SAHARA DESERT RACE - 3 family members, 3 medals... all using Marathon Magic 33
I don’t know if you followed us on the www.4deserts.com Sahara race or not, but the Lowe family, all three, made it to the finish, making it through it with your Marathon Magic 33 packs intact. All three of us were very pleased with the pack and praised it to others when asked. We had no problems, no tears or breakage as many had with their packs. . Matthew did the best of the three of us taking fourth, just a short time from third overall. We both came in first in our age groups. Carrie Anna, my daughter competed in a very competitive ladies group, came in third in her age group and 8th overall in women.
People asking thinking the front pockets would be hot on the body– they weren’t, even when the heat that got up to 117 – 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Air seemed to flow well enough between the pockets and the body, yet the pockets did not move excessively. I know the pockets are for counter weight, but they provided plenty of space for easy and fast access to water, electrolytes, and energy foods. Grateful,
Ted Lowe, USA
A nice new testimonial:
Thank You, thank you, thank you so much. I just summited Mt. Kilimanjaro on Sept 3rd thanks to your gear. The other trekkers laughed at my Aarn Bodypack, mainly my Balance Pockets until they saw I could hike with more weight and longer. They stopped laughing when I didn't have sore shoulders or back and they did. I carried my pack every day except 1/2 of summit day. There was only one other person, a woman, who carried her pack the whole time. With the Pacer Poles you guys advised me to buy, my arms didn't hurt, neither did my hands like the other trekkers did. The guides told me I was strange and I looked strange and I told them whatever it takes. Only 1/2 of our group got to the top, I was the third one to summit of the 7 who made it. A huge thank you!!!
Jude Brown, Melbourne, Australia
Our home and business premises survived the earthquake unscathed. The miracle is that despite billions of dollars of property damage, there were no fatalities, and only 3 serious injuries.
It was almost as if Mother Nature knew she had to relieve her tension, but in her compassion chose the perfect timing for the least injuries. When you drive around the badly hit suburbs and see the number of chimneys that went through tile roofs and the extensive damage in the city center it is amazing. We were truely protected.
Natural Exhilaration testimonial
"The concept behind Aarn packs made intuitive sense to me the first time I heard about them. While I'd never had major problems with pain or discomfort while hiking and backpacking, I'd never had a pack that I really liked. Particularly with a heavy load, I usually found myself cycling through a few different positions as each one became uncomfortable; there was never any single position that didn't pull or push on something harder than was sustainable. So I was excited to try out an Aarn pack on a recent ascent of Mt. St. Helens. St. Helens is a long, steep, full day hike, and requires enough weight (4+ liters of water, layers, camera, etc) to give a good assessment of utility and comfort. On previous ascents I'd used either an Arc'Teryx Bora 40 or an extremely full Mountainsmith lumbar pack. The Bora 40 basically worked fine, though with some shoulder soreness despite a seemingly well functioning hip belt and a very sweaty back at the end of the day. While lumbar packs solve both of those problems, carrying that much weight for a long time would cause quite a bit of discomfort on my hip bones by the end of the day because the full weight was pulling back against them the whole time.
Enter the Aarn Natural Exhilaration. After spending maybe 15 minutes to get the pack adjusted for my torso and loading it up, I immediately noticed how comfortable the pack felt. There was no pressure or weight on my shoulders at all; the Balance Pockets were functioning as advertised. More impressive to me was that the way the weight rested around my waist via the hipbelt was also immediately comfortable and distributed front and back. Once we got hiking there were some added benefits I hadn't anticipated.
First, it's incredibly nice to be able to access gear without having to take the pack off (or even stop hiking). Anything that's in the Balance Pockets can be easily taken out and put back on the move, and they're big enough for water, snacks, sunglasses, a hat, and anything else you might want on or off during the day. This lead to fewer stops and a steadier pace.
Second, before using an Aarn pack I wouldn't have thought to complain about poor balance while using a normal or lumbar pack. Once we got on the long boulder fields of St. Helens though, I noticed a major improvement. I was able to move as though I wasn't wearing a pack at all, confidently walking across the tops of boulders whereas before I would have chosen a more conservative route.
I was tired by the end of the hike, but none of that was due to the pack; I had no shoulder/hip soreness or hot spots. The pack still felt heavier while I was picking it up to put it on that it did once it was actually situated on my back, something I've never experienced before and more evidence that the balance system distributes weight more efficiently than other packs. While the pack is a bit trickier to size and pack than a normal day pack, it's worth the slight effort in every way. I would recommend these packs to anybody who hikes or backpacks regularly with weight, even if you think your current pack is comfortable."
Brice Keown, WA, USA
Interview with Aarn Tate, designer of Aarn Packs.
Check out this interesting interview giving more background about the development of Aarn Packs:
Our first testimonial...
It is always a pleasure when we receive unsolicitated testimonials from users. Here is our first testimonial on the new Mountain Magic packs.
" I found out about your pack on Backpackinglight.com where it was mentioned often by a few people but it just kept slipping off my radar. I was going ultralight but I am pretty light myself - 5' 11" and only 135 - 140 lbs (I'm a 27 year old male).
I tried a LOT of backpacks (mainly Osprey and Gregory) with only 20 lbs or so in them but found them all uncomfortable, especially in the lower back. It seemed like my spine was curving in an S shape to support the pack with my lower back.
I ordered the Mountain Magic 55 on an impulse as one last shot in the dark after I'd 'settled' for an Osprey Exos and it has been a game changer. I have no pain or discomfort while wearing the pack.
Prior to this pack (also prior to cutting ~ 5 - 10 lbs pack weight however), I'd never done more than 10 - 12 miles in a day. Now I've done up to 22 mile days easily -- and the limitation was daylight. I could have kept going. No pains or sore points and far less exhaustion. Partly because of this, I'm planning a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail this August (about 500 miles in the Rocky Mtns., climbing more than 2000 ft / day on average). I'm hoping the Mountain Magic will do the trick!
So congrats on an amazing pack. While I hiked along the Appalachian Trail here in New Jersey, many AT thru-hikers asked me about the pack. Some had heard of it but had never seen one in person. Others were very intrigued and couldn't believe they hadn't seen such a design before because it "just makes sense".
Arvind Murugan, USA
A glimpse of future developments:
We are in the early days of investigating how to use Cuben fibre in some of our Ultralight models. This is a non-woven Dynema fabric. Dynema is a ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fibre with an outstanding strength to weight ratio, and low embodied energy. The strength comes from the molecules being lined unidirectionally rather than at random. The process for achieving this means that it is a very expensive fabric, approximately 10 X the price of nylon. We could expect that bodypacks in Cuben might be double the price of regular models, but perhaps 2/3 to a half the weight. We will keep you up to date as these developments progress.
Photo Balance Pockets for large Professional Cameras.
The success of the new Photo balance Pockets has resulted in requests for larger pockets from professionals who use large bodied SLRS like the Nikon D3. We have now completed the design and these will be released early in 2011.
Balance Pockets for search and rescue.
We are now working on Balance Pockets specialised for search and rescue. The first prototype has been completed and sent our to professionals for testing and comment. Key differences to our regular pockets are maximising the number of external pockets for radio, GPS, cell phone, map etc, and adding internal elastic pockets and strapping to hold the many small items which are contained in a sophisticated first aid kit.
