When Mike St. Pierre from Hyperlite Mountain Gear was hanging out at my house this summer I was throwing out ideas for all kinds of things when he playfully mentioned that it’s not the ideas that are the hard part of gear design. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of business or marketing experience, which I think is what Mike was alluding to. Still, I threw out the idea of an ultralight ski pack, perhaps based on the Windrider pack they already make, and Mike seemed intrigued. After reading that I had been taking the Windrider out on some ski tours, Mike suggested that his new Porter pack might be a better fit for skiing. After a brief email exchange where I told Mike about some upcoming ski courses I would be working for NOLS, he sent me out the Hyperlite Expedition, the big brother to the Porter, and I agreed that I would prototype an Avy pouch that would attach to either the Porter or Expedition.
The Porter/Expedition packs are no frills ultralight packs in classic mountaineering style. The packs are constructed from the same Cuben Fiber hybrid as the Windrider, but features a beefier (but not bulkier) waist belt and shoulder straps. The packs can be closed in either drybag style – creating a loop at the top, or with the removable vertical straps for a clean top. Along each side of the pack runs a vertical daisy chain, to about halfway up the length of the pack. On the rear of the pack run another pair of daisy chains, framing the rear panel.
I spent an evening this week building a Prototype Avy tool pouch that should work well. Overall, I am happy with how this “first draft” turned out, though it wasn’t without its trials and a few ripped seams. I can’t seem figure out pattern making yet. I find it helpful for conceptualizing and laying stuff out, but my sizing keeps coming out a bit off. Easily fixed at the sewing machine though! It attaches securely with 3/4″ side release buckles and remains quickly removable. The pack has three compression straps on the sides which should allow ski carry in the A-Frame method, which isn’t my preferred way to haul skis around when they aren’t on my feet, so I’ll continue to look at ways to incorporate a diagonal carry method with the new pouch attached. After some testing this winter, I’ll send the pouch off to Mike and we’ll see if he can adapt my “train-of-consciousness” sewing job into a refined Cuben Fiber product worthy of his pack line.