Development of The Seek Outside Flight BackPack
Posted by Kevin on 6th Feb 2020
Our Flight Pack product line was borne out of the desire to have a pack that performed similarly to our larger packs in comfort but in a more minimalistic, smaller package. If you search the common backpacking forums, you will find no shortage of lightweight backpackers wanting to save 8 - 16 ounces from our very popular Divide backpack. With the Flight, we believe we have formulated the best balance of backpacking performance, durability, and ease of usability and we believe we are in essence setting a new standard in lightweight pack performance and expectations.
Over time, we prototyped and tested many iterations of suspensions. We tried lighter versions of our normal suspension, we tried 7075 flat bar stays, we tried bamboo stays, we tried composite materials that performed very much like archery limbs (from an archery limb supplier), we tried carbon fiber, we tried titanium and so on .. before finally choosing 7075 aluminum with a shape similar to our standard frame. The goal was for the suspension to feel like a Seek Outside backpack, and when we strayed to dual stays, or some sheet combo it just did not feel the same.
As we were developing the suspension, due to some good fortune, we got involved with Honeywell Spectra to provide feedback on some woven fabrics that were geared more towards the outdoor recreation industry ..and as part of this they needed backpacks made from these fabrics to show off in booths at shows such as ISPO . Well, Seek Outside knows how to make backpacks so we made a few show sample packs for Spectra to display. As part of this, we really thought some of the Spectra fabrics performed very well and could be exciting in a backpack. In particular we thought one of these fabrics in essence "Punched above it's weight class", but we would need to do a fair amount of testing before committing to it.
SpectraGridHT is what we are calling the new fabric. In our testing, the fabric performed similar to 500D Cordura but weighs closer to a 210 Denier Pack Cloth. This fabric is similar to the Dyneema Grid or Generic Grid fabrics that have been available for a long time with the exception of
- The Spectra reinforcement grid is much closer together (close to 1/16").
- The fabric is weaved with a high tenacity nylon (similar to a lightweight cordura)
- The spectra fibers are larger than the nylon creating a hills and valley effect with the Spectra taking the brunt of the abrasion
In our opinion, these subtle changes create a better fabric and to our knowledge Seek Outside is the first to adopt it. In the Flight pack this fabric is integrated in all exterior pocketing, and suspension, and in high wear areas such as the bottom to provide better durability. For the main pack bag we will still be offering X-PAC as an option, due to it's excellent waterproofing.
We are currently testing our other backpack models to see how best to utilize the SpectraGridHT on those packs. However, we do believe that our SpectraGridHT does have a good PU coating, and is likely waterproof enough for many people in a pack bag design.
We not only tested the Flight ourselves, but we sent them out to others to test. The top photo is from several week in Europe and huts and flying. Prototypes have also been skiing, climbing, use to haul groceries, used as an EDC pack. Where has it been ? Well, canyons, mountain tops, Canada, New Zealand, Antartica, etc. Prototypes have also been used on week long High Route adventures, or backpacking in the south east during the summer.
Much of the feedback from testing was discussed on Backpackinglight.com
https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/upcoming-light-packs-from-seek-outside/page/3/#comments . Throughout the testing process we integrated in tester feedback. We also did find a couple small wear areas which we reinforced. We also asked some user questions to our facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/seekoutside/ to judge preferences.
The Final Product:
To us at Seek Outside, this is why we believe the Flight compelling:
- Comfort with weights most 2 -2.5 lb packs can not match
- Made of high performance durable fabrics throughout
- Adjust on the fly belt sizing
- The belt is removable
- Frame is removable , if you want to run it with a CCF pad for framing and no belt .. do it
For the final product, we decided to go with only one style initially (Flight One), which resembles our most popular backpacking pack and two sizes. Changes we made were minimal and were mostly from tester feedback or to increase durability. Also, we would like to extend a huge thank you to our testers for taking the time to test a new product, in remote places and giving us actionable feedback to improve the final product. Thank you
The Seek Outside Team…