fall was fun. It's always a good mix of backpacking, rock-climbing, normal farting around, and bicycling. I forgot to bring my bicycle shoes one day when we were going to ride up the Lower Rock Creek Road out of Bishop, and because I had my Mtn Bike 'clips and flat peddle combo pedals' it did not turn out so bad. My rock shoes stuck amazing well to the flat side of the pedals. Before that, though, I took a couple of compression straps and buckle sets off my S-Sarc and was able to easily attach them to the pedals to make an ajustable loop for the toe of the rock shoes. Another good ride was going up the Taboose Pass Trailhead road - that was a good workout - harder than I thought it might be! I had the right shoes for that one.
We managed to squeeze in a nice backpacking trip between storms and during the Government Shutdown. I have always wanted to visit the Arctic Lakes on the backside of Mt.Whitney, so, we did that starting at Cottonwood......Just before the Government closed the gate. That was a great 5 days of hanging out in some nice country. Before we actually got back into the cirque behind Whitney, the only backpackers we saw were people either doing the Muir Trail or the PCT. Here are a couple pics from the Arctic Lakes just below Mt. Russel. Click images. That's a Bearicade Expedition Canister under my lid and the pack is a 500D Cordura S-Sarc+2
I found this poem in an old posting in the Customer Gallery today (11/25/13)
; Inhale, Exhale,
GREEN NOTICE We now have Green Dyneema X-Grid fabric for another choice in pack fabrics. Click image below.
We now have 3 colors of Dyneema X-Grid; Green, black, and gray.
Below, a McHale Pack in action. This photo is in the Customer Gallery but I like it enough to gloss this page up too! He's headed toward YangYang Lakes on the Ptarmigan Traverse. This is from last year now. Click image
Below: This year he did the Picket Traverse! Mt. Challenger's summit. Click image.
Below: Love of Labor after the Labor Day weekend. More pics soon. This is Gray Dyneema X Grid with Navy dyed Full Spectra. It's a S-Sarc P&G.
Labor of Love for the end of August holiday below. This is a Merke/Bump shipping just before the big weekend. It's black X-Grid Dyneema mixed with cobalt 500 Cordura. More pics after the holiday!
More natural colors below; Full Spectra dyed - it's a Bump 35 headed for the green and brown state of Oregon.
Below, one more of the left side and a classic shot of it stripped down - the barest - the essential backpack. All of the packs do this of course.
Here's one of the bigger packs below - a Super CMII.................the Leaning Tower of Critical Mass. It's made of Full Spectra dyed emerald over green Dyneema X Grid.
More emerald below: A S-Sarc P&G made of black 500 cordura reinforced with Emerald dyed Full Spectra. More on this pack soon with more pics.
Below: Stripped down and with upper frame extensions removed, even this rugged pack is pretty light. The bottom of the pack is completely compressed front to back in the 3rd photo using the tabs that are hanging in the previous photos. Weight: At first it did not break the 4 lb. barrier but then I realized I left the silcoat stuffing in the Kangaroo Pocket! It comes to 3 lbs., 14.5 oz in the stripped down mode that can easily carry 30-40+ lbs. It still has twin 7075-T6 stays and a hefty backpad.....and hefty hipbelt of course. The bottom area is made of our heaviest full spectra also, which is twice the weight of the Kangaroo Full Spectra.
I'm getting back to photographing packs a little - it takes time! Here's an LBP 36 P&G below made of Full Spectra and Dyed Copper/yellow with gray 500 cordura accents. Click images.
A black Merkebeiner 34" circumference below - all 500 Cordura. This pack has been cruising in the Himalayan trekking zones for awhile now.
Below: Here's the Dyed Full Spectra UnLtd Super Sarc+2 I mention down below a ways. I might take a few more photos if I have time. This pack is going to Denali this Spring. Click image.
Here's a pack setup with colors that resemble the colors in the outdoor scene above. This big UnLtd S-Sarc is going to the Yukon Territories. It's 500 Cordura with some Full Spectra Reinforcing. Next photo will be of a Royal Blue and White Full Spectra UnLtd S-Sarc that will be going to Denali soon.
McHale Pack unaction! This one's just sitting there (below). It's Merkebeiner 34 with a Kangaroo pocket in red 500 Cordura. They sure are skinny - better to blow through the forest with! Click photos.
ALL of the new packs for about at least the last couple months have hardware on the bottoms that make it easy to attach compression tabs to make the bottoms smaller for lighter/smaller loads. When you are not using the tabs they can be taken off or just left to hang from the front or back side of the bottom. The pic below is of the bottom of the red Merke above and is why the lumbar area has a pronouced curve - the bag crammed in there is pushing on the lumbar more because the volume inside is so much smaller. The lumbar does not have to project a lot. I had forgotten that I compressed the bottom and was stuffing it as if I hadn't compressed it. Click images. The plastic loops in the seams can be seen in most of the recent photo here in the letter. The tabs can actually be seen hanging off the rear side of the UnLtd S-Sarc above the red Merkebeiner.
Last of the small grid Dyneema Grid - below - with a partial dyed Spectra/Cuben utility pocket and heavy Spectra bottom dyed. This is a S-Sarc P&G. We now have Green Dyneema X Grid Fabric.
Merkebeiner 35 below - 500 cordura w removable daypack rear pocket. More pics soon!
Like the green and brown Full Dyneema pack down below, this was a delayed project - we just recently sewed it up. We no longer have Full Dyneema but as you can see, it is hard to tell the Full Spectra water bottle pockets from the rest of the Dyneema pack. This is a Merkebeiner 37. Click images.
A Super-Sarc P&G for a woman below. It's made of Dyneema X Grid with a Full Spectra Kangaroo Pocket and bottom area. More pics soon. Click image
I picked up a Canon SX50 for Christmas for Mountain Zooming and shot this pic of the moon with a tripod at 400 ISO, 1/400 @ F5.6. Click image.
Below: A Flagship Super-Sarc with a removable Expedition Shovel Pocket on the rear instead of a sewn Kangaroo Pocket. Dyneema X grid.
Below: A S-Sarc+1 P&G made from Dyneema X Grid and Full Spectra laminated/lined w CubenFiber for the rear Kangaroo Pocket and bottom.
Below: The most middle of the McHale Packline pack: The Super Sarc P&G (S-Sarc). This one is hot off the line - it's all Full Spectra.
Below: an LBP 35 in 500 Cordura. More pics soon. Click image.
New Bump 32 photos below - all 1000D Cordura.
Below: Loaded for B......Backpacking. Crest belt pouch, Presto shoulder pocket, and small water pockets added to the pack above.
A Bump 32 (32" circumference), also made for a taller person. These are roughly 2,000 cubic inches +/- in volume - and more for these since they are taller. This was actually made for demo purposes. Fabric is Forest Green 500 cordura. The top load / panel load zipper configuration makes access much easier to these skinny and flat packs. These are not 'daypacks' in the normal sense of the word - they are mountaineering daypacks or what used to be called 'day and a half packs' that are easily capable of carrying 20 lbs. like it's not there and so can carry skis long distances in style and comfort, unlike most day-ski packs.