New models: Mountain Magic 44 & 55
With high front to back volume ratios, a fully body-centered load is easy to achieve with these new cutting edge designs.
They fill the volume gap in the Ultralite range betweem Marathon Magic 33 and Featherlite Freedom. Pack them correctly and your balance and posture are unaltered by the load! These ultra-light Bodypacks give you the most energy efficient and painless load carrying available. Pack and Pockets are 100% water-proof. The Balance Pockets are removable and interchangeable. Without them the pack becomes a daypack. You can further reduce weight by removing the shoulder straps + top frame. The whole weight is then carried on your hips. (Putting it on requires a different technique).
* 1 size * U, V, Omni & Flexi Flow * X Flow chest straps with new Conus Clip buckle * Auto-mould Frame * Clip Torso-adjust; 15cm range * 3 Waterproof Dri Liners * 5 external pockets * Web-loc compression * Foam, ice axe and trekking pole attachments
Volume Weight Weight (- liners) Minimum Weight
Mountain Magic 44 32L + 12L 1526 gm 1360 gm 1190 gm
Mountain Magic 55 37L + 18L 1554 gm 1385 gm 1214 gm
New upgraded model here: Guiding Light
* New built in Tool Quivers on the pack sides allow you to place and remove ice tools, snow stakes, avalanche probe and trekking poles without taking the pack off.
* Hydration loops added above the Rope Door, creating an easy access place for your hydration bladder.
* Removable Ski Straps are now standard equipment.
* New ice axe stow loops and ice-clip slots on hipbelt.
New upgraded model here: Liquid Agility
For the next 2 months we will highlight the models with substantial upgrades for 2010. This month we feature Liquid Agility.
* New easy access hydration pocket with water-resistant zip access
* New waterproof liner
* New top internal pocket
* New grey colourways.
* New top and bottom tensioning buckles on hipbelt.
Short Backlength Liquid Agility shown with optional Compact Balance Pockets.
New catalog now available and Aarn out testing.
Let us know if you would like a free copy of the new catalog sent to you.
Aarn spent the first week of Feb testing the new Guiding Light (available in April) on a Trans-alpine crossing. The route involved the long trek up the Rakaia River and Lauper stream to Whitcombe pass, ascending the Sale Glacier, 2 days fun on the Bracken Icefield, descent to the Wanganui River via the Evans glacier and the long walk out to the West coast highway. A great group of friends and amazing sunny days of light winds, so unusual in this area.
On top of Sale Glacier, Aarn with Guiding Light, Main Divide behind.
Mt Evans and Bracken ice field
Joins picture above: terminal face and lake of Bracken Icefield.
Happy New Year to all Aarn Bodypack users!
This is going to be an exciting year at Aarn Bodypacks.
This month we introduce the BackTpack, a posture perfect load carrying solution for schoolchildren and businessmen. This is designed by a phisiotherapist and endorsed by the American Physical Therapy Association.
In April we will be releasing the new Photo Balance Pockets for photographers, and Mountain Magic 44, 55 which fill the volume gap in our Ultralite range between Marathon Magic 33 and Featherlite Freedom.
Later in the year we will introduce the new travel packs: Back Favour 55 and the new Earth Glider.
Models coming in March with substantial improvements are:
Liquid Agility will have a waterproof liner and separate access zip for your hydration system.
Guiding Light will have built-in tool quivers and ski attachments on the pack sides.
Sport Balance Pockets in 2 torso lengths with waterproof liners.
Expedition Balance Pockets in 2 torso lengths with waterproof liners.
Balance Gear Racks with new stabiliser straps.
Thankyou for your support and valuable feedback over the last year.
New Effortless Rhythms have arrived
The new twin compartment Effortless Rhythms are receiving an enthusiastic response. The bottom compartment has its own waterproof liner with a roll closure which rolls discretely to give a very waterproof seal. We predict this model will become the favourite tramping pack in NZ and replace the long standing favorite, due to its lighter weight, better fit and the ability to fit any style of Balance Pockets for stress-free, high efficiency load carrying.
Hipbelt upgrade available
Recently a number of customers have asked if they can have their packs upgraded to take the new style Balance Pockets. We can adapt your hipbelt to take the latest pockets as follows:
For packs which have no holsters attached to the hipbelt buckle (models up to and including 2007): We will change the tensioning system to the new 2010 quad buckle system, and the Balance Pocket attachment system will be the latest system introduced this year. We will also send you a replacement sternum strap buckle, to match the ones on the new balance pockets. You only need to send the hipbelt for the upgrade, not the entire pack. We can upgrade your hipbelt at a cost of NZ$25 + shipping.
For packs with hard plastic holster attached to the hipbelt buckle (2008 models): We can exchange the hard plastic holster with web attachment loop to a soft hyperlon holster with snap fastener attachment. Split rings will be provided to attach to the navy web loops on the hipblt. These provide the attachment point for the Navy shockord stabilisers on the sides of the latest Balance Pockets. . You only need to send the Hipbelt buckle /holster. Cost is $5, + $5 shipping (NZ residents)
Seventy + years, and doing great trips
Recently my husband, Joe and I completed 462 kms. on the northern section of the Bibbulmun Track in W.A. in 27 days of continuous walking. I was carrying my Featherlite Freedom pack and Joe was carrying his Natural Balance pack. I carried about 14 kgs and Joe carried up to 18 kgs.
We are both very experienced walkers but our age is beginning to limit us. (We are 73 and 75) We found walking with our Aarn packs allowed us to walk an average 20 kms a day without sore shoulders, sore backs. We had plenty of energy left over at day's end to set up camp, cook our evening meal and after a good night 's rest be ready for the pleasures of walking the next section.
Other walkers we met were very interested in the design of our packs and I feel that we are proof that you have got your design principles right.
Thank you for your Bodypacks which have enabled us to realise our ambition of becoming "end-to enders" - we have now walked all the way from Perth to Albany A distance of 960 kms over the last 3 years.
Beth and Joe Gilks, WA, Australia
Featherlite Freedom on a Search and Rescue Exercise
I am training a search dog (Tilly) and this was her first bush field trip/exercise. This time after a long trail walk, we had to 'bush bash' through thick vegetation to a rendezvous with other search teams. At about 7.30 pm the dog and I began hours sign cutting and tracking through a freezing river gully. We had to continuously track the lost party in and out of the river up the steep gully sides, only to loop round into the freezing water again. When the rest of the search teams had bedded down for the night, we (Dog Team One) continued on, closing in on the lost party.
By nature of the dog’s abilities and speed we cover ground faster than a normal search team. As a result we walk (jog) further, and get fewer breaks, as we try not to break the dogs drive to keep on track. At 11.30pm we decided to call it a night. I looked at one of my support staff and saw he looked really shattered (carrying normal style pack). I however felt good to go. I had none of the usual aches and pains I would have had under my previous pack.
After 6 hours kip we were up breakfasted and good to go. Normally I would have really felt the aches on a cold morning, it was -6C but I still felt very comfortable. We carried on with the search, and by noon had located the remaining lost parties. Dog Team One (Two trainee dogs, two handlers and two support staff), had located all the most vital clues and all the lost parties, in the 24 hours the exercise had been running.
