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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsHPGHPGMoisture  Build UpMoisture Build Up
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4/3/2012 12:12 PM
 

This question was asked on the REKB thread, but it's really a broader issue that applies to all of our products so I'm starting a new thread. I was actually thinking about it yesterday morning when I pulled off my soaked KB and Tara since I'd just been working through back panel features for upcoming products in my head.

The first thing I've got to get out of the way is that I sweat, period. There has never been a time in my life when I didn't sweat profusely with even a minimal amount of exertion. This was true when I was a wildland fire fighter in peak physical condition, and it was true regardless of temperatue. Unless I am moving very slowly, I will have sweat on my body and lots of sweat anywhere that a pack contacts me. This has been true of every pack I've ever worn, no matter what kind of fancy porous padding or arrangement of channels it had to try to get airflow through. I'm aware that there are people who don't sweat as much as I do and that there might be some middle ground arrangement of features or materials that would actually keep them noticeably drier in a Kit Bag or one of our packs at some acceptable level of exertion. Since I'm not one of those people, I don't have a way of testing for that combination of features as I design product. I would simply be soaked and not notice any difference. We haven't had much real luck involving others in our R&D cycles, and I wonder how I'd figure out what the "80%" case of sweat production might be. Maybe my experience is the common one and the number of folks who don't sweat that much is only the 20% case. I just don't know.

(on a side note, this is my answer to folks concerned about heat and moisture build up under a KB - yep, you'll get it. either you're willing to deal with it for the benefit you gain, or you're not. that's a personal decision)

At the same time, all of the airflow types of fabrics I've inspected have been a lot less robust than the 500d cordura we use on most everything. On the KB specifically, I played with raised bumpers and made inquiries into some sort of other fabric for the backing. The bumpers evolved into the cut out detail you see on the backs of Kit Bags today. As far as other fabric is concerned, eventually that moisture is going to encounter the body of the Kit Bag and be stopped. It's not like wicking underwear where the outside is exposed to the open air where wicking can take place (I have yet to find any long underwear that isn't quickly saturated with sweat, btw). Same deal on the back panel of a pack. At the end of the day, you're going to run into the body of the pack and the moisture build up will start. In both cases, trying to build up bumpers just puts the weight further away from your centery of gravity. The heavier of a load, the more of a problem that is. Also, that sort of fabric substitution and bumper detail adds complexity to the design which drives up cost and drives down reliability.

With all of that in mind, I haven't so far found a reason to use materials or features meant to reduce moisture build up. Every time I analyze it, it looks like whatever incremental improvement there might be in moisture dissipation (which I know I won't see myself and have no idea how many others might see) isn't worth the price and complexity it introduces to the product. I secretly suspect that most of the materials and features touted for moisture dissipation are really more for marketing purposes than reality purposes.

As always, I'm willing to listen to folks who have an actual experience with a given material or feature and can confidently say that it made a real difference for them.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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4/3/2012 4:22 PM
 

 My experience with moisture buildup is very similar to yours, though the amout of sweat I produce may be a bit less. If I am pushing hard with my kit bag on, I'll probably have a wet spot on my chest where the kit bag was resting, I'll probably also have a soaked back from wearing a backpack. Indeed, this is something that one must recognize and either harden up and deal with, or not mind. In my experience, the best way to deal with this "problem" is to wear fabrics that dry more quickly or don't hold a lot of moisture to begin with. Also, stopping from time to time and taking the pack off helps a lot to dry out. Sweating is a good thing of course, as it is what helps the body cool down. 

Unfortunately, in my experience, merino wool tends to hold a lot more moisture and take a lot longer to dry than similar weight synthetic fabrics. The quickest drying stuff that I have personally used is Capilene 2 weight from Patagonia. 

 
New Post
4/3/2012 5:29 PM
 

There’s the mesh panel design which I believe was first put into commercial use by Deuter. I’ve used an Osprey model with this feature and it worked pretty well. It gives you an effect not unlike wicking underwear. You do sweat while you’re on the move but when you stop for a few minutes in anything except the hottest and most humid conditions the clothing on your back does begin to dry out. I could see how this probably wouldn’t be a very practical design feature for something like the Kit Bag, though.

Another approach is a system like Dri-lex. In shoes it works to move moisture into the shoe’s foam. The obvious constraint is how much moisture the foam is able to retain. Up to that point, my experience with footwear using this sort of system has been good. This sort of design would seem far more practical than the mesh panel for a product like the Kit Bag. One trade-off with 500 denier nylon would be in the durability of the surface with the push/pull layer.

