Construction


Most companies don't talk about their construction any more. The reason being is most major brands are sewn in a similar level of  "quality" at the several major sewing factories in Asia. I've done Asian factory visits for other brands and seen what you get: narrow seam allowances, lightweight fabrics, non bonded polyester thread, multiple structural seams, single stitched load bearing seams...Also, as there are just few factories doing most of the "product development" there are bad ideas spread across many brands. Field testing is left up to the consumer. I'm not saying good gear doesn't come out of Asia, it just reinforces my commit to small scale production.

 

At times I wished my packs had a more "finished " look to them on the inside. Then it occurred to me this past week they can't. I'm not making excuses for poor workmanship, just with heavier fabrics and larger seam allowances joints and will never look as neat as mass produced products. Taping 4 layers of 12 oz cordura isn't done much these days.  It occurred to me my fabrics are 30-50% thicker than mass produced brands. Add in #8 or #10 zippers and bound seam intersections I realized I'd never have neat seam taping going around corners and seam joints.

I use 1/2" -3/4" seam allowances on all my products. the reason being 12 oz cordura and 16 oz ballistics nylon have fairly large yarns and fray easily after they are cut. The main failure of old school packs like the original Lowe expedition packs were frayed seams, with the material, not the stitching giving out. That's why all seam are bound or taped over. It helps preserve the integrity of the fabric. it also looks better 5 years down the road so there is not a bunch of frayed nylon fibers. the wide seam allowance prevents the fabric from losing its structure over time. the main stitching is too far away from the loose edge. you won't see seam allowances this wide in mass produced gear. it cost more in fabric, it doesn't finish as well and you can't hide the main stitching under the seam tape.

all of our packs have only one main load bearing seam, where the packbag joins the back panel. Aside from Cold, Cold World , Dan Mchale and Cactus Climbing of New Zealand, I know of no other technical packs that are built this way. All of our main seams have multiple rows of stitching, usually four, plus backtacking over all webbing attachment points.

 

On our bikepacking bags all main attachment points have extra layer of nylon webbing behind the stitching to prevent pullout. The Dimension Poly fabrics are very strong but I have had bartacks pull through without reinforcing behind the stitching. There is an example on the seat bag photo below.

All load bearing zippers are bound with seam tape,then top stitched, to prevent fraying. All thread is #69 or #92 nylon. All packs are sewn on heavy duty walking foot sewing machines. All foam is 2lb high density cross linked polyurethane closed cell foam. We use this foam in various thicknesses in our packs including the back pad/bivy pad. most companies use less expensive and less insulating foam here to save cost.


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