Tilly had performed well and I had learned valuable lessons about tracking by night through thick vegetation, but I would not have been able to absorb the key learning points if I had not been so alert. My load during those 24 hours consisted, of food and water for 36 hours (for the dog and I), tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, spare clothes, plus long leads, dog harnesses and other search equipment. It was not the heaviest load I have ever carried, but it was substantial. It's fair to say the Featherlite made the going much easier. As I sit here writing this I feel fit to go again (36hrs later). I do not recall being in such a physically good state after such intense load carrying exercise. My shoulders have none of the normal pain, and that alone made the investment in your product a sound choice.
I would like to thank you for an excellent, well-designed, comfortable pack. I may be getting older, but thanks to your product I kept up with people who have nearly a decade on me. I feel more well-known companies charge a lot of money for what I now realise is an inferior load carrying system.
Jim Negus, Taupo, NZ
New review of Natural Balance on Trail Testers.
A nice video showing some of the features, benefits and ways of using Natural Balance. See: http://www.trailtesters.co.uk/reviews/rucksacks/aarn/naturalbalance75/
Aarn Bodypacks create new possibilities- Fishing , gear access & body movement.
"The movement aspect of Marathon Magic is what really appealed to me. I tried one on in the shop and loved it. Got some weird stares as I was "practice casting", but it fits like a glove when I do the required movements even when fully loaded, it's the only truly active pack I've found. There are several fishing packs that replicate the main features (front pockets and backpack) but none of them have any pack design science or the harness you've developed, and they are cumbersome and uncomfortable to use with weight, especially if wading rivers and in the rough stuff."
Craig Price, Melbourne, Australia
Yoga Slackers Team completes ultralight 4 mode traverse of Mt Rainier, USA
Starting with a total Aarn Bodypack weights of 35 lbs, including food, tent, climbing gear, skis, and pack rafts, The Yoga Slackers team of boundary pushing adventurers recently completed a traverse of Mt Rainier, and the rivers and roads below, in a circular route using 4 different modes of human power. The 4 modes were: climbing the mountain with climbing gear, descending on skis , and a one day packraft down the river below to a stashed set of bikes, and a long ride back to their cars. Pictures to go up soon. The Yoga Slackers team likes to do things with their Aarn Bodypoacks which cannot be done with conventional packs. Like snowkiting all day without having to bring the kite down for lunch and snacks. See www.yogaslackers.com
Pacerpole team wins race to N magnetic Pole by 2 days!
The picture below is of Pacerpolers at the Magnetic North Pole. The Race to the North Pole was held in April 2009 with 5 teams competing. The Pole-in-One team were the only ones using Pacerpoles and Pacerpogies (special new overmitts for sub zero temperatures) and they won by a margin of 2 days! Pacerpoles give a more powerful forward thrust and eliminate wrist strain.
US customers are now able to purchase our products in North America.
We recently appointed a new US distributor who will receive his first shipment of selected models in October. By April 2010 they will have the full range. See www.aarnusa.com Meanwhile, until we have stock in America, you can purchase by mail order from us here in NZ.
Michael Mitchell completes epic 1 year 6022km walk in Australia, with his Aarn Bodypack and Pacerpoles:
Congratulations to Michael Mitchell on finishing his walk from Cape York to Wilsons Promontory. He finished his epic walk on Sunday afternoon, 3rd May and there were approx 40 people there to meet him. It was a very moving occasion. Michael generously used his walk to raise funds for cancer research.
This is his web site http://www.thegreatcancerwalk.com.au/8497350/the-great-walk-home.htm
Check out the video on U tube of Peak Aspiration:
Check out some great discussions about FlowMo Bodypacks on this forum:
And a review of Natural Balance on this forum:
Liquid Agility going places
Liquid Agility shown on a rare trip to Madigan's nunatak in a recent Antartic Expedition.- a spot that features in the Mawson expedition - the food dump is still there..
Liquid Agility enjoying a well earned rest on top of Kilamanjaro.
Photos courtesy Neville Jones.
2009 model upgrades
The 2009 models have some nice improvements. Effortless Rhythm is being redesigned to have a seperate sleeping compartment at the bottom. It is expected in October.
New grey/ orange colourway.
New grey / gold colourway.
Aarn Natural Balance Field report by Anchan Braun
see the Backpacking Light user forum for more comments and discussion: file:///Users/aarndesign/Desktop/BackpackingLight.com%20Forums%20--%20The%20G%20Spot%20»%20Aarn%20pack%20%22Natural%20Balance%22%20field%20report.webarchive
In May 2008, I received my Aarn bodypack “Natural Balance” (new 2008 version). The following are some observations regarding the pack’s performance.
Tested: June 2008, northern Australia, solo walk over 23 days (full pack, no re-supply possible)
Environment: tropical; dry season; slow country = deep gorges, loose rocks, exposed ledges, spinifex/sandstone ridges, screw-pine cluttered valleys, open woodland, vine thickets, speargrass hells
Exposure/time (from Easiest to Hardest): strolling over horizontal, open, flat ground (1%), walking in woodland, feet mostly visible (25%), rock-hopping along creeks, feet visible (35%), river crossings (1%), high-stepping through over-head-high vegetation, feet not visible (25%), pushing/scraping through distorted spinifex/sandstone labyrinths, feet often not visible (7%), gorge climbing (6%)
body: 64 kg (141 lbs)
skin-out at start: 24 kg (53 lbs) (of which 2 kg clothes/shoes/hat)
complete pack at start: 22 kg (46.3 lbs), of which Aarn pack’s
(a) front “Balance Pockets” = 5 kg (11 lbs)
(b) rear backpack = 17 kg (37.5 lbs)
Above weights consisting of:
food: 15 kg (33 lbs; consumed 650 g/day; (+some fishing with a handline helped)
gear: 7 kg (15.4 lbs) (incl. pack weight of 1.9 kg (=4 lbs)
[A] Other pack used on previous walks:
On earlier walks (over 14/20/21 days) in various parts of the Australian Kimberley, I used a very light (710 g = 25 oz) frameless pack, the “Starlite” (Six Moon Designs, 2004 model, recommended for 16 kg/35 lbs loads max; I carried 16-19 kg), which at that time came with the option of a wonderful mesh “vest” (4 mesh front pockets). During those 3 walks, obsessed with the idea that “light is always better than heavy”, I pushed myself through difficult country (with stays added to the pack on the 3rd trip). I took it for granted that my daily exhaustion, especially during the first 2 walks, merely reflected the hard terrain. After all, I was physically in above-average condition, no?
Trip #4 (2008) changed my mind: I now had an Aarn.
[B] Regarding Aarn’s concept:
The concept of the “Natural Balance” and other Aarn packs is described in fair detail on the manufacturer’s website http://www.aarnpacks.com/features/multifunction.html#fh.
The 2 main features:
a) No weight on shoulders/back (all weight on hips)
b) “Balance Pockets” added for front/back balance.
Re (a): Weight is NOT carried on the shoulders (=almost zero) but on the hips. Using stays and clever sliding connections, the weights of both front and back rest on the hip belt. Claimed advantages: low center of gravity (safety), no shoulder/back strain. Neither the back nor the front packs touch the body.
Re (b): Weight on the back is balanced by weight in front (via “Balance Pockets” which also rest on the hip belt). The walker’s posture is always upright.
