Vintage pack suspension system update, and picked up a good tarp!

Decided I wanted to add a centering strap to my Academy Broadway’s modded suspension system so that it stays in one place instead of being quite floppy….its simply a 1.5″ wide nylon belt threaded through the center piece and attached to the two bars where the straps are attached to…wearing it, I do not notice it at all! With a 22 pound base load without water, it feels very comfortable…DSCN2105 Showing the centering strap

DSCN2101 How the pack sits on me, and how the straps goes down following my back to the mounting points on the lower bar, it also shows the load lifter as it should be used;

DSCN2104

Another view of the set up, but from the side. I realize the load lifters aren’t at the “magic 45 degree” angle, but it is comfortable and I do not feel overburdened.

I also picked up a 9×7 rubberized nylon tarp….it only has 8 grommets, and is thinner than my USGI poncho, but heavier than the silnylon tarp I have….it is in a shade very close to that of Coyote Tan, though according to an older backpacker, it was available at REI and other outfitters in the 80s as a lightweight alternative to the poly plastic tarps and canvas tarps at that time.

20140915_133756

Laid out flat

20140915_133806Showing the material on both top and bottom side

20140915_132316Set up over the 2-man bug tent and hiking poles (improvised from ski poles)

20140915_132306View from the front, the fabric sags pretty heavily in this set up…

20140915_132332From the side, it covers all of the bug screening, and there is plenty of room in between the front/back and the tarp, one could move it back a little and have a porch/awning to store gear under.

20140915_133410I think this is the better set up, no spots for water to pool under…I might modify the bug tent to have only two side pull outs instead of four…so that I can use the same stakes on the sides as the diamond with door pitch uses….

20140915_133420

Side view of the diamond with door pitch;

20140915_132407Center seam on the ridge; I think this is likely the reason for the sagging..not sure myself…

20140915_132414Hiking/Ski poles used to support the tarp. it is the perfect size to hold up through the grommets…I will be getting rubber feet or tip protectors for them so as not to scratch rocks when hiking/backpacking…

And here are the two packs packed up for 3-4 days with the significant other…… minus water.

 

DSCN2106

I am carrying a Full size air mattress plus wool blanket and canteens in the top, clothes in middle, sleeping bag in bottom, food in front large pocket, extra rope in one pocket, fire starting kit in small pocket, first aid kit in other pocket, with the last large pocket being available for miscellaneous things, while her red pack carries her sleeping bag, the bug tent and the tan tarp with stakes, food in side pockets with room for miscellaneous items, canteens in the main compartment with her clothes underneath the sleeping bag…weights are as follows, my big green one is 22 pounds without water, her red bag is 17 pounds without water…a difference of 5 pounds which could be attributed to the wool blanket and heavier clothes, since she is basically half my size.

Whelen style tent from USGI shelter halves

In memorial of the people whose lives were extinguished in NYC at World Trade Center..

After watching this video; I was inspired by the set up shown near the end of a lean to that is based on the Whelen Tent lean to, but using USGI Shelter Halves… so from this video;

[url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2AnsFLEHMZ4[/url]

I modified one of my shelter halves, and because I loathe unfinished edges, I hemmed the cut edges on the end triangles, the rectangle awning is already hemmed, so I don’t need to worry about that. The twist from the video set up, is that I don’t have the USGI pole sections, but I have a bunch of metal tent poles from other shelters, and with the correct bottom pole sections, I was able to get the same lengths as the tent’s panels, so I am able to use 4 poles in A-frame format and not worry about knocking poles out from centers…The awning poles are hollow and went right on top of the stakes holding down the triangles, so they aren’t moving anywhere..for actual set ups, I will add the webbing pole pockets from my hammock spreader bar project, and tie them to the corner loops on the shelter halves so that the poles will stay put.

20140910_154758View of the set up;

20140910_154809Quarter view of the tent; showing the unobstructed space between the poles and the main living section. It is wide enough for a full size air mattress should one wish to put in there…it is excellent for setting up right next to a camp fire, as it is canvas and was treated with fire resisting materials, which is probably worn off…

20140910_154827The back view of the tent; it looks like a standard army tent, with an awning added to it.

20140910_154841Interior shot, showing the poles’ layout and the holes in the awning from wear and tear…I will probably patch them up.

Looking at the set up, I think I could get a complete tent system, and put an unmodified half where the awning is, and have the end triangles hang down vertically to where the poles meet at the bottom, and put the other unmodified half on the floor, and use the rectangle awning section as a door, to make for as complete a shelter as possible for two people.

 

 

 

Two Shelter set ups!

