Pack floating solution with Photo(maybe)

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pfredricks
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Pack floating solution with Photo(maybe)

Post by pfredricks » May 22 2003 1:09 am

FOr those that care, I figured the most beautiful way to float a pack. I am sure this is what people meant when they said use your Thermarest. But, I didnt understand it, so maybe this might clarify it for you. The beauty of this is you dont need to carry any extra gear, your stuff stays dry, and you can just toss the pack in the H20 without doing anything like getting out your tube, stuffing your pack in a heavy dry bag, etc. Just take it off and put it in the water. SIMPLE!
I cannot believe how well it worked.
This is a picture of my test float. I would guess my pack was about 30lbs as photographed.
Basically, this is my backpack with the rainfly on. ALL that I did was line the rainfly with my 3/4 length standard thickness Thermarest. In other words, the Thermarest is sandwiched between the fly and the backpack. Those things sticking up are my hip belts. The pack didnt even sink an inch into the water. The thing is totally stable, and in no danger of tipping. The fly is a Mountainsmith brand (was fairly cheap) and did not leak one iota. THis is a good ad for their product. The fly acts like the hull of a boat. The pack totally dry, and I dont have to carry anything extra. Man this is beautiful. Hope that helps someone, because this little problem sure caused me and a few others a headache.

[ old dead link to image removed ]
"I'd feel better if we had some crampons. Oh, what the hell, let's go for it..." — Common climbing last words.

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pwiley
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Re: Pack floating solution with Photo(maybe)

Post by pwiley » May 22 2003 4:24 pm

pfredricks,

That is a great idea. I might try that on a hike that I have coming up in June.

Pat,

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jimserio
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Post by jimserio » May 22 2003 6:35 pm

Pete,

Awesome idea! I don't have access to a pool, so I filled up my bathtub and placed my setup in there. Only about 1 inch is submerged. This thing is rock stable too. I'd guess the load is 35 pounds.

My setup is a external Kelty Trekker, Thermarest Guidelite (full length) which is about 40% inflated and a REI pack rain fly.

My only concern is that the stiches on the fly don't look sealed so those may leak over time (and I don't have time to seal them prior to this trip). You could probably get away without the fly as long as you ensure the pack doesn't slid off the mattress.

Thanks for the heads-up.

Added later:

OK... the seams on the fly ARE NOT sealed. I left it in the tub for about 10 minutes and the Thermarest was wet. Looks like i"ll go the tube route.

Coaster

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mttgilbert
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Post by mttgilbert » May 27 2003 2:02 pm

OK now that we have all put our various floating setups to task lets hear how it worked...


I found that just wearing the pack (no fly, or inflated thermarest or anything) as I was swimming worked the best. I could kind of lean backwards and just float along, sure the pack filled with water but the top half stayed high and dry and still held enough air to keep me afloat in the longest pools (what do you guys say, 75 - 100 yards?). The only problem was getting out of the water again, there was always about 10-15 pounds of extra water to carry until it drained out, which usually took about 10-20 minutes.

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jimserio
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Post-adventure report

Post by jimserio » May 27 2003 3:51 pm

OK now that we have all put our various floating setups to task lets hear how it worked...
Well... those who were there know how well my tube worked :-)

For those who were not there... I invested $2.99 in a Target special. It's a 36" pool inner-tube. For the hike into Hellsgate down to the river, I had it strapped (loosely) to my pack. That failed miserably. At the water, I didn't know what to expect so I was carrying the tube in one hand and my hiking poles in another. If I do it again, the poles will stay home. The idea was to place my *external-frame* pack on the tube (frame down) and float it. It worked great but carrying the tube slowed me down, so much that I became a hinder to the group. I ended up strapping the tube as tightly as I could to my pack and hiked with it. When I hit the water, I just took off the pack and placed it in the water. I think I was able to move quicker in the water than the rest who were floating their packs ('cept for Kurt & Jackie... they were un-stopable). The problems with the tube were:

1.) It would often come loose on the pack requiring me to stop and re-do the straps (bungie cords would have been good here).
2.) It often needed to be filled with more air.
3.) The pack became top-heavy and would flip over often.

I'm happy to say though that the tube has 9 lives and although it rubbed against countless rocks and tree branches it made it the entire trip without a single tear.

Coaster

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pfredricks
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Post by pfredricks » Jul 01 2003 9:32 am

This is an experiment in progress-For a real canyoneering trip, this didnt work quite as well as the short time in the pool. My initial impression above was after the pool trial. I do still feel this is a good method, and my preferred technique.
I guess that it worked pretty good. The fly did leak if in the water a few minutes.
I used it again a couple weeks ago for short crossings.