A Bump 33 below. This one is pretty long with 25" frame stays so it's heavy! LOL. It's 3 lbs., 15.6 oz. Without the belt pouches it's 3 lbs,12.4 oz. Without top pocket in roll-top mode it's 3 lbs.,6.6 oz. Without the hip-belt it's under 3 lbs and has a web belt for that but......and without the stays and internal foam (it all comes apart).......without the pack..... Even the mode without water pockets and still with hip-belt it's close to 3 lbs. Not too bad for 500 Cordura! (full Spectra bottom and partial shoulder pads and small rear patch). Weight can also be saved by just removing the compression straps and buckles - who needs em!
Below: Water Bottle / Utility pockets can be tilted forward on McHale Packs to increase ease of access. To operate the drawstring of the side pockets, pick the cord up with the opposite side hand and then operate the cord clamp with the hand next to the pocket. The pocket can still be moved farther forward on the red horizontal daisy chain and the front loop then can attach to the rear of the hipbelt (right photo). I like carrying a larger camera this way. The base of the rear of the pockets have 3 small grommets (for adjustment and drainage) that a cord runs through to attach to the mini daisy at the base of the pack in upper photo. The front of the pocket in the left photo is mounted to the lowest compression strap mounting point while the right hand pocket is mounted to a belt-pouch buckle (pouches can be mounted simultaneously). The front of the pockets can also be mounted to the intersection area of the hipbelt and pack (not shown).
May as well get some wildlife in here before I show off a white Cuben pack (now above) headed for the Sierra: This is a North Cascades goat from this last weekend. It's great fun watching these climb, but this time the Goat was watching climbers in the Liberty Bell area. Click images.
This S-Sarc P&G below is all 500 Cordura except for the shoulder pads which are part Full-Spectra, and the bottom which is 1000 Cordura. Click images. Pack weighed 5 lbs, 10 oz. complete....not bad for 5,000 cubic inches and all nylon webbing. Of course it strips down to easily go under 5 Lbs and then close to 4 lbs.
Below, here it is with the upper frame taken out, along with the lid removed, upper compression straps, and lid straps removed.
I knew this pack was going to be cool! It's a dyed Full Spectra/Cuben UnLtd S-Sarc+2 P&G - much like the version a little lower down with a gray rear pocket. Click images.
Here's the same pack in use!
Below: This MB-CMII is actually the same dye color as the Cuben pack below it but the lights are making it slightly green. It is a slate blue with some gray trim and bottom. This is Full Spectra with a Cuben laminated lining. This pack gets shipped to Australia. The rear pocket can actually expand to 5.5" thick x 18" tall. The main pack bag can still go taller.
Below, another Critical Mass pack: It's a S-CMII - going tp Alaska. I forgot to weigh it before I shipped it!
Yesterday's quick pack pic below: It's an UnLtd S-Sarc+2 made of Full Spectra laminated to a very light CubenTech (non-woven dyneema) fabric. This pack is heavy duty in every sense; upper 'floating tensegrity' crossbar (the first I have put in a S-Sarc), heavy duty frame, heavy duty Full Spectra bottom, internal load compression system, oversize summit lid, wide shoulder pads, upper extension skirt, belt pouches, larger than regular webbing and all nylon webbing.......yet the pack still breaks 6 lbs. (5 lbs, 15 oz). The pack can still extend taller since it does have an extension skirt (not deployed).
Here it is below stripped down into light packing mode. Still with it's heavy duty stays and backpad it weighs in at 4 lbs., 2 oz. This packs has some extra stainless steel hardware inside along with heavy duty hardware outside, otherwise it might break the 4 lb. line. It is a 5,000 cuin. bag after all with a large rear pocket (optional). Taking the large backpad off get's it to 3 lbs 12 oz, still with twin stays heavy duty stays inserted. Click images.
Yesterday's quick pack pic below: I cranked out some quick photos of a pack that shipped out for an Alaska expedition. It's an UnLtd S-Sarc +2 with a yellow Full Spectra Kangaroo and Dyneema X Grid pack. Customer asked us to leave our label off so as to not create distractions while crossing crevasses. Click image.
and another below. This one is an LBP 36 top load/ panel loader.
I know, I'm being pretty boring these days - all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Oh well, if you need to read something check out what I say about UL packs in the secondary menu above. There's not much more to say about it really. Beyond that....let's see, oh, I ordered a Silent Partner from Rock Exotica this week. It's supposed to hold even head first falls! Since I'll be doing a lot of head-first falls I guess I'll need it! See, there's my humor! I might be getting too old for head-first falls though - will need some serious ankle weights. What will save me is the lack of time for much head-first falling. Anyway, do some searching on the device - it's pretty cool and was invented by a climber I knew as a teenager in San Jose - Mark Blanchard. Mark does something like what I do for a living - except that he makes custom Guitars and he has a website!
Below: A pack fresh off the line (a couple of months ago now) - A Popcan tapered pack with a 43" upper circumference and 38" at the bottom. This a is a P&G Bayonet Sarc with Kangaroo pocket made of tough lenomesh - a pack headed for the Muir Trail - this pack probably won't see any shooting action! The bayonets and straps that lead to them (Bypass Straps) have been removed. The pack is in its light-packing mode. With 2 large Crest hipbelt pockets and 2 water pockets the pack weighs 4 lbs, .6 oz. so without the Crests it easily goes down into the 3 lb something area. It is a longer frame fit as well, like many of the packs below. Even using the regular basic belt pouches would have easily broken the barrier since it would have eliminated the bungie cord of the Crests - but the Crest have their advantages. The customer will be accessing a Sony Nex 7 so needed extra room and protection for that. Even the Sony's 24 MPs can't touch the Kepler telescopes 85 Mps! Just had to throw that out there since I've been so quite lately.
The compression system is light cords that anchor inside the kangaroo and can be set to adjust from either end or removed completely. The sides of this pack are Full Dyneema (we're piecing together the last of our Dyneema supply) and the harness side and area under the kangaroo are 140 Dyneema grid like the accessory pockets. The bottom and bottom rim are Full Spectra/Cuben. The flap on the kangaroo is dyed Hybrid Cuben. The pack would have been lighter but the customer opted for wider, longer, thicker shoulder pads and the hipbelt is not what you would call medium or small! These are areas where many packs skimp - areas that are better off not skimping on. Even the lenomesh is the weight of 1000 Cordura. This pack is meant to carry 50 lbs after all - and comfortably - and it's meant to last. Click images. This pack is offically headed to the Sierra in June!
Below: An LBP 40 P&G: This customer chose an interesting combination of undyed Full Spectra and 1000 forest green Cordura. The green is actually a little more vibrant than in these photos.
Below: A Panel Load / Top Loading LBP 36 made with Dyneema X Grid with some blue dyed Full Spectra Cuben. 2nd photo is with upper frame extension removed. Lid and lid straps and upper compression straps and buckles have also been removed.
The Natural Look below: This is almost a big pack at 46" circumference! It's an UnLtd S-Sarc P&G with a heavy duty Full Spectra bottom, a lighter weight Full Spectra/Cuben kangaroo rear pocket, Full Spectra shoulder pads, and Coyote 500 Cordura for the main pack. This pack has a slightly stiffer 7000 series frame than more normal S-Sarcs. We stock five thicknesses of 7075-T6 aluminum. Click images.
