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View Full Version : Replacing XTL and E&E



mb
07-23-2009, 11:17 AM
I've nagged Kifaru on this forum about getting a bigger E&E ('E-E&E' or 'E&E-XL') at least a couple of times before. And there has been quite a few threads on modifying the XTL. What follows is a reiteration of my wishes, but now illustrated... ;)

XTL is a nice piece of kit, but... it has a small fixed pouch resulting in small volume for the weight. XTL works well as a shoulder bag, but not as a backpack.

E&E is an extremely nice piece of kit (and I'm just kidding, I'm not really replacing it). But, the volume is just too small for e.g. bulky insulative clothing. For me, a patrol pack (or whatever) often needs to carry quite a bulk of low density stuff, and for this E&E just is way too small. The CFP-90 patrol pack was better in (just) this respect, but it too often lacked some volume I needed. Also, while the E&E rides nicely on a bigger pack by dock&lock, it doesn't really double as anything, like a lid.

What I wanted was a top lid that would stabilize the top of the mother pack, like the XTL, but would be fully modular with ample PALs (and no fixed pocket - I want to choose my pockets myself :) ) and that would work well as a patrol/recce/E&E backpack with appropriate pockets. The lid should also be simple, with the extras removable, to make it somewhat like a standard lid, if required.

Here it is, the Modular Top Lid Carrying System (MTLCS) with 8x8 PALS, tabloops etc:

http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/1822/20090723825.jpg

The pouch for carrying bulky low density kit is in 500 den Cordura, and without PALS, to conserve weight. Here's the High Volume Patrol Pack Pouch (HVPPP), attached to MTLCS, compared to E&E G1 (the brim of the MTLCS is rolled away here, and secured with elastic velcro straps):

http://img198.imageshack.us/img198/5991/20090723782.jpg

The yoke of the MTLCS is pretty much copied from E&E, with some inspiration taken from the Omni yoke. The shoulder and waist straps, and the closed cell backpad, are all completely removable. The inside does not have PALS - it's should double as backpack - but there are light webbing loops for attaching a sleeping pad when used as the toplid of compatible mother pack.

http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/3890/20090723784.jpg

MTLCS waist and shoulder strap attachments:

http://img407.imageshack.us/img407/7167/20090723812.jpg

MTLCS, backside detail showing backpad placement:

http://img200.imageshack.us/img200/156/20090723788.jpg

The HVPPP is made water resistant by sealing all seams, using a flap covered water resistant zipper and with drainage grommets plugged.

http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/584/20090723785.jpg

Inside it has attachments for a chamber pocket, and has D-rings for dummy cording.

Here's MTLCS with HVPPP on top of G1 EMR:

http://img267.imageshack.us/img267/8624/20090723814.jpg[/IMG]

and for comparison EMR with E&E and XTL:

http://img39.imageshack.us/img39/171/20090723818.jpg

Here's EMR with plain MTLCS as toplid:

http://img139.imageshack.us/img139/3236/20090723822.jpg

The HVPPP is pretty massive, resulting in a big-head EMR (mind you, HVPPP is designed for low-density kit):

http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/8569/20090723820.jpg

And again, EMR with XTL and E&E for comparision:

http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/5418/20090723819.jpg

And, btw, did you notice something unusual with the EMR above? No more sidezips, but two 6x5 PALS grids instead! :)

The MTLCS and HVPPP are brand new, so no field experience yet. So far, just playing in my backyard, I'm happy with it. By September, I'll know how the kit works in practice with my EMR. I hope it'll work well with my Zulu (G1, damn) too. And the ZXR I will get sooner or later.

Thanks for listening <g>

BuckarooMedic
07-24-2009, 02:40 AM
MB

Amazing ideas. I really like your MTLCS idea. This is something that I have been thinking about for my MMR too. I've been considering getting the "standard" top lid for the MMR to replace my XTL.

Take care,

Thommo
07-24-2009, 03:59 AM
Thanks mb for sharing ideas and designs, this is the type of info I look forward to seeing on the forum. More ideas for me to absorb.

I am currently undecided on what route to travel:
E&E or XTL or some of my custom/modified pieces of kit.
I will eventually end up with something that is perfect for me but it always comes back to compromises trying to find a detachable unit to suit my needs.

This gives me more to think about!

mb
07-24-2009, 09:28 AM
In a previous thread, Mel told us that most people actually like the side zippers located at the upper sides of EMR and MMR. Hence they were retained in the G2 update, and the other armor grip pack comes with these.

I've found that I never used the sidezippers of my EMR. Moreover, I've found at times that I would like to have PALS webbing on the 'naked' upper sides of my pack. Especially, when piggybacking my Zulu on the EMR, PALS on the EMR is in short supply. (And I definitively don't want to put anything on the piggybacked Zulu - the center of gravity gets pretty badly off anyway.)

In the past, I claimed that it would be 'straightforward' to replace the side zips, and put PALS instead. Well, it wasn't. A dock-n-lock PALS panel would have been an easy solution, but a compromise resulting in several extra ounces of weight <g>.

The big problem was to get the holes left after the zippers properly closed. The sides didn't seem to match, and the big pack had to be wrestled into the sewing machine.

