Sunday, February 7, 2016

Trizip Update

I have a bit of a fascination with Mystery Ranch's Trizip design. In my mind it is one of the more distinctive access schemes, and one of the most original in recent history.

You can read some of my theorizing in this previous post, but I have a little more information now that clears a few things up.

After talking with some folks at Camelbak it would appear the decision to discontinue the trizip was theirs alone. They cited the main reasons as cost (it was a pricy bag by imported standards) and competition with their other bag styles (such as the Motherlode). Viewing their current line up it appears as if they aiming for a very cohesive product line going forward, and in my view they did this well. The other bit of information I got was that to their knowledge there is no patent on the trizip opening itself, only the Futura Yoke that was also used for the Camelbak version. They also shied away from saying they "licensed" the design from MR, but insisted it was a collaboration.

Later, talking to Dana at Mystery Ranch, I got mostly the same story. He didn't sound as if he paid super close attention to the Camelbak spin off, but said he thought they'd priced it too close to the MR offering which meant by the time people had saved up for a CB they could save a little more and get a 3DAP or similar. Dana did use the term "license" for the design, but I'm sure this is just a fun semantics game that companies play. I didn't get the chance to ask him what he thought of the Nike version...

But as I predicted, it appears the Trizip is slowly gaining ground. I've found at least three new iterations; one from Timbuk2, one from Boreas, and a mysterious Diesel bag.

The Boreas seems to have been out for several years (here is a review from 2013, where I first noticed it). I'd briefly thought it had been discontinued but it appears to be back:

Slightly different lid geometry and they added some elastic to the inner collar, but mostly true to the original MR design.

The Timbuk2 version doesn't appear to be out yet, I just saw it over at the Carryology Winter OR Recap:

Unknown Timbuk2 pack
(photo credit: Carryology)

They appear to have gone a different route, with the simpler lid and flat top zipper of a traditional Horizontal zipper pack, and split the bottom tape to turn the corner into the vertical zipper. I think this is a mistake as it means their will be a larger gap where the zipper pulls meet, and more then likely it will not rip open as easily.

Also just found this on the EDC forums:

Looks a lot like an ASAP or Urban Assault from MR.

Keeping my eyes peeled for more now!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

eBay find: Hybrid Scandinavian sweater

As I've mentioned before I like Nordic sweaters. I also have an ongoing curiosity towards hybrid knit/woven garments. Here we have both:

I woven upper yoke area, extending down the tops of the sleeves. The collar and placket are included in this, something I appreciate. I tend to dislike buttons on knits as they seem to pull at the buttons if you utilize any of the benefits of the stretch. The woven collar might also stand up a bit better then a knit one would, better protecting the neck.

In theory this design would add some weatherproofing and durability to the tops parts of the garment, the only thing I find odd is that the armpits are barely included in the woven section, perhaps one of the places where knit is the most desirable:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

eBay find: Dana Designs Cold Creek

A while ago I wrote about the Lowe Alpine Double Dipper, at the time it was the only waist pack I'd seen with its peculiar water bottle pocket placement. Now I have found another and I begin to wonder if it was a more common arrangement then I thought:

In general the design details are much simpler, I'm not good at judging chronology but it strikes me as an early-to-mid era Dana pack.

The bottle pockets are small and appear to be neoprene-y.

Classic Dana lumbar pad and hypalon grip-panel on the back side, and a thinly padded waist belt.

What strikes me as the most interesting design feature is how the waist belt is attached to the far side of the pack and routed through a webbing slot to keep it pointed towards the wearer. My theory is this behaves as the compression mechanism and removes the need for the separate stabilizer straps that so many lumbar packs sport.

The search is on for more specimens!

Monday, October 12, 2015

eBay find: Wool pullover photograph

Continuing an infuriating trend of finding images of garments that just cannot be found anymore:

Images of pullover garments used by lumberjacks and sportsmen of yesteryear are not hard to come by, extant examples are. This appears to be a caped shirt-jacket with a very wide placket.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

eBay find: OLD school Mountainsmith pack

Possibly the oldest Mountainsmith pack I've seen yet. Crazy purple webbing and a flat lid.

While much simpler then most there are still some of the distinctive Mountainsmith features such as the long anvil-grossgrain clad stabilizer straps connecting the far side of the pack to the belt.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

eBay find: MR mossy oak daypack lid

Adding to the list of limited run camouflage patterns you can find older MR packs in; a mossy oak patterned daypack lid:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hoops Elite Max Air Team: Nike's middle finger to Mystery Ranch

(I will preface this post by saying I am making the assumption that no licensing agreement was made between Nike and Mystery Ranch. Given MR's open discussion of their collaboration with Camelbak, I don't find this a stretch)

A brief history of the trizip.
From tidbits garnered from interviews with Dana Gleason (I think mostly the Carryology interviews) It seems that Dana wanted a zippered top loading pack (like the Kletter Flip) to have better access, more like a panel loader. Playing around with a third zipper and the angle of the top access they eventually invented the Trizip:

According to their website the Sweet Pea was the first pack to use this new access. Fast forward and some military guys wanted an assault pack with better access. Throw some PALS webbing on the Sweet Pea and you have the 3DAP:

Wild success, fame and fortune followed. Everyone wanted one, but not everyone could afford one, what to do?

At some point (I don't pretend to remember when) Mystery Ranch licenses their design to Camelbak to make a more affordable, imported version. The TriZip is born:

While I applaud them for being humble (practical?) enough to go to another (better) pack designer for features I never liked this bag. Crappy camelbak belt, traded out the wonderful bottle pockets for gimmicky side organizers and maybe cheaped out on the zippers a little. I don't fault either company for wanting a lower cost imported option, that's just good business. (I noticed the Trizip is now listed as "discontinued" on Camelbak's website, I conjecture that with MR moving their outdoor department overseas they no longer want the competition in the lower price bracket)

Of course the Chinese had to jump on board:

It doesn't look like Cheaper Then Dirt carries a version anymore, but I seem to remember this (or something like it) being made by Condor/Fox/Voodoo/Whatever, and just like all the Maxpedition stuff they've stolen over the years, they'll probably get away with it. (Possibly its absence from CTD indicates that someone did take action, if so; Bravo)

Fast forward again, and Camelbak takes some liberties with the design to offer something new and different, and uniquely theirs:

Once again, I applaud their effort. A good looking pack in its own right, and doesn't feel like some red-headed step sister of the 3DAP. But, unfortunately, it seems to have opened the gateway:

Enter the Nike Hoops Elite Max Air Team:

As if the name wan't already three strikes, it's sad to see such an innovative company just steal a major design innovation from someone else (I'm sure not for the first time). My theory (formed from a tenuous grasp of patent law) is that by shifting the zipper from the middle of the pack the design is changed enough to not infringe the patent. Or if the patent is infringed, it is nebulous enough that it's not worth anyone's time to go head-to-head with Nike's lawyers.

Why is this significant? I doubt anyone is really surprised a huge corporation like Nike would do something less then scrupulous. What I think it heralds is the beginning of the trizip's transition into a commonly accepted form of backpack access, rather then its current position as a fringe design. While I don't think it will ever reach the point of being listed among Top Loader, Panel Loader, Roll Top, unlike other sub-species of access (reverse lid, wrap-around panel loader, hybrid top/panel loader, split-shroud roll top) the trizip doesn't seem to cleanly fit in any of the big three, and I think it will mostly exist to one side with an * by it.