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Application to Test: Six Moon Designs Moonlite Backpack

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  • Todd
    Application to Test: Six Moon Designs Moonlite Backpack Personal Biographical Info: Name: Todd Martin Age: 39 Gender: Male Height: 5 11 (1.8 m) Weight: 150
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2003
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      Application to Test: Six Moon Designs Moonlite Backpack

      Personal Biographical Info:
      Name: Todd Martin
      Age: 39
      Gender: Male
      Height: 5'11" (1.8 m)
      Weight: 150 lbs (68 kg)
      Waist: 32" (81 cm)
      Torso Length: 18.5" (47 cm)
      Email Address: todds_hiking_guide (at) yahoo (dot) com
      Location: Phoenix, AZ USA
      Date: April 6, 2003

      Background:
      Thru-hiked the AT in 1994. Moved to Pacific Northwest 1996 and enjoyed
      day hiking excursions in the Columbia River Gorge area, followed by
      some backpacking along the Pacific Crest Trail. Moved to the desert
      southwest in 1997 and have been actively day hiking most weekends.
      Generally take 2 week long backpacking trips to the Grand Canyon each
      year, plus several shorter 2-3 day trips throughout the state.
      Backpacking philosophy has been rapidly moving towards ultra-light
      gear. Have also been participating in caving and canyoneering since
      1997. Web master for Todd's Desert Hiking Guide at:
      http://www.ToddsHikingGuide.com

      Other light weight packs used: GVP Gear G4 (purchased), G4 (home made
      with modifications)

      Locations and Conditions Proposed for Test:
      I have several backpacking trips planned for the coming months
      (including week long trips in May & June, as well as several shorter
      weekend trips throughout the summer), all within the desert areas of AZ
      and UT. Terrain will be varied, consisting of rocky desert areas of
      sand and slick rock, to grasslands and forests. Temperatures during
      this time will range from highs in the 50's F (10 C) to well over 100
      degrees F (38 C). Spring weather usually consists of plenty of
      sunshine along with a few spring showers. Summer brings the heat as
      well as monsoons with the associated afternoon and evening
      thunderstorms with heavy winds, dust and short bursts of rain. My daily
      on trail mileage typically falls within the 15-20 mile range, off trail
      mileage will depend on conditions and terrain encountered.

      Style of Trip:
      I consider myself a light weight backpacker. My total starting pack
      weight (including food and water) typically ranges from 20-30 pounds
      (9-14 kg) depending on the length of the trip. For the last 3 years I
      have been using a home made GVP Gear G4 pack (with modifications) for
      all backpacking trips. I have sewn 3 of my own packs based on the G4
      design (ranging in weight from 10 - 19 oz depending on the fabric &
      features used). My experience with the G4 design should provide me with
      a valuable basis of comparison with which to evaluate the Moonlite
      design.

      Test Plan:
      There are several features of the Moonlite pack and harness systems
      that I would like to evaluate as part of my test plan.

      Suspension:
      The feature I am most curious about is the suspension system. When a
      manufacturer creates a light weight pack, usually the first thing to
      suffer is the suspension system. Several light weight packs currently
      on the market use a foam or inflatable sleeping pad as the frame for
      the pack; however, my experience is that a sleeping pad is not always
      sufficient to provide good pack support. In the case of my GVP G4 pack,
      a � length Z-Rest is used. I have found with the G4 pack (particularly
      with the original design) that the Z-Rest is simply not strong enough
      to support weights in excess of 20 pounds (9 kg). When the pack is
      loaded, the Z-Rest buckles and the pack slumps, creating an
      uncomfortable fit and a pack that hangs from your shoulders. One
      modification I have made to my home made packs was to add webbing
      keepers and an aluminum stay to the back pad. This solution is
      effective in preventing pack slump, but does increase the overall
      weight of the pack. Since the Moonlite pack also uses a sleeping pad
      for the suspension system I am interested to determine whether this
      system is secure enough to maintain its form up to the manufacturers
      suggested weight of 35 pounds (16 kg). In addition, as an owner of
      several different types of sleeping pads, I would like to examine the
      packs versatility in accepting different pad types (Z-Rest, Ridgerest,
      Thermarest) and whether there is a noticeable difference in
      performance/comfort with each.

      Finally, as someone who has difficulty finding clothes in my size (tall
      with a narrow waist, see torso and waist measurements above), I will
      determine whether the suspension system adjusts to snugly fit my torso.


