Seek Outside Custom Builder - Side Pocket Options

merthussein

Newbie
Joined
Sep 13, 2021
Messages
4
Hey all

Each time I jump on to build my custom seek outside pack, I flip-flop on my side pocket configuration. I cannot figure out for the life of me what is the optimal set up. It seems that every single combination, including asymmetic ones have pros and cons.

I am curious what seek outside pack owners think of their side pocket configuration and if they would change anything. My current thinking is:
  • Left Side Pocket - Tall Side Pocket (i.e. Lanner style) to store trekking poles, maybe puffy jacket and spare water bottle
  • Right Side Pocket - Zippered Wing Pocket (i.e. Brooks style) to store the Swarovski Spotter I am saving for, tripod and maybe some extra gear like a puffy.
  • Hipbelt Water Bottle Holster - to account for lack of water bottle storage on side pockets.
But then I think just go with 2 short side water bottle pockets and keep it simple.

Is the zippered wing pocket overkill? Are tall side pockets useful enough and will protect spotter enough? Is the short water bottle pocket all I need?

------
Hunting Setup and Style for Context:
  • Hunting in Victoria Australia, ranging from day trips to 4/5 days in the Vic High Country above treeline in snow.
  • Planning to build custom:
    • integrated
    • 5400
    • Olive Green X Pac X42
    • no side zipper
    • no hydro port
    • internal load shelf
    • no face pockets
    • blaze orange talon
    • 1 hipbelt pocket
  • Need to be light and agile, hunting here is often dense timber with quite steep terrain. Can get heavy rain in all 4 seasons, or all 4 seasons in one day :) Hence desire for maximally waterproof design
  • Sambar Deer is comparible in size to elk, so packouts will be heavy and over multiple trips. Hauling meat insie pack will be most ideal, planning to do it as Nathan often describes (roll pack down, meat on top on outside, compressed with talon.
  • Want to be able to compress pack to as slim as possible whilst still being able to access tripod, spotter and trekking poles, puffy jacket and rain jacket. Small stuff like gloves will go in shroud or talon.
  • Planning on doing backpacking trips too with wife and pooch where I will be designated sherpa. Hence the need for a larger pack size but not something giant like the Brooks.

What do you guys think? I know I am overthinking this but what is the fun in underthinking things :) Based on the description, am I better off with just 2 tall side pockets?

Screenshot 2021-09-13 at 23.25.56.png
 

ethan

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
477
For what it's worth, I opted for the two deeper pockets (not zippered) and I use a water bottle holder on the hip belt. I like the versatility of it being set up like that. It's simple and easy and it works for me.
 

wiiawiwb

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
773
Location
In the mountains
I have a few SO packs (both platforms) and a few additional custom bags to go with those packs. Undoubtedly, usage trumps everything so you need to incorporate just the things you want into your custom pack/bag. A few thoughts:

1) I got a custom 4,800 bag with a water-bottle left and a tall-pocket right. The idea of the tall pocket was to hold my tent. As it turns out, the tent will fit but not with the poles. So, I've lost the full advantage of the tall pocket. Granted, I could locate the tent elsewhere and use the tall pocket for other things. In the end, I didn't see an advantage to the pocket over lashing down things with straps and gatekeepers that are carried on the side of the pack. If you can find a valuable use for a tall pocket, then definitely go with it. I couldn't.

2) I prefer as few zippers as possible. While they are very convenient, they are also potential points of failure. Moreover, they require attention to make sure they are clean and operating smoothly. Don't things always fail when you least expect it?

3) I use a top lid for gloves, windjacket, and other quick access items. I swapped out my XPac Talon for a mesh Talon. You can see the Xpac talon below. The mesh Talon wouldn't work for some but it's where I put damp/wet clothes or tent from rain or sweat.

4) Simplicity. I prefer a very large main bag, with no zipper, so I have a SO 6,300 in both the breakway and integrated platforms. The weight difference between a 4,800 and a 6,300 is 3oz in X-42 and even less in X-21. No reason not to get the 6,300 as far as I am concerned. They roll down into nothing and size matters especially at that mimimal weight difference.

