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APPLICATION to test: Six Moon Designs Comet Pack

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  • Emma Eyeball
    Here is my application to test the Six Moon Designs Comet Pack. I have read the BGT survival guide v. 1202 and agree to comply with the requirements stated in
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2005
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      Here is my application to test the Six Moon Designs Comet Pack. I
      have read the BGT survival guide v. 1202 and agree to comply with the
      requirements stated in Chapter 5. My Tester Agreement is currently on
      file. Thank you for considering my application.

      Name: Colleen Porter
      Age: 30
      Gender: F
      Height: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
      Weight: 153 lb (64 kg)
      Torso Length: 17.5" (44.5 cm)
      Email address: tarbubble at yahoo dot com
      City, State: Irvine, CA
      Date: 04/01/05

      Backpacking Background: I've been backpacking for 10 years, usually
      with my husband. We used to be heavyweights, but having children
      forced us to go ultralight, and now on my own my 3-season base weight
      hovers around 13 pounds. On family trips the weight usually
      doubles. I love to hike in sandals, I'm irrationally afraid of snow,
      I make some of my own equipment, I always pack too much food, and I
      like gear to be light, simple, and uncomplicated - silnylon, goose
      down, alcohol stoves, ¾ length sleeping pads... My typical haunts
      are the mountains of southern California, the Sierra Nevada, Grand
      Canyon, Mojave and Colorado deserts. Yup, gotta carry a lot of
      water. We hope to spend a month on the PCT in 2007, with the kids
      along of course.

      Field Conditions: If selected to test the Comet, testing will
      primarily occur throughout southern California. I have three trips
      planned for April alone – to the Mojave Desert, the southern terminus
      of the Pacific Crest Trail, and back to the upper transition zone of
      the Mojave. All of these trips will involve drive-in base camping
      and dayhikes with my son, which will require me to carry water, food
      & "stuff" for both him and myself – at least in the neighborhood of
      20 pounds (9 kg). In May, I hope to get in on a 2-night trip to the
      Domelands Wilderness, at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada (this
      trip will involve at least two fords of the Kern River). The
      remainder of May & all of June are unscheduled, but I hope to get in
      one trip each month. Late July will see me camped on the coast for a
      week, and after that I hope to get up to northwestern Montana for at
      least two weeks, during which I will be paddling, dayhiking in
      Glacier National Park, and otherwise tootling around in the wilds.
      Almost daily, I hike/run for an hour or so on the local creekside
      trail system that runs by my house. We also have some small and un-
      famous local canyons that I like to scramble through. The Comet
      would become my only pack for the duration of the test period, unless
      I determine that it is completely unsuitable for a particular use.

      Weather-wise, our rainy season is drawing to a close and the
      temperatures are rising, so conditions may occasionally be humid but
      will mostly be dry. I expect to encounter temperatures ranging from
      40 degrees (4.5 celsius) to over 100 (38 celsius) within the next 6
      months. Elevations will range from sea level to around 7,000 feet
      (2134 meters).

      Backpack Experience/Other Packs Used: I've used a wide range of
      backpacks, from the heavy (almost 7 lb/3 kg), to the ultralight (14
      oz./400 g), from external to internal frames, even frameless. I have
      carried as much as 50 lbs (22.5 kg), but typically my base weight is
      much lower than that. By myself, base weight hovers around 13
      pounds, and when I'm out with my husband we share gear so it drops
      even lower. However, on family trips the weight climbs back up
      again – diapers, kids' clothing, extra food and water. So I tend to
      use different packs, depending on what the trip calls for. The packs
      I can remember using are: an ancient 1970-esque external frame pack,
      a Eureka Talon external frame, an Eddie Bauer 3400 internal, an REI
      Alpine, a GoLite Breeze, a Gregory Electra, a Gregory Z-pack, and a
      GoLite Infinity. I just picked up a Granite Gear Virga (frameless),
      but haven't used it on the trail yet – most of my recent trips have
      required carrying too much water for a pack of that type.

      Test Considerations/Strategy: The Comet appeals to me because it
      seems to offer a lot of versatility at a very attractive weight. At
      2600 cubic inches (42.5 liters), the main packbag is small enough
      that it could easily serve as a daypack for family hikes and as a
      solo pack for my shorter trips, but with the extra 1100 cubic inches
      (18 liters) of capacity afforded by the exterior mesh pockets and the
      extension collar, I could conceivably even pack it with a weeks'
      worth of food & gear for myself. With the aluminum stays in, it can
      carry up to 35 pounds (but I wonder how comfortably). If I push it
      over 35 pounds, where is the true comfort cutoff point?

      I also wonder – how small can I cinch it down by using the three
      external compression straps? Could the Comet be versatile enough
      that I could even use it as a hydration pack on my daily trail runs?
      For those runs, I carry 1 quart (1 liter) of water, a couple of
      energy gel packets, a granola bar, a 100-weight fleece, a rain shell,
      hat, sunglasses, and liner gloves (I usually go out at 5 am, so it's
      a little chilly). I will be sure to give it a try, just to see.