Acquired a pair of USGI Shelter Halves, no poles nor stakes, but that was OK with me, as I have poles and stakes to spare…..decided to set up the USGI shelter halves in a format similar to the Whelen Lean-To shelters, and decided to set up the 9×12 poly tarp in a pyramid format with two long poles….DSCN2090

the USGI Whelen lean to set up. If I acquire another shelter half fabric piece, I could cut the triangles off and use those to fill in the gaps on the above set up…and have the rectangle become a small floor piece..

DSCN2091

Another view of the shelter, from the side. it uses 10 stakes and 6 guy lines…a lot of lines indeed.

DSCN2092

Back view of shelter. it is room enough for two to lay in, so it would be a good campfire shelter..might be covered more with the addition of the two triangles if I find a 3rd shelter half.

And here is the 9×12 pyramid shelter set up; it is very spacious inside, and can comfortably sleep 3 persons…or two people and a weeks worth of gear.

DSCN2088Two long poles in a bipod/scissors form, 4 stakes total and entrance could be covered by an USGI poncho tied to the two stakes and the peak. The format is simply that it is suspended at the center of the 12 ft side, so there is 6 feet between the center and the door corner stakes, and it is a little less than 9 feet from door stake to the corner stakes…as that is the 9 ft side..with that much space, one could put two cots, or an air mattress.. and still have plenty of room.

DSCN2089

view from the side, one could in theory put a tie out using a pebble in the middle of the long triangle panel, and pull it out to provide more room if needed.

 

 

 

Customized shoulder straps for the Jasper external frame pack!

While out thrift shop hunting, I found a ratty old Camp Trails backpack; they wanted too much for it in my opinion…but I liked how they set up the suspension; it was a 6 point system in which there were load lifter straps connected to where the cheaper packs shoulder straps were, and the back of the shoulder padding had straps running down to the next lower bar on the frame; plus the two usual connection points near the bottom of the frame; so I was inspired by this system and decided to resurrect a pair of long cannibalized LC-3 shoulder pads (only the pads and two slots of webbing were left on this set)….. ripped some seams in order to attach new webbing straps with new hardware; and reattached the wide webbing to the foam bodies, and then cut the tan straps apart so that I can put the old short green webbing back onto it, for use as the back straps, and cut the 3/4″ wide sleeping bag straps that have grommets for the clevis pins, and sewed ladder-locs onto them for the load lifter portions…. the set up also made use of a random piece of webbing sewn together to make for a H harness connection system, so that the shoulder straps don’t twist around and wrap wrongly. Tested it with 12 pounds of items in the pack, it is SO much more comfortable….. this turns the Academy Broadway Jasper backpack into an useable pack….in fact, I think the only things not modified so far, are the frame and the pack bag itself.

DSCN2087

View of the strap system; showing the Fastex buckles and the load lifter; they are made of one piece each…

DSCN2086

Another view, you can see the green lower straps attached to the clevis pins on the bottom; also, the short 3/4″ webbing straps attached to the upper clevis pins for load lifters;

DSCN2085

view of the attaching middle piece, the grease pencil on it was the price for an Israeli Ephod vest to which this was added to…(unnecessary addition I think)

DSCN2084

showing the load lifters and the rest of the straps without a load holding them up. It looks weird, but it works! I may have to get longer lower straps; if these are too short after putting in 25 pounds of load including water and food……the tape on the top was from when I had a butt pack holding food up top….

External Frame packs and Vintage ALICE Goodness!

Decided to do redo my hiking backpacks and return the Improved Hellcat pack frame to stock format of Coleman PEAK-1 bag, original straps and all; and packed it with stuff for the Significant Other except her clothes….What is surprising is that the removal of the military equipment cut out around 5 pounds of unnecessary weight; though at the loss of modularity….right now with stuff except clothes and water, it weights 16 pounds overall. The big green Academy Broadway Jasper pack is full of stuff except water, and carries extra items for two people, weights in at 22 pounds, but empty, the pack weights around 5.5 pounds, still a significant weight loss compared to the MOLLE equipped Coleman pack frame before. I also decided to return one of my old ALICE bags to a like-new ALICE frame and stock straps/belt (all 1978-1979 vintage and NO SCRATCHES OR DAMAGE!) that was given to me by the S.O.’s mother, turns out empty, it weights 9 pounds….only 2 pounds less than the MOLLE version, and still almost double the empty weight of the Jasper pack and the Coleman PEAK 1 pack.  Also did the Bobcat Mod on a camo ALICE bag with camo LC-2 straps, its not bad but not good for heavy loads.

