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  1. #1

    Default Who Owns a McHale Pack?

    This will probably turn out to be a short and limited thread---but who belongs to the "exclusive" club of McHale pack ownership?

    Dan McHale makes custom backpacks out of Seattle and I started the long process of getting one back in September 2017. He gets your measurements and sends out a Demo pack to use and test before the final pack is made.

    The first time I used a Demo was for a trip in January 2018 and ended up pulling 80 days of backpacking with the thing. Then in August 2018 I sent back the Demo and received the finished pack he calls a Critical Mass pack. With this pack I have pulled 204 days of backpacking.

    My buddy Hoppin John just received a McHale pack so we're interested in others here on whiteblaze who have used McHale packs.


    Here's the blue Demo pack showing the back foam panel which can be removed and used as a sit pad.


    The back foam panel is easily removed with velcro attachments. Pic also shows the four grommets and bolts---two outer are frame attachments and two inner attach the hipbelt---easily removed and replaced if needed.


    This shows the pack's harness system on the Demo. Note the double hipbelt buckles. And high belt rests comfortably atop the top of the hip bones, the Iliac crest---with a built in lumbar pad which can be adjusted in thickness or completely removed.


    The usual McHale label on the top lid. The top lid can be removed and used as either a butt pack or a shoulder bag.


    This pick shows well the harness system with the bypass straps which are highly modified load lifter straps.


    I was hauling up to 95 lbs with the Demo with no complaints---although the Demo's volume was a little small versus the finished pack. This is on Kirkland Creek which has 11 creek crossings so the boots fit easily under the top lid.

  2. #2

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    After 80 days with the Demo the finished pack was ready so I returned the Demo and the new pack arrived in August 2018 for a test run on the living room floor---


    As seen, the finished pack is much bigger and made from red Cordura 500 and yellow spectra---colors chosen for easy visibility during hunting season. The top yellow lid and back pocket are spectra as is the bottom part of the pack. The back pocket holds a huge amount of stuff including tent poles and a third food bag and water filter and pack cover etc etc. And can be left at home if desired. As a long trip comes to an end the big pack shrinks significantly in size.


    I do a test run at home and get my big tent situated on the bottom etc.


    During the course of a trip more outside items can be stuffed inside the pack body resulting in a less bulky pack.


    The bottom straps are long enough if you have to pack up a completely ice encrusted tent and roll it up in your ground cloth to get out of camp---as it won't fit in its usual stuff sack. The whole white wad fits easily on the bottom.


    As mentioned, the top lid comes off and makes a decent shoulder bag/butt pack when you have to pull dayhikes away from camp or do long distance water runs from camp and back.


    This shows the pack with both the tent and the side Thermarest inflatable pad inside the pack bag. It goes from a 95 lb pack to a 30 lb pack 21 days later.

  3. #3

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    did I miss where you listed the weight?

  4. #4

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    My buddy Hoppin John (on right) finally made the plunge and got himself a McHale pack and the following pics are his new arrival.


    John's pack has some spectra back panels including a bottom detachable pocket (first bottom zipper) and the sleeping bag compartment is located under a higher zipper which is covered by a spectra flap.


    John's pack is slightly smaller but includes 3 spectra pouches for small items. Same hipbelt with 2 buckles and same foam back frame panel and shoulder harness.

  5. #5

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    I'P1240196.JPGP1240197.JPGP1240198.JPGI've owned one since 8-'02. Still use it for cold winter loads. He is the best pack builder in my opinion. Ron

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by trailmercury View Post
    did I miss where you listed the weight?
    The weight of the empty pack is around 8 lbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by BIG TIGER View Post
    I'P1240196.JPGP1240197.JPGP1240198.JPGI've owned one since 8-'02. Still use it for cold winter loads. He is the best pack builder in my opinion. Ron
    Nice picks. There's a weird phenom that happens with my McHale---the more I wear it the more I want to put it on---even with significant weight---just the opposite of most packs.

    And I like your old grid fabric---which I believe he has discontinued (everybody wants spectra nowadays). It also looks like you have a detachable back pocket---holding your tent poles.