5) X-42 vs X-33 vs X-21 vs Spectra. In a custom bag, you can choose the material you prefer. I have all three Xpac formats. I find the X-42 is the quietest, most supple, and rolls the easiest, but it is a bit heavier than the others. The X-21 is noticeably lighter but a hair more noisy. The X-33 has a totally different feel...like the cordura packs of yesteryear. It feels like my McHale backpack. I come from the backpacking world so weight is paramount. I love the X-21 and it is light so it is my backpack material of choice. For a 2-3oz penalty in a 6,300 bag, the X-42 is amazing. The X-33 is supposed to be the best of both worlds but I haven't had it out in the field yet. The SpectraGrid material is intriguing but I live in an area where the forest is wet and it is the least forgiving of water of all SO's materials. If I lived in a dry(er) area, I'd choose SpectraG in a NY nanosecond.

In the end, I found the two water pockets were best suited to my needs so the only reason for ordering a "custom" bag was because I wanted the X-21 material, which I'm fond of.
 

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RockChucker30

Senior Member
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
732
Location
Working
The custom builder has been good and bad...for a lot of reasons.

It creates paralysis by analysis in customers. It also creates a lot of parts and pieces to manage in production.

One real value add for us has been trying to see trends in what people order.

A large percentage of custom orders are for asymmetrical side pocket layouts.

A tall side pocket on left with water bottle pocket on right is popular.

So is a zippered side pocket on left with a water bottle pocket on right. One user tells us he puts optics in the zippered pocket and straps rifle on the right side, balancing the weight out.

You can justify almost anything organization wise, because it's a personal preference. I'll say that very experienced folks trend toward simplicity...just enough org, but not too much.
 
OP
merthussein

merthussein

Newbie
Joined
Sep 13, 2021
Messages
4
I have a few SO packs (both platforms) and a few additional custom bags to go with those packs. Undoubtedly, usage trumps everything so you need to incorporate just the things you want into your custom pack/bag. A few thoughts:

1) I got a custom 4,800 bag with a water-bottle left and a tall-pocket right. The idea of the tall pocket was to hold my tent. As it turns out, the tent will fit but not with the poles. So, I've lost the full advantage of the tall pocket. Granted, I could locate the tent elsewhere and use the tall pocket for other things. In the end, I didn't see an advantage to the pocket over lashing down things with straps and gatekeepers that are carried on the side of the pack. If you can find a valuable use for a tall pocket, then definitely go with it. I couldn't.

2) I prefer as few zippers as possible. While they are very convenient, they are also potential points of failure. Moreover, they require attention to make sure they are clean and operating smoothly. Don't things always fail when you least expect it?

3) I use a top lid for gloves, windjacket, and other quick access items. I swapped out my XPac Talon for a mesh Talon. You can see the Xpac talon below. The mesh Talon wouldn't work for some but it's where I put damp/wet clothes or tent from rain or sweat.

4) Simplicity. I prefer a very large main bag, with no zipper, so I have a SO 6,300 in both the breakway and integrated platforms. The weight difference between a 4,800 and a 6,300 is 3oz in X-42 and even less in X-21. No reason not to get the 6,300 as far as I am concerned. They roll down into nothing and size matters especially at that mimimal weight difference.

5) X-42 vs X-33 vs X-21 vs Spectra. In a custom bag, you can choose the material you prefer. I have all three Xpac formats. I find the X-42 is the quietest, most supple, and rolls the easiest, but it is a bit heavier than the others. The X-21 is noticeably lighter but a hair more noisy. The X-33 has a totally different feel...like the cordura packs of yesteryear. It feels like my McHale backpack. I come from the backpacking world so weight is paramount. I love the X-21 and it is light so it is my backpack material of choice. For a 2-3oz penalty in a 6,300 bag, the X-42 is amazing. The X-33 is supposed to be the best of both worlds but I haven't had it out in the field yet. The SpectraGrid material is intriguing but I live in an area where the forest is wet and it is the least forgiving of water of all SO's materials. If I lived in a dry(er) area, I'd choose SpectraG in a NY nanosecond.

In the end, I found the two water pockets were best suited to my needs so the only reason for ordering a "custom" bag was because I wanted the X-21 material, which I'm fond of.
This is incredibly, incredibly useful info. Thank you!
 
OP
merthussein

merthussein

Newbie
Joined
Sep 13, 2021
Messages
4
Thank you for replying Nathan, I really appreciate it.

when bags like the 5400 or 6300 are compressed all the way for day mode, are the tall side pockets, zippered side pockets or shroud pockets (on 5400) disabled (strapped down to nothing) or still functional?

Also, do you guys have any photos of the X-42 bag with SpectraGrid Accent pockets? I couldn't find any anywhere.

Understand the paralysis by analysis concern. To me it's been a fun way to play with owning the exact bag I would want, the true one and done.