Here's an LBP 40 Cuben pack with a Full Spectra Kangaroo and bottom - it's headed for the PCT. It's CT22 Hybrid Cuben which is about the same weight as 210 Dyneema X grid. This exceedingly durable pack weighs 3 lbs., 10 oz in the mode in the first pic which includes 2 robust 7075-T6 stays - stronger versions than in the Bump and Merke packs farther below. That might sound heavy but it will do 4,000 cuin and it does have the frame needed for the 6'4" person it is for. LBP packs also have an adjustable length stays to account for the way different weight loads can ride. In the middle photo 2 large dyneema grid water pockets and a right hand hipbelt pouch have been added and the weight is 3 lbs., 15.4 oz. We will probably suggest lighter Cuben pockets to keep the weight down.
Below: The same pack as above but with Bayonet frame extensions and lid attached. The Cuben lid has been set up with Bear Canister straps. Add the top lid, lid straps, compressions strap system, and frame extension and the weight jumps to 4 lbs, 8.4 oz., and is ready to carry 50 lbs comfortably. Final photo shows the pack in light packing mode carrying a cannister attached to the lid with bear can straps.
With Bear Canister straps carrying a can is very secure and not awkward with or without the upper frame extension. Upper canister photo is without frame extension and lower is with. The lid straps are run through the daisy chains for extra security. The lid can be carried at 2 levels. It is even easy to flip the canister forward without losing canister security so the pack-bag can be accessed below.
Fun with red 500 Curdura below. It's no wonder this red one is a ski pack. It's a Bump 33. It's blue sister pack is down below a number of packs. This red one is the final version after the blue pack was demoed. I think it's even going off to do the famous Haute Route. The pack has 3 separate internal panels lining the side of the pack seen here to organize shovel, probe, and etc.
Fun with Dyneema X grid: Although many of you know this, the dyneema is in the white ripstop pattern in the gray fabric of this S-Sarc+1 P&G. The rear oversize kangaroo pocket is full Dyneema however.This is a big pack for a big guy and has a frame 2.5" longer than average. Click images to be able to see the white Dyneema ripstop pattern. Weight is 4 Lbs, 13.4 oz without the accessory belt pouches. With the 2 belt pouches it's right at 5 lbs. Not bad for an Xlg 6,000+ cuin pack.
7 Summits (below). Here's a pack that just got shipped off to find it's way up the 7 Summits. I managed to get it photographed for an upcoming Rock & Ice 'Ascent' ad (last year now). I decided on a 35th Anniversary theme with a sub-theme of 20 years of making Full Spectra and Dyneema packs.
It's a P&G S-Sarc - Undyed Full Dyneema with internal CubenTech parts to save weight. It has a number of unique things going on like a non-bypass bayonet system to keep things simple and lighter for altitude. It has internal padding like the older S-Sarcs to keep ice collection at a minimum but has a strap on mesh layer for approaches ( we've been making full spectra/dyneema packs for 20 years already). That's a roll of Dyneema X grid on the left and on the right, 3 different weights of Hybrid Cuben we are using for packs. I'll get some photos of those up soon! (Cuben photos below - scroll)
Here's the same pack on Everest ( below ) just awhile later now. Click image.
Below: This was my first photo of the new year. It's a Bump 33. It's set up for side carry of skis with some heavier duty replaceable/reversable/removable buckles. The new single strap lid, like this example from one of my old 1987 pack systems, leaves better access for daisy chain access and ski-carry. I will be applying this to larger Sarcs this year as well. Bump Page. Red Bump 33 at right is the final pack ready after client demoed the blue Bump.
Second Pack photographed: Below, a 4,000 cuin P&G Panel Loader made from our new Full Spectra - dyed of course. CubenFiber photos will come a little later since there are delays in production right now. The rear pocket is set up to be able attach day-pack strap to and can quick release from the pack or be set to be more difficult to release for security. Click images for blowups.
Full Dyneema and Full Spectra packs and Full CubenTech: Keep in mind these packs take a bit longer to make than normal packs. The special dying and cutting, and special handling of these packs takes more time so please try to get orders in earlier than you otherwise would.
Below: Did you know McHale water bottle / wand pockets can be shifted and tilted for easier access for water? They can even be shifted to upper compression straps to make ski carrying easier as well. Versatility has always been the middle name of McHale Versatile Packs!
Shoulder pad pouches have changed. The zippered version is no longer being made since the velcro version seems a bit more secure. At least the zipper can't be left open and a horizontal zip does not make sense. Click below. The binos are 8" circumference folded at their biggest (the limit of this pouch) and 4.5" long which puts them inside just below the 1.5" tall velcro band.
This website is meant to simply get you interested in getting one of the packs. It is not meant to be a point and shoot website where you fill your cart and swipe your card. There are just a few hoops here you have to pass through......I've already done most of the legwork here to get you trapped into wanting a pack, but a friend of yours has probably already done that for me. To get a pack you just have to want one - everything else falls into place. Just email me and we start by demoing the appropriate pack after I find out what you are doing - after you send in the demo deposit. We do not take credit cards. After you try one you won't care how long it takes because at least you know how well they work.
I know.....the packs seem expensive. That can't be helped since they are 100% custom. Not only are they custom, I am sure you will find the quality to be exceptional - we don't think much about cost cutting - that's for big companies, but of ways to improve the packs. Still, these are bargain prices for the level we are at. Buying one of these packs is certainly a better way to spend money than buying downhill ski tickets! You'll pay for a pack pretty fast if you enjoy it at $50.00 a pop.
Features; I talk most people through the feature choices pretty easily. I once had a list of features but it had a way of growing into virtual endlessness and became even more confusing. Just think of all the packs as being the same pack with the 1st main option as VOLUME and it goes from there. Most people want to keep things pretty simple these days so things are pretty easy to figure. Give me a call or email me to get the ball rolling. Please click on the ordering info link in the MENU above to get an idea of what the demo process is like. Thanks, Dan McHale
Hello Denali is a caption I used for a pack advertisement back in the 90s. Hit the Secondary Menu link up above and find the Old Advertisements Page and scroll down a ways. Hello Denali works with this shot below also. It's a demo pack shot from a customer going to Denali. That pack sure looks big! It's an MBCMII. There could be some light and shadows illusions going on there also. Look how small the doors look. There's no way he's getting through that door! The door even looks upside down! Click images. Although McHale Packs is well known for it's smaller Alpine Packs, we are also very well known for our Giant load carrying packs. This pack can also turn into something unrecognizably small for summiting. This pack only has 60 lbs. in it at the moment. Then, if you are not so ambitious, you can just frolic in the Tulips. That's not Dyneema Grid....I think it's a table cloth. Nice color though. Good job on the design Jean-Charles!
With that I can segue into the smallest known McHale Packs;
Below: An LBP 37 P&G is part Full Dyneema and part 210 Dyneema Grid, with Gray Dyneema Grid accessories. Mixing the fabrics has been popular.
Below: Stripped down for light climbing or light-packing modes. In these modes the upper frame extension 'Bayonets' have been removed and the pack has been rolled down. The pack also functions without the still remaining 7000 series twin frame stays, back pad/vents, or hipbelts. All Sarc Series packs like these can be fitted with webbing belts also.