  7. #7
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    They don't fit my normal trip, but it's top notch gear. If I start hauling monster loads on a regular basis I'll be looking at them for sure. For now an ancient Terraplane is meeting that need. Great looking pack you've got there.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    They don't fit my normal trip, but it's top notch gear. If I start hauling monster loads on a regular basis I'll be looking at them for sure. For now an ancient Terraplane is meeting that need. Great looking pack you've got there.
    Thanks for the comment. I used to use a Terraplane back in the day but found it sagging down on my hips with anything at 75 lbs or above. I still use it for lighter trips when mileage is vital.

  9. #9
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    good timing with the thread, after getting recommended on this site months ago I finally emailed him yesterday and I'm about to take my measurements and everything and get the process rolling. He said I probably wont need that critical mass pack as I'm looking for 50-60lb max on a resupply and even said I'm looking for something good up to 70-75 on a short distance for extra water in dry conditions. I don't think I'll ever need more then that but I'm psyched to get this thing built, I've read through his site and looked at many of the packs he's made and it all looks top notch.


    He also makes custom lightweight packs
    Last edited by LazyLightning; 12-21-2019 at 13:35.
    NoDoz
    nobo 2018 March 10th - October 19th

    I'm just one too many mornings and 1,000 miles behind

  10. #10
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    What is the price on his packs ?

    thom

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by LazyLightning View Post
    good timing with the thread, after getting recommended on this site months ago I finally emailed him yesterday and I'm about to take my measurements and everything and get the process rolling. He said I probably wont need that critical mass pack as I'm looking for 50-60lb max on a resupply and even said I'm looking for something good up to 70-75 on a short distance for extra water in dry conditions. I don't think I'll ever need more then that but I'm psyched to get this thing built, I've read through his site and looked at many of the packs he's made and it all looks top notch.


    He also makes custom lightweight packs
    And so begins The Process---I'm even a little excited for you too. My blue Demo pack would probably be the size you end up with---around 5,000 cubic inches?

    Hopefully you can make a couple phone calls to Dan to finalize plans. If you decide to copy out all the emails you and Dan exchange you'll end up with a moderately thick folder.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheyou View Post
    What is the price on his packs ?

    thom
    You put $500 down for a Demo deposit which is used for the purchase of the final pack. Pack prices range all over the map with the bigger spectra packs costing the most. Shelling out $1,000 for a McHale pack is not uncommon. Full spectra packs come in even higher.

    My current advice to all serious backpackers---and it's something I should of done 30 years ago---is to figure out what kind of pack you'll need for a lifetime of hiking---and then get Dan to make it for you. Unfortunately Mr McHale is approaching his twilight years and so his pack making days might be numbered. Or maybe not.

    Here's another pic of my Demo pack---


  12. #12
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    I've had a couple and currently a LBP38. It carries very well with the P&G bypass system and that option is worth any expense. It is quite amazing.

    My pack weighs no where near Tipi's (it is about 4.5 lbs).

    One thing you will find with a Mchale is the quality of workmanship. There really is no comparison in the marketplace.

  13. #13
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    He,he, family guy.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyGuy View Post
    I've had a couple and currently a LBP38. It carries very well with the P&G bypass system and that option is worth any expense. It is quite amazing.

    My pack weighs no where near Tipi's (it is about 4.5 lbs).

    One thing you will find with a Mchale is the quality of workmanship. There really is no comparison in the marketplace.
    "Worth any expense" is about right---and we're not talking anywhere near Ferrari prices.

    A backpack is the most important piece of gear for a backpacker---by far---as it's the one piece of gear which is used most intimately and therefore the hardest piece of gear to find satisfaction with in a lifetime of hiking---this is most especially true when wanting to hump some serious loads.

    The neat thing about a McHale is you can call Dan McHale and come up with fabric choices, strap colors, volume needs, hipbelt size, colors and configurations as you talk.

    He generally seems to have a couple important rules for his big packs---like using bypass shoulder straps and always requiring a zippered sleeping bag compartment---otherwise the frame bolts cannot be accessed.

  15. #15

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    Some new pics of Hoppin's John's McHale pack---


    Pic shows the drawstring top showing how much gear the pack can hold---if desired.


    And then there's an outside strap which cinches down the top for a smaller pack.


    The big pack with the top lid.

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