Sunday, September 4, 2016

Swedish military backpacks - Ryggsäck ST and LK35 - pt.4


The actual tryout.

I tried the backpacks in three consecutive days and I kept conditions as similar as possible.
The conditions; I wore the packs, while taking the dogs for the daily long walk. That means an at least 1 hour walk around lunchtime. Now walking these dogs is no casual stroll. It is more of a forced march; 6km in one hour or under. The route was the same those three days; gravel, coarse gravel, uneven terrain, up and down hill. With a dog on either arm, pulling the line taught and going from left to right, whenever their nose picks up something. So plenty of movement all around.
Weather was sunny and around 20C the first 2 days. At least the first 2 days. Day 3 was less summerlike. And to top it all off I was having a bad cold, meaning runny nose, shortness of breath, sweating profusely (but that is good, because you get a lot of shit out of your system that way), sneezing, coughing and generally not fit... The works...
The loadout was the same each time; a Swedish army cookset, my small items bag, first aid kit, 2 filled canteens, a hatchet and a poncho; all weighing in at 7kgs.
Let me start by telling you that neither of the ST packs performed badly. After the initial startup troubles, like shifting the pack back and fro in order to find a good fit, things went rather smoothly. However there are a number of issues with both these packs.
The ST lätt; although this one has a waist strap, it is not a comfortable one. It feels and rides weird, yet it keep the bottom and thus the weight of the pack where it is supposed to be; on your pelvis. It took a while before I found a comfortable fit, though. At first the pack rode to high, meaning the lower belt was positioned on top of the pelvis. This was, because the broader parts of the shoulder straps were more comfortably positioned, but it meant that the pack pushed down on the edge of my pants. After I had adjusted the position of the pack, it was better, but now the point of the broad section pushed into the front of my shoulder.
The ST on the other hand has other issues. First of all no waistbelt. That meant a bobbing backpack all the time. And that gets pretty tiring. Another problem was that, although I put the straps in the smallest position, the pack would still lean back, resting on the pelvis, but pulling the shoulders backward. Not a good fit. And then there was the annoying squeak of the leather with every step you take.
An issue both packs had, was with the frame. It is quite wide on the bottom and thus sticks out on either side. Reaching for something in your buttpocket is quite laborious and awkward and if you need to hold your arms next to your body, you would hit the frame with your lower arm. Carrying a stretcher for instance or loaded jerrycans might prove painful.
Looking back I wonder (and fear) what might happen when you load up these packs for real! In case of the ST lätt, there wasn't all that much room left. You might fit in some spare clothes and some food + a sleeping bag and mat on the outside, but I fear you'd be seriously overloading it that way, thus equally seriously compromising the comfort. As for the ST, there was loads of room left, but again when using it all, you might get quite uncomfortable, when carrying it.
The last in line was the LK35.
One this trip the conditions were differently. For one my wife followed along and it was much cooler with rain for another. We were wearing outerware when we started of, but that quickly ended up on top of the pack, so there's some extra weight there.
Again, there were the initial start issues, shoving the pack around and readjusting.of the shoulderstraps. However I could not find a really comfortable position with this one. The shoulderstraps are quite easily adjusted and I pulled them more taught, so the pack would ride higher. This also resulted in the pack pulling harder on my shoulders. I think the main reason are the 2 broad belts in the back. Mine were taught and I wanted to loosen them. The system with strings and knots would not let me do that easily. I couldn't get the knots to let go. Therefor it really felt like I was wearing a rigid, square pack on a round back. The lack of a waistbelt meant that the entire weight was pulling on my shoulders and my hands and arms started feeling numb, even after a short while. It really is beyond me why they chose this stupid system, other than maybe the wrong kind of cheapness. A system like the ST lätt would have made things a lot easier. Because of this the broad shoulder parts of the carrying straps dug into my shoulders too, when moving my arms in front of me. The narrow frame however allowed easy or easier access to my buttpockets though and left room for my arms to move freely.
Of the three tried packs, this one is my least favorite and honestly none of them really is.....

But the rain did bring out mushrooms! None of these  I saw yesterday or the day before that!




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