Recommendations for a company that does custom gear mods? Which fabrics/materials?

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seekinglost

formerly metalbackpacker
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Jun 18, 2015
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Just bought a zpacks Arc Haul to replace my Osprey Exos. My Exos had these small elastic pockets on the shoulder straps where I carried my gopro/grip. The Arc Haul doesn't have these, but I NEED one, haha. All of the shoulder strap pockets that I could find to buy online (ula, zpacks, gossamer gear, HMG, MLD, zimmerbuilt etc etc etc...) are just a floppy pocket strapped on to the shoulder strap. This will not do, I need the elastic pocket to firmly hold the gopro in place. Not just because I don't want it to fall out, but because with it held firmly in place it can be used to film hands free if the situation calls for it. I can quickly take it out of the elastic pocket and don't have to change mounts or anything. I'm not interested in any other setups to carry the gopro, what I had on the Exos was literally perfect for me, and I just want to add a similar elastic pocket to my Arc Haul shoulder straps.

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I'd like to get into MYOG gear eventually, but I'm leaving for the GET in a month and have a million other things to do, no time to research sewing machines and fabrics, learn everything I need to do a quality job. I was thinking of taking it to a local tailor, but in my small town in northern Michigan (where nobody knows shit about backpacking), I'm kinda wondering if they'll hack it up. I found a place online called Rainy Pass that does gear modifications, but at $83/hr. Seems a bit steep to me. Can anyone recommend a competent company that I can send my pack out to for some custom work?

Also, on a whim I bought some #1209A LYCRA MICRO MESH & 2311 STRETCH BINDING 1 5/8 inch from quest outfitters just to have a look at the material. I think the Lycra may be the same material as the bulk of the Exos pocket, but not 100% sure. The top of the Exos pocket has a thin band of elastic that seems stronger and much thinner than the stretch binding stuff I bought, so I'm not sure what material that is. If I take it to a local tailor I'll have to have the fabrics on hand, otherwise they'll make it out of leather or something haha. Anyone know what materials I should be looking at for this?
 

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Brendan S

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Mar 19, 2016
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Chris Zimmer might be worth checking with. He started out in the myog world and might be willing to do it.

he’d probably have some appropriate elastic binding. Looks like rip stop by the roll has some as well if you wanted to compare.

If he won’t do it, that’s honestly a dead easy job for a local tailer provided you have the materials and can show your existing pack to demonstrate exactly what you want.
 
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seekinglost

formerly metalbackpacker
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Jun 18, 2015
Messages
88
Thanks for the info. On Chris' site:

*** I am working my way through the long list of orders, from the holiday sale in the order that they arrived. I do not have an estimate of how long this will take but be assured I am working as hard as I can to get these orders out the door as quickly as I can. Once the orders ship you will receive an email from paypal with the tracking info. Thanks so much!***

But I sent him a message anyways, never hurts to ask. And that's good to know about it being a simple job for the local tailor. Maybe that's the route I'll go then.
 

seekinglost

formerly metalbackpacker
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Jun 18, 2015
Messages
88
I only know of Narain's in Berkeley. They've been in the outdoor repair business for decades.
Thanks, I'll have a look!

Also, I'm finding it impossible to access water bottles in the side pockets of the Arc Haul. I can't even touch the bottles when reaching back for them with the pack on. The side pockets of the Exos were designed so that you can insert/remove a water bottle from the "side" of the side pocket in addition to the top:

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With the Exos, I could fit two gatorade bottles in each side, but the Arc Haul only BARELY fits two smart water bottles(forcing you to only use one specific shape of bottle), or ONE Gatorade bottle per side and just BARELY with a full pack. Really disappointed with the side pockets of the Arc Haul. The material used for the side pockets on the Exos is super stretchy and worked really well, but was prone to ripping on sharp rocks. Has anyone here modified their side pockets to function like the Exos, with both a side and top opening? Suggestions for durable yet stretchy materials? The Arc Haul's side pockets are made of gridstop, like the rest of the pack... I suppose this could still work with the right cut and elastic around the pocket openings. Thoughts or input?
 

WasatchWill

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Thanks, I'll have a look!