My latest project for the website was putting all of my thoughts below about UL packs on a separate page with a link to it so it's all easy to find. You'll find stuff like this in there; Let's talk about the .73% difference in weight that is attained if you weigh 175 lbs and carry a 32 lb. load in a 3 lb. pack and go to a possibly very uncomfortable 1.5 lb. pack. That's right - big suffering to save .73% off the total of this mass hitting each ankle with each step. That's the logic many have become involved in. When are people going to start talking about percentage increase in discomfort that comes with sacrificing the pack performance just for the sake of numbers? Getting too caught up in making things lighter does not always lead to positive results. Being miserable every day of a backpacking trip to save .73% is not what it should be all about - especially if you don't need the .73% ! When durability is considered........that's another subject! I also talk about why the backpack should not be considered one of the 'big 3'. Click here to see UL Pack Comments from Dan's blog. I have to say this stuff because I work with so many people that have tried frameless packs and given up on them. What I see has to be the tip of the iceberg. It does not surprise me because I saw the same thing in the 70s! People have not evolved since that time to be suddenly more capable of tolerating frameless packs! People are just as smart now as they were back then - that's comforting to see.
Below; An LBP 38 P&G. I have it placed on the LBP 35 page (they all look the same in a photo) because there is another Coyote Brown cordura pack on that page. This one is 500 Cordura with a Full Dyneema Gray Kangaroo and bottom. Click for link to the photo set.
Did you know? Pack top pockets like our hip-pack top lid make great Kangaroo type pockets. If you've purchased a 2 layer summit flap and you go on a trip where you need more space, slap the other pocket on the daisy chains. You just need to add sliders to the front straps. The rear straps already have sliders. Click images
Here's a pic below of me with my UnLtd+1 going into the Palisades 2 years ago. There's a Bearicade Expedition bear canister inside vertically. I didn't go anywhere without my canister! Pack testing does have it's drawbacks! Next to that is a pleasant view if the trail.
Partial Dyneema/Spectra packs: Did you know all McHale Packs come standard with Full Spectra bottoms and side rim reinforcing and that it only costs $45.00 more to get a Dyneema Kangaroo pocket and $90.00 to $120.00 more to get the main packbag panel made with Full Dyneema. When you do this, for all practical purposes, you have a Dyneema pack since there are no parts remaining that are vulnerable to wear and abrasion, or that cannot be replaced easily like the top pocket.
If you are somebody that's bouncing back from low performance over-hyped UL packs, you came to the right place. It's a big lie that many of those packs, that have an upper advertised limit of 25 or 30 lbs, can even carry those weights well. ( I talk about this and other subjestc quite a bit in many sections of this letter lower down ). Comfort is a very subjective term. The standard seems to be, that if a pack does not kill you, it is labeled comfortable. The UL pack industry operates at a pretty low standard of performance, education and practical knowledge. The performance of todays frameless light packs is no better than the frameless packs from the 70s, when part of my business then was to install frame systems into frameless packs for people that asked for help. Some of these packs have even found their way back to this generation as retro packs. The UL part of the current industry has indeed found a way to take us all back in time! I do get tired of ranting about it though. Way down in this letter I talk more about the importance of a good pack and how it's not ALL about what the packs weigh. To focus on weight alone is 'dumb engineering' and leads to poor results to say the least. If you are suffering with a bad daypack, do your self a favor with a high performance daypack like our smaller LBPs - you deserve it, especially if you are a tall person.
The rumors about McHale Packs are probably true (HaHa). If you want a great and exceptionally performing lightpacking pack, large capacity daypack, or multiday expedition pack, give me a call, you'll never know what these are like otherwise. There is really very little risk in demoing and you are not forced to buy a pack! It just takes more time than acquiring normal instant gratification type packs, and you already own a pack to get you by, and in many cases you can use one of our demos during summer months while waiting for your pack. Many people put up with awful packs for years and then suddenly want a custom pack instantly.
It just takes a small adjustment in thinking to get into a new pack, and it never takes as long as people think. I prefer to work with people that have matured in their thinking about 'lightweight' packs too. I don't believe that a pack is one of the 'Big 4' items that are supposed to be witled down so much in weight that they no longer perform or work. Most of our customers have been there and done that and have decided to have a pack that works, rather than one that fits into an arbitrary weight spectrum of 'UL world' base weights.
Something new - the Triple Threat multi-use pocket: It's really a nenewed version of our hanging bladder holder that hangs inside the pack. They've been this versatile for awhile now. It also hangs on the side of the pack with the compression straps running through it. It also clips under a single or 2 layer summit flap or fanny-pack tops to the same hardware that can hold bear cannister straps. Pictured here it is on the side of an LBP with an Intergral Designs sil-poncho inside and a 64 oz. Gatorade bottle! They make a nice UL pocket. This one weighs approximately 65 grams or 2.4 oz. We make them with our 3 oz./yd gray Dyneema Grid fabric or whatever you like. Click images. The right photo shows the holder clipped to the underside of a Summit Flap. The horizontal or vertical position needs to be specified when they are made. Generally, on hip-pack top lids the holders mount horizontally to the Bear Cannister hardware that is now standard. We also make lids with sewn on bladder holders. They cannot be used under the lid while carrying a cannister under the lid however, that's when the TT is mounted elsewhere. It can also be mount just like the top lid mounts, without any updating, at the same time the top lid is attached - this actually makes it a Qaudruple Threat - may have to name it QT.
To skip past many pack previews below and to read my blog about pros/cons of light packs for lightweight backpacking, scroll way down the page until you see a larger version of the photo below. There may be something new before that section though.
My time off in the Sierra and Inyo Mtns this last Fall (2009) worked out well - got some sun in preparation for this last long winter, spring, and.........! Below is a shot of me hanging out at one of the many ghost town mines in the Inyo Mtns. It's a good way to escape the Fall snows in the Sierra. We managed to get up White Mtn from the standard south route before the big snow hit. I've come home really wanting to climb/hike White Mountain from the West - from the ground up! Then, I'll have to do it from the East. I like the quite and solitude of the desert mountains. Among other trips, I also discovered a new bicycle climb up out of Eureka Valley (part of Death Valley Monument) to Summit Pass (across the Owens Valley from Big Pine) - 4200' in 16 miles - a great way to get a workout when the other Sierra passes are closed or too cold. Click image of Eureka Road terrain (taken through a car windshield). The start of the climb in Eureka Valley (at right) is 600' lower than the well known Owens Valley on the other side.
Click images below looking at the Sierra from the mine.
Before my time off I had time to make an expose' of the Expedition Bearicade cannister carrying method I used this year. It works well, and the system is an option for all P&G packs. Below: A S-Sarc with the EXP cannister. Click image and click link for the cannister page - it's also in the Secondary Menu.
Finally had time to photograph some recent packs. Below: A Popcan P&G made of our lightweight gray Dyneema Grid Fabric. Even though this pack is fairly large and full featured (4,000 cuin ),with an upper bear cannister circumference of 42" tapering to 36" at the bottom with Dyneema Kangaroo pocket, Lg Crest belt pouch, Presto shoulder pad, P&G extension Bayonets, it weighs 3 lbs, 15 oz. Then, stripped down to it's smaller roll-top mode it is 2 lbs, 14 oz. Switch to a webbing hip belt and it's 2 lbs, 10 oz.
