In an ongoing love affair with my pack, which I have dubbed “Frank”, as in Frankenstein. And yes, I know the monster itself was not named Frankenstein… it was Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, but, the monster has commonly become known as Frankenstein, and I am going with that.
Recently I have posted about a fix performed by my local cobbler, which got me thinking… since he’s got the hardware to do that… I’d like to make a few more changes to my pack. Especially since if I get another backpack, my wife may just divorce me. I literally have a closet full of packs for different uses…
My local cobbler is North Shoe Repair in North Attleboro, MA. He does great work, and the price is right, and I am supporting a local small business. The buckle fix from this post was $5, and the work outlined in this article was $20.
In review, my main go-to pack for winter hiking and all season backpacking is an REI Talus 50. They unfortunately do not make it anymore. This is a technical winter pack, but, it suits my uses year round.
So, while I love this pack to bits… I’ve always felt that I’ve needed more than just using the 3 compression straps on either side, the built-in nylon webbing loops down the middle of the front, or the two axe loops at the bottom of the pack. Especially in winter, this can make the gear lashing difficult.
So, I poked around on Amazon, and found a 1 inch by 10 yard roll of heavy duty nylon webbing, unfortunately they did not have it in blaze orange, so I went with a bright red. Gives a good contrast to the black and blue of the pack, and makes me a bit more visible in the trees.
I then went the old seamstress route and got out some soap, and mocked up where I wanted the webbing to go. I wanted some loops on the top of the pack, specifically for lashing my 1/3 thermarest z-lite “seat” for easy access when stopping for a quick break on the trail, and, I wanted webbing along both sides of the front, outside of the quick-access part in the front of the pack.
I also made sure to have him first add a base flat piece of nylon, and then the loops on top of that. This ensures that any rubbing does not damage the pack itself, and adds some strength to the loops themselves, since they will pull against the flat nylon webbing first, before tearing up the pack, dispersing the force of the pull to the wider square stitching on the flat nylon (you can see this a few images down where I show the inside of the pack with the seam sealant).
Dropped it off, explained what I wanted… and two weeks later, picked it up, and walked out with a giant grin, and less $20 for the work.
As you can see in the photo above, he added 8 roughly 2” loops on either side of the front of the pack.
On the front this gives me an extra 16 lashing points!
And on the top of the pack, added 4 roughly 2” loops. Giving me an extra 8 lashing points!
Perfect for two straps to hold my pad, or whatever else I want to put up there.
What I also did on the backside of these inside the pack, was apply some McNett Seam Grip to seal them off, so no water can leak through the newly punctured fabric where the webbing was added.
And last but not least… I changed out my sternum strap buckle with an emergency whistle buckle, for good measure.
So far, I have done the following to Frank…
- Yearly applications of Camp Dry to keep the pack as dry as possible
- Waterproofed the bottom of the pack with Rust-Oleum Leak Seal Flexible Rubber Sealant
- Swapped out the sternum strap buckle with an emergency whistle
- Added the nylon webbing loops
- Made it hydration bladder compatible (a possible future post…)
- Added two side strap on pockets from REI which fit perfectly through the 3 compression straps on either side
- Replaced the top pocket buckles (due to equipment failure)
- I use a very old Outdoor Research bottle tote which straps on around the waistbelt for holding my 32oz Nalgene
- And on the shoulder straps, have an EMS electronics holder which holds my Motorola Droid Razr HD Maxx (phone, gps, book, etc.)
What will I modify on Frank next? What have you modified on your pack and why?
I am still looking for a backup REI Talus 50 Men’s Large in case this ever has a catastrophic failure, but, I hope that day will never come… if you have one, and are looking to part with it, please let me know! I would love to have a backup handy!