I think that it needs refinement, but I do feel it MAY be the best solution for a few reasons.
1. lightweight ( you carry no extra gear)
2. keeps your pack and gear ABOVE the water
3. The pack had less drag while swimming- it acted like a boat hull
4. My pack did get wet, but did not fill with water-which saved me a few extra pounds, I am sure
5. Still had a narrow profile, unlike the tube, which was good for bushwacking and scrambling.

From my experience, here are things to consider
1. I definitely need to seam seal my pack fly- May fix the leaking, may not, I dunno
2. The thermarest needs to be lashed across the top and bottom of the pack, so that it doesnt twist under the fly and stays put. If it moves too much, the pack will get top heavy and tip. ( With a secure thermarest-this doesnt even get close to happening)
3. Dont rely on anything to keep your essentials dry, still use a good dry bag- inside the pack.
4. Have a section of rope that you can tie one end to the pack, with the other end , tie a loop so you can sling it over one shoulder and under the opposite arm ( SO you can swim with free hands)-If you have long swims.
5. I am not sure that the thermarest would even be needed if the pack fly was seam sealed.
6.Definitely experiment with your technique (whatever method you choose) so that you know what you are working with, BEFORE you go. That was Matt GIlbert's suggestion and a good one


This method definitely could use some experimentation- I dunno, maybe I need to just put a grommet in the bottom of my pack to drain the water and be done with it

One more suggestion-If you are canyoneering-be careful, let someone know where you are at, plan to take longer than expected, and GO LIGHT as possible, and you have to expect that no one will find you or rescue you if things go bad. Never underestimate the weather-a flash flood will probably kill you-.
"I'd feel better if we had some crampons. Oh, what the hell, let's go for it..." — Common climbing last words.

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mttgilbert
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Post by mttgilbert » Jul 01 2003 5:16 pm

pfredricks wrote:One more suggestion-If you are canyoneering-be careful, let someone know where you are at, plan to take longer than expected, and GO LIGHT as possible, and you have to expect that no one will find you or rescue you if things go bad. Never underestimate the weather-a flash flood will probably kill you-.
This is really good advice, the only thing I would add to this would be; Go with someone, if possible a group of people.

Since the last post I have been working on cutting down the weight in my pack as well as waterproofing the contents. Last time a lot of my equipment got wet, like my bedroll and clothing (dont worry I had all polypro and wool), as a result the bag kept the water and the weight. So far the extra work has paid off (in the swimming pool, unfortunately not the trail) nearly all the water that collects inside the bag drains out in just a couple of minutes.

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RedRoxx44
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Post by RedRoxx44 » Jul 01 2003 8:43 pm

I had a good military buddy who loaned me a thin light weight dry bag- stuffed it inside the backpack and in everything went, my sleeping pad stapped to the pack in a dry bag and my camera in a small dry bag external . I went thru Buckskin including the Cesspool which was a swimmer that year and my gear was bone dry. I went thru all the potholes without taking my pack off except for the pool. Almost ran into a flash flood in Paria Narrows and had to quickly climb and belay, so did not have to unwrap pack. Works for me- however on the plate this fall is the Black Hole of White Canyon in utah so will rethink my water proofing on a smaller scale.

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mttgilbert
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Post by mttgilbert » Jul 01 2003 10:00 pm

That military dry-bag is probably the same one I use, can you give a description of it? Is is a waterproof laundry bag (nylon with a thick coat of rubber), alice pack liner (ripstop nylon with a thin coat of rubber) or some other type of bag?

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KH
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Floaties

Post by KH » Jul 02 2003 10:26 am

Hey Matt,

I was on the Tonto Creek with you. Fun trip.

Anyways, I think the thermarest/packcover idea was a good one, but I'd make a pack cover out of SilNylon and then seal the seams.

Since you're looking to cut pack weight, Matt, take a look at tarptent.com. The guy makes some nice, ultralightweight tents. I just got in the 2 man with the sewn in floor and it is under 2lbs - over 1.5lbs lighter than my Eureka 1 man tent.

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RedRoxx44
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Post by RedRoxx44 » Jul 02 2003 8:06 pm

HI Matt, in reply I am not sure what it is made of except it is very light and thin but strong- some sort of nylon for sure. No rubber bottom, can fold or roll up very small and conform to whatever. Draw type tie- what I did was I put my rain fly at the top in case it leaked slightly ; but never did. Its not at all like a river type dry bag. And its in camo too!!! Also if you want to cut weight pack two tent flies or a tarp and fly and do a "wet" roll , the old river runners never used a tent. If I'm doing a short trip and the bugs aren't bad I won't carry a tent. I've wrapped up in a rainstorm , put my pack cover on and come out dry in my down bag.

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