Going much lighter than this, though, heads into the direction of diminishing returns, and becomes a game of numbers rather than subjective performance. There are already plenty of packs on the market to play base-weight numbers with that sacrifice performance. Even a load as light as 20 lbs becomes a burden in a pack that's too light or just does not work or perform. Many of our customers have been there and done that. What's the point in going light if it does not feel good? 20 lbs is still like carrying 4 five lb bags of sugar - a lot of weight to just hang on the shoulders - there's really nothing light about it in a bad pack. Twenty pounds sounds light, and should feel good, but a bad pack actually amplifies the effect of the weight. Many of the packs rated at 30 lbs, don't even feel good at 20. The pack below carries 30 lbs like it is not even there, but it does not get you into a UL light pack contest. Sure, it's OK to put 16 oz backpack on the spreadsheet, but the reality is, a heavier pack that works makes a huge difference at the end of the day and does not wear you down because of the extra ounces. The UL community claims the extra ounces will wear you down. If they don't claim that and the extra ounces don't wear youd down, why carry an uncomfortable pack?! It's the light pack that wears you down, not the more effective 'HEAVY' one.
It is impossible to stuff a frameless pack with a 25-30 lb. load and make it remotely as comfortable as one of these custom fitted framed packs, or most other internal-frame packs. Even then, the framed pack in these weight ranges does not have to be stuffed in any particular way to still be more comfortable than the frameless pack. The frameless pack has to be stuffed very carefully and even then it fails. Frameless packs depend on their contents for some kind of support, so whenever something is taken out, like clothing, they lose support and fail.
Why is there so much emphasis on pack weights in the marketplace? It's simply much easier to show what a pack weighs rather than what it can do, as if what it weighs means something! The awful reality is that it is very difficult to go light enough to make frameless packs comfortable at all. Even at the weights they are designed for, they are awful. We are not a country full of mechanical engineers, (even though it sometimes appears that way) so many people don't understand until they suffer needlessly and need help. If all a pack can do is be light, it's not really a pack. A pack that weighs between 2 and 3 pounds is very light, especially when it can super comfortably carry even 35 pounds, but in the UL community it is looked down on. There was a significant frameless-pack revolution in the 70s that failed. It was more FAD than revolution, however, much like the current fad/farce. The internet is such a shill-zone that it is difficult to see that the current fad of frameless packs is failing as well. From experience I know most people don't go to the mountains for torture and I mostly write this to lend support to people that want to hear what's really happening. There is a reason I refused to make frameless packs in the 70s - it's the same reason I don't make them now. Many people try frameless packs because the buz on the net sounds so great, then they realize it was just a waste of money. Much of my business in the 70s in my Boise Idaho shop was devoted to putting frames into the softpack frameless brands like Rivendell, Chouinard UltimaThule, Yakpak, Wild-X ROR, Dana Klettersacs........Boise at the time was a fairly quite little town, yet even there the amount of dissatisfaction with these packs was significant. Multiply that by all the activity country-wide. The same thing is going on now.
Click images. The Popcan is one of the 'Subpop' packs. They do not have compression straps but instead have provisions for adding cord compression to the sides in varying ways if desired. The roll-top strap makes compression straps less needed also.
Below: The Pack in roll-top mode. This is more the actual color. I used the wrong light filter in the upper images and shipped the pack before I realized it. The pack to the right (below) with red daisy chains is similar to the back above except in all Gray Grid and is shown with a web belt. It is easy to change over to a web belt on any of the Sarc type packs. It a great way to knock a few ounces off a pack for the lighter loads. With the web belt the pack above weighs 2 lbs, 9 oz and would be lighter except for it's mondo 3" wide x 19" thick shoulder pads with double chest/sternum straps. This pack is oriented more toward a chest carry, taking advantage of the twin 7075-T6 stays spring loaded the users back. Even with the tall padded belt with twin buckles and 1/2" it still just barely breaks the barrier at 2 lbs, 15.4 oz. I'll be playing with this pack in the Sierra this Fall carrying a Garcia cannister inside and the Bearicade EXP cannister outside. A Garcia Bear cannister is carried horizontally in the top in all photos here.
Below: Harness side of red daisy chain pack with extra wide and long shoulder pads.
We make quite a few Full Dyneema packs and Dyneema GRID packs but we also make things like 1000D Cordura packs like the one below for a customer in Minnesota. It does have our heaviest duty Full Spectra bottom and rim. It's an LBP 38 ( Little Big Pack ) P&G Bayonet pack with the bayonets taken out and the top lid off and it's in roll-top mode. I just had time for these 3 shots while we're cramming end of summer pack production. End of Summer? Now wait a minute - but that was 2 years ago! Click for blowups. See LBP 35 page
Below is a S-Sarc P&G in dyed Full Dyneema. 2nd photo is in stripped down lightweight roll-top mode. Click photos for blowups.
Below: Another S-Sarc P&G in dyed Full Dyneema.
There is now plenty of lightweight gear on the market to significantly lighten pack loads. It makes no sense whatsoever to completely destroy the tool that has to carry what all of the lightweight gear still adds up to though. I could make packs that are lighter than what I make, but I do not want to make gear that does not perform well, and I will not be caught telling people something is comfortable or should be, when that is a physical impossibility. With such light loads, what is the point? The empty pack weights and limits of what is acceptable in the UL community are as arbitrary as anything can be. Performance is something much more difficult to put a number on than just dumb weight, and people even fib about that. As it stands, much of my business is from people that have already explored the line where packs are so light that they no longer work AND make things rather uncomfortable even though the basic load is pretty light. I have explored it plenty for more than 30 years! When loads go under 30 lbs, as an example, it makes absolutely no sense to try to get things to 25 lbs rather than say 27 lbs, if it means hiking all day with a pack that truly sucks your energy.....but you knew that too! The myth of the SUL backpack that makes light loads feel lighter, and lets you walk farther, is alive and well. The hardcore competition to publish lighter base weights on the net does not take into consideration overall well-being.
Thinking back to the Bucky Fuller days and building Tensegrity models, that is the sense I have for the packs. Tensegrity was short for Tension-Integrity. To me that means 'Make it Float'. The components all have to pull together and do their jobs. What makes it even more complicated though is that is usually helps if it fits, and then the owner has to know how to use it!
Below, something else in bigger packs: A new UnLtd S-Sarc in Full Dyneema. Click on those Photos!
Mountaineering Essence - You've carried the big loads in to base camp and now what? The true test of a general mountaineering pack is what it can do in its simplest and lightest form. S-Sarcs can adapt to whatever the task is and can easily carry 40-50 lbs totally stripped down - below. In it's full volume mode above it can handle over 6,000 cuin loads but in summit mode below it's a different pack....for those twinkle toe moves to the top. Even though this pack was built for a 6'6" tall climber, and is extra-large in all aspects, it weighs 3 lbs, 10 oz in summit mode and the beefy back pad and stout twin stays are still in there. Its most effective lightest configuration is with the belt and backpad stripped off and the frame still in there and it's 2 lbs. 14 oz. Because of the way stays can spring-load the pack load to your back, it is more effective to leave them in, even without the hip-belt. Packs for smaller people weigh less of course! The pack in the photo below left is using about 3700 cu in of it's volume. The summit pack to the right is from a +1 UnLtd S-Sarc of a more medium fit. It's compression straps and water/wand pockets have been left on.