(3) Various sliding parts prevent that the pack swings during hip and shoulder movements. The pack remains centered while hips and shoulders are free to move.
(4) *Every*thing is adjustable. (For example, not only length but also angle of hip belt, for any hip shape.)
(5) The Balance Pockets (each also having 2 outer stretch pockets), removed and linked together, make a nice daypack.
[C] My experience:
At first, I felt like a bicycle rider in the seat of a Ferrari (“Focus, old man! Now, what happens if I pull this thing here?”). The designer’s instructions on the website, though detailed, were not quite detailed enough to give me a good grasp of the pack’s versatility and usage and needed updating to match the 2008 model more exactly (strap colours etc).
Starting out with the “Natural Balance” crammed and heavy (=1/3 of my body weight), I spent the first 2+ days fiddling with adjustments; numerous possibilities meant that I had to *learn*.
I carried most of the dense, heavy stuff in the front Balance Pockets (satphone, camera, GPS, lots of lithium batteries, muesli bars etc). These pockets hold max. 10 L/pair (=22 lbs/pair).
The rear pack:
It is divided into top and bottom loading sections. The top section contains a removable dryliner with a vertical divider making 2 cylinders; these parallel cylinders keep the cargo close to the body, i.e. prevent weight from bulging out and away from the back (the stressful lever action I knew well from my previous packs). Excellent solution! -- with one disadvantage: loading requires *thinking*. For the upper half of the top section, the 2 cylinders open into one single tube (like a pair of trousers).
For example, my closed-cell foam mat, cut up, taped and zig-zag-folded into a parcel 30 cm (=12”) wide, was light (200 g/7 oz) but of course bulky. Placing it in one “cylinder” in such a position/angle that the much heavier food stuff etc could be distributed for optimal left-right balance proved to be a challenge. In the first week, I sometimes didn’t achieve correct left/right balance and had to repack.
The front Balance Pockets:
Each contains a bendable alu stay which is seated in the front hip belt. Meaning, the “Balance Pockets”, too, do not weigh on the shoulders at all but only on the hip. Since there are 2 front packs and they are angled in “V” -- i.e. the tops are wider apart, the bottoms sit closer together -- the center chest gap lets me see my feet while walking. Also, I can use my arms freely.
Although the Balance Pockets were packed full, and are designed to lean away from the chest (bendable stays = no sweaty contact with body), I had no problem seeing my feet while on the move. Only when standing still could I not see my feet comfortably. This rarely posed a problem, though.
Day 1-2 (v high grass, deep gorge packed with boulders, river crossing): I am amazed, amazed: I am comfortable, despite the heat and the weight. Still, this highly customizable pack demands more than just 1 or 2 hours of initial learning. The most important of all adjustments to be figured out is the *precise* fitting of the hip belt (since the whole pack rests on this).
Day 3 (steep slopes of loose rocks): Problem? The top capping (a tiny rubber/cloth triangle) of one of the frame’s aluminium stays looks superficially frayed. Superficially, I believe, since only the rubber cover has rubbed through but not the fabric underneath; thus the stay stays safe. (And even by the end of the trip, this abrasion has not become worse.) Apart from this, I am much impressed by the quality of workmanship and materials: the pack feels and looks tough.
Days 4-5 (ravines, spinifex thickets): After eating 2 kg of food, I have now achieved a comfortable ratio of body vs. carried weight. The pack’s tough materials seem not to suffer even when I scrape through thorny vines and scramble across huge boulders. And the numerous brushes against bushfire-burnt trees leave hardly a mark.
Packing has become somewhat easier: Tent, sleeping bag etc. in the bottom section, accessible from below; food and mat are in the top section which still rises high enough to bump a little against the rim of my hat.
Day 6 (open woodland): Hot, hot. I keep a full 500cc water bottle in the front outer stretch pocket of one “Balance Pocket”. I am grateful for the 3D “Matrix Mesh” between my back and the pack: it does let the air ventilate nicely, keeping my shirt almost dry.
Day 7 (gorge): Climbing down along a string of waterfalls, I am doubly cautious: loose rocks, partially hidden; few handholds. A few intense stretches, edging along ledges. By now, I have come to love my pack: it seems to move as part of my torso, rather than swinging or jerking away from me; and I feel no fatigue at all.
And yet, on exposed ledges, the bulky front “Balance Pockets” make it impossible to keep kiss-close to the rock face. This awkwardness is mostly compensated by the astonishing overall balance of the pack – the back part never seems to pull me backwards away from the rock. Still, when I find my chest forced away from the rock face by the bulging front Balance Pockets, I sometimes have to retreat and to look for a safer route. (Yes, I could unclip the front Pockets in such a way that they swing – somewhat – towards the sides but even this does not get my chest close enough to the rock face.) On the other hand: a *conventional* back-only pack might let me press my chest flat against a rock face but would pull me more, by lever action, away from the wall. No, sir. Give me my Aarn.
Days 8-12 (screw-pines in flooded deep-grass valleys; then waterless rock labyrinths higher up): On some previous trips, this was when fatigue began to overcome me. But now I feel none at all, despite this being the hardest country I have yet walked. My back, hitherto prone to lumbar pain: no pain. Shoulders and neck muscles: loose. I am no spring chicken but I feel like a spring chicken.
Days 7-23: Houston, we have a problem. On one of the front Balance Pockets, the alu stay’s top keeps working its way out on the side of the upper sleeve top. Sticking out, the naked stay threatens to poke me in the eyes whenever I jump or lift my knees high. Upon examination, the stay does not seem to be twisted along its vertical axis, yet even after I have pushed it back into its sleeve and closed the velcro tab of the sleeve top, it slips out again after a few minutes. Further effect: since the slipped stay does not fully support its Balance Pocket’s weight and motions anymore, the Slic Clip‘s strap above the sleeve is jerked upon by the somewhat sideways stress. This has begun to jerk sideways on the strap’s stitching, which now has become partially undone. This, in turn, has changed the stress angle on the Slic Clip from the horizontal to a slant, *opening* the Slic Clip. This shouldn’t have happened. It is my first and only serious complaint about my Aarn pack. Trying to keep the damage to a minimum, I decide to forego the use of the Slic Clip and its iffy strap altogether: using a light carabiner, I connect the Balance Pocket’s side plastic ring to the connector strap on the pack’s shoulder strap. And to keep the naked stay away from my eyes, I bend its top outward, away from my body. – All in all, this weird disfunction hardly lessens my delight in the Aarn. Yet I keep wondering why the stay twisted out of its sleeve in the first place. And also wonder how I, if I were the designer, would fix this problem… Maybe design a stronger cap pocket for the stay’s top? (When later I called Mr. Aarn, he suggested sewing the stay sleeve’s top opening partially shut. I shall do so.)
Day 23: Conclusion: last week, I slipped and fell once – on flat ground. This is an enormous improvement over previous walks under a conventional backpack, where I took bad falls half a dozen times during the first pack-heavy days. I am balanced now. I am not tired. I am walking free.
No, the “Natural Balance” is not cheap: at NZ$460 or more (US$320+?), you’ve got to need it badly. But as an old chap with a bad back who loves long walks in difficult terrain, under a fair load, I couldn’t sing its praise more gladly.
P.S. Lest anyone accuse me of bashing Six Moon Designs “Starlite” pack: where balance is not a matter of life and death, and where carried weight is lower than the recommended max, it can be a fine pack.
