Four Years Wearing the Khard
Four years ago Arc Teryx provided our GRIMP Team 7 Khard packs for use during the competition (and after). As we have just completed the fourth year of competition I thought it would be an ideal time to update how the pack has worked for us.
For GRIMP Day we put 300’ of rope into the pack plus a knot passing pulley, MPD, hydration bladder, spare snacks, Gore-Tex jacket and 2 -3 spare anchoring items such as a 25’ sling, 30’ of 8mm cordage and/or a steel strop.
This weighs around 25 – 30 pounds and we carry this for two – 9 hour days during the competition. Not only do we carry the pack, Ronin staff have; rappelled with the pack, climbed rock, steel towers and castles with the pack, clipped other member’s packs via the top loop to our harness and rappelled down 300’ cliffs, clipped our own packs via the top loop between our legs and climbed 250’ tower cranes (bouncing it off of every ladder rung on the way), used it as carry-on luggage, jumped out of planes with it, shipped gear across the planet in it, used it in the rain, rivers, oil, on concrete, steel and in the wilderness. We have done confined space rescue, mountain rescue, high angle rescue and parachuting with the pack.
From carrying my clothes around Italy to carrying rope gear across via ferrata’s in Belgium, these packs have been well used.
How have they held up? That is the question everyone wants to know. The short answer – very well. We have damaged two packs in this time. Sure, there are wear marks on the bottom, a bit of fabric fraying here and there, however we are talking about real damage – not just a little love. The one we packed full of gear and shipped home via German Post ended up with a slice in the side of the pack during shipping but the fabric stopped the tear from running. We added Gorilla Tape inside and out and the pack is still in service. The other damage was minor – we tore out one of the zipper tabs. The zipper is fine, just the tab (and I was stuffing the bag quite full – this was all my fault). We added some 3mm cord to the zipper and made our own tab – no issues since.
What could be added or removed from the pack? There is still the discussion around grommets. I suppose it is an aesthetics thing with Arc T. I should add our team is split on this issue also. Some of us do believe grommets would help out when you take the bag through a river or stuff it full of wet items. This would allow the water somewhere to drain out because the bag – while great in the rain – is not waterproof to the point that you can submerge it (and to be fair it is not designed for that). Hence why some of us think drain holes would be ideal.
The other item we debate is the waist belt. Yes, we agree it requires a waist belt. The discussion is around should the waist belt be detachable. For most of our use we are wearing a harness (and a class 3 harness at that). I get it, we are a unique user group. However, we never use the waist belt. It spends the majority of the time wrapped backwards around the pack. So should it be removable? Once again the team is split on this question (and really what would you expect from a group of emergency service workers who are 50% former soldiers – but an argument on gear J).
Overall these have been great packs for us. They have taken much abuse and are still going strong.