DSCN2080

The three external frame bags;

DSCN2081View of their suspension components;

 

DSCN2082

Bobcat modded Medium ALICE

DSCN2083View of Bobcat modded ALICE straps;

DSCN2076

Loaded up before I transferred all the crap in there to the Jasper pack; here, it weighted 32 pounds O.O (with a full 1 gallon of water and too much food, enough for like 5-6 days hahaha)

DSCN2075

showing the Bobcat mod, which consists of a 11″ long steel tube in the frame pocket and the straps attached around it to the metal rings of the pack. It works OK, but is best for lighter loads than whats shown here.

OK, people are probably wondering HOW is it I have so much stuff in those bags…..for the purposes of pictures, the ALICEs are loaded with extra items I have.

Academy Broadway Jasper pack list;

-blue CCF pad

-12×9 poly tarp

-10 stakes

-bug tent in lower compartment

-first aid kit in side pouch

-granola bars and chocolate packets in side pouch

-fire kit in small side pouch

-2 pairs of pants

-2 shirts

-2 pairs of underwear

-3 pairs of socks

-fleece pull over

-2 2qt canteens (empty right now)

-Kelty top quilt

-Food for 3 days

-canteen cup

-weight currently at 22 pounds without water.

Coleman Peak 1 pack

 

-Down 20 degrees mummy bag (too small for me, but perfect for S.O.)

-2 1qt canteens (also empty)

-canteen cup

-kitchen items; forks, spoons, skewers and pot holder

-2-3 days of food

-granola bars

-weight 16 pounds, no water or clothes

Green Medium ALICE pack

-empty weight; 9 pounds (EEK)

-twin air mattress

-one old sleeping bag

-two empty canteens

Camo Medium ALICE pack; Bobcat mod

-MOLLE straps inside

-MOLLE belt inside

-2x MOLLE sustainment pouches and MOLLE panels

-2x USGI 3 day training packs

-Hex tarp

-Bat-wing tarp

-extra stakes

-hammer

-total weight; 18 pounds

 

Out of all the packs, the Jasper’s modified waist belt fits the best, 2nd only to the MOLLE hip belt, and the Coleman Peak 1 straps are the most comfortable, 2nd only to the MOLLE shoulder straps… the belt it has is too small for me; so its ok for the S.O. for now. The worst straps is a tie between the Jasper straps and the ALICE LC-2 OD straps on the stock ALICE pack. The Jasper straps’ metal buckles are right in front of my armpits, where they should NOT be…..however, the upper mounts is at the perfect 45% angle, so I think I only need to modify the straps by extending the upper mount somehow. Not sure how to best proceed….There is the option of making complete new straps with a set of cannibalized LC-2 long straps similar to the woodland ones in OD, with which I would mount the bottom of the backs to the lower cross bar between the top and the bottom, and have load lifters to the original strap cross bars, this would give me 6 points of adjustment. Ideally if there was another bar below the cross bar, that would be the perfect place for new straps…I am not sure what model Kelty is closest to this frame… Or Jansports for that matter.

As for the Hellcat mods; I think I want to do it again with a DEI 1606AC frame, and probably with new, lighter materials similar to the set up on the Coleman Peak 1 pack, but in Olive or Camo…

For actual bug out bags, it is hard to beat the practically indestructible ALICE packs, especially with the Hellcat mods…..When one considers the need for the fabric to actually stand up to abuses such as dragging in the mud, tossing in the truck, or whatever vehicles have you, and so on….the ALICE and the MOLLE equipment are pretty good for that… BUT….unfortunately, it can also make you a target, hence my decision to pack these two civilian hiking backpacks, which are pretty tough, and also pretty much common everywhere (the Kelty/Jansport style one, not sure of the Coleman but…)…and so will aid greatly in the “gray man” thinking. Out here in the PNW, people do not give second thoughts or focus on the bearded guy wearing surplus winter jackets and a civilian hiking pack; nor do they focus on the obviously large hunting camo wearing guy with the old army backpack and old hunting rifles….In some areas, people are more attracted to the guy who wears 5.11 everything and has a black or coyote backpack with miles of MOLLE; but they do not really notice the guy with woodland/desert MOLLE; nor do they notice the guy with the 30+ year old framed hiking backpack.

Tarp shelters for bug tent!

Did 3 different set ups of tarp protection for the bug tent; here is one using the Bat Wing tarp; rotated 90 degrees from the usual, giving it a sort of cartwheeling star shape……

20140831_135302

it provides more protection on the sides than the previous set up; but not by much; as seen below…

20140831_135320

if I attached “beaks” of some sort from where the pole stakes are to where the side stakes are; then possibly one would have more coverage there…but then again, it might be better without the bug tent itself…

20140831_135700

One or two people could lay at a diagonal in this shelter without the bug netting; and that would be more effective.

