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[at-l] gear report

Last spring I ordered a G4 for my section hike up in VA. As I reported
then, I found that the G4 preformed as advertised but after a week's use
there were some modification that I wanted incorporated. Rather than
fiddle with my G4 I decided to try and make a modified version. Rogene
graciously offered to help with the actually making of the patterns and
sewing the parts together. I am indebted to her for some really nice
needle work. In the process of making a finished product, she offer some
excellent suggestions which made the pack more versatile. Also, she
devised a method of making more robust suspension without adding
considerable weight. She took this thingamabob and put it over the wigget
with a ratchet and then she went to the other side and held the honker
dead on center with a clugeous. Maybe she should explain that part. My
point is, I would still be trying to make a pack if it were not for my
good friend, that great American hiker and seamstress extraordinaire,

The G4 is more or less pear shaped. The idea is to allow more room at the
bottom. The extra room keeps the sleeping bag from being squished and
loosing loft over months of use. The top of the main pack section is
smaller to save material and thus some weight. Well, I was having a space
allocation problem because I use a full length thermarest. The G4 is
designed to be used with a cut down Zrest which is carried in a special
pocket outside the main section. The Zrest pocket is against the hiker's
back so the sleeping pad become the padding.

I use my thermarest to pad my back from the hard objects inside my pack.
However, the thermarest took up too much space inside the G4, so I needed
more room inside the main section. Hence, my modified pack is not pear
shaped. It is more akin to a paper poke. (That's a paper grocery bag for
you folks who don't speak Tennessee.) My version of the G4 has some daisy
chain loops for lashing gear to the outside of the pack. The daisy chain
runs vertically down the middle of the pack and has 4 loops. Two are near
the top and the other two near the bottom. It is nice to have a fleece
sweater handy or maybe to carry a wet tent outside. So, these loops will
be convenient. My version has 4 mesh pockets on the outside of the main
section, where the G4 has 3. The four pockets idea is another of Rogene's
contributions and proved to be much more functional than the two large
pockets I had envisioned.

One problem I didn't foresee is the possibility of carrying something
very heavy tied to the daisy chain. While hiking out from our field camp
at the end of crew week, we divided gear items amongst all the crew
members. I had two extra large bear bags and two empty 6 gallon water
cans to pack out. I found that tieing the heavy bear bags to the loops
tended to pull the top of the pack open. The top of the pack is closed by
simply rolling the opening together, much as you would close a bag of
chips by rolling down the top. Velcro is used to hold the pack closed.
Well, one of the changes that will have to be made in version 1.1 is to
add a small strap and a quick disconnect buckle. The strap will transfer
the load stress on the daisy chain over the top of the pack to the
reinforcing material that Rogene added for the shoulder straps. The quick
disconnect buckle will allow the strap to separate whenever the top of
the pack needs to be opened.

There is one other main change to the G4 design. Rogene and I agreed that
the one inch wide waist belt on the G4 is not very effective. I found
some two inch wide webbing and some 2 inch buckles at a local store.
Rogene was able to adapt the G4 pattern to accept the wider waist belt.
My version now has a belt that is typical of heavies packs. Rogene also
found an off the shelf "pocket" that slides onto the waist belt. I use it
for small items that need to be handy, things like my whistle, pocket
knife, photon and snacks. On the other side I carry an OR water bottle

I only had to carry my new pack a few miles to reach Rocky Top field camp
but I was very satisfied with how it worked. I attribute a good part of
the comfort of this new pack to it weight, just 20 ounces. It is actually
lighter than my little day pack!! Once in field camp, I discovered a
feature that was totally unsuspected. Because the pack is essentially a
rucksack with almost no padding and no frame or stays at all, it rolled
up into a tidy bundle that was easily stored inside my tent. At night, I
stuck it under the head of my thermarest. In so doing, I had a make shift
pillow arrangement. On those occasions when bad weather or fatigue
confine me to the tent, not having a big pack taking up space should
prove to be a valuable feature indeed.

I'm sure this description is not very clear so I plan to bring my pack to
the southern Ruck for inspection by anyone who is interested. Hopefully,
Rogene will attend so she can explain about the wigget.  Hopeful

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