Where's the map? This is fun; a customer brought his young daughter and son with him to the shop to pick up his new pack. I showed them my Backpacking Bear that I have had since Xmas of last year and they promptly opened the rear red pouch ( which I had never looked inside of ) and found the map! It's about 2" square.
The strictly panel loader daypack below is slim even in a normal length. This one was made for a long torso and it's really slim and can be customized to be even flatter. The LBD daypack is roomy daypack and can carry any dayload like there no load there, or it will carry an ultralight over-night load like there's no load there. It's an LBP afterall - Little Big Pack. With only one of the large water bottle pockets this Long fit weighs 2 lbs., 15 oz. This one is made of 140 dyneema grid reinforced with 420 HT fabric. Volume is approximately 2,000 cuin. The pack measures about 26" x 11" x 6". The MX compression straps can be easily removed and replaced with drawcord and with lighter reinforcing in the bottom and shoulder pads, and in a regular fit, and with even lighter twin stays, the pack is easily under 2.5 lbs. They can be made in any fabric. This pack is a demo being shipped to a foreign land; Santa Barbara, California. $389.00 Click images for blowups.
Most recently, packs have gone to England, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, Hong Kong,.......better get Canada in there, it's been hot lately. It's across a 'pond' from here. Puget Sound that is. A brief mention of my home state of California is in order too. Although it's not really 'Foreign', it's big enough to be a country on it's own. I send more packs there than anywhere - that's fitting since it's my home! I like to think of it as export trade. I like thinking the world is still fairly large and a place like California is very special, and not to be taken for granite alone - HaHa. In the past, I have sold many packs right in Seattle, but ever since going mail order in the mid 90s, and with the uptick in internet use, I'm saving Seattle as a kind of watershed market. Maybe someday I'll move home and export to the country of Washington.
Below: What it's all about - finished products - happy customers! In my job I have to be a webmaster, photographer, painter..... Subtle colors reign with dyed full Dyneema. The pack below left is an LBP 40 P&G in full Dyneema. The top lid and bayonets have been removed and the bag rolled down with the roll top strap. Click images. The pack S-Sarc P&G on the right is mostly slate with Royal webbing. Both packs go to Hong Kong. Pure white Dyneema is a blank Canvas. Over 35 pieces usually get dyed for the average pack and then the pieces have to processed and scrubbed before construction.
You can always brigthen things up later if you get tired of blending in. You might want to brighten things up to be more visible in winter snow - below. Click images for blowup.
After solving part of my foot problems by getting some taller footbeds under my insoles I had a great time this last weekend ( early september - several years ago now) up in the mountains. The taller footbeds got my left foot and insole up into a wider part of the boot so the rear end of my left 5th metatarsal as more room. I already have a bad ankle and width problems were driving me mad. We did a short little 3 day mountaineering traverse that has a great view of Mt Daniel. Below, I'm posing in a Nunatak bivi/quilt thingy. What a great multiple use piece! The other shot is my friends getting to the start of the ridge near Paddy-Go-Easy Pass with LBP 36s: one with a kangaroo and one with a lash-on expedition pocket. As usual, I grabbed a demo. It was an LBP Chasm. None of the packs had bayonets and worked better than great in the 30+ lb. range. Click for blow-ups. The pack on the far right below is actually the gray/yellow LBP featured at the top of this page.
On the trip we climbed a beautiful little peak called Sherpani. It's the nice pyramid on the right. Mt Stuart is in the clouds at the far left below. Click image for blow-up. This photo was taken later in the day the same day we climbed Sherpani.
Below: An image of good old fashioned peace of mind.
This is pretty peaceful too! Click image to crash your computer.
Below: A full Dyneema LBP 36 - We are also now ( 4 or 5 years now) making our compression strap system completely removable - for many years the straps could be replaced. The straps attach at the loop-lock buckles seen in the photos - in the 4th photo 2 types of buckles can be seen. The system makes it possible for straps and buckles to be easily replaced, updated, or reversed in direction. We are also working on new accessories like tubular ski holders that easily attach with there own built in compression straps. See LBP page . An un-dyed white dyneema LBP is shown for contrast.
Below: Just off the line - 100% Full Dyneema with 50% dyed gray. It's an UnLtd +2 P&G that went to the Polish Glacier Route on Aconcagua. Click images for blow-ups. Attached is a 2 layer summit flap, Expedition Utility Pocket, and 2 sided wand/water pocket. The center photo shows the pack stripped with bayonets out and in roll top mode. This is a big pack at 44" circumference. In summit mode the 5,000 cuin. bag with hip belt, back vent/pad, and frame weighs 3.25 lbs. and can still easily carry heavy loads comfortably if needed. With the removal of the heavy duty version of the backpad this pack has, the pack goes under 3 lbs.
Greetings from McHale Packs! email me: firstname.lastname@example.org Below: Me in the Sierra 4 Falls ago now - Humpreys Basin. I must like those old red gaitors! Our most fun trip on vacation was a 5 day cross-country circumnavigation of Red and White Mountain near McGee Pass. Click for blow-ups. The last evening we were surprised by a pretty hefty snow storm (October) and got up at 7:00 AM during a clearing and scooted over McGee Pass. Since I'm from the Los Angeles area I still consider the Sierra my backyard! One of my hobbies too, is riding up steep passes on a bicycle. I got to do my second ride up to Onion Valley and did the ride up to the Pine Creek Trailhead the same day during some pretty good wind. On another ride up the Devils Gate road we got to witness part of the Everest Challenge where the riders try to do 29,000 feet of gain for time over the weekend. I only got in 4 rides, with the ride from the top of Westgard Pass to the Bristlecones being a new one for me. This year (2008) I got in 2 new hill climbs. I've been wanting to ride up the Deer Park road here in Washington for years and finally did it. My broken wrist is finally healed up! Deer Park is the Mtn Bike dirt version of the Hurricane Ridge road except it does the 5,000' of gain in fewer miles. The last 2 miles gain over 600 feet per mile! The other new ride is the road up to the Mt. Ashland ski area in southern Oregon. It starts down in the 2,000' elevation range in the Oaks and ends in alpine timber at 6,580' with a great view of Mt. Shasta. It's a beautiful ride. Mt. Ashland has a Mtn Biking sister road like Deer Park that I'll have to go back and do. I rode the Shasta ride while I was there too. I've riden it at least 10 times in the last 10 years. The Hurricane Ridge road has been closed all year to biking because of reconstruction and opening weekend was 10/17/08. I was there and squeezed that one in just before winter! Hurricane is the only 5,000' climb north of the Sierra I think. So many great rides.....so little time!
Below: Packs we used in the Sierra last year: a S-Sarc +1 P&G pack and a Chasm P&G at Rosy Finch lake on a 5 day cross-country trip cicling Red and White Mtn. Also, beautiful Bighorn Lake up past Rosy Finch Lake. Click images for blow-ups.