Thank you all for your replies!


The custom builder has been good and bad...for a lot of reasons.

It creates paralysis by analysis in customers. It also creates a lot of parts and pieces to manage in production.

One real value add for us has been trying to see trends in what people order.

A large percentage of custom orders are for asymmetrical side pocket layouts.

A tall side pocket on left with water bottle pocket on right is popular.

So is a zippered side pocket on left with a water bottle pocket on right. One user tells us he puts optics in the zippered pocket and straps rifle on the right side, balancing the weight out.

You can justify almost anything organization wise, because it's a personal preference. I'll say that very experienced folks trend toward simplicity...just enough org, but not too much.
 

RockChucker30

Senior Member
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
732
Location
Working
Fully compressed, depending on where you compress....the zippered side pockets can be covered or accessible. Look at the compressed photos of the Brooks and Saker and you'll understand.

The tall side pocket will be covered by a strap. A nalgene in the water bottle pockets is still accessible on a fully compressed pack.

We've done X-42 with spectra accents. I don't have any pics that I know of. I personally don't think that color combo looks that great, but others do.
 

Mannsbuick

Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2016
Messages
85
Location
Hawthorne, Florida
The zippers side pockets are sewn on see attached pics. Also see pic of 1 gallon can fitting easily in side pocket! They hold a lot of gear! Each pocket is 1200 x 2 for a total of 7800
 

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Mikedlaw

Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2017
Messages
59
Location
Southern Idaho
The zippers side pockets are sewn on see attached pics. Also see pic of 1 gallon can fitting easily in side pocket! They hold a lot of gear!
Is that a Brooks/Saker or a custom bag? I've been considering getting a custom bag just like that (Brooks style) but with a smaller main bag than the brooks. I think the brooks bag would be to big for anything I would need.

Sent from my Pixel 3a XL using Tapatalk
 

Mannsbuick

Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2016
Messages
85
Location
Hawthorne, Florida
Is that a Brooks/Saker or a custom bag? I've been considering getting a custom bag just like that (Brooks style) but with a smaller main bag than the brooks. I think the brooks bag would be to big for anything I would need.

Sent from my Pixel 3a XL using Tapatalk
It's a custom 5400 with breakaway system to carry my Kokopelli Rogue packraft!
 

sndmn11

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Messages
3,428
Location
Morrison, Colorado
Is that a Brooks/Saker or a custom bag? I've been considering getting a custom bag just like that (Brooks style) but with a smaller main bag than the brooks. I think the brooks bag would be to big for anything I would need.

Sent from my Pixel 3a XL using Tapatalk

I honestly do not notice the bag much, and I rarely put anything in there. I put stuff in the wings and the lid, my game bags and kill kit are the only items in the main part. I then squeeze the two sides together to meet in the middle and trap my trekking poles and/or tripod. I like the big main because I can throw meat in there if need be and still get the same effect of the wings wrapping it up. Of course, I retain the ability to use that space for a pack n trip. This is the biggest advantage to the structure that a zipper pocket offers in my opinion, but I haven't seen a reason as a day pack to go smaller with the main part.
 

fishunter

Newbie
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
4
Hey all

Each time I jump on to build my custom seek outside pack, I flip-flop on my side pocket configuration. I cannot figure out for the life of me what is the optimal set up. It seems that every single combination, including asymmetic ones have pros and cons.

I am curious what seek outside pack owners think of their side pocket configuration and if they would change anything. My current thinking is:
  • Left Side Pocket - Tall Side Pocket (i.e. Lanner style) to store trekking poles, maybe puffy jacket and spare water bottle
  • Right Side Pocket - Zippered Wing Pocket (i.e. Brooks style) to store the Swarovski Spotter I am saving for, tripod and maybe some extra gear like a puffy.
  • Hipbelt Water Bottle Holster - to account for lack of water bottle storage on side pockets.
But then I think just go with 2 short side water bottle pockets and keep it simple.

Is the zippered wing pocket overkill? Are tall side pockets useful enough and will protect spotter enough? Is the short water bottle pocket all I need?

