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Discussion in 'EDC Bags' started by themadplumbarian, Apr 9, 2017.
Well, just like the title says, I was wondering if anyone has ever had a custom backpack made? JR
I had a shoulder bag made by Sarma Custom Made.
DIY and enjoy
Does a McHale count?
I did, it's not the best but works, I just fig I'd look into having one made. JR
Um, no. Just a backpack, not a HUGEpack.. JR
I had a messenger bag made in Chrome Industries custom shop, does that count? I'm not sure if they offer custom bags anymore, but it was awesome quality.
Timbuk2 gives you the option to customize backpacks.
I've had three done, four if you count two by McHale. One McHale was a huge 7000 cu in alpine pack, traditional product, and one was a 4500 cu in Dyneema bag. I had an Outlier Dyneema bag done, 2800 cu in, for doing the PCT, and a ballistic nylon bag for a heavy abuse application that was set up as a restocking bag for medical missions and was made by a well-known high-end bag maker we are always talking about here who doesn't ordinarily do custom bags. The huge McHale was a great bag for leading NOLS trips, and it had enough options added to be able to strap an injured kid onto it to carry him home, but also got pretty heavy. Never had a problem with it since my load outs were typically 100-110 lbs anyway for those trips. The McHale Dyneema bag was everything the first bag was but a third the weight. And also a lot more comfortable; it simply floated on my back and was quite a different fit, both for me and as a pack in general. The Outlier was superb but could only handle about 20 lbs; now that might be all you're supposed to carry in a Dyneema bag, but at heavier loads it got fairly uncomfortable. The last one in ballistic nylon was actually the most comfortable of the bunch and because it was designed to be packed completely full of IV bags, lithium ion battery packs, and bits of steel, it had to handle about 85-100 lbs and did so magnificently (it was only 3000 cu in, but densely packed with heavy items).
A few lessons learned:
1. Even great pack designers don't improvise all that well. They can vary a successful formula SLIGHTLY, but if you push them much you can't be sure of the result. Packs are just not that easy to figure out.
2. Packs are designed to fit a particular load out range. If you do a pack (like my first McHale alpine pack) that's made for heavy loads and then fill it mostly with down and clothing, it won't ride right. Conversely, don't get a pack made for ultralight and try to throw either a lot of tonnage or a lot of unbalanced weight into it (weaponry is one thing that definitely comes to mind).
3. There are packs that are shoulder mounted and packs that are waist mounted. Be sure you get the one you need and like.
4. Keep a custom pack very simple. If you're customizing because you have all these great ideas for a pack and can't find them elsewhere, there may be a reason for that.
5. If you go tactical in style or design, don't load up with molle. The stuff is heavy, if you use it you will change the balance of the pack, and it forces the pack maker to work with some fabrics that aren't as versatile because they need a base for the stitching. I'd use high quality laser-cut molle panels if you really need it, but again, there are reasons not to. Tactical packs are designed (if well done) to add heavy pouches, but custom bag makers tend not to get there.
6. You may really like certain designs like the Tri-Zip from MR, but you aren't supposed to be using those on a custom pack. They're patented. So you may actually not get all that creative a pack when you go custom.
You didn't say why you needed a custom bag. I've found, from fitting probably close to a thousand people, that very few if any people really need a custom bag. There are lots of options out there already. Most people I know with custom bags don't like them as much as they thought they would. Of my custom bags, the only bag I've kept was the ultralight one I used to do the PCT, and that was mostly out of sentiment. That was a perfect example of where a custom bag can make sense -- it was a bare bones ultralight bag with a back panel designed to give lots of ventilation for a summertime attempt.
Remember that custom bags have very limited resale value and there are always hundreds of bags entering the market every year. I might consider a custom bag if I were into technical ice climbing, but these days that's an area getting populated with all kinds of amazing new bags. It would be hard to make a better bag than the ones available stock. My last custom bag, the medical one, was in 2014. I doubt right now that I'd ever need to get a custom bag again; there's something for practically anyone out in the market already.
Not a backpack, but I had a French Trade Bag made by Malcolm Corderre at the Hidden Woodsmen. Malcolm does make backpacks, but I believe they're quite pricey. His stuff is worth it, in my opinion. He no longer makes this trade bag.
Here is a picture of his "modern" backpack
Holy crap, wow, thanks for the advice.. my wife got on my case and pretty much talked me out of it, as much as I would like to get one to my specs, like you said it really ain't worth it! Unless your going to be living with it 24/7 and it makes your life so much better.. JR