Full Dyneema and Full Spectra packs: Keep in mind these packs take a bit longer to make than normal packs. The special dying and cutting, and special handling of these packs takes more time so please try to get orders in earlier than you otherwise would. We simply can't crank these out in rush form - don't really want too! Quantities of this fabric are always relatively limited as well, especially considering its record in the recent past....
What is McHale Packs? I/we are a company that believes that a high degree of customer interaction via a custom fitting process, a custom building process, a high degree of product innovation, product quality, performance and integrity, are important to attaining an exceptional backpacking experience . The packs are primarily general mountaineering and backpacking packs meant to make long treks or heavy approaches manageable and comfortable, that then convert and transform into more compact summit or side-trip packs. There are also a number of great thru-hiking packs - all of which can be customized. The pack designs are actually quite different - it's not at all just about gettng a custom fit pack. Our Bypass Harness alone is worth the extra money these packs cost and even the 'Guide Harness' is unique in the industry......and this is just the beginning of why the packs are different. .
The prices for the packs herein represent a bargain considering the years of enjoyment these packs can provide, and the effort that goes into building them. The packs themselves easily warrant the higher prices, but in the process you get to learn new techniques of adjustment and gain a higher knowledge of backpacks in general. In order to get what we really need sometimes, it is not always possible to get something for nothing, which is what the price of most packs on the market represents.
The cost of a thing is not about what you spend on it, but how much it does or does not reward you in ten years. Some packs cost you by not rewarding you and many packs pay back in spades. Unless people have tried many different packs, they do not understand how different they can be from each other. Like a custom Bicycle builder, I participate in the construction and assembly of each and every pack. To me sewing is a form of machining that I have my own high standards of to insure ultimate reliability. I see a backpack as a machine as well. Having my own standards for the performance of the machine is what sets the packs apart. There are many backpackers and climbers that go out in misery year after year after year and do absolutely nothing about it and THEN over-react and buy something too light and/or too small, and no matter how IT is loaded, IT does not work, and they are still in misery. The pack industry today is in turmoil and confusing to many. I believe in going light, but do not think going light has to mean you do it with an annoying uncomfortable pack.
If you have been backpacking or climbing for a long time, and are just not getting the experience you would like with your pack, and are looking for something special, give me a call. Backpacks are not a passive item like a tent or sleeping bag. They require more understanding to get much enjoyment from. This year I will be celebrating 33 years of custom pack making, 42 years of personal gear making, 43 years of climbing, and 45 years of backpacking. Me and my main work partner, Pam Brown, no doubt hold the world record for the highest number of high quality high performance custom packs made, although Pam has been doing it with me for only 21 years!
The year that I officially started making commercial custom packs, 1977, was a good year. I soloed Yosemite's Dihedral Wall on El Capitan that year See Dan's El Cap Story......, and started selling the packs I had been prototyping. At that point I had already had 6-7 years experience in the backpacking retail environment beginning with managing a store called Mtn Life in Campbell, CA 1970/72. The owner of Mtn Life, Tom Hendricks, knew many in the industry, and was even the 1st sales manager for Class-5 equipment, so I took in as much as I could. When I left Mtn Life I took over the bankrupt Mountain Store in Tarzana, California in 1973. I turned it around in one year, took a break then moved on to starting up The Old Boise Bootworks in Idaho before going into manufacturing....
What's with the video equipment in the Graphic at the very top of this page? This is one of the ways I can communicate with my customers across the country for pack fitting and trouble shooting pack adjustment, or to take a look at their current pack. They learn from our instruction videos and DVDs and I learn from their home videos email pics, CDs and DVDs. Many people are too shy for the live movie thing, or can't seem to find the time, but volumes can be learned if you take the chance and let me trouble-shoot your problems. Even if everything seems to be going fine with a pack, many times with a little instruction, almost any pack can work better. This service is invaluable and I guarantee you will learn from it - nothing ventured, everything stays the same. It's part of the service so get your camcorder and take advantage. Most people simply use digital cameras for fitting a pack, but for the more dynamic part of trouble-shooting the details of adjustment, video is the only way to do that.
Scroll way down this letter until you see the header below. That where the real action starts.
Email me at: dan(dot)mchale@comcast(dot)net The dot means period of course (.)
Phone: 206 533 1479
IT'S NOT FABRIC - IT'S DYNEEMA! That's just a marketing jingle I came up wiith a few years ago. Fabrics made from spectra and dyneema are pretty remarkable!
My Dyneema and Spectra disclaimer: Although Dyneema and Spectra are truly remarkable fabrics I in no way advocate that it is neccessary to have them for a full pack. They are a luxury. It would be more important just to get one of my packs. That move is more important than it's Super Fabric aspect. To me, packs are all about how they carry. If one company makes a pack out of dyneema or spectra and another out of canvas, I would buy canvas pack if it carried better. 500 Cordura is an under-rated excellent option.
Above: A customer photo of one of our S-Sarcs made from the white stuff - Full Spectra - from a number of years ago. Can you identify where in the Cascades it is? Hint----Cascade Pass looking...... This fabric is once again part of our inventory. That pack is Full Spectra. In recent years we have had it's cousin; Full Dyneema but things are shifting back to Spectra again in the supply chain. Above: pack on upper right - a S-Sarc without the P&G - click for blowup. The 4600 Cubic inch pack weighs 3 lb 6 oz. By taking the top bladder holding lid off and using roll top mode, and removing the water pockets, it's 2 lb. 14 oz of tough as nails pack (well, almost), and it's still got the back pad on it and the stays inside, and a padded hipbelt. Some companies give the weight of their packs with eveything off including the stays! This basically is a Windsauk type model - high volume pack - minimum straps.
Scott Fischer was the guy that turned us on to Spectra in 1992. He gave us an early-bird view of what the fabric could take! Scott used McHale packs on all of his high-altitude climbs beginning in the early 80s. I stock Full Dyneema (DSM - the European version of Spectra and the originator) mostly for people that know what it is and want it - it is a luxury. In the inventory is also full spectra, non-woven dyneema (Cuben), and spectra combined with Cuben, Cuben fabrics by themselves and Cuben combined with polyester.
It's Not Fabric - It's Dyneema! This is the Titanium of fabrics and is in a class by itself when it comes to extreme durability for weight. My belt sander test is the most telling; When I put a single layer of our 4 oz dyneema between my thumb and the whirling belt sander, my thumb gets too hot to hold the fabric down, before the fabric starts to wear, or at least before it loses much of it's strength. Obviously, this is a very subjective test! With out latest Spectra/Cuben, the Spectra can even be blitzed by the abrasion and heat of the belt sander and the Cuben is still intact - the new stuff CAN have an advantage! We have done slower, low pressure cycling tests to make sure the belt sander test is legitimate. In these and other tests, normal fabrics have disappeared/disintegrated at the 150 cycle mark and the dyneema is just roughened up and still has most of it's strength. I have done steel wool tests. Even our highest tenacity 420 does not take long to get through - less than a minute, but it takes some serious long term scrubbing to get through the full dyneema that is half the weight. Adding only 9% to 10% Dyneema to a high tenacity 210 fabric makes our Dyneema 'Small Grid' fabric pretty tough and long lasting for a sub 4 oz fabric. Imagine 100% Dyneema or Spectra.This stuff is almost out of the realm of fabric and is as revolutionary as Nylon was to Hemp. Just using it in key parts of a pack is almost all you need - which is standard for McHale Packs. A customer just recently told me a story about how some ravens pecked through his friend's fairly tough pack and got into the food but the dyneema pack foiled them. He could even see the indentations of where they tried to peck through!
