I have been working on massaging the pack designs for about a year now – a year and a half actually – and finally finally got the pre-production samples in from the factory on July 13th. Yeah! I am very happy with the work the factory does. There are a few small mistakes, all of which will be fixed in production, which is now underway, with the shipment expected to arrive the last week of September. While the line itself has not changed much, there are a few upgrades from previous years worth noting:
A. In a few places, materials were changed to a more-durable material. Last round, I took out reinforcement that did not seem to do much – and then I found (or my customers found) places where a bit more reinforcement would be useful. For instance, one of the first place that wears out is the pvc laminate on the lower sides where it meets the pvc bottom. To improve this, the lower sides are now backed with the heavy mesh rather than the light mesh. A similar change has been made to the top rim, replacing the light mesh with heavy mesh. A few other places on the packs a similar change was made (but they are hard to explain or show).
B. Wider shoulder straps: Last round, I made the shoulder straps narrower to fit women better, but I went too far. I also recognized that my prototyping foam is thicker and firmer than the production foam, and I needed to account for this in the design. I re-engineered the shoulder strap shape and discovered the obvious point that I could make it wide where it crosses the shoulder and narrow lower down; so this year’s shoulder straps are much more tapered and cut a little differently.
C. Women’s Packs: I added women’s packs last round, but did not do an awesome job. The Shinumo was made for small women (5’0″ to 5’4″) and the Shenanigans was made for medium women (5’4″ to 5’8″) but were made not quite right so more like 5’6″ to 5’10”. I reworked these and have reworked the line to make more sense – see below.
The 2018 Pack Line – Heaps and Shinumo
The Big Kahuna is of course the Heaps (and the woman’s equivalent the Shinumo). Significant changes – well, when I made the Shinumo, I learned some things about the shape… the shape of the Heaps has had a choke point, a waist, that got in the way of efficient packing. While the Shinumo was 2″ shorter than the Heaps, I made it wider and re-shaped a bit, getting rid of the waist. This year I made these changes to the Heaps also, so it is as tad larger, and has a better shape for easier packing. The Heaps is available in Red w silver trim and Blue w silver trim.
IML 104 Heaps
The Shinumo is now available in two sizes: the Small fits 5’0″ to 5’4″ while the Medium fits 5’4″ to 5’8″. Men and women taller than 5’8″ will likely fit the Heaps. Both size Shinumos come with the Woman’s Small hipbelt – if you need a larger hipbelt let me know and I will make you one. The Shinumo comes in a two-color design: Red with blue and silver trim, or Blue with red and silver trim.
IML 104W Shinumo
The 2018 Pack Line – Kolob, Shenanigans, Pandora
Our most popular and versatile pack, the Kolob et al have changed little for 2018. The changes noted above should improve the durability, while adding only about an ounce in weight. This year, the Shenanigans will be sewn correctly to fit (median) women 5’4″ to 5’8″, and I have added the Pandora pack to fit petite women. The pack body itself has been knocked down 2″ to provide headroom, and then the suspension adjusted to fit women 5’0″ to 5’4″. The idea being to provide petite women with a full size type pack, so they can carry an equal share. I did not put the rigid frame used in the Kolob, Shenany, Heaps and Shinumo in the Pandora because MY version of the rigid frame is also flat… but it does have 1/2″ of foam and then a plastic sheet which should make it supportive enough for the loads expected.
IML 114WS Pandora Pack
As with the Heaps and Shinumo, the so-called men’s pack (Kolob) is either Red or Blue with silver trim, while the women’s packs (Shenanigans and Pandora) are Red and Blue with silver trim.
The 2018 Pack Line – Spry, Mystery, Leprechaun
The smaller packs have the changes noted above, and not much else. I like the two-tone design, so I broke form and applied the two-tone to the Spry pack, while the Mystery and Lep maintain the single-tone styling. Better shoulder straps, a few changes to improve durability.
The Small Packs
The 2018 Pack Line – Final Comments
Though I am sneaking in this order before new tariffs take effect, my price from China has gone up about 15% since my last order, two years ago. I have chosen to raise prices about 5% across the line. I hope the changes will settle in and be ‘final’ – though one says that every time…
Tom is the progenitor of Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide, Utah's premier canyoneering information resource, and Imlay Canyon Gear, America's #1 maker of canyoneering-specific gear. If he's not canyoneering, he's probably snuggled up with a good book.
Posted on Jul 21st, 2018