Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review > Pusher > The Sack

We don't normally run product reviews.. we review holds.. but we're branching out a little at a time and when you're on the receiving end of an email from Clark stating that "I'm sending you a present in the post" you think... "cool, there's some new Revolution shapes on the way" and then you get this:

You begin to wonder what the hell is going on! Pusher? I thought that they were long dead, lost to the mists of time... setters staring forlornly at a broken hold wishing that they could get another one. It seemed that something was up :)

What is it? "The bastard love child of The Spot and a rope bag" (Pushers words not ours), but strangely enough they're on the mark. The Sack as it's actually named is the BLCOTSAARB. Clark, had paid off Pushers debts and the company was coming back; old classic holds were being remolded and a new line of softgoods was being made for the company. We were sent one of the prototypes so we could give our feedback on the design, how it works, how it fits and if it was ever actually going to hit production. It's nice to be asked to do stuff like this, the spring climbing season was just starting and we were hitting the crags... Clark's timing was spot on, and the bag was exactly what we didn't know that we actually needed :)

Let me explain why we "didn't know we needed this bag". Normally we'd load up back packs / crash pads etc and have lots of different bags mixed about with different people as we went out. Over the years you learn what you need and what you don't need, but still you end up with a rope bag and a backpack or a crash pad stuffed with everything. It sucks, it's a pain in the ass to carry and no-one really wants to hike for a couple of hours with an 70 liter backpack and a pad under their arm. The Sack actually means that we can take... get this... ONE BAG instead of loads of bags to the crag.... and our crash pad that can be carried in turns by the two other people. That's a pretty significant amount of clutter and needless bags for you and for the other users of the crag, and if you're just sport or trad climbing you're looking at one of these bags for two people.

Testing for this product started by reading the instructions that were sent out with it, as usual they were pretty explicit, so explicit that there were stipulations to questions that people may have asked to whomever was rocking the Sack. Why would people ask? Because this was before Pusher was actually relaunched as a brand; so it was a semi-secret. The helpful answers to questions like "What does Pusher mean" and "Where can I get one" had answers like "Oh, it says Pusher, I;ve never noticed" or "Me no speaky english" these handy notes in hand we hit the crag / bike / public transport and our testing began

The specs for The Sack are pretty crazy, so we checked them out and then made a check list of stuff that we'd expect from something that has features like these:
"When it's open, The Sack offers 16 square feet (1.5 square meters) of space to lay out your rope and all your gear. When it's closed up and ready for travel, it offers a massive 4300 cubic inches (70 cubic liters) of internal volume. That's enough space to cram in two 70 meter ropes, a full rack, shoes, water, snacks, small pets and children, etc. If you're not packing around that much stuff, The Sack cinches down to a minimal 1900 cubic inches (30 cubic liters) for smaller loads."

Packing up The Sack couldn't be easier: Fold the right and left sides, hook up the buckles, hook the top and bottom flaps together, then hit the road.

For short strolls to nearby routes, just hook the top and bottom flaps together, grab the side handles and carry it like a shopping bag. Way better than dragging your rope bag in the dirt, right?

To put The Sack in rope bucket mode, extend the side buckles, then hook the bottom flap to the webbing loop on the inside of the fold. You may want to fold the top flap down for full access. Since a bucket takes up less space, this is a great way to feed out rope at small, uneven belay stances or crowded sport crags.

Inside The Sack there's 1/4" (6 mm) of quality closed-cell Crosslink foam. The foam gives a little more structure to The Sack when it's in Pack or Bucket mode and offers a wide, comfortable place to lace up your boots or just chill out. 1/4" ain't thick enough? Just open up the Velcro seam and cram in as much extra foam as you want.

The backpack section of The Sack has a comfortable 3" wide shoulder strap. The strap is removable, so you can raise it or lower it depending on your height. Cinch down the metal buckles on the strap, hook up the 2" hip belt, and you're outta there.

That's pretty mental right! That's a list for a Transformer, not for a rope bag! If it says it does all of this stuff the question you're going to want to know the answer to is "does it do all of these things?" well.... let me talk you through what we did with the bag...

