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Moonlite Pack Initial Report

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  • Stu Bilby
    Here goes my initial report for editing Stu B. Six Moon Designs - Moonlite Pack Initial Report ... Year 2003 Model Reviewer Stuart Bilby, male, stu@bwpl.co.nz
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2003
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      Here goes my initial report for editing
      Stu B.

      Six Moon Designs - Moonlite Pack
      Initial Report
      ----------------------------------------------------

      Year 2003 Model

      Reviewer
      Stuart Bilby, male, stu@... Age 36, 176 cm (5'9"), 80 kg (176
      lb)

      Website www.sixmoondesigns.com
      Photos, details of the pack and instructions for use are given on the
      website. The product I received was what I expected from the website.

      Price
      (from website)
      Main Backpack US$90
      Standard Harness US$30
      Alternative Vest Harness US$60

      Description
      The pack has a single large compartment with a dry bag type roll top
      and two large mesh pockets on the side. The mesh pockets are made
      from a very strong looking black mesh. The main part of the pack is
      blue heavy-duty fabric with white grid of Spectra ripstop.

      The pack generally appears to be neatly sewn with the seams bound at
      the exposed edges of the Spectra fabric. The holes in the pack where
      the shoulder straps leave the back panel are asymmetrical one hole is
      6.8 cm (2.7 inches) and the other is 5.0 cm (2.0 inches). This
      appears to be a manufacturing flaw but does not seem to have any
      serious consequences.

      Harnesses
      The pack comes with two interchangeable harnesses; a
      traditional 'shoulder-strap and waistbelt' harness and an innovative
      vest harness. Both harnesses are completely removable for protection
      on public transport and this seems likely to be a very useful feature
      for me.

      The vest harness's shoulder straps expand to form four large mesh
      pockets on the front of the wearer's chest and are clipped together
      by three horizontal straps across the belly.

      I took the pack for two day trip into the bush of the Kaimai Ranges
      and immediately found plenty of uses for the vest pockets: snacks,
      watch, GPS, compass and car key. The large pocket will fit a squat 1
      litre water bottle.

      Using mesh for the pockets means that air circulates well and I found
      that the vest pockets did not create sweaty patches against my skin.
      Although the open mesh does mean that passers-by can see what I have
      in my pockets.

      The vest harness does not have a hip-belt or a sternum strap and
      transfers load through a series of crossing straps behind the large
      pockets. It has no simple way of adjusting the shoulder strap's
      length while moving. I found them a little long with the bottom of
      the pack resting on my buttocks which was irritating. Tightening the
      straps across my waist did not improve the situation much. The
      shoulder strap length can be adjusted using the Velcro straps inside
      the pad pocket and I will experiment further during the test period
      to see if I can find a more comfortable fit.

      The back length of the pack is shorter than I am used to. It is only
      36 cm (14.2 inches) from the centreline of the hipbelt to the
      redirection straps where the shoulder straps leave the back of the
      pack. My back length is about 47 cm (18.5 inches) This means that for
      me, that when full, the top of the pack unless carefully packed tends
      to sit away from my shoulders.

      The standard harness is a traditional lightweight harness with
      straight padded rectangular shoulder straps, a sternum strap and a
      simple padded hipbelt. I had no trouble adjusting the standard
      harness to fit comfortably although the back length did feel a little
      shorter than I would like.

      Back Pad

      The pack has a pocket against the wearer's back to insert a sleeping
      mat as padding and stiffening. A 3/4-length Thermarest is one of the
      pads suggested by the manufacturer and I used this. The instructions
      say to "inflate to desired firmness". If the folded pad is inflated
      firmly, it becomes up to 100 mm (4 inches) thick, which while
      providing great padding, seems excessively thick and moves the main
      weight of the pack a long way from my back. Inflating it only a
      little does not provide much stiffness, which is suggested to be a
      feature of the "True Suspension" but I found it to be comfortable. A
      full-length closed cell foam mat will not fit in the pad pocket and I
      will experiment with cut-down pads during the test period.

      The Velcro strap and buckles where the shoulder straps attach to the
      centre of the pack form a solid lump that makes using the pack
      without a pad somewhat uncomfortable. This Velcro strap is not sewn
      to the pack and it would be possible to lose it while swapping
      harnesses.

      My Thermarest became wet in patches from sweat where it was sitting
      against my back. In heavy rain or deep river crossings the mat would
      get saturated.

      The back panel and shoulder straps are made from DriGlide fabric
      which is touted as having low friction and good moisture wicking
      properies. This appears to be true. I was surprised to see low-
      friction promoted as a feature because on other packs I have used the
      pack panel has been promoted as being made of high-friction fabric
      and I am used to transferring part of the weight of the pack through
      friction against my back.

      The pack has criss-crossing bungee cord on the back that can be used
      effectively to reduce the volume of the pack and to store pieces of
      gear on the outside of the pack.

      Ice Axe Loop


      The ice axe loop fits both my short 50 cm (20 inch) ice axe and my
      long 70 cm (28 inch" walking axe tidyly. I would prefer the loop to
      be attached a little lower to reduce the potential for the ice axe to
      snag on low branches.

      Weight


      manufacturer's weight measured weight
      g (oz) g (oz)
      Main pack 368 (13) 396 (14)
      Standard harness 170 (6) 172 (6)
      _________________________________
      Standard total 538(19) 568 (20)

      Vest harness 250 (9) 279 (10)

      Volume
      From website

      Item litres (cubic inches) Main Bag 31.5 (1920)
      Extension Collar 15.7 (960)
      Pad Pocket 9.8 (600)
      Left Pocket 5.7 (350)
      Right Pocket 2.9 (175)
      ----------------------------------
      Total 65.6 (4005)

      The vest pocket gives an additional volumes of 4.75 litres (288 ci)

      The pack is big enough to take my large (20 litre, 1220 cubic inch)
      synthetic sleeping bag

      Documentation
      The pack comes with two pages of instructions that describe the pack
      and a little about how to adjust it. Initially I was a little
      confused and had trouble finding the zipper and then wondered if a
      mat was completely necessary. I went to the web site and found a full
      set of helpful instructions and explanations. It would have helped me
      to have a printed copy of those supplied with the pack. After reading
      the instructions on the web site and half an hour playing with the
      pack it was pretty obvious to me how everything worked.

      Testing
      I will take the pack on a number of trips into the ranges of the
      central North Island. It has already withstood, without damage,
      several hours of pushing through thick cuttygrass, bushlawyer and
      gorse that left me scratched and bleeding in half a dozen places. I
      will investigate ways of adjusting the pack to sit more comfortably.

      Summary
      The Moonlite is a light strong pack that appears to be constructed to
      handle wear and tear much better than most light packs. The vest
      harness is innovative and useful and it has all the features I want
      in a light pack.

      Backpacking Background
      I live in Auckland, New Zealand and have been heading into the
      mountains for 16 years. I am an experienced backpacker, tramper and
      climber and most of my trips are multi-day off-trail trips. I love
      long trips up the remote gorges, forests and glaciers of the South
      Island's west coast. Over the last two years I have converted to a
      lightweight style.

      1 May 2003
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