 
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4/3/2012 7:03 PM
 

I've seen that mesh panel feature, and used it on externals (where the design originally came frome). It does work reasonably well. It also traps and conserves a lot more moisture than the open space of the external where there isn't mesh. Funny how internals are moving back towards the implementation of external features.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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4/3/2012 8:40 PM
 

 Evan,

I think I am your antithesis as I sweat very little. The exception for me being the supposedly breathable Goretex boots and extremely humid southern summers. I don't think I sweat at all on our little walk last summer. 

I think you can find all kinds of fancy fabrics out there, but your still going to sweat with a kit bag on. A non porous material flush against your skin, no matter what kind of high tech shirt you have in between, will cause a heat build up. The 500d you are using does have a sil backing to it right?

I agree with Badger, sweat and get over it. It's great kit.


Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.- Psalm 55:7
 
New Post
4/3/2012 9:49 PM
 

Evan,

Another useful thread.  Thank you, and those who have posted.

I perspire profusely.  And, it seems, at the drop of the hat.  All four seasons, pretty much with any level of exertion, with any combination, or absence, of layers.  For perspective, to manage my thermal balance, I use a modest K Scout set up, about 2,500 cid, because  I can most effectively manage my thermal balance/soaking  with my back area open to airflow.  The Scout arrangement outperforms any back pack that I have worn that covers my back.

I offer a couple observations, and some perspective.

My goal was to place my "essentials assemblage"(thank you, Scot) on my person, not in my pack, and I wanted the arrangement off my belt, so I could wear a pack with a waist belt, and out of my pockets as the load in cargo pockets, while minimalist, was uncomfortable for hiking.

To try to meet my goal, and before the HPG KB, I had worked with a local sewer(person who sews) to build a mesh panel with pals webbing(kind of a mesh based, mini MAV, type deal), on which I intended to carry a Wilderness Safepacker, and a small pals compatible pocket(containing, fire starting stuff, space blanket, signal, some fak stuff,  p-cord, knife, etc).   I carried the above equipment for two years.  The panel lacked form, so the load sagged.  The Safepacker and pocket restricted airflow enough that I soaked the layer(s) I wore between skin and panel.  So, a chest mounted load was a good deal, but soaking was the reality of the arrangement.

Enter the HPG KB.  Did/does everything I wanted, and performs better than any arrangement I had made.  I have used the KB through nearly 2 years, in all four seasons.  Soaked layers between skin and the KB is a reality for me.  I reported that result to Evan and Scot and recognized that there is a limitation on airflow to areas covered by a solid fabric, and more so, when the fabric has any vapor barrier capability.  The resulting soaking is manageable for me.

Interesting to me that I get little to no soaking in the specific area of the mesh back panel.  That is, no increased soaking, no earlier, than the general soak that occurs as a result of operating.  I suspect that this situation occurs because to the airflow(which carries moisture?) through the mesh.  I appreciate that the KB system works, and I am curious if the difference in soak between the KB front and the mesh back is at all common to the experiences of others?

The performance of the KB in meeting my goal is worth far more than the consequences of the soaking.  Tradeoffs.  YMMV. 

I look forward to learning about what works for others on the Forum.

Best regards,

112Papa

 
New Post
4/4/2012 3:25 AM
 

 I also have this 'problem' I sweat when wearing any pack and have found that the best way to deal with moisture build up is, as mentioned earlier, to choose a base layer that you find works best next to your skin. I have found that Merino wool quickly soaks a lot of water/sweat and can take a while to dry, I've noticed this especially when wearing a pack. On the flip side to this having worn synthetic materials under body armour, these to soak quickly but often dry faster, the only down side is that when worn repeatly (as in Afghanistan) is that they can smell pretty bad where merino wool does not! Having used a various range of packs sum of which include "moisture management" and "air flow" systems, I haven't noticed that much of an improvement. However I feel that to have a hard wearing pack made from fabrics such as 500d, like the Tarapack, and know that it isn't going to "fail" on me far far out ways the problem of having to deal with sweat, it's inevitable that if the conditions or environment are hard enough, no matter what you use everyone will face this problem. As I said for this reason I'd rather choose hard wearing materials and just deal with moisture management by, where possible, removing the pack and allowing your base layer to air out. Great products guys keep up the good work!!