Also, I'm finding it impossible to access water bottles in the side pockets of the Arc Haul. I can't even touch the bottles when reaching back for them with the pack on. The side pockets of the Exos were designed so that you can insert/remove a water bottle from the "side" of the side pocket in addition to the top:

View attachment 86840

With the Exos, I could fit two gatorade bottles in each side, but the Arc Haul only BARELY fits two smart water bottles(forcing you to only use one specific shape of bottle), or ONE Gatorade bottle per side and just BARELY with a full pack. Really disappointed with the side pockets of the Arc Haul. The material used for the side pockets on the Exos is super stretchy and worked really well, but was prone to ripping on sharp rocks. Has anyone here modified their side pockets to function like the Exos, with both a side and top opening? Suggestions for durable yet stretchy materials? The Arc Haul's side pockets are made of gridstop, like the rest of the pack... I suppose this could still work with the right cut and elastic around the pocket openings. Thoughts or input?
How long have you had your Arc? I'm assuming you did lots of research across comparable packs to the ZPacks line to make you still want to go with the Arc Haul aside from the little features you're trying to incorporate into it from the Exos. That said...I recently got myself (and my wife) ULA Circuits and was thinking it might be worth reconsidering that as an option for you, despite a bit of an uptick on the weight, if your Arc isn't beyond its return period. I was going to go for an Arc Haul, but opted against it because of how much extra it costed for all the add-ons that come standard with the slightly lesser expensive Circuit, because the materials (Robic is standard, XPac is available for an additional customization cost) across the ULA pack including the front mesh pocket, is supposedly much more durable, and lastly, they're just more local to me, made right here in Utah. Their side pockets are huge (could take two Nalgenes in each pocket if I wanted). They also have bungees standard on the shoulder straps for securing water bottles for easy access, a system much like what I've used before on select trips after adding my own cord and locks to achieve the same thing. These same bungees can also be used to allow you to hike with an umbrella, hands free. And so that now has me thinking those same bungees could work well at securing your GoPro on its gymbal as you have shown in the pics above. At any rate, the bungee idea is pretty easy to craft together yourself and might be something that could work with your Arc.
 

seekinglost

formerly metalbackpacker
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
88
Just a few weeks. I've done a good bit of research and settled on the Arc because of the low weight, excellent water resistance and the adjustable frame that provides airflow to the back. I've got some long distance hikes planned and really trying to cut down on my weight. I carry a lot of weight in camera gear and electronics so I need to cut the weight where I can. I know there really isn't going to be the perfect pack that has the exact combination of features and specs I'm looking for. No matter which pack I choose, modifications are likely needed to achieve the setup I'm looking for.

I had a few buddies on the CDT had ULA packs, I believe and Ohm and a Catalyst, so I was able to try those on a few times. I didn't really care for the way the ULA packs felt, can't put my finger on it exactly but that I didn't really look into them much after trying them on. The side pockets are definitely bigger but still no side access like the Exos. I lack the shoulder dexterity to be able to reach back into just about any pack's side pocket without taking the pack off. The Exos is about the only one I know of, other than Gregory which is even heavier, that I can reach back into and put a bottle in out out of the pocket, because of the side access. Since so few packs have this, especially in the UL realm, I just bought the pack and decided to try and figure out a solution after I got my hands on it and can see what I'm working with.

That's a good thought about the bungees on the shoulder straps for water bottles, but my shoulder straps are already spoken for... the gopro on one side and I carry my GPS on the other shoulder strap. Also a good thought about using the bungees for securing the gopro, but they way my friend's water bottles always fell out of her straps on her ULA pack, I'd be skeptical of relying on them with a gopro. The Exos's elastic shoulder strap pocket was super secure and I could trust it to hold the gopro under any conditions. Tried and true! If I can't get get a shoulder strap pocket made like I want, I'll definitely keep the bungee option in mind. Surely it could work with the right engineering. I'd just feel better with the pocket, as there is almost no way it could fall out of that.
 
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WasatchWill

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Jul 23, 2013
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Just a few weeks. I've done a good bit of research and settled on the Arc because of the low weight, excellent water resistance and the adjustable frame that provides airflow to the back. I've got some long distance hikes planned and really trying to cut down on my weight. I carry a lot of weight in camera gear and electronics so I need to cut the weight where I can. I know there really isn't going to be the perfect pack that has the exact combination of features and specs I'm looking for. No matter which pack I choose, modifications are likely needed to achieve the setup I'm looking for.

I had a few buddies on the CDT had ULA packs, I believe and Ohm and a Catalyst, so I was able to try those on a few times. I didn't really care for the way the ULA packs felt, can't put my finger on it exactly but that I didn't really look into them much after trying them on. The side pockets are definitely bigger but still no side access like the Exos. I lack the shoulder dexterity to be able to reach back into just about any pack's side pocket without taking the pack off. The Exos is about the only one I know of, other than Gregory which is even heavier, that I can reach back into and put a bottle in out out of the pocket, because of the side access. Since so few packs have this, especially in the UL realm, I just bought the pack and decided to try and figure out a solution after I got my hands on it and can see what I'm working with.