20140831_135651

Without the bug tent underneath, there is quite a lot of room underneath for two people laying side by side or slightly diagonally.

SO I decided to do a set up with the 9×12 poly tarp;

DSCN2068

It gives the bug tent so much more room; and is very breezy..

DSCN2069

completely covered; and with space enough to hang items off a ridge line above the tent such as a lamp or boots or clothes; however it is heavy due to being poly plastic.

DSCN2071

view from the back; I didn’t line up the bug tent perfectly but oh well. Note that the bug tent’s side pull outs aren’t utilized here, its more to do with time…

DSCN2070

another view looking into the door; the door panels are tied to the tarp grommets so that its easy to let air in, and easy to find in the dark.

And here is the final set up, one I probably would use more often…I just need to get the thing waterproofed; my DIY asymmetric Hex tarp;

DSCN2078

It looks like the corners of the bug tent are exposed, but that is a trick of the eye, looking directly above, the bug tent is completely covered.

DSCN2077

view from the front with doors closed; there is not much of a gap between the bug netting and the tarp; this is due to the tarp being an odd shape and due to my not so perfect seam sewing on the center seam of the tarp. The pull outs are utilized here, with cord running to the tarp’s stakes, so that I do not need to pack 4 more stakes. 10 stakes overall for each of the three set ups.

DSCN2079

View from the back; there is ample room on each side for gear and various items, and the poles are around 48 inches tall I think, so a couple trekking poles at that length would do very well to reduce weight of set up, OR two trees conveniently located in a straight line with a flat surface in between (ha ha ha ha not likely) OR one tree and a car with a roof rack (more likely); Although it would be nice to have a pick up truck or a flatbed truck on which I can simply tie down the bug tent and suspend a tarp over it; that is not going to happen any time soon.

I believe this hex tarp, while normally for the two hammocks, would do great as a ground shelter for this bug tent :)

 

Tested modified bug tent, and made hammock bug net!

Modified an old Stansports A-frame “Scout backpacking” tent that was not waterproof into a bug tent to be more airy…it is 54″ wide by 78″ long, and 36″ tall…. Unlike the original tent design, I added two more tie-outs on the sides, so that I could expand the feel of the tent and make it more spacious compared to original design. I was able to test it with the girlfriend on an overnighter in the Willamette National Forest. It is comfortable and very airy..perfect for the summertime! We put a Twin size air mattress in the tent, there’s still enough room for small gear on the sides, though ideally a Full size air mattress at 54″ wide would be preferable for two people so as not to risk rolling off the air mattress and landing on the ground. With the relative lack of privacy in the bug tent, we set up another small tent, a dome tent for use as changing room, and as back up tent should we need it.

Also made a bug net for my hammock, these pics are of it before I added another section of bug netting to extend it….and the stuff sack holds everything for hammock except tarp and tarp lines/stakes.

DSCN2054

Campsite on NFS 4695 past Humbug Campground; yes that is an army cot in the foreground, I forgot to bring proper chairs so we used that by the fire :)

DSCN2055

Another view of campsite, the tarp BARELY covers the tent, for rain, I would probably use a larger tarp.

DSCN2056

The bug tent under the bat wing tarp, the girl is in the tent testing it. I utilized a couple long poles for the support of the tent and tarp, if needed, one could dispense with them and use trekking poles or pitch from trees. The bug netting is 59×84 panel of polyester sheer curtain material from Kmart; I decided one panel is all it needed to make the tent a bug tent.

DSCN2022

Hammock bug net made of two panels of the same polyester sheer curtain material; shown with the under pad and the hammock; not shown is the new extension panel I added to it due to it being too small for the hammock really….. (accidentally ripped one side’s hole a bit bigger…)

DSCN2023

Hammock stuff stuffed into MSS bag; yes that is how bulky it is when not compressed; open cell underpad, top quilt, hammock, bug net, suspension straps are all in there. only the tarp stuff is separate.

DSCN2024

Nice thing about the MSS bag; the 9 strap compression system helps compress the stuff into this basketball sized unit…though on my pack, I don;t compress it as far, since I need it to be slimmer so that my MOLLE pouches and straps will fit.

DSCN2058

A view of the creek next to the campsite :) This creek, I’m not sure which one it is, but it feeds Brietenbush River which feeds into Detroit Lake from the mountain springs.

DSCN2063Another view of the creek, water is ice cold….brrr.

DSCN2064Different section of the creek.

DSCN2065Started a twig fire underneath a rotten log end that someone left behind.

DSCN2067

The stump getting on fire….it lasted for about 10-12 hours…..we had hot dogs for dinner that night :D