 
New Post
4/4/2012 8:48 AM
 

I am probably a mid to heavy sweater. I do find that backpacks produce more sweat than a lumbar in the back or kitbag on the front which is why I prefer the latter to a full on small backpack for light uses. It is what it is and nothing I have found prevents it so I use what works best for my needs and just deal with the sweat factor particularly in the heat. If it is cold then the pack/kitbag becomes more of a clothing/warmth item to be used with aditional layers taken on and off to accomodate the extra "insulation" of the pack/kitbag.

 
New Post
4/5/2012 6:33 AM
 

Geko0270 wrote

I have found that Merino wool quickly soaks a lot of water/sweat and can take a while to dry, I've noticed this especially when wearing a pack. On the flip side to this having worn synthetic materials under body armour, these to soak quickly but often dry faster, the only down side is that when worn repeatly (as in Afghanistan) is that they can smell pretty bad where merino wool does not!

Patagonia put out a new run of 35% polyester/65% Merino items a few weeks ago. I haven’t availed myself of any of them yet but I intend to. (I don’t know why so many people go on about Patagonia being expensive. It is, but it’s comparable to or even cheaper than most other outdoor companies’ kit in my experience.) I like Capilene because of the quick drying and Merino because it allows vapor to pass through and because it insulates while wet so I want to see how the two work together.

 
New Post
4/5/2012 6:42 AM
 

evanhill wrote

I've seen that mesh panel feature, and used it on externals (where the design originally came frome). It does work reasonably well. It also traps and conserves a lot more moisture than the open space of the external where there isn't mesh. Funny how internals are moving back towards the implementation of external features.

I would definitely get condensation behind the mesh on my pack when I was out for a while on hot and humid days. An external frame would definitely have been better on that score, but it was an acceptable trade-off for me because of all the bushwhacking I was doing with it last summer. This summer my Tarahumara I expect will be warmer than that pack but should save me some energy with its even lower profile.

 
New Post
4/5/2012 10:44 AM
 

 Timateo, thanks for the info about the Patagonia stuff, I'll defiantly look into it. I've used the Merino base layers from 'ICebreaker' there good, but very expensive and I've found that because there quite thin there easily ripped and snag on branches and thorns which can be frustrating when you just paid £40 for one. I have a friend who swears by Patagonia products as well so hell be interested to hear about there new stuff. Thanks

 
New Post
4/6/2012 10:12 AM
 

I'm don't sweat a lot at normal activity levels, but at higher levels I do. I know some moisture is unavoidable but I do not want packs to make me any wetter than I am already. I believe insulation is for warmth and packs are for carrying gear.  It seems to me, that Osprey is very focused on that, and Arnn body packs are a bit as well, but it comes at the expense of actual pack design and framing. IMO, for a large pack, that does not make you sweatier, it's hard to beat an external. The problem with the external though is a problem of perception, and store comfort. Most folks outside of a certain group, percieve externals as old and un refined. Most store clerks recommend packs that are comfortable in the store because it sells the pack. I bet if folks loaded up each pack to say 35 lbs and hiked 5 miles in the mountains before purchasing the pack, a lot more externals would be sold.

So I guess I was a bit long winded, but it's fabrics, insulation (foam) and ventillation (probably in the reverse order). Some mesh fabrics, like a leno mesh (strong and no stretch) may reduce moisture as well as padding that has very little insulative value, but some air space is required for those to work. Other than that, IMO, none of them probably work well without air space. If you notice the companies that seem to pay a lot fo attention and market it (Osprey / Aarn) both rely on air space (Aarn has air space on the front packs). It's a trade off.


http://www.seekoutside.com | sig added by EH... go check out Kevin's stuff!
 
New Post
4/6/2012 11:52 AM
 

90% of users would be better off with an external for their uses. Externals are lighter, more ventilated, and transfer load to the hips better than their internal counterparts. Modern externals also start to approach internals in stability, but internals still have an edge there. Externals are plenty stable for all trail use and most off trail and bushwacking use. I prefer internals if I'm talking about something in the 3000ci range, or if I was actually skiing or mountaineering (as opposed to just traveling through rough country). I expect my iteration of the external to be preferable even in that 3000ci range.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
4/7/2012 9:36 AM
 

evanhill wrote

90% of users would be better off with an external for their uses. Externals are lighter, more ventilated, and transfer load to the hips better than their internal counterparts. Modern externals also start to approach internals in stability, but internals still have an edge there. Externals are plenty stable for all trail use and most off trail and bushwacking use.

I don’t disagree, it’s more like I’m in the other 10% since I get into the spruce traps and doghobble/Rhododendron mix a lot. The kind of stuff that seems like it reaches out and grabs every attachment point on your pack and clothes if you stand still long enough.

 
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