Quote of the month
"I would like to thank you for your excellent packs. I have recently walking the Kokoda track. I am a 52 years old woman and short - 156cm. When I arrived in PNG I was concerned that I had made the wrong decision not to organise a porter as most of the walkers in my group had and were just carrying a day pack. Most of them where much younger than me and all of them much taller! I carried all my own gear plus 4 litres of water. I found my Featherlite Freedom fantastic. It felt like a pack only 1/2 the weight - the balance was perfect - which was a real advantage in the areas of the track that were very steep and slippery. I had no trouble keeping up and no discomfort. Thanks - its a fantastic pack". Suzanne Deed, Warragul, Australia
Aarn tents and Pacerpoles go mail order only.
We have decided to sell Aarn Tents and Pacerpoles by mail order only so that we can make the prices much more compeditive. The tents now represent incredibly good value for high performance ultralight tents. The pole prices are now comparable to equilavent models from top of the market brands.
Prices reductions are as follows:
Pacer 1 Tent reduced from $499 to $399
Pacer 2 Tent reduced from $679 to $499
Pacerpoles Alum. (pair) reduced from $219 to $199
Pacerpoles Carbon (pair) reduced from $289 to $249
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to order. Testers are available.
Earth Glider wheels
With our new Earth Glider travel pack, we have reduced the price to make it more compeditive, and eliminated the wheel option. Earth Glider makes an exceptional travel pack: it's very light, waterproof and extremely comfortable with our top of the range harness. For trekking the front opening system gives great access compared to the traditional top loader, without compromising waterproofing. It is designed to work in conjunction with Balance pockets, which clip together to make a daypack, ideal as your carry-on.
Aarn exhibited at the Outdoor Show in Friedrichschafen in July this year. This is the major Outdoor Trade show in Europe, where outdoor brands display their latest products to retailers, media etc. The response to the model and colour upgrades was very encouraging, with more visitors to our booth and more appreciation of our unique and innovative carrying systems. The Pacer Tents were also very well received. One of the most interesting things for us to observe is the visits from the designers of major rucksac brands keen to have a detailed look at our products- without letting on where they are from. We are definitely creating some waves in the industry for such a small company.
Aarn Pacer tents now available
Aarn's Pacer tents are very stable ultralite tents for those who use trekking poles. They can be used fly alone, or as a double wall shelter with full insect protection.
For 2 of the last 3 months I have been overseas, first in China, supervising our last production at the China factory, and recently in Vietnam, training a larger and much much better factory to make our products. The Vietnam factory has new premises and good facilities for workers and staff. The factory specialises in backpacks and makes many of the worlds major brands. It is a much more professional and competant than our previous factory.
People sometimes ask us why we do not manufacture our products in New Zealand. The reason is simple. The government has progressively lowered import duty on outdoor products so that NZ labour costs can no longer compete with labour costs in developing countries. In the last 3 years, major Outdoor brands Macpac and Fairydown have been forced to move production offshore in order to survive. A couple of small firms still manufacture in NZ, and we congratulate them on their stance and resolve. We do not support this government policy, but have to fit in to the reality of the market to make our business successful. There are new problems created when your factory is offshore, and our biggest challenge has been finding a financially stable factory, willing to do small production runs, produce top quality product, and deliver on time. At last we feel we have a factory able to do this.
Environmentally, there is not a big difference between NZ and Asian manufacture of our products. For NZ manufacture, all fabrics need to be imported into NZ from Asia, and all products shipped long distance to all markets except NZ and Australia. With Asian manufacture, the raw materials are all made locally or in neighouring countries and overall shipping distances for the finished product are less. This shipping advantages of Asian production are offset by the use of fossil fuels to generate power in Vietnam, whereas most power in NZ comes from Hydro. China is worse than Vietnam in this regard, as most power comes from coal, so environmentally, the switch from China to Vietnam is a change for the better.
Testimonial of the month
For the past 7 years I've worked as a guide and national park ranger on the Overland Track in Tasmania. I walk literally thousands of kms carrying heavy packs every year as part of my jobs and have used and have trialled a wide range of different pack makes and models. I've just returned from an eight-day ranger shift trialling Effortless Rhythm with Balance Pockets and a set of aluminium Pacerpoles. I'd come across your packs and had been very impressed with them. After trialling them myself, both the pack and poles have far, far surpassed my expectations.
I was carrying around 30kg for the first couple of the days and was truly impressed by the comfort and freedom of movement allowed by the pack - the Effortless Rhythm is aptly named!
The Balance Pockets are an excellent innovation, of which I was skeptical to begin with. Initially I found the pack slightly awkward to put on with these full, but soon got used to it and found the benefits far outweighed any slight inconvenience. Having the weight central to the body meant the pack felt like it was part of your body, walking as if I wasn't carrying any weight at all, and were great for balance.
The Pockets also meant that I could have all my essentials and equipment close at hand and could do so much more on the move.
With the weight in the pack neutral to the body even with large weights I found I conserved so much more energy and there was much less strain on my body. I have not tried found or used any other pack that could match this.
The design of the poles was similarly impressive. Walking using poles with hands in a neutral position is excellent. My hands stayed comfortable after using the poles all week and they were far more energy efficient than other poles I have used.
From the first day all I could do was rave and I have had many people over the week, both guides and other walkers, express interest in both the pack and poles. I can't recommend this equipment highly enough and it would be a privilege to trial and recommend you equipment to clients and other walkers
Nick Tyson , Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania
Quantifying a body centered load
"I surmise that your packs are an underappreciated great leap forward in the world of packs"
Mark Woods, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Mark Woods is currently writing a book on optimising load carrying. While he was conducting his own experiments on a counter balanced load, he discovered our bodypacks which improved on his experiments by balancing the load on the front and back of the hips, and by improving visibility. He is currently trying our bodypacks and will report on his findings in his book. He has made many useful suggestions on marketing the innovations and how to quantify a fully counterbalanced load. He calls this pack neutrality while we have been calling it a body centered load. His suggestions for quantifying counterbalance are below.
Counterbalance = Packweight Neutrality = The energy efficiency of optimal packweight distribution as established in the study of African women bearing loads of up to 20% of bodyweight balanced on their heads while walking without expending additional energy (and other relevant studies).
- Percentages, expressed in terms of both weight and volume, by which the packload fails to achieve front-to-back counterbalance or packweight neutrality—e.g. # pounds or liters back of counterbalance (packweight neutral)
*this metric can then be compared across brands
*this metric can be translated measurably into energy efficiency
*this metric also translates into injury prevention and mitigation.
- Relative Lower Density of Backpack Contents Necessary to Offset Lesser Volume of Frontpack in order to Achieve Counterbalance.
*this enables you to measure and select the items to place in the Balance Pockets and the backpack.
- Counterbalance Deficiency Expressed as a Percentage of Total Pack Volume;
*this metric useful for favorable comparison with other brands of packs
- Front-Back Pack Volume Configuration
- Strategic Front-Back Allocation of Pack Contents by Density as a Means of Compensating for Front-Back Pack Volume Discrepancies
Note: Marks original example assumed that water is carried in a hydration bladder in the pack. Our recommendation is that water is carried in the stretch pockets on the front of the Balance Pockets. We have therefore modified his sums for
this optimum style of packing, using as an example 2 models from our range.