      Comfort:
      Obviously comfort while hiking is important; in fact it's the main
      reason I've moved to light weight gear in the first place. There are
      several aspects of comfort that I wish to test with the Moonlite.
      Having been involved in a parachuting accident in 1992 that resulted in
      a fractured vertebra, I still experience some pain and discomfort when
      forced to carry weight on my shoulders & spine. For this reason it is
      important for me to have a pack which allows much of the weight to be
      carried by the hip belt. If selected to test this pack, I will examine
      the ability of the pack to transfer the load of the pack to the users
      hips.

      Another aspect of comfort that I plan to test is breathability. As
      stated above, my current GVP G4 pack uses a Z-Rest as the suspension
      system. The pad is carried in elastic keepers and lies directly against
      my back while hiking. Since closed cell foam is not breathable
      whatsoever, my back quickly becomes drenched with sweat as I hike. The
      Moonlite claims to feature a "DriGlide back panel which combines low
      friction and moisture wicking properties". I plan to examine how well
      the pack breathes, and will have no trouble at all generating some
      sweat during the blazing heat of an AZ summer (or blazing heat of the
      AZ spring and fall for that matter).

      Lastly, I plan to test the comfort of the padded hip belt and harness,
      as well as ease of adjustment, and comfort of the overall ride (the
      manufacturer claims the cut of the main compartment prevents the pack
      from sagging and riding too low on your back, a common complaint with
      the G4 pack).

      Vest Harness System:
      I have to admit, I must be a traditional harness type of guy, because
      my first impression of the Six Moon Designs vest harness is that it
      looks 'weird'. Thinking about it though, I do often find myself
      stopping on a hike to dig out snacks or my camera (or asking my wife to
      dig them out for me, since I don't like to remove my pack once I get
      moving). The vest harness may eliminate some of these delays by
      providing easy and convenient access to those items I use most often.
      The question in my mind is, 'What are the trade offs?'. To answer that
      question I would examine the following as part of my test plan:
      � Does the fact that the vest covers the front of my body increase heat
      retention?
      � Do items in the vest pockets create bulk that gets in the way of the
      natural swing of my arms?
      � Does the vest affect the quality of the suspension system?
      � Does the one-size-fits-all vest fit me?

      Durability:
      In order to attain weight savings, some light weight pack manufacturers
      use less durable materials in their design. In fact, the main reason I
      began sewing my own packs was so I could construct them from more
      robust fabrics. Experience proved that the sil-nylon & mesh
      construction of the commercial G4 pack was not hardy enough to
      withstand the sharp plants and rough rock found in the desert
      landscape. The Moonlite features high strength Spectra� 1/8" GripStop
      fabric which the manufacturer claims is "designed to survive your
      roughest thru-hike or off trail ventures". I do not plan to abuse the
      pack as part of my test plan, however, I will evaluate it under normal
      desert (on and off trail) hiking conditions, which, by most standards,
      would be considered a rugged environment.

      Weather Resistance:
      No backpack I've run across is made to be water tight. However, a bit
      of weather resistance is desirable in a pack. It allows your gear to
      stay dry under most conditions and prevents your pack weight from
      increasing due to added water weight. The Moonlite pack claims to
      feature a "dry bag closer on the main compartment keeps your gear dry
      and contained". A closure system is only part of the solution to
      provide weather resistance (particularly if the fabric itself leaks
      like a sieve). If selected for this test I will also examine to what
      degree the Spectra� 1/8" GripStop fabric provides water repellency and
      weather resistance.

      Current Tests:
      - Brasslite Solo Alcohol Stove
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Cook%20Gear/Stoves/Brasslite%20Solo%20Alcohol%20Stove/Todd%20Martin/
      - Big Agnus Madhouse Tent
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Tents/Big%20Agnes%20Mad%20House/Todd%20Martin/Initial%20Report/

      Previous Written Reports:
      - Owner Review: Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight Tent
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Tents/SD Clip
      Flashlite C/D/Owner Review SD Clip Flashlight CD Tent/
      - Owner Review: Patagonia Zephur Jacket
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Clothing/Patagonia_Zephur_Jacket/
      - Owner Review: Basic Designs Super Sunshower II
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Personal Hygiene/Showers/Basic
      Designs Super SunShower II/Basic Designs Super SunShower II/
      - Owner Review: Trails Illustrated - Grand Canyon National Park Map
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Books/Maps/National_Geographic_Trails_Illustrated/Owner
      Review - Grand Canyon, Trails Illustrated/

      I have read and agree to comply with the requirements in the Backpack
      Gear Test Survival Guide v. 1202

      Thank you for your consideration.


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