One of the oddities of selling Dyneema or Spectra for me is my customers want to attack their new pack with knives and forks, or they want to drag it down the road behind the pick-up to see how tough it really is. It's always fun to see what it can take! I don't recommend that though - it's like pulling a plant out of the ground to see if it's alive. Give it time. It's tough but it's still light - it is not self-healing! Now, I supply a small extra piece of fabric for the knives and forks on request. http://www.dsm.com/en_US/html/hpf/applications_textiles.htm
Below: New photos of our first pack of the new generation Full Dyneema (now old)(new gen is at the top of this letter with more coming). It's an UnLtd +1 with 2 layer summit. Click images for enlargements. I will post new more info about Full Dyneema soon. This pack can extend upward another 12" with it's full extension skirt. This 6500 cubic inch pack, as is in the photos, weighs only 4 lbs, 10 oz. and is pretty indestructable. It is also equivalent to a size Xlg with the lower frame alone measuring 24.75" . The overlapping Bayonet frame extensions bring the overall frame length to 29.5". With the super hip-pack top ( includes fanny-pack with 2" belt, map pocket, wallet pocket, and bladder holder ) that it's owner ordered, the pack weighs 5 lbs, 3 oz......The 2 layer summit flap weighs 5 oz and the super hip-pack 14oz.
Below: Left image - same pack in summit or side trip mode with lid, lid straps, water pockets, bayonets and bypass straps, and backpad removed. 2 images right; A Full Dyneema S-Sarc P&G that went to West Virginia recently. It has a rear pocket that can expand outward with its full wrap bungy cord attachment. These rear pockets can be made any volume and easily turn into summit packs. Click images for blowups.
Weight for the summit pack above (left image) with lightest polypro straps: 3.5 lbs. Without some of the heavy duty features this pack has, it would easily weigh under 3 lbs. Some customers even get an extra set of lighter stays for UL packing. With UL back vent: 3 lbs, 11oz. The gray, red, and yellow pack above weighs 3 lbs, 6 oz stripped like this. With the back vent back on, or without it, the pack in this mode is fully capable of carrying 60 lb. loads. This Full Dyneema pack weighs more than simpler models, with it's stronger frame, 3 belt attachment points, covered kangaroo pocket, and heavy duty 6 oz Full Spectra bottom. The pack would also weigh less with a size 34 hip belt! We'll post a lighter version soon with a removable kangaroo. It is easy to make a pack that is dedicated for light loads well under 2.5 lbs: http://www.mchalepacks.com/ultralight/detail/sub_pop.htm
Basic Belt Pouch: The belt pouch below is a more Basic version than the padded bungy cord 'Crest' model. It still uses a dust and water resistant YKK zipper but is designed to hang free from those gear loops at the top of the hip belts using quick clip buckles rather than float like the bungy model. Newer hip belts ( last several years ) have 1" loops that are 5.5" apart at their centers along the top edge of the belts - these are the attachment points, as well as a rear loop on the pocket, that one of the belt attachment straps goes through. The loops are also there for attaching climbers 'racking loops' but we enlarged them for future pouch attachment. Older belts have smaller loops that we are now using small key-rings to attach the pouches. Price $27.00 for large, $23.00 for regular. The padded bungy version, The Crest Pocket, reg size is $39.00. The large Crest is $49.00. There is also an Xlg Crest now for $55.00. I made one to fit my old Nikkormat EL with a 135mm lens - swallows it easily with lots of room to spare - and it's very easy to get in and out.
Below: The rear edge of the large Basic is 7" tall and the regular 6". The bottom edge of both is 9" long. The rear cord loop ( barely visible at zipper ends ) must loop around the upper hipbelt attachment strap in order for the zipper to zip forward with only one hand. The zipper seam is hot cut and the main seams triple sewn and taped. I recommend the Crest pockets for larger cameras as large as camcorders. Crest is 2nd photo.
Below: Did you know......that McHale water bottle pockets can be adjusted and tilted for easier access?
Below: Crest Pouch size large. 3rd photo shows bungy support system at rear. Pouch contains a lg Nikkormat EL with 135mm lens. It's very easy in and easy out. Width of camera at back is 5.75", height of camera back is 3.75", length of camera including 135mm lens is 6". There is enough extra space to get the camera in and out with no struggle. The weight of the camera is mostly suspended by the pack frame, not the belt.
Below: The regular size crest pouch has been enlarged slightly from last year. Fabric above is gray 500 and below gray 420. It is about 2/3 the size of the large and still big enough for mini-camcorders
Below: It's easy to see what's in a Crest and easy to get it out. Not a small camera ( 4.75" x 3.125" x 2.5" ), The Cannon G2 easily fits into the regular size Crest without pressing against the hip belt and leaves room for other items. Click images below to go to the 'Crest in use' page.
Below: The bladder holding hip pack top pocket.
Below: Closed up and ready to put on. You can choose from different width belt sizes.
Lately I've been working on getting more tall guys into better packs. They do enough hunching over as it is and don't need some stupid structureless pack making it worse. It's a category where just having a good pack that works well outweighs any other obsession or consideration. I'm like the little kid in that movie 'The Sixth Sense' that sees dead people. For me though; I see uncomfortable miserable people that got (bought into) bad advice, or just don't know what's really best for them - most of the time they look dead! And, speaking of ads: here's something that came out in the July Rock and Ice Magazine.
P&G Bayonets - What are they? Below is a pic of the patented P&G system on the light packs - they add length to the 'Guide Harness' frame system and in the process the shoulder harness converts from our simple guide harness to the Bypass Harness. The base of the main frame folds up ( hinges ) to accomplish this also. They can also be seen as a way to shorten the frame to give climbers headroom after they leave base camp. The bayonets from the larger CM pack have even been used to repair broken ski tips. The Bayonets can be used to stabilize a bigger heavier load without adding the Bypass straps as well. The instructional video will be out late this winter for demo pack users. These bayonet stays are just under 12" long x 1/2" x 1/8" and weigh 2.4 oz / set. They overlap the lower main frame for half of the length of the bayonets. Click for blowup.
Below: The raw materials for just the Bayonet part of the pack ((P&G bayonets = Plug and Go) give an idea of the amount of work involved in building a pack. The materials weigh 5.8 oz. When the pack is used in the lightest daypack mode 3.6 ounces can be left behind, the heaviest parts being the stays themselves and the long bypass straps.
Below: Detail of lenomesh water-bottle pocket. They weigh 2.2 oz. each - 2/10 ounce each heavier than the double bottom dyneema grid pockets. Lenomesh has a tear strength similar to 1000 cordura and similar abrasion resistance.
Below: me in Yosemite, Fall 6 years ago, on Tenaya Peak. What a fun romp - except for the epic descent in the dark! It's all fun though. Since we missed the quick way down, we got to enjoy a walk along Tenaya lake in the moonlight at midnight
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Below: With link to 150x zoomed image. Click successive images.
With link to 75x image