Was it worth it? Dunno yet, these pics are just backyard setups. Without a lot of low-quality spare time (sick leave after knee arthroscopy) I'd bet no. Anyways, now I have 2 x 6 x 5 more of PALS, and no more side zips, and that I'm happy with.

http://img58.imageshack.us/img58/3589/20090724827.jpg

Visible above, is a reinforcement patch that was necessary due to insufficient seam margin when closing the zipper openings. The thread used above was olive drab E69 from lowyusa.com. In the pic below, the 'olive drab' E69 thread is from paragear.com. The thread from Paragear appears lighter in color, close to foliage, possibly due to a color fastness problem (the thread seems darker before sewn with high thread tension). The color match for the OD webbing (from diytactical.com) with the Kifaru pack cordura is good. Eg, the OD webbing visible on the MTLCS is from geraldschwartzinc.com is significantly different in tone (scroll down for pic). Not that I'd admit caring about cosmetics, but color variation in raw materials sucks as it potentially affects the camo.

http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/256/20090724830.jpg

http://img38.imageshack.us/img38/8060/20090724826.jpg

http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/9589/20090724829.jpg

http://img266.imageshack.us/img266/6130/20090516712.jpg

PS. Thanks Buckaroo and Thommo for the nice comments :)

AK_Spray
07-25-2009, 07:12 AM
Not that this is a major point but I think why Kifaru doesn't use Watertight zippers is the fact that they tend to bind up. The Gen 3 ECWCS Soft Shell, Gor-Tex and Wind jacket all had Watertight zippers and the Soldiers out in the field complained of bound up zippers so they changed it. Personally I like the zippers and can you imagine a watertight YKK #10? That would be great. Just my two cents though. BTW it looks great!

Teacher in CA
07-25-2009, 09:22 AM
I am becoming a fan of that High-Volume pouch (HVPPP). I am not alone in overstuffing the E&E, and would love to have the E&E two more inches to hold a lil larger laptop. And the added length and width, would also increase the PALS grid. And by not adding any increase in depth, it might solve the 'big-head' look when you attach it to your custom top lid.. But I don't know your low density loadout, so it might not solve it. The down-side of making the E&E bigger, is that it would almost take the whole real estate of the MMR PALS grid when you dock and lock, and you aren't getting the return on the E&E grid.

As for the PALS grid on the sides of your custom EMR. Would adding tabs just below the triangles help ??? All I have piggybacked is the Marauder with medium pods, and I hated it, so I see your point on adding the grid to stabilize the load.


Anyways, I am looking forward to hearing how your new add ons work.

mb
07-25-2009, 12:18 PM
AK_Spray,

Yes, the water-resistant zippers don't work at all as smoothly (nor as reliably?) as conventional ones. In general, I think that backpacks and GP pouches should come with conventional zippers, like those from Kifaru do.

The HVPPP is intended for pause and spare clothing, or whatever bulky, that is supposed to stay dry. By making the pouch 'more' water resistant than usual, I hope that I won't need to use dry sacks for other than amphibious usage. I assumed that the water-resistant #5 zipper will usually work quicker than a fast conventional #10 zipper *and* fuzzing with dry bags. The high volume of the HVPPP should help too, as stuffing gear back into the (hopefully not overloaded) pouch should be easier.

Otoh, the WR #5 zipper is less rugged than the usual #10, but so is this pouch anyway, as it's made from 500 den, rather than the usual 1000 den Cordura. The lighter fabric was necessary to allow the high volume at reasonable weight. These factors, and the depth of the pouch, made putting PALS on the pouch a bad idea, I thought. Additional pouches will go on chestrig, or whatever LBV used.

Btw, the HVPPP is not intended to carry a hydration bladder. The pocket for the backpad in the MTLCS should work with a bladder instead, I think - I put a hanger there just in case - - but this isn't important for me, as I almost always use old-fashioned canteen bottles.

And, thanks AK_Spray and Teacher in CA for the nice comments :)

mb
08-07-2009, 08:14 AM
One more mod: EMR shoulder strap quick-release buckles replaced with 'Cobra' buckles by AustriAlpin:

http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/3221/20090807839.jpg

http://img30.imageshack.us/img30/3277/20090807840.jpg

Some update on MTLCS, HVPPP and EMR modifications after (just) one week of usage.

So far (most of) the new kit seems to work as designed to :) :).

The MTLCS worked well as the toplid for my EMR with no relevant difference compared to the XTL as a lid.

When removed, the MTLCS prooved to be a very comfortable carry. It seemed more stable than E&E due to being wider. Otoh, it was somewhat hot against the back, as could be expected from a largish tightly hugging flat pack. A more complex design, with some dedicated porous dedicated fabric against the back, rather than plain packcloth, might have helped. Using something less insulative than closed cell foam for backpad would probably make it cooler too, but then it wouldn't double as well as a sitting pad.

HVPPP worked as expected. Stuffing it was a breeze - finally a patrol/recce/E&E pack that was big enough! I found the water resistant zipper to work smoothly enough - this may well change with more age and dirt though. The conditions didn't allow experience on the overall water resistance.

EMR modification with side-zips removed, and PALs instead, worked very well.

Replacing the shoulder strap QR buckles of my G1 EMR probably wasn't such a bright idea: Cobras are shiny (compromising camo), weigh twice that of ACW or Molle buckles, and, most worryingly, do not release well under tension. This would have been easy to figure out before actually changing the buckles :(. Changing the buckles is pretty easy to do, though. Otoh, the Cobras are (hopefully) virtually indestructible, do not slip and do not release accidentally.

And finally, another issue. The stitching of the waist belt of my '06 EMR is unraveling slightly. I'll take this up with Mel. I suspect the thread tension of the stitching might have been insufficient, as was the problem with my original waist belt. I noticed the problem pre-trip, and secured the critical shoulder strap attachments. In addition to the shoulder strap attachments, PALS is affected.