Balance Pocket Volume
2 Expedition Balance Pockets = 18 Liters
Peak Aspiration S Backpack = 35 Liters
Total Bodypack Volume:
18 Liters + 35 Liters = 53 Litres
Counterbalance Deficiency by Volume
35 Liters = Backpack Volume
- 18 Liters = Frontpack Volume
= 17 Liters = Counterbalance Deficiency by Volume
= # Liters Back of Counterbalance or Packweight Neutrality
Relative Lower Density of Backpack Contents Necessary to Offset Lesser Volume of Balance Pockets in order to Achieve Counterbalance
18 Liters = Frontpack Volume
÷ 35 Liters = Backpack Volume
= 51.4% = Relative Lower Density of Backpack Contents Necessary to Offset
Lesser Volume of Frontpack in order to Achieve Counterbalance;
With contents of backpack 51.4% less dense than the contents of the
frontpack, there would be counterbalance despite volume discrepancy.This can be achieved by packing compact items like food, water, fuel etc in the Balance Pockets, and light bulky items like tent, clothing foam matt and sleeping bag in the pack.
Counterbalance Deficiency Expressed as a Percentage of Total Net Pack Volume
17 Liters = Counterbalance Deficiency by Volume
÷ 35 Liters = Total Pack Volume
= 48.9% = Counterbalance Deficiency Expressed as a Percentage of Total Net Pack Volume;
*metric useful for comparison with other brands of packs
We thank Mark for sharing his deep thinking on achieving the most efficient load carrying system.
Environmental responsibility scheme announced.
In choosing which brand your purchase, the impact on the environment is important. Our aim is to adopt the cradle to cradle principles developed by William McDonough and partners (see www.mbdc.com). The main principles are to change the material cycle from cradle to grave to cradle to cradle using 100% recycleable materials; to eliminate any toxic materials from the cycle; and to replace non biodegradable materials with biodegradable ones as they become available. To achieve this our policy is:
1. To make our products last as long as possible, with our product lifetime guarantee on materials and workmanship, and our low cost repair service.
2. To recycle all materials used in the business, rather than sending them to landfill.
3. When the product has finished its working life, we ask you to return it to Aarn Design, rather than sending it to landfill. We will dissassemble it and recover all reusable materials. These will be recycled in various ways.
4. As biodegradable materials become available which meet our performance and durability criteria, we will adopt them.
Quote of the month.
"I initially purchased the Sport Balance Pockets, but once I had seen the attention to detail and quality build I was convinced to put aside my 'leading name brand' pack and move to an Aarn Bodypack. I purchased the Effortless Rhythm to complete the system and the first impression was that this system was designed by people who had spent a lot of time thinking about carrying loads. The pack is a clean highly functional design with everything knitting together to make a complete highly efficient system. All other packs you may haul on your back, but this one you wear like a coat it is so comfortable. This system is the only one that I have found that truly allows you to get a 'perfect fit'. When wearing the body pack I was outright amazed to have no pain in the shoulders, back, or hips even after hours of hard tramping. Couple this with a huge increase in walking efficiency and the advantages of this system really come into their own. I have been tramping for over 30 years, carrying loads around 35 - 40kgs at times. I have been involved in Search and Rescue in the Nelson area for several years and I have tried a wide range of different gear over that time. Nothing at all that I have seen, tried, or owned previously comes anywhere close to the quality, design, and outstanding common sense system that Aarn delivers."
George Turner. Nelson, New Zealand
Aarnbassador International Program launched.
This month we also introduce a reward scheme for international mail order customers. If you interest a friend to buy a product from us, you will receive a discount on future purchases. See full details on our Buying page, under Mail Order.
Robert Jarvis wins Atacama Desert Crossing using Marathon Magic 30
Christchurch runner Robert Javis has won the Atacama desert crossing in Chile using a customised Marathon Magic 30 pack. This race was one of the 4 desert series. Details of these races , held in some of the harshest environments on earth can be found on www.4deserts.com.
Aarn worked closely with Robert fine tuning the pack to Roberts specific race needs in the months before the race, as Robert tested and trained in the NZ Alps.
Here is Roberts report after the hardest day:
My aim for the race was to be competitive enough to, hopefully, finish inside the top 10. You can imagine my euphoria when I found myself actually leading at the end of stage one!
The whole event turned out to be everything that we had hoped it would be:-
1) Brutally tough - we like a wee challenge and the tougher the challenge the greater the rewards.
2) An opportunity to meet a group of fantastically motivated, enthusiastic people from all corners of the globe.
3) An opportunity to see a different culture.
4) An opportunity to see/experience some remarkable scenery and terrain.
As you could all glean from the coverage everything appeared to fall into place for me with a small extension of my lead on most of the stages. As expected, the race boiled down to the long stage, Stage 5, over 73km. What you can´t see in the results is how that unfolded.
Stage 5 was 73km made up of 6 legs. I started the day with a lead of 29 minutes over John. The top 20 competitors had a late 10:30 start time instead of the usual 7:30am.
Everything was going reasonably well until the 3rd leg which was through the hottest part of the day. Even though I was pouring fluids and food in, the heat seemed to suck the life out of me and I grovelled my way into checkpoint 3, dehydrated, and feeling hungry and completely drained of energy. I was 23 minutes behind John for the stage at that time but knew that I needed an extended rest at the CP if there was to be any chance of me completing the remaining 30-35km.
I spent 10-15 minutes at the checkpoint. The time was spent very slowly trying to force myself to eat an OSM bar (90gm muesli bar), some nuts and to consume copious amounts of fluid. My lead evaporated during this time and suddenly I found myself in 2nd place and chasing with a broken body devoid of energy.
The 4th leg was down a dry riverbed for 13 or so km and the wind was getting up. The afternoon was wearing on so the day was cooling. Slowly I could feel my shattered body recovering a little. I shuffled into CP 4 at dusk to find that I was 33 minutes behind John - now in 2nd place overall by 4 minutes!
I set off on the 5th leg (8.5km down a hard packed dirt road) determined to try and regain the lost time. Unfortunately I was pretty shattered by this time and had reached the stage where will power alone was driving the body. Some of the support vehicles went past during this short 50 minute stage and they commented later that my face was drained of colour and emotion ... I was looking like a ghost! The gradient of the road was gently down hill and I was finding that I could extend my stride a little ... almost enough to actually get up to a running pace instead of a crippled shuffle! I arrived at CP 5 in pitch darkness emotionally and physically shattered, but to my joy discovered that I was now 28 minutes behind John for the stage - now in the lead again by 1 minute! I stopped only long enough to ask the question and receive the answer before hitting the road again.
The 6th leg was reputedly 10.5km, starting off uphill on a sealed road for a km or so. It then headed off across difficult offroad terrain. This was over rolling countryside varying between hard packed clay, sand, and hard crusty terrain. The route was marked by glow sticks and navigation was by moon and torch light. Many short climbs and descents had to be negotiated over small hills or sand dunes. The latter stages of the leg were on hard packed/sandy terrain which weaved up and down, and around and around through a canyon. I was determined to give it everything and try to regain as much time from John as I possibly could. There was no way I wanted to start the last day´s stage having to fight for the win.