      Six Moon Designs suggests using the Comet as an adventure racing
      pack. I'm not a racer, but I know a lot of places where I could put
      the Comet through a pretty good gamut of conditions. I will also
      have the opportunity to use it on and in the water (saltwater and
      freshwater), lined with a drybag. The Starlite also has a drybag
      closure, instead of the typical drawstring (and it also has no top
      lid). I'll be able to see how much water seeps in through the top or
      the seams. Can I paddle a boat or a kayak with the Comet on, or will
      my elbows bump it constantly? Will saltwater cause any damage to the

      The Comet offers a list of pretty common features (hydration ports,
      ice axe loops, load lifter straps) that of course I will test, but
      also has some unique features that I'd like to know more about.
      The "advanced suspension system," with its reliance on the sleeping
      pad as part of the suspension, intrigues me. I have tried using
      folded or rolled sleeping pads as informal frames in frameless packs,
      with mixed results. I've seen other packs that incorporated the pad
      more formally - the ULA Fusion and Six Moon's other pack, the
      Starlite - and from what I've seen I'm not completely sold on the
      idea, although the Starlite's pad-based suspension looked much more
      functional than the Fusion's. Since the Comet has removable aluminum
      stays, I could play around with testing the suspension with the pad
      alone, with the pad & stays both, or with the stays alone. I have
      three different sleeping pads that I would want to try in the Comet –
      a Z-Rest, a Prolite 3 short, and a TorsoLite from Bozeman Mountain
      Works. These are common ultralight sleeping pads and testing with
      these would provide good information for our readers, and would
      result in my being able to test the Comet with seven different
      varieties of suspension.

      Another interesting feature of the Comet is that the shoulder straps
      and hipbelt are removable. Some ultralighters still subscribe to the
      notion that a hipbelt is unnecessary under certain packweights, so I
      will absolutely take the hipbelt off and give the Comet a whirl
      without it. I can't think of why on earth I would want to remove the
      shoulder straps, but I'll take them off anyway, just to see how easy
      they are to put back on correctly. How do the shoulder straps fit?
      Are they contoured or straight?

      Six Moon has included a lumbar pad in the design of the Comet, to
      keep the pack from hugging the back completely and to offer some
      ventilation. I have yet to find a pack that can ventilate my back
      adequately, so I'm looking forward to seeing if the Comet can keep me
      cooler than I'm used to.

      I'm also concerned with durability. While Six Moon uses a heavier
      denier of siliconized nylon than some other silnylon packs on the
      market, it's still silnylon and as such in my experience isn't
      terribly abrasion-resistant. It looks like they have used a heavier-
      duty pack cloth on the bottom of the pack, so it can take the
      standard abuse of occasionally being dropped on the ground. But is
      the siliconized nylon strong enough to take the strain of being used
      as a packbag? It will be pulled on by the weight of the gear in the
      pack, the strain of the compression straps, and the strain of the
      seams that attach the exterior pockets. Can it take all that pulling
      without disintegrating at the seams? How tough is the mesh used for
      the exterior pockets? Will it snag or unravel?

      Although the Comet features dual hydration tube ports, there is no
      mention of whether there is an internal sleeve for a water bladder.
      If there is a sleeve, I'll see how large a bladder it can
      accommodate – I have bladders that hold up to 4 liters (4.2
      quarts). I don't use an ice axe, but can I carry my trekking poles
      in the loops? After all, sometimes I need to ditch the poles for
      short stretches. I have some packs whose axe loops work very well
      for trekking poles, but others that don't work for that at all.

      My torso length falls within the range that the Comet is intended to
      fit. How easy will it be to determine the proper adjustment to fit
      me? Once I've made the adjustments, will they stay in place or will
      they tend to slip and get loose while I'm hiking? How much fine-
      tuning can be done? This will all be reported on.

      Thanks again for considering my application. I understand that the
      fact that I'm currently six months pregnant might give you some
      hesitation about choosing me for this test, and I completely
      understand why the moderators might be concerned about this. I can
      only state that I intend to be hiking and backpacking for as long as
      I am physically able, and I intend to resume my normal activities as
      quickly as possible after I give birth (which should be in very late
      June or early July). As of right now I feel great, can still easily
      wear a backpack with the hipbelt buckled shut (even my stiff-belted
      and full-featured Gregory Electra), and am still filling my calendar
      with trips. Of course I'll be tackling easier routes than I normally
      would, but I'm hoping that the quality of my testing & reporting will
      compensate for the fact that I'm not doing 18 mile (28 km) days right
      now. As always, the decision is yours and you'll never hear (or
      should that be see?) me complain if i don't get picked. I hope you
      get oodles of great apps, all better than mine. Thanks.

      Most Recently Completed Test Series

      Red Ledge Cirrus Lt.

      Bozeman Mountain Works TorsoLite

      Current Test Series

      Titanium Goat Vertex 5 Tent
      Shock Doctor Ultra Custom Insoles
      Vargo Triad Titanium Stove

      Additional BGT Reports

      Insul-Mat Women's Max-Lite
      Gregory Electra
      Wilderness Press Southern California PCT Guide
      Teva Women's Wraptor 2 Running Sandal (OR)
      Kelty Kangaroo Child Carrier (OR)
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