------
Hunting Setup and Style for Context:
  • Hunting in Victoria Australia, ranging from day trips to 4/5 days in the Vic High Country above treeline in snow.
  • Planning to build custom:
    • integrated
    • 5400
    • Olive Green X Pac X42
    • no side zipper
    • no hydro port
    • internal load shelf
    • no face pockets
    • blaze orange talon
    • 1 hipbelt pocket
  • Need to be light and agile, hunting here is often dense timber with quite steep terrain. Can get heavy rain in all 4 seasons, or all 4 seasons in one day :) Hence desire for maximally waterproof design
  • Sambar Deer is comparible in size to elk, so packouts will be heavy and over multiple trips. Hauling meat insie pack will be most ideal, planning to do it as Nathan often describes (roll pack down, meat on top on outside, compressed with talon.
  • Want to be able to compress pack to as slim as possible whilst still being able to access tripod, spotter and trekking poles, puffy jacket and rain jacket. Small stuff like gloves will go in shroud or talon.
  • Planning on doing backpacking trips too with wife and pooch where I will be designated sherpa. Hence the need for a larger pack size but not something giant like the Brooks.

What do you guys think? I know I am overthinking this but what is the fun in underthinking things :) Based on the description, am I better off with just 2 tall side pockets?

View attachment 325911
I'm currently looking at building a custom 5400 Lanner style bag with original front "stuff mesh pocket & two zippered pockets", but I also want the side zipper wing pockets of the Brooks bag. I've never owned a SO bag so I'm confused as to how the 3 compression straps from side to side of the Brooks pockets would function over the "stuff mesh pocket & two zippered pockets" of the Lanner style bag. Will the Brooks side pockets come with 3 loops (for gatekeepers to anchor) on either side of a custom built bag to accommodate the 3 compression straps running across and over the Lanner style stuff mesh pocket?

I understand the 3 compression straps might get in the way of the Lanner stuff mesh pocket design. Is it better to not use these straps at all? Also would I have to order these straps as an extra item? If so, are they the extra long compression straps. What's the proper name for these straps on the site? There are several different length straps to order so I need to know I'm ordering the right ones.

I also want the top of my main compartment (once rolled down) to be secured by two side straps rather than a singular mid strap that connects to the Lanner stuff mesh pocket. Do these also have to be ordered separately? How would this also affect where and how I anchor these two straps to compress the top of the rolled main compartment?

If I wanted to configure this custom bag in the 3 various Brooks modes (daypack, 2-3days, 10days), would the Lanner stuff mesh pocket get in the way of the fold for daypack or 2-3days configs? Is it possible to develop a solution where SO can make me a TALON style of the Lanner "mesh stuff pocket with two zippers", whereby I can attach or disconnect as I please? This would be an awesome solution.

ANY SEEK OUTSIDE WORKERS IN HERE? PLEASE HELP!!!
 

sndmn11

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Messages
3,428
Location
Morrison, Colorado
I'm currently looking at building a custom 5400 Lanner style bag with original front "stuff mesh pocket & two zippered pockets", but I also want the side zipper wing pockets of the Brooks bag. I've never owned a SO bag so I'm confused as to how the 3 compression straps from side to side of the Brooks pockets would function over the "stuff mesh pocket & two zippered pockets" of the Lanner style bag. Will the Brooks side pockets come with 3 loops (for gatekeepers to anchor) on either side of a custom built bag to accommodate the 3 compression straps running across and over the Lanner style stuff mesh pocket?

I understand the 3 compression straps might get in the way of the Lanner stuff mesh pocket design. Is it better to not use these straps at all? Also would I have to order these straps as an extra item? If so, are they the extra long compression straps. What's the proper name for these straps on the site? There are several different length straps to order so I need to know I'm ordering the right ones.

I also want the top of my main compartment (once rolled down) to be secured by two side straps rather than a singular mid strap that connects to the Lanner stuff mesh pocket. Do these also have to be ordered separately? How would this also affect where and how I anchor these two straps to compress the top of the rolled main compartment?

If I wanted to configure this custom bag in the 3 various Brooks modes (daypack, 2-3days, 10days), would the Lanner stuff mesh pocket get in the way of the fold for daypack or 2-3days configs? Is it possible to develop a solution where SO can make me a TALON style of the Lanner "mesh stuff pocket with two zippers", whereby I can attach or disconnect as I please? This would be an awesome solution.

ANY SEEK OUTSIDE WORKERS IN HERE? PLEASE HELP!!!

Whether you have those face pockets (lanner style) or not, there will still be loops present.

Side pocket choice (loop) middle face choice (loop) side pocket choice

Straps over those middle face pockets will not impeded their functionality, and the are not necessarily needed either.