By now the body and mind were completely shot and it was getting increasingly difficult to force the body to keep running (shuffling) over the difficult terrain. I was desperately looking for inspiration. It was during this leg that all the encouraging e-mails from friends and family in NZ, and around the world, really had an affect.
IT WAS ALL YOUR ENCOURAGING WORDS OF SUPPORT THAT GOT ME THROUGH THIS LEG!
The last km or so of the day´s stage was on a hard packed clay road winding along between sand dunes through the valley of the moon. The finsh line for the day snuck into sight around a curve in the road in the form of a single dull white light, in place of the green glow sticks that I had been following ... no fuss, no fanfare, no boisterous cheering (as previous daylight stages had all ended), just the blackness of night with a cold desert wind blowing, silence, and the light of one light on the CP table.
I stumbled up to the table, sat down, and asked the all important question ... What´s the time difference to John?
When I heard the reply;"15 minutes"; I dropped my head onto the table and muttered; "Thank fuck for that";. I was completely shattered!
I headed straight for my tent (it was just after 9pm) passing John and Oliver at the camp fire enroute. At the end of all other stages we had all waited around to encourage and welcome at least the rest of the top 10 competitors across the line, but tonight I was far to gone for any of that. I appologised to John as I passed that I hadn´t given him the lead that he had been fighting all day for.
Upon reaching my tent I barely had the energy to prepare my bed for the night and give the body a quick wipe down with a damp flannel sized travel towel. It was cold and I was beginning to shiver as I climbed into my sleeping bag. John came in as I was struggling into my bag to see how I was ... he told me the next morning that I was as white as a sheet and looked like a ghost. For the first 10 to 15 minutes as I lay in my sleeping bag trying to drop off to sleep my upper body was constantly going into and out of periods of uncontrollable racking fits of shaking/shivering ... not from the cold, rather from extreme exhaustion, something I´ve never experienced before...
This was the news as the first runners completed the final stage of the race:
Stage 6, 25 August, 12:52pm: Front-runners cross the finish line in San Pedro de Atacama. The top three runners completed the race holding hands. The winner is Robert Jarvis, with Jonathan Bailey in second, and Oliver Sinclair in third.
We congratulate Robert on his fantastic achievement!
Future directions for scientific research on load carrying.
The research to date has compared a backpack to a FlowMo Bodypack with the same weight, but with a greater proportion of the weight in the backpack. We call this a partially counter balanced load carrying system. Forward lean was significantly reduced in the Bodypack. Significant reductions in energy use and body strain, and positive trends in comfort, balance and stability were found.
The amount of forward lean in a Bodypack is determined by the relative volume of the pack and the front Balance Pockets, and the relative density of the items placed in each. By using the largest volume Balance pockets with a small to medium volume pack, and packing your heavier items as far forward and as low down as possible, it is possible to create a body centered load carrying system, where the center of gravity of the load perfectly matches the center of gravity of the body, in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Then the addition of the load will not alter your natural posture or your balance, and it will not create any leverage on your body during active movement.
We would expect a body centered load carrying system to be the most efficent and strain free possible. If combined with our flow motion systems, it would allow the greatest movement and provide the highest stability for dynamic sports. If integrated with the most ergonomic poles available, Pacerpoles, we should see further gains in performance and energy efficency.
We are currently looking for sponsorship to support a study to be done under the supervision of Professor Stephen Legg, at the Center for Ergonomics, Massey University, NZ, to examine these premises. This is very exciting research, with big implications for the best experience of load carrying. Such research is very expensive, and beyond the means of a small company like us at present. If you would like to help fund this research, please contact us. To do a thorough and rigorous study which gives meaningful results with profound implications on how we carry load on the human body, such as a PhD program, requires substantial funding of NZ $60,000 for 3 years. We need your help to achieve this.
To Cross The Moon Expedition
Sam snowboard-kiting across N.
Dakota with a Featherlite Freedom pack.
The aim of the expedition was to bring the awareness of the potential for wind energy development in North Dakota to the rest of the world through the exciting medium of Snowkiting...North Dakota is #1 with the potential to energize 32% of the US through WIND ENERGY!
USA is the most polluting and greenhouse gas emitting nation on the planet. If 32% of its energy needs were met using wind energy it would be a sign of a real transformation in the consciousness of this nation. We would like to congratulate Sam and Jason on the aim of the expedition and its success. The expedition attracted large media coverage, with news items on the major TV news networks. Aarn Design was delighted to supply the packs for the expedition.
In Sam Salwei's words:
The Balance Pockets are perfect for snowkiting with a snowboard. There is no other pack that would allow me to access my food and drink at 25+MPH. The AARN Balance Pockets were an indispensable addition to our winter expedition gear enabling us to travel non stop for hours at a time. At night we would strategically pack the next days meals in one balance pocket allowing immediate and convenient access to our needed 6000 calories, while the other pocket served as an insulated pouch for one liter of water. The outside mesh pouches worked well for immediate access to all of our technical gadgets GPS, anemometer, sat phone etc.
The AARN body pack allowed me to snowkite 250 miles while caring everything comfortably on my back for the 14day period. The packs also allowed us the dexterity to "boost" over obstacles such as open water, barbed wire fences and 6ft high ice dams.
Jason ski-kiting across N. Dakota
with an Effortless Rhythm pack.
An important question from a Bodypack user:
Derek Caffin and his wife Ellie are preparing for the TGO Challenge in Scotland. Derek asks:
Are you able to quantify from the scientific research précised on your web site how much more load can be carried in a Bodypack than an equivalent rucksack for the same energy expenditure on the flat and uphill?
I ask because the light brigade can produce rucksacks that weigh 800gram and carry 15KG but probably at greater energy expenditure. (Probably even more energy than the comparison standard rucksack).
Some buyers are so weight oriented that they would not consider a rucksack that weighed 2Kg. But really reducing weight is about increasing comfort and saving energy, or going faster for the same energy.
Good Question! A Bodypack would always weigh a little more than a backpack if it were made of the same materials because there are 3 separate load-carrying compartments rather than one. How do we decide which one is the most efficient, giving the minimum effort load carrying? Let's take some examples.
1. If the Bodypack and the backpack were the same weight, the Bodypack would always be the most efficient, requiring the least energy to carry.
2. If two backpacks are the same weight and you add Balance Pockets to one to convert it to a Bodypack, then the Bodypack will use less energy if the load (including the pack) is over 3 kg. With heavier loads, this energy reduction is magnified.
3. Imagine a pack that is 1 kg lighter than our large Ultralite models because it does not have a frame, Balance Pockets, or a waterproof-liner. Sports scientist Ray Lloyd concluded from his research that the energy saving posture of our Bodypacks would makeup for 1 kg extra pack weight with loads over 7 kg.
So in answer to your question if your Bodypack is 2kg, about 1.2 kg heavier than an 800gm pack, your total load (including pack) would need to be about 9-10 kg before the energy savings of the Bodypack made up for the 1.2 kg. extra weight. Above this weight the energy advantage of the Bodypack continues to increase. The harder you are working-a faster pace or climbing- the greater the energy advantage of a Bodypack.
The following also needs to be considered:
1. You need to add the weight of waterproof bags for the 800gm pack to make a true comparison for wet conditions, or remove the weight of the waterproof liners from the Bodypack to make a true comparison for dry conditions. In both situations, this would work to reduce the total load carried to 8-9 kgs before the Bodypack became the most efficient.
