So I have been thinking about ways to effectively expand the capability of the Ute for a longer duration trek, in keeping with the thread discussion on just how far you can take a Ute...10 days or more? For me, that means I would want to make efficient use of the side panels. However, I wanted to be able to do it cleanly and not have the pack turn into the proverbial "gypsy ruck"....with stuff hanging off of it in every direction and bouncing around.
I started thinking about how I could attach pouches to the sides without interfering with the superb pulley compression system that is very much a hallmark attribute of a couple HPG packs. I thought about how many tactical packs have Molle all over them. Most of the time, it just adds unnecessary weight, because most of it never gets used. In fact, I think a lot of manufacturers put that all over a pack just for "tacti-cool style points". However, there are those times when having a good method to attach external pouches to a pack really helps....but it only needs to be in certain spots.
I could have simply ran the Molle straps of a pouch around the compression straps, or maybe use Slik Clips to attach a pouch to the compression straps, but both of those techniques often result with the compression system unable to function properly. I also could have attached pouches under the compression straps, but that can end up being tough to accomplish if the main packbag is already pretty full, as it would be in the case of loading the pack for a long duration journey.
I then had a mini-brainstorm. What if the sides had a 6/12 Pals grid on them? I took a look at the HPG Products page and noticed that the width of the Tarainsert was the same as the depth (width) of the Ute side panel. Also, the Tarainsert is of a height that works with the Ute side panel. Boom!
I then slid a Tarainsert down behind the compression straps, and saw that I had all of the 6/12 I really needed to attach pouches to the sides! It worked out perfectly. I've now ordered a second Tarainsert so that I can continue my "Ute Mega-Load" long duration set-up. One key factor to consider if any other HPG forum folks want to do this is to ensure that you use pouches that have enough structure and are filled in a way that they don't become irritating floppy or bouncy lumps protruding from the sides of your pack.
A couple other particular things that please me with setting up the pack with a Tarainsert on each side is that once I get into a base camp, I can detach a Tarainsert from a side panel in less than a minute, slip it into my undocked Highlander, Tara, or Palspocket (or the new Connor, if you have one), and then go on a side journey from camp. As everyone knows, the insert can be pre-mounted with a good sized survival kit and IFAK / Trauma kit, or similar. So....some good modular versatility going on there!
Also, in my humble opinion, I think having a Tarainsert attached to each side of the Ute really expands the capabilities of the pack for lots of different applications. Imagination and a little bit of Appalachian Engineerin' is all it takes!
Take a look at the photos below...hope this helps out some others here! As always...fire away with any questions or comments!
The Tarainsert slips down behind the compression straps easily. Because the insert is pretty flexible, the pack can still be compressed down pretty well. That said, if the pack is nearly empty, the insert will at some point restrict the pack from compressing any further....but that's really not a problem, because if the pack is that empty, you wouldn't need things attached to the sides anyway. Another good point is that the Tarainsert creates a really nice platform for attaching pouches securely to the side panels. It even seems like it adds some structure to the pack overall.
Here is a First Spear Large GP pouch attached to the Tarainsert. These are about the same size as the HPG Medium GP. As seen in the photo, there is still plenty of room to attach a second pouch below to the remaining available 6/12 grid. The entire insert can be shifted up higher on the side panel if needed, or seated all the way down into the wand pocket. With the bottom section left open, there is still room for a canteen to fit in the wand pocket.
For attaching a taller pouch, I just "bridge" the Molle attachment strap over the middle compression strap, so as not to interfere with its function. For detaching the whole Tarainsert with the pocket attached, just unhook the G-hook and pull the whole compression strap out from behind the pouch....no problem.
Tall pouch attached. In this case, a Granite Tactical Gear Padded Cell with a center access zipper. These pouches have a nice structure to them and do not bounce at all. Perfect for things like stoves and such. Nalgene Oasis canteens and Hydroflasks fit in them, too.
Another view of the pack with the Tarainsert and pouch attached. I can still fit long items like tent poles, etc. down into the wand pockets...either between the pouch and Tarainsert, or behind the insert next to the side panel.