The talon you speak of is the Merlin day pack. I regularly clip this to my pack when I know I want to haul hear part way, then be light. Example: this afternoon I will be ditching my frame on a bench, Merlin will go on my back for a 1000 yards elk slothwalk. It will have my water and rain gear. When I get back to my frame I will buckle the Merlin up and be in my way. In winter, the Merlin approach is nice because I can get my piffys in there easy to access, without disturbing stuff in my side pockets or main. I can also leave my frame somewhere and move a little quicker with less weight.

Rolling the lid to connect to other straps is pretty easy, just add a bunch of 3/4" gatekeepers and by some 3/4" webbing in bulk from REI to make ancillary straps, or order a dozen extra complete straps from Seek.
 

Drenalin

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
811
My undiagnosed and relatively minor ocd won’t allow me to have asymmetrical pockets. That said, I’m a fan of tall side pockets for trekking poles, stools, and tripods. But I’m not a spotting scope user, which I imagine changes the math.
 

NEWAoutdoors

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2020
Messages
107
I have the 3500 with a tall left side pocket thats huge and holds anything you want. And a short right one for water. I really like being able to grab water while on the move out of the short pocket. I wouldn't change a thing. Carry spotter and tripod with a water often in the tall pocket Or rifle
 

tdot

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2014
Messages
1,759
Location
BC
I have 2 custom 6300's, one has 2 short pockets and one has an asymmetric layout with a large zippered pocket on the left and a short pocket on the right. They both have their uses, but the next bag will be a smaller break-away with the same asymmetric layout. That large zippered pocket allows me to leave the Merlin at home. Plenty of space it in for a Swaro ATX/95 plus puffy jacket for padding.
 

fishunter

Newbie
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
4
Whether you have those face pockets (lanner style) or not, there will still be loops present.

Side pocket choice (loop) middle face choice (loop) side pocket choice

Straps over those middle face pockets will not impeded their functionality, and the are not necessarily needed either.

The talon you speak of is the Merlin day pack. I regularly clip this to my pack when I know I want to haul hear part way, then be light. Example: this afternoon I will be ditching my frame on a bench, Merlin will go on my back for a 1000 yards elk slothwalk. It will have my water and rain gear. When I get back to my frame I will buckle the Merlin up and be in my way. In winter, the Merlin approach is nice because I can get my piffys in there easy to access, without disturbing stuff in my side pockets or main. I can also leave my frame somewhere and move a little quicker with less weight.

Rolling the lid to connect to other straps is pretty easy, just add a bunch of 3/4" gatekeepers and by some 3/4" webbing in bulk from REI to make ancillary straps, or order a dozen extra complete straps from Seek.
Thanks for the reply and info. Regarding the talon, I know about the Merlin pack. I don't want this as I think it's overpriced, I prefer the Lanner face pocket design and if I combine the Lanner bag with Brooks side zipper pockets, I can fold the custom pack down to a small daypack just like the Brooks system. What I want is a custom made face pocket of the Lanner but in talon form, meaning this Lanner face pocket not sewn onto the bag. I want to be able to remove the Lanner face pocket as I would with any talon. If this is possible, do I need to order more gatekeepers or straps? I'll email Seek Outside regarding this design but I just thought I'd reach out to anyone who may have thought of a similar custom design.
 

Kevin_t

Senior Member
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Dec 2, 2012
Messages
1,000
Location
Colorado
Thanks for the reply and info. Regarding the talon, I know about the Merlin pack. I don't want this as I think it's overpriced, I prefer the Lanner face pocket design and if I combine the Lanner bag with Brooks side zipper pockets, I can fold the custom pack down to a small daypack just like the Brooks system. What I want is a custom made face pocket of the Lanner but in talon form, meaning this Lanner face pocket not sewn onto the bag. I want to be able to remove the Lanner face pocket as I would with any talon. If this is possible, do I need to order more gatekeepers or straps? I'll email Seek Outside regarding this design but I just thought I'd reach out to anyone who may have thought of a similar custom design.
The closest we have is to do a 5400 with the tall side pocket and get a mesh talon or similar.

From a design aspect, I prefer not having all 3 faces with large pockets so compression is simpler and neater. Thus we do not offer any designs that have significant pocketing on all sides. However, a lot of people do order setups like a Lanner with one Brooks style pocket, and the feedback from the users has been they really like it. You can run compression on all 3 faces as well, or none if you like. For a Lanner type bag with a Brooks style pocket on one side, trying to compress for day mode, I would use the top and bottom strap on the rear face that should still give good access to most of the rear face, plus both sides .. and I would not run any side compression likely. For me, I just take off compression straps when not needed and stash them .
 
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