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  1. #1
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    Dakine Builder's Pack-First Use

    I was on the fence about ordering a Builder's Pack since last fall. Finally decided to go for it. I'd like to offer my impressions to help anyone else who may be trying to decide.

    Here's the manufacturer's site:

    http://www.dakine.com/bike/bike-packs/builders-pack/

    The reason I decided to order the pack is that I'm responsible for maintaining an 11-mile trail at Blue Mound State Park in Wisconsin. Almost the entire trail is under tree cover and we have had a lot of trees blown down in the last couple of years. I've walked a lot of miles of trail carrying our Stihl 280 chainsaw. It's a great saw with an 18" bar, and it only weighs a little over 12 lbs (minus bar and chain). Probably more like 14 lbs with the bar, chain, bar sleeve and spare chain.

    But that 14 lbs feels like a lot more after several hours. It's heavy and awkward enough that I have to keep changing hands. That makes it impractical to carry a long handle tool with me. It might be possible to attach something to my Camelback, but the prospect of tripping over a tool handle while carrying a chain saw is not something I care to risk.

    The Dakine Builder's Pack solves both problems (with some limits). I've seen a picture of it with a saw that has what appears to be 4' long and an engine to match. I believe that picture is for real, but my reality is that getting the pack onto my back by myself with my medium size saw is already a challenge. After several hours, I started to get forearm cramps while swinging the pack up on my back.

    Additionally, it takes a bit of practice to figure how to use the attached straps to secure the saw correctly. The saw pocket is an amazing piece of soft engineering, but it does not automatically secure your saw correctly for you. The straps kept coming loose on me until I figured out that placing the buckles over a corner of the saw is a no-no. The buckles have to lie in a straight pull or they won't hold.

    The long handle tool sleeves have a strap across the bottom that allows you to secure a tool with a handle up orientation. That is a vast improvement over having the handle dangle around your legs. It worked great with the light style of Rogue Hoe we own, but the sleeve was too small to accept the ferrule of the heavier ones. This handle up orientation could be very hazardous on a bike. I caught the tool handle on overhead branches several times.

    Additionally, it's not clear to me that the strap would work to hold shovel or McLeod without some kind of modification to the tool. This limitation may be only my own ignorance though.

    The bottle pockets are a nice touch although I was not able to zip all the way over a large fuel bottle. Even with the zipper partly open the bottle felt secure and in fact stayed in place.

    The Builder's Pack greatly improves my ability to carry and walk with a chainsaw. That is an enormous aid to me in performing my trail maintenance tasks. This bag is well worth the money. But it's important to understand that having that extra weight on your back will have a negative effect on your ability to perform other trail maintenance.

    Every time I bend down to pick up a branch I have to now lift the saw weight as well as the weight of my upper body. It's not bad for a while, but the added load does add up over a day.

    The pack's belt is very comfortable to walk with, and helps take some of the load off of my shoulders. But it catches on the belt that holds up my pants when I bend over (to pick up something off the trail), then pushes my pants down toward my feet. So I either have to wear my pants lower than I'm really comfortable with, or unfasten the pack's belt and readjust my pants every once in a while. This would be a problem with any kind of back pack. I certainly have experienced it with my Camelback, which has a very minimal waist belt. This might be a place where suspenders would help.

    Working with a Rogue Hoe or probably any trail tool while wearing the Builder's Pack loaded with a saw becomes exhausting very quickly. It's not a problem with the pack design, it's just the extra load makes it awkward and tiring to use my body's core muscles to help swing the tool.

    If it's not a problem with the Builder's Pack then why mention it? Because that's part of the job I need to get done. The Dakine Builder's Pack is an excellent piece of equipment and in my opinion is well worth the money. But don't buy it with the idea that you will have the ability to move along the trail chopping lots of weeds as you go. This pack brings me a lot closer to being able to perform a one-pass maintenance walk through, but for areas with lots of weeds or branches too big to kick off the trail, I need to take it off to get the job done.

    There is a definite amount of time and energy involved in taking the pack off and putting it back on. That's a great trade off when I'm trying to cover a lot of trail in a spring clean up. But I'm pretty sure that when I switch over to clearing a new trail corridor that it won't be. On days when I'm making a new trail, the Builder's Pack will probably get left behind.

    I do not work for Dakine or for any other bike-related company for that matter.

    Walt

  2. #2
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    What size person are you ?

  3. #3
    Takw/agranofsalt
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    Nice write-up. I own three Dakine bags; an Apex, a backpack and an overnight bag and I am thoroughly impressed with their quality and design.

    And no, I don't work for them either

  4. #4
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    Walt, Why don't you use a bob trailer? I have considered the backpack also but really question if I want a chainsaw with a 20" blade on my back.

    Chris
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  5. #5
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    Medium

    Quote Originally Posted by shishku
    What size person are you ?
    I'm 5' 8" tall and about 155 lbs.

    Walt

  6. #6
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    Trail difficulty

    Quote Originally Posted by smilycook
    Walt, Why don't you use a bob trailer? I have considered the backpack also but really question if I want a chainsaw with a 20" blade on my back.

    Chris
    I don't think I would get very far at Blue Mound with a BOB trailer. The trails are tight, rocky and there are a bunch of stream bed crossings. Not to mention several steep climbs that are difficult to make without a load. I'm not sure I can ride a lot of these with a pack either. Your trails may be different.

