When I was a boy, there were three choices in packs available; external frame backpacks,
frameless daypacks (knapsacks), and frameless canvas rucksacks. We didn't really
do much to make those frameless packs more comfortable to shoulder the loads. I
can remember rock hammers and hunting supplies poking into my back on numerous occasions.
Perhaps we were not as inventive or just tougher.
Ray Jardine, ultralite gear guru, can be credited for the re-appearance and increased
popularity of the frameless rucksack amongst lightweight backpackers. Since he wrote
instructions on how to construct and use a simple lightweight frameless rucksack
in his book, "Beyond Backpacking", patterns for sewing simple and inexpensive models
can be found on several internet sites. Prices for materials run around $50 Can.
depending on the quality. There are now many cottage industry gear manufacturers
and a few big name companies who make these rucksacks. Prices can vary from $75-$200
Being a person with no sewing abilities, I ordered my 18 oz (511g) Van Peski (GVP)
style frameless pack from a contact in the Philippines several years ago. It was
customized for my physical measurements and extra options
were added onto it by request such as padded shoulder straps, ice axe loops, and
more durable crosshatch patterned ripstop nylon fabrics. My pack cost $30 Can plus
Backpacking equipment is much lighter now so the need for robust suspension systems
to support heavy loads is not as necessary. These rucksacks can support 20lbs easily
and with a sleeping pad wrapped around the inside if the gear compartment, the lack
of padding on the back is not as noticeable.
In the field I have found my pack to be functional and comfortable when I am carrying
light gear. Having nothing between my back and the pack has led to ventilation issues
but I have experienced similar problems with other packs. I like the fact that my
rucksack is lightweight and collapsible enough that I can actually carry it in another
pack and use it as a daypack when I am base-camping. This is the type of equipment
that one can use which will not break the bank and still get you out enjoying the
A Pot of Gold Under the Double Rainbow
Following the footsteps of it's successful solo tent cousin, Henry Shires has just
released the two-person Double Rainbow tarptent. If the demand for it is any indication,
this tent is going to be a hit! I was lucky enough to get myself on Henry's short
list for early delivery and I was very happy with his prompt shipping.
The Double Rainbow is a 2.5lb (1159g) single-wall monopole silnylon shelter. It
has two doors and two vestibules. These tents are not available for sale by any
retailers in Canada. If you are interested, you can either order one directly from
Henry Shires or there are a few other online websites who sell his tarptents. The
Double Rainbow costs $282 Can plus $46 in shipping and tax etc.
I am very impressed with this tent so far. The different setup combinations are
mind-boggling! It can be free standing by using trekking poles at each end, however
I find the tent sets up more taught by pegging the guy-outs without the poles.
With lots of headroom and plenty of length, this is the first tent in a long time
that I have used which is roomy enough for me to feel comfortable spending any time
beyond sleeping in it. However, as a big guy I would feel awkward sharing the Double
Rainbow with anyone other than my wife because I find it is still a little narrow
for two. You had better like each other!
Condensation has always been a major concern with single-wall tents, especially
silnylon ones. A lot of thought has been given to the different options to ventilate
the Double Rainbow from double rooftop vents to adjustable vestibule configurations.
My wife and I spent a very rainy and windy night in the tent with the vestibules
setup in two different layouts and there were absolutely no signs of condensation
inside the tent or any signs of rain getting in. In short, we stayed happily dry.
The Double Rainbow is competitive price-wise and delivers more options for its weight
than any other shelter out there. It definitely has found a home with my family
trips and I can see myself using it on most of my three-season solo hiking adventures