That's a good thought about the bungees on the shoulder straps for water bottles, but my shoulder straps are already spoken for... the gopro on one side and I carry my GPS on the other shoulder strap. Also a good thought about using the bungees for securing the gopro, but they way my friend's water bottles always fell out of her straps on her ULA pack, I'd be skeptical of relying on them with a gopro. The Exos's elastic shoulder strap pocket was super secure and I could trust it to hold the gopro under any conditions. Tried and true! If I can't get get a shoulder strap pocket made like I want, I'll definitely keep the bungee option in mind. Surely it could work with the right engineering. I'd just feel better with the pocket, as there is almost no way it could fall out of that.

The latest REI Flash 45 design has dedicated water bottle pockets between hip-belt and actual side pockets, making it possible for your water bottles to be more accessible and secure. Still no shoulder pocket though so you're still looking at experimenting with the bungee option. You GoPro should weigh a lot less than a water bottle though and in theory, should be a lot easier to keep secure with how the leverage would work with your gymbal handle. But like the ULA, you're looking at about a 40 oz pack against the 22ish oz of your Arc Haul. I don't think the Arc Haul would be any more waterproof than the ULA fabrics (Robic and X-Pac), that is, they are all very water resistant and should be fine for most afternoon rainstorms out west here followed by the periods of dry sunny weather to keep them from wetting out. X-Pac fabric would be a bit more water resistant, or you could move on to DCF packs that are the lightest and most waterproof, but they don't last long because they don't resist abrasion very well. I'm sure you'll get at least a few good years of good use out of your Arc if you're mainly a weekend warrior and don't drag it a bunch on rocks or sandstone surfaces, but from what I've read, they can get still get beat up pretty bad by the end of a long thru-hike. But yes, their weight strikes a nice balance between ultralight materials and better durability than DCF and the trampoline mesh is pretty comfortable from what I've experienced in trying out a trailmate's pack before. In my experience though, anything in contact with your back for long hikes, mesh or not, will cause it to sweat, so there is no perfect ventilation system out there, but an Arc Haul/Blast probably comes as close as any. That said, because the materials on it are still rather light weight, they are less durable than Robic and X-Pac made packs like what you can get through ULA, Waymark, or elsewhere. If you carry a lot of heavier photography gear, you'd probably want to keep to a pack with some frame to give it support and structure for transferring loads to your hips and the Arc Haul should do that well for you providing that all your other gear is along the ultralight side of things. Good luck in getting the water bottle and gopro solutions worked out!
 

Pianomover

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Seconding Narain’s in Berkeley they have done repairs to packs tents jackets and a sleeping bag going back to the early 80’s.
 

seekinglost

formerly metalbackpacker
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
88
The latest REI Flash 45 design has dedicated water bottle pockets between hip-belt and actual side pockets, making it possible for your water bottles to be more accessible and secure. Still no shoulder pocket though so you're still looking at experimenting with the bungee option. You GoPro should weigh a lot less than a water bottle though and in theory, should be a lot easier to keep secure with how the leverage would work with your gymbal handle. But like the ULA, you're looking at about a 40 oz pack against the 22ish oz of your Arc Haul. I don't think the Arc Haul would be any more waterproof than the ULA fabrics (Robic and X-Pac), that is, they are all very water resistant and should be fine for most afternoon rainstorms out west here followed by the periods of dry sunny weather to keep them from wetting out. X-Pac fabric would be a bit more water resistant, or you could move on to DCF packs that are the lightest and most waterproof, but they don't last long because they don't resist abrasion very well. I'm sure you'll get at least a few good years of good use out of your Arc if you're mainly a weekend warrior and don't drag it a bunch on rocks or sandstone surfaces, but from what I've read, they can get still get beat up pretty bad by the end of a long thru-hike. But yes, their weight strikes a nice balance between ultralight materials and better durability than DCF and the trampoline mesh is pretty comfortable from what I've experienced in trying out a trailmate's pack before. In my experience though, anything in contact with your back for long hikes, mesh or not, will cause it to sweat, so there is no perfect ventilation system out there, but an Arc Haul/Blast probably comes as close as any. That said, because the materials on it are still rather light weight, they are less durable than Robic and X-Pac made packs like what you can get through ULA, Waymark, or elsewhere. If you carry a lot of heavier photography gear, you'd probably want to keep to a pack with some frame to give it support and structure for transferring loads to your hips and the Arc Haul should do that well for you providing that all your other gear is along the ultralight side of things. Good luck in getting the water bottle and gopro solutions worked out!
I'd trash that DCF material for sure. We'll see how the Arc holds up on 775 miles of Arizona and New Mexico here in a few weeks. What are your opinions on abrasion resistance of the Arc's 4.85oz Gridstop vs the Exos' 100D High Tenacity Nylon? My Exos packs (I've had 3) always seemed to hold up well in thick brush and dragging across rocks and stuff. I bought a few women's hair ties and tried that for the gopro holder. Using 5 of them it seems to work ok, but it does cause the shoulder strap to curl up due to the force of the elasticity. That one needs more testing. I found a local upholstery shop that is willing to modify my Arc's pockets. I just need to bring him the fabrics. Not sure what kind of elastic to get for the pocket cuffs, though, any suggestions?
 

