Which caving pack do you trust?

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Which caving pack do you trust?

Postby Vadosian » Jul 14, 2006 11:30 pm

Hello fellow Cavers,

I want to know the pack that you use that has survived the most horrendous, abusive, and challenging situations that you have endured in your caving experiences.

I know that there are several excellent companies making these rugged packs, but, please let me know your thoughts.

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Postby Darklight » Jul 15, 2006 8:04 am

I've been using the small and medium Swaygo Packs for about a year now. And the Webster System is no slouch when it comes to damaging equipment. They have held up perfectly. In fact, with a good scrubbing, they'd almost pass as new. Buy them bigger than you think you'll need, to give an extra roll of the flap. Great to cave with, easy to push or drag behind you, and feel like they're not there when worn. Plus, they float even when loaded! By doing so, they give a slight amount of floatation, and you can even load them with helmets or survey gear and use them like a small raft;-)

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Postby Kel » Jul 15, 2006 10:54 am

GGG Personal and Verticlal Packs, depending on the trip. They are tough as nails and perform well under all conditions. Hope you find what you need.
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Postby speloman » Jul 15, 2006 1:29 pm

I use a cheap pack most of the time but most of the caves I go in are dry. The pros of a cheap pack is they are cheap and can be replaced quicky and you guesed it, cheap . The Con of a cheap pack is that if you rip it open you will be carrying your stuff out of the cave in your arms. I have looked into and am planning on getting a swaygo.
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Postby Steven Johnson » Jul 15, 2006 1:41 pm

+1 vote for the Swaygo packs.

I have the small and large, and the only time I've ever had either damaged was when one of my bags was run over by an airport shuttle bus (!)... it smashed the retaining buckle that closed the pack. (Sadly, I didn't discover this until we were literally outside of the cave... turns out that you can thread a narrow biner through the loops as a temporary fix.)

To their credit, Swaygo *still* repaired the pack for me at no charge, even though this isn't exactly caving-related damage :-)
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Postby Steven Johnson » Jul 15, 2006 1:42 pm

Darklight wrote:Plus, they float even when loaded! By doing so, they give a slight amount of floatation, and you can even load them with helmets or survey gear and use them like a small raft;-)

Hey, that's a good idea! I'll have to remember that :-)
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Cave packs

Postby pacaver » Jul 15, 2006 2:59 pm

I like my Lost Creek packs. They're virtually indestructible and you can configure them as fanny, shoulder, or backpacks. I put 50 pounds of weights in my LC Gorilla pack and hiked up a steep mountain trail each week to prepare for a TAG trip and while I worried that something might rip out, it had no problems, unlike my poor tired body! :grin:
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Postby Landon Parks » Jul 15, 2006 6:58 pm

My Lost creek "TAG" pack has held up amazingly well, even though I don't do that much caving, it's held up good for what it's been through.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Jul 15, 2006 9:13 pm

While I am biased, I have done a lot of research and testing the durability of materials and cave packs.

Material abrasion durability: here's the list from most durable to not as durable:
Molded Polypropylene (hard shell boxes like Pelican and Otter Cases)
Ballistic Nylon (Lost Creek and others)
Polyurethane (Swaygo)
Shazam (Howies Harnesses Vampire Pack)
PVC (GGG and others)
1000 Denier Nylon (less expensive packs)
Pack Cloth (cheap book bags and fanny packs)

For reference, Polyurethane (PU) is about 4 times more abrasion resistant than PVC. Ballistic Nylon and PU are close with a slight edge to the Ballistic. Of course, hard shell boxes would make a terrible cave pack but they are very durable.

Construction durability: two basic ways to construct a cave pack–sewing and welding. Sewing is inexpensive, easily modified, and quite durable when done by a skilled seamstress with good equipment and materials. Forms a non-waterproof joint. Welding is basically heating two pieces of "weldable" material and pressing them together so the molecules get mixed up and stick together. This forms an extremely strong and durable, waterproof joint.

Component durability: Every component on a cave pack has potential to fail. Every seam, joint, buckle, clip, pocket, flap, strap, connector, grommet, snap, zipper, draw cord, tether, handle, bell, whistle, etc could fail. Fewer components means fewer potential failures. Simple equals durable.

Warranty and support: Anything you take into a cave will fail eventually. Find out what the warranty and repair options are. A pack is more durable if you can get it fixed.

IMO, there are many other things that should also be considered when choosing a cave pack. Basically, any pack that is made to be taken in caves is pretty darn durable. Choose the one/s that fits the rest of your needs the best.
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Postby George Dasher » Jul 17, 2006 11:25 am

Most packs float. At first.

They only becomes rocks once the air is out of them.
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Postby hunter » Jul 18, 2006 9:27 am

I use the large swaygo and it is excellent in rough and wet conditions my only issue is that it is still pretty small. If you are only carrying day gear and can stand the price the swaygo is as tough as you can get. If you want to carry a lot of gear though it just is not large enough.


P.S. The floating idea works well but I have seen a couple swaygos get a bit damp around the seal on the inside after extensive swimming. When I carry a camera I always have it in a second case.
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Postby Teresa » Jul 18, 2006 8:53 pm

I use the cheap ones designed to carry schoolbooks for elementary school kids. If they can survive that sort of abuse, caves are marshmallow treatment.
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Postby Tim White » Jul 19, 2006 11:27 am

Depends on what kind and style of caving you do. I destroy Lost Creek packs in TAG after a couple of years use. They are HEAVY when wet. But many folks find them to be great.

GGG packs hold up fair, but I can still put holes in them after a few trips.

I’ve been using an original Vampire Pack from Mike Artz for years. Mike sold his company State of the Artz to Howie a number of years ago, along with his pack design. I’ve tethered the pack to my harness and have drug it through gnarly cave passage with no worries. But alas, it too now has pen holes...maybe time to check out a Swaygo.

I'd not make it 200 feet into most caves I visit with a school bookbag pack, :shocked: but that's just me. :wink:
Last edited by Tim White on Aug 18, 2006 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby wendy » Jul 19, 2006 1:22 pm

I have a small to medium sized cave back that the lady at the fall cave in makes, you know the lady that sews the cave suits, someone help me ith a name here. Its got plenty of pockets and I like the rappell rack pocket on the outside of it. When not doing vertical stuff that pocket is the perfect size for my water bottle
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Postby cvr602 » Jul 19, 2006 2:06 pm


Would that be Cecile at B&C Wunderwear?

That's where I work during caving events now, everyone come buy something. :grin: :caver:
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