    Walt

  7. #7
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    Walt,

    I also work on Wisco trails (HPT in La Crosse) - just ordered a builders pack too.

    I was looking for some type of fuel bottle to use with the pack... What brand/size are you using?

    I found one from Primus - but I'm not sure if it will fit in the pack?
    Primus - 1.5L
    http://www.backcountrygear.com/catal...il.cfm/PRM2540

    (We are currently hefting around a 1 gal plastic gas can, and another one for bar oil. total PITA.)

    Thanks,
    --Dan L

  8. #8
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Thanks for posting this up Walt, it looks great.

    I see it has a waist strap, but does it have a strap at chest height connecting the shoulder straps?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilycook
    Walt, Why don't you use a bob trailer? I have considered the backpack also but really question if I want a chainsaw with a 20" blade on my back.

    Chris
    I have a now used my builder bag and would have to agree with Walt that after a little trial and error, its really is a well designed bag. I have Stihl 250 with a 16" blade, and I was able to ride some pretty tough trails without the blade hitting my helmet. I did walk some rock gardens because I was a little creeped out by my center of gravity shifting, but the bag was solid. I also was using it last week on a project and rode both a ATV and a Ditch Witch 650 with it on. I certainly wasn't moving dirt with the 650 at the time, but the bag was really stable while I was shifting between work sites. Our Club has a BOB set up for the saw too but I think its only going to get used now when I need to carry a Pulaski and a Mcloud as well.
    And yes, there is a sternum strap. the waist straps have really handy compartmentson the belt which I am able to have my clino in one and left over easter candy in the other. I also used the nail bag to carry my saw tools and wedges.

  10. #10
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    This Size...

    Quote Originally Posted by DanL
    Walt,

    I also work on Wisco trails (HPT in La Crosse) - just ordered a builders pack too.

    I was looking for some type of fuel bottle to use with the pack... What brand/size are you using?

    I found one from Primus - but I'm not sure if it will fit in the pack?
    Primus - 1.5L
    http://www.backcountrygear.com/catal...il.cfm/PRM2540

    (We are currently hefting around a 1 gal plastic gas can, and another one for bar oil. total PITA.)

    Thanks,
    --Dan L
    This (largest) size fuel bottle fits in the bottle sleeves:

    http://www.msrgear.com/stoves/fuelbottle.asp

    I think I have the 33 oz fuel bottle (33 oz = 975 mL). Your bottle can go into the main pocket instead of the sleeve, but I don't think you will be happy. The saw will probably not ride well over the bottle unless you carefully pack other stuff in the bag to match the thickness of the bottle.

    How much cutting are you going to do? I have run my saw intermittently for an 8 hour day starting with a full tank and a single 33 oz backup. It would not be enough to clear dozens of trees blown down by a tornado, but I've cleared trail corridor all day with this set up.

    You could even bring a second fuel bottle if you can manage your water supply without using the second bottle pocket. I'm thinking that a medium water bottle would fit in the top pack pocket, or you can even use a Camelback bladder in one of the main pockets-it would not have the same "lumpiness" as a bottle.

    I use the smallest size fuel bottle for bar oil and have not yet run out on the trail.

    Walt

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy
    I don't think I would get very far at Blue Mound with a BOB trailer. The trails are tight, rocky and there are a bunch of stream bed crossings. Not to mention several steep climbs that are difficult to make without a load. I'm not sure I can ride a lot of these with a pack either. Your trails may be different.

    Walt
    Don't get me wrong I do walk some tough sections, but a BOB trailer can really excel on rocky and tight trails once you learn how to ride with it.
    Live to ride!

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  12. #12
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    Walt,

    Chainsaw isn't usually a problem - Trimmers are... We usually trim back the weeds and overgrowth off the trails 2-3 times a year and usually have to refill at least once or twice. But I won't have to worry about packing a chainsaw when using the trimmer.

    By the way. Nice job on the trails at BlooMounds! It's probably my second favorite place to ride.

    --Dan

  13. #13
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    A follow up

    I did some more trail work yesterday using the Builder's Pack. A couple of things became apparent with regards to my earlier post.

    I had a criticism about having the pack's waist strap force my pants down every time I straightened up after having bent over to pick something up. Yesterday I found that I could use my Rogue Hoe to do most of the work clearing small sticks off of the trail. I didn't have to bend over much at all, and my pants stayed in place better. Plus the Rogue Hoe was readily available for chopping weeds.

    I also noted that the Builder's Pack plus a medium size chain saw is somewhat difficult to swing up onto my back. The problem was that my support arm would start to cramp while the free arm fumbled around trying to find the loose strap. I found a better way yesterday. I don't have a good way to photograph this so bear with my explanation.

    I start by standing the pack up, straps facing me. I plan to swing the pack up over my left shoulder. I cross my wrists, right over left and left palm up, right palm down. In one motion I swing the pack up onto my left shoulder and bring my right arm up over my head. In this way the problem of trapping the non-support strap is eliminated, it's already in my hand.

    People who are backpackers are probably already familiar with this trick.

    Walt

  14. #14
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    What about the part where you... "do the Hokey-Pokey and you turn yourself around"?

    :-P

  15. #15
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    Thanks for the write-up Walt.
    I'd hit it, but I bruise like a peach.

  16. #16
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    Walt, thanks for taking the time to write this up. I've been considering a Trail Builder Pack.

  17. #17
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    Anybody ever try