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WasatchWill

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I'd trash that DCF material for sure. We'll see how the Arc holds up on 775 miles of Arizona and New Mexico here in a few weeks. What are your opinions on abrasion resistance of the Arc's 4.85oz Gridstop vs the Exos' 100D High Tenacity Nylon? My Exos packs (I've had 3) always seemed to hold up well in thick brush and dragging across rocks and stuff. I bought a few women's hair ties and tried that for the gopro holder. Using 5 of them it seems to work ok, but it does cause the shoulder strap to curl up due to the force of the elasticity. That one needs more testing. I found a local upholstery shop that is willing to modify my Arc's pockets. I just need to bring him the fabrics. Not sure what kind of elastic to get for the pocket cuffs, though, any suggestions?
I'm no expert on those types of mods that are more involved so unfortunately, can't really think of anything off the top of my mind for the pocket cuffs. As for the Arc Haul being dragged through some brush and what not, from what I've seen of them, the first thing to start getting damaged is the big front mesh pocket and to a lesser extent, the back mesh trampoline panel because the mesh weave is spaced out so much that it's easy for it to get caught up on thorns and twigs and stuff. The ripstop on the body of the pack itself should hold up a lot longer as long as it is not abused.

I can't speak to the Osprey Exos material but I share my own Osprey story. I took along my Osprey Atmos 50 on a really rugged off-trail course through Capitol Reef a couple years ago. It was only the 2nd or third time I had the pack out on a trip and so it was very much like new still. On the 3rd day of that trip, we hit an obstacle that required bridging or chimneying to get down and through. I went with chimneying because I felt it would keep me more stable, but didn't think of how much abrasion the bottom of my pack would take in doing so. Well...two holes rubbed all the way through both layers of the fabric that made up the bottom of my pack. Not very big holes and nothing that would allow any contents of my pack out, but it was sad to see after only having it for less than a year. Because it caused no problems with the function of the pack, I continued to use it for a couple other trips, but just recently decided to ship it to Osprey to have them patch it up, so that's where it sits now. I'll be doing the same route again this May, and will likely try bridging, or transferring my pack to my front side if I chimney that obstacle again.
 
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seekinglost

formerly metalbackpacker
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
88
I'm no expert on those types of mods that are more involved so unfortunately, can't really think of anything off the top of my mind for the pocket cuffs. As for the Arc Haul being dragged through some brush and what not, from what I've seen of them, the first thing to start getting damaged is the big front mesh pocket and to a lesser extent, the back mesh trampoline panel because the mesh weave is spaced out so much that it's easy for it to get caught up on thorns and twigs and stuff. The ripstop on the body of the pack itself should hold up a lot longer as long as it is not abused.

I can't speak to the Osprey Exos material but I share my own Osprey story. I took along my Osprey Atmos 50 on a really rugged off-trail course through Capitol Reef a couple years ago. It was only the 2nd or third time I had the pack out on a trip and so it was very much like new still. On the 3rd day of that trip, we hit an obstacle that required bridging or chimneying to get down and through. I went with chimneying because I felt it would keep me more stable, but didn't think of how much abrasion the bottom of my pack would take in doing so. Well...two holes rubbed all the way through both layers of the fabric that made up the bottom of my pack. Not very big holes and nothing that would allow any contents of my pack out, but it was sad to see after only having it for less than a year. Because it caused no problems with the function of the pack, I continued to use it for a couple other trips, but just recently decided to ship it to Osprey to have them patch it up, so that's where it sits now. I'll be doing the same route again this May, and will likely try bridging, or transferring my pack to my front side if I chimney that obstacle again.
I can see that back mesh pocket getting torn up easily. I hadn't thought about the back mesh but I can see the potential. Sounds like that chimney climb would be tough on just about any material. But glad to hear Osprey is taking care of the holes for you. I have some holes in the side pockets of one of my Exos packs, I have been putting off sending it in as well because it's still functional. Until water bottles start falling out I guess!
 

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