Size: 70 litres. Well we have a 70 litre backpack so we filled it up to the seams with stuff... mainly lots of clothes and towels. Once we had our 70 liters of stuff we took it all out of the back pack and then filled up the Sack with the same amount of stuff.
We can actually get more stuff in here if we really wanted to

Carrying all the usual crag stuff: The bag has two (not one) tie in loops for ropes and hooking areas for your rack of gear.... you should be able to fit all the stuff you'd normally take to the crag into this bag right and still be organized after you've hiked in? Right?
Two ropes... yup. Shoes... yup... food for the day... yup... camping stove and gas... yup... extra clothes... yup... rack of gear with all the cams on it... yup! We took everything we needed for a day for two or three people in this one bag, so that meant the big ol crash pad we had to haul around as well was carried in turns by two people.

But I'm small, it looks too large for me: It fits us really well, if you're a girlie then just move the shoulder straps down and you should be fine and it should fit you really well. Noodles has been using it daily on his bike and he's been carrying crazy loads of food, cat litter, potatoes and has been riding around town... in his words "I've been purposely putting the heavy stuff on one side and have been trying to make the Velcro at the top slip. The loads are uncomfortable to carry and it's not been that bad. From full racks of gear to riding my bike (and I ride my bike like I stole it) the bag hasn't dropped anything out of the bottom (one of my concerns with the design) and it's kept food surprisingly dry when I've been riding in the rain"
RESULT: Good for most body types unless you're super small. We're pretty sure if you're that small then you could ask for some custom sizes if you ask nicely. Eve moves the top strap down and is fine carrying a heavy load to the crag...

What about the stuff I don't want to loose: There are top pockets that are zippered for your stuff
RESULT: The pockets are ok, they're on the big flaps at the top. But they're easy to access, but you do have to be slightly careful as if you put your phone in there and forget you could step upon it :(

More foam?: We've actually put waaay more foam in the pad than most people would really need. Remember... this isn't a crash pad in any way shape or form! It's for keeping your stuff organized when you're on the way to the wall... it keeps your ass dry when you're getting your shoes on and it does add a little bit of protection when you're going for the first clip. Our Sack currently has 3/4 inch of foam in it. It adds a little more structure to the whole shebang.
Keeps your stuff clean and dry, organizes it and has a little bit of protection for if you hit the ground... and remember it's not a replacement for a full on crash pad so don't use it as such! The padding is more for protecting you from sharp rocks when you're putting on your shoes more than anything else and it does keep the rain off of your head if you get caught out in a shower

OVERALL: Would we have brought this bag? Well not really, it's just a rope bag right? Nah! It's something we all agree on... IT'S THE ROPE BAG, it's what you actually need, but like us you just didn't know it yet :)

Sometimes something comes along that is just amazing, the Sack is one of those things... shame it took Pusher coming back from the grave for something like this to happen... sure it could have gone under the Revolution brand... but Pusher has always been known for amazing shapes and amazing products. They took a hiatus for a while there but they're back, classic shapes are coming back and new products are hitting the market.

We've used this bag for huge loads, small loads, for chilling in the park and even a rain shelter when it was needed. Do we love it? Yeah we do, it's something that is currently being passed about the crew and is being abused by all of us... so far there's no flaws and it's holding up really well.

The Sack has changed little from the original prototype that we received, but there are a few changes that should be noted:
  • Zippered pockets: There was a complaint about the pocket on the top flap. The pocket opening was facing the ground. So now there are 2 independent pockets on the top flap.
    One side of the pocket, which would face the ground when The Sack is open, closes with Velcro. Velcro won't rust or crack or clog like a zipper might against the dirt and mud. The "up" side of the flap has a zippered opening, easier to open and close than Velcro, away from the elements.
    Although both pockets are placed on the top flap, there is a fabric wall between them, so they are 2 independent pockets.
  • People complained that they could not load The Sack from the top, like a standard backpack. So the webbing loop that is used to connect the bottom flap while in Bucket Mode. It has been repositioned and it's longer...
    So if you want to load The Sack from the top (although that's not really the intended design), just hook the bottom flap to the "Bucket" loop. When it's all filled up, hook that strap to the top flap.
That's it, Pusher is back, the old shapes are back and there are some new toys on the market. They do a bunch of R&D and listen before they release anything new to the market and lets face it that's something to be applauded! Check out The Sack, we didn't know we needed it til we used it... you might the same thing, you never know!!

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