2. It is not possible to comfortably carry over 15kg in an 800gm pack. A frameless pack relies on the pack contents as the compression element. The pack fabric acts as the tension element, and the two must work together to give a rigid structure, capable of supporting a load and transferring it to the hipbelt. This becomes difficult with loads over 15 kg, and additional framing becomes necessary. Also, a frameless pack when filled assumes a cylindrical shape, which puts the weight further from your back, increasing the forward lean and therefore the energy requirement.
The key point is that balancing weight in front and behind is just as important as reducing the weight. Both must be done for the minimum effort, optimum efficiency load carrying.
Aarn welcomes more discussion on this topic.
Quote of the month:
Thanks for such a wonderful pack! Natural Balance was a big investment, but I've never been happier with a piece of adventure equipment.
The fantastic design and great build quality make it a pleasure to handle and has saved me in some tricky situations.
When scrambling up vertical inclines with a previous pack the awkward and scary sensation of falling backwards down a steep cliff makes me appreciate the Natural Balance so much more- I use it for all my treks now- even day walks.
I love the Balance Pockets to store my water bottles - what a fantastically versatile unit!
Ben Campbell, Ashford, South Australia
New models coming next spring:
Aarn will be showing new models at the OTANZ outdoor trade show 6-8 May in Palmerston North, NZ, the SOTA trade show in Canberra, Australia, 20-22 May.
*2 exciting new travel packs Back Favour and Earth Glider (carry-on and check-in size models)
*a new climbing pack Guiding Light, developed with NZ alpine guides.
*our lightweight 4-season Pacer Tents: Pacer 1 and Pacer 2
*PacerPoles The best poles to use with FlowMo Bodypacks.
Chest strap change:
We are making a change to the chest strap system as a result of feedback. Users found the Duraflex Slic Clip difficult to use. Therefore, we have decided to make the X-Flow strap optional and make the sternum strap standard. When using Balance Pockets, the sternum strap will clip to the opposite pocket to create an “X” configuration for the optimum stability.
The X-Flow Strap will be improved with a new easy-to-use Conus Clip, named after its resemblance to the Conus shell. This will be available as an option to use when Balance Pockets are not being used.
If you have a pack and Balance Pockets with the X-Flow strap and wish it to be converted to the sternum strap, we will do so at no charge if you return the pack to us, and cover the cost of return postage.
Great new testimonials this month !
"I have just arrived home from Victoria were we walked 75km in the Croajingalong N.P mainly beach walking. We had 3 dry camps in a row- no good drinking water as all the drinking water springs were bone dry; they have a drought. I was carrying around 20 kg, 4kg of which was water that was just a dead weight, especially when walking on sand. Out of the 6 of us there was no doubt that I was the most comfortable throughout the walk as I had my water in the front pouches and didn't have the weight on my shoulders. One female walker had just purchased a new M***** and had large blisters on her shoulders, (not a good sight)".
Brian Ogilwy, Melbourne, Australia
Skiing: The first ski descent of main schute, Mt Alarm, Inland Kaikoura range.
" Skiing the thick snow in the narrow, steep main schute required rapid movements and strong stances with a lot of body extension. The Flow Motion systems of the FlowMo Bodypack allowed me to achieve the aggressive body positions needed in extreme skiing- which cannot be achieved with other packs. This gave me the confidence and security for a successful descent."
Rhys Vidgen, Nelson. NZ
We had the most ghastly weather the first day. Winds so strong they pushed us over - we were the lightest. Others packs kept swinging, mine (the Aarn) sat absolutely with the body - probably because of the Balance Pockets and the X-Flow straps. Love the pack and think it an extremely healthy design because of the balance factor.
Jo Speedy, Wellington, NZ
Cold and wet
We had torrential rain, sleet, hail hitting us sideways. My pack was totally waterproof, everything inside perfect. The Balance Pockets a boon as had everyone's snacks there and plasters - no need to take pack off in dreadful conditions with stiff frozen hands. All in all the pack is the best I have had, am totally sold.
Jo Speedy, Wellington, NZ
Natural Balance featured in NY Times article, Nov 23, 2006.
In a feature article entitled "A New Tilt on Backpacks" by Stephen Regenold, Kurt Wedberg, a wilderness guide, tested a range of packs with pockets or mesh pouches positioned over the chest or up front on hip belts, to evaluate whether counter balancing the load reduced the strain and effort of load carrying.
Of the daypacks the Ultimate Direction Zoom had mesh pockets on the shoulder straps that gave quick access to energy bars but were too small for noticeable weight compensation. The Salomon Raid Revo 20 S-Lab had mesh pockets on shoulder straps and hip belt but fit was not perfect.
Syncpack was a front pack mounting to any hipbelt equipped pack. While effective weight transfer gave the illusion of carrying a lighter load, visibility was an issue. The pack prevented a clear view of your feet as you walked.
The Luxurylite external frame pack with front pockets gave little weight transfer and the system felt loose on the shoulders.The front pockets worked better when Kurt put the pockets on his own expedition pack.
The Aarn Natural Balance was the only pack that was an unqualified success. Kurt carried 50lbs of gear with ease. There was real weight transfer and the pockets did not obscure the trail at your feet.
Marathon Magic a hit at Tokyo trade show - smaller versions coming.
At the Outdoor Trade Show in Tokyo in September, retailers were excited by the unprecedented range of body movement possible with the new Marathon Magic, and the stability of the pack during these movements.
The fantastic stability of the new Marathon Magic under radical and free body movement is due to the development of a new Flow Motion system: Omni-Flow. This links the front shoulder straps and chest straps into a continuous loop. In combination with our U-Flow system the shoulders can move freely in all directions relative to your hips. The Auto-mould Frame also flexes when you bend forward. Combined with ultralight weight, these packs are the cutting edge for your high movement activities.
Mark Inglis and Pacerpoles on Everest
In May this year, NZ mountaineer Mark Inglis became the first double amputee to climb Mt Everest. He used Pacerpoles donated by us. Mark says:
"Prior to Everest I was able to use them on the Milford Track, one year after walking it with L*** poles (the market leader). Well what a difference, as a double amputee I use the poles less for balance than for additional power going up and on the flats and braking on downhills. This normally results in blistering without gloves after 4 hours or so, combined with significant fatigue to the wrists.
With the Pacerpoles wrists were fresh and no blistering, additionally I could get significantly more power out of them when 'power walking' aka jogging on the flatter parts of the track."
"The main role of the Pacerpoles on Everest was always to be from Base Camp(BC) to Advanced Base Camp(ABC), and from there up the moraine and Glacier to the bottom of the North Col. Above here ice axes were more appropriate."
"The ability to get power without wrist fatigue was a significant advantage.
They were used daily from BC on training treks and climbs then again proved their worth on the grueling 2 day trip to ABC, 2 days of tough moraine from 5200m up to 6400m, very tough days, they certainly meant that even when very tired and fatigued you could use them with accuracy and confidence. I continued to use them up to the base of the North Col."
Mark summarised his experience of the poles: “Pacerpoles are really like going from an old hard-tail mountain bike to one of the new XC bikes – light, plush and you are able to keep your power to the ground while staying fresher.”