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Techonaut45 Badassery Test Series: Straps

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    Techonaut45 Badassery Test Series: Straps

    Hi All,

    I've received my Techonaut 45 - thanks much to Kat! She helped me work out some timings on delivery, and I so very much appreciate TB customer support!!

    Anyway, I'm working up to a full T45 review, focusing on experiential (use-case) tests of various attributes of the T45 vs a review of features.

    With this post, I'll dive into the T45's strap comfort in backpack-carry mode.

    ------------------------------------------
    INTRO - Strap Comfort Test
    ------------------------------------------
    My assumption is
    the Techonaut series is designed as backpack-first carry, so I thought I'd start my tests by putting the T45 into my gauntlet: weighted carry in backpack mode. The goal of this test is basic: how comfortable is the T45 as a backpack in a heavy long carry? That comfort, for me, will primarily come down to the strap design and bag architecture so that's what I'm digging into in this post.

    Obviously the T45 isn't designed for back-country use with a full, adjustable harness system, so I'm not assessing it like that; rather as an air travel backpack with the typical load I'd carry on a longer trip (given I'm testing the T45 vs the T30)


    ------------------------------------------
    THE CONTESTANTS
    ------------------------------------------

    Fully packed for a longer air travel trip, my ~2016 A45 is ~30LBS (14kg) to ~50LBS (23kg) and, TBH, as a backpack the A45 is not good, at least for my body: the A45 generates significant shoulder pain. It's nice to have the BP carry option, but for me BP carry is the last A45 carry option if my goal with the A45 is comfort; and, to be fair, the A45 seems designed as a shoulder-carry-first bag - which is how I primarily use it - versus backpack carry. Nevertheless, I've had some bad experiences with the A45 in BP mode shoulder-pain-wise.

    My sincere hope is the T45 solves my A45 backpack-carry problem!

    To fully assess the T45 I need to compare it against my travel backpack carry champion, the Mission Workshop Rambler; as well as against TB's own Aeronaut 45, the Synik 30, Tristar / Western Flyer, & the ~2016 Synapse 25 w/o back panel. Note that I rarely air travel with the Rambler and it primarily serves as a weighted carry workout bag or travel if I know our trip will have a long hike (city or backcountry) requiring a lot of weight (like groceries for a full Thanksgiving dinner hiked across Montreal ). In other words, I'm comparing the T45, a travel bag, to a bag specifically designed for carrying large heavy loads on a bike or hike.

    Maybe not fair, but let's see how the T45 does!


    ------------------------------------------
    T45 TEST - Weighted Carry
    ------------------------------------------

    To simulate hiking 25 min across an airport terminal to catch a connecting flight, or a 45 min wait to clear customs, or a wait + run to get from the international terminal to the regional terminal before your flight leaves without you, I decided on the following:

    (1.) 30 min treadmill hike, 8% incline, 3 mph (5 kph) with 40lbs (18kg), immediately followed by
    (2.) 15 min, 10% incline, 3 mph (5 kph) w/ 30lbs (14kg)

    Click image for larger version

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    (screen grab from a gopro, apologies for the quality)

    That's the T45 w/ a 25lb dumb bell in the bottom pocket and 10lb & 5lb plates in the laptop carry compartment while I'm on my treadmill at 8% incline. I did these hikes with the T45 three times to ensure I wasn't having a one-off experience.

    I should note that:

    (a.) I don't use chest straps
    (b.) I don't use waist straps (at least on the TB bags)
    (c.) I don't have a back-panel

    I'd say it looks like how the T45 feels: solid & stable; personally I wouldn't need the back-panel sheet and won't be buying one. Again, keep in mind there's NOTHING in the main compartment!

    For reference I'm 6'2" and what I'd call average-to-skinny build, though rarely in my life have I been skinny! It's only in the last 3 years that I've been devoting a significant effort to my diet & fitness that things have improved.


    ------------------------------------------
    THE RESULTS
    ------------------------------------------

    TLDR: The T45 is damn comfy and it's a significant improvement over the A45, and even over the 2016 S25. The S25 is what I'd call medium comfort for a longer hike whereas I'd call the T45 as very comfortable.

    I had no significant pains or problems during the entire 45 minutes (x3!). The straps were firm but comfortable. Another thing: the S25 cuts off my circulation on my left side as the strap cuts under my armpit (probably due to a body asymmetry) - the T45 didn't do that, it was really comfortable.

    Interestingly, in my casual use of my S25GE & S30, both with the new shoulder straps, I didn't like them as much as did the older straps on my 2016 S25 ... however on the loaded up T45 over 45min, the new backpack straps were definitely more comfortable, and that also translate to heavy carry with the S30 ... though I think the S25 benefits less from the new edgeless strap and some might find them less comfy than the old S25 BP straps.

    With that said, the T45 doesn't beat The Rambler in terms of carry comfort so I had to wonder ... why is that?


    ------------------------------------------
    THE ANALYSIS
    ------------------------------------------
    If you haven't already, stop reading here if you don't want strap nerdery!


    Ok then. Let's take a look at the straps across these various bags, their attributes, and how they connect to the bags:

    Here's the S30, T45, and MW Rambler lined up:
    Click image for larger version

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    Right off, we can see a few key differences:

    (1.) The TB straps are curvy, the MW's aren't
    (2.) The MW straps are slightly wider (~3" vs TB's ~2.5")
    (3.) The MW has Load Lifters! This allows for adjustment to widen the strap-to-strap width from equal to the T45 to +2" wider WITHOUT having to change the height the bag rides on your back.

    This is one place I believe TB gets it wrong: no load lifters. I've read the reasoning and, just my opinion, but this picture alone shows why you need them: load lifters allow you to adjust the the strap-to-strap width AND the bag-ride height. I measured the strap-to-strap width and both all three bags are equal at 3", however the load lifters widen the MW's "strap hang" up to 2 full inches! Now technically you can also widen the T45 strap width by pulling the straps tighter or looser so the bag rides higher or lower ... but the key is, the load lifters allow you to adjust BOTH. At least for me.

    Thus, for me, there's no question: load lifters = more adjustability for different body types = more comfort ... though the question remains if that difference is meaningful to each person, and/or to enough of TB's core buyers.

    My TB request would be for the larger backpacks, e.g. T45 & BB, they add load lifters.

    Strap-to-strap width (and no load lifters) also reveals why the A45 is so uncomfortable in BP-mode: the strap-to-strap width is only 1.5"! Kinda hard that right edge below, but it's 1.5"

    Click image for larger version

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    Right off, the T45 strap-to-strap width is 2x larger at ~3" - this significantly adds to the comfort (BTW, does anyone know what that little vertical webbing loop between the straps is for???)

    Click image for larger version

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    The other factor to discuss is strap width & strap thickness, i.e., padding thickness:

    The Rambler's straps aren't very thick and they have very little padding compared to the T45 (see a few pics down, below), yet the MW Rambler's straps are more comfortable than the T45's, so why?

    Beyond the load lifters which allow for a strap-to-strap width adjustment AND a height-on-back adjustment, the Rambler's wider straps (~3" vs the T45's ~2.5") have more of a shoulder hug edge-to-edge versus the T45's much cushier straps which are thinner, but also tend to bow up under weight making the pressure points thinner still.

    Here's what that T45 strap-bowing-under-load looks like:

    Click image for larger version

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    You can see how the combination of edgeless & lots of cushioning makes the strap bow up on the edges thus reducing sharpening the pressure points on your shoulders ... so instead of getting the full 2.5" of strap width, you're getting more like 1.5-2"

    Now here's the wider MW Rambler's straps with solid edges & much thinner padding:

    Click image for larger version

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    You can clearly see the MW strap wider, and you get the benefit of the full width under load (despite the crappy image quality )

    The other thing you can notice if you go back and look, and look close, is the benefit of the load-lifters: the MW's straps wrap over my shoulders pointing more forward, while the T45's straps wrap over pointing at 45 degree angles to the left & right.

    BTW, here's the strap thickness comparo between the T45 & the MW Rambler:

    Click image for larger version

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    You can see the T45's padding is 4x thicker! but ... that doesn't necessarily translate to better, against the MW Rambler at least.


    This leaves things pretty choppy for the edgeless TB straps:
    • Against TB's other BP-bag BP straps (e.g., 2016 S25), for me
      • On lighter loads, the various changes TB has made (wider strap-to-strap, edgeless, thicker padding) result in a slightly more awkward feel ... can't say it's uncomfortable, but it also doesn't feel transparent as much as, say, the 2016 S25 straps do.
      • On heavier loads the new straps are a game changer: they're SIGNIFICANTLY more comfortable, and even a 45 min hike up an incline with 30-40lbs+ isn't uncomfortable
    • Against other MFR's similar BP straps, for me
      • The TB edgeless straps still lose out due to the loss of width sharpening the pressure points and sitting on top of your shoulders versus hugging your shoulders / wrapping around them.

    ------------------------------------------
    CONCLUSIONS
    ------------------------------------------

    Overall I'd say the T45 is a drastic improvement in TB's BP carry-mode for heavy loads, something that's pretty likely with a 45L bag! The new straps are a game changer for this bag compared to TB's other offerings. If you want a TB bag, want to carry primarily in BP mode, and plan to carry heavy, then the Techonaut is the bag to get without a doubt.

    As for improvement opportunities (this is a labs bag after all!) I'd recommend TB look into adding load-lifters for body customization and potentially redesigning the straps to a wider design that can wrap perpendicular from the bag to your shoulders and stays flat.


    Of course this whole post is assessing the T45 ONLY on it's strap comfort under load ... a bag is a LOT more than just that, so that'll be for future posts!







    #2
    Thank you for such a thorough review! I have the same problem with the straps and you summed it up nicely: they bow up when heavily loaded. On the Paragon, they feel great. On my (usually fully loaded) Brain Bag, not so much—they sort of dig into me. I wish they would just lay flat and stay that way.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by guod View Post
      Thank you for such a thorough review! I have the same problem with the straps and you summed it up nicely: they bow up when heavily loaded. On the Paragon, they feel great. On my (usually fully loaded) Brain Bag, not so much—they sort of dig into me. I wish they would just lay flat and stay that way.
      Hopefully Darcy will consider lower padding edged flat straps for the large bags: counter-intuitively, padding is WORSE for heavier loads.

      Also Darcy, what's the little webbing strip/loop for between the Techonaut's shoulder straps?? I must've missed it in the descriptions ... Thanks!

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the review and feedback here, GrussGott!

        A quick answer about that little webbing strip- I just confirmed with Nik that it is just a spot to reinforce the attachment of the upper mesh stitching.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by MikeV View Post

          I just confirmed with Nik that it is just a spot to reinforce the attachment of the upper mesh stitching.
          So not for a pancakes keychain charms???

          Click image for larger version

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          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by GrussGott View Post

            So not for a pancakes keychain charms???

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            I don't want to speak for Nik but I'm pretty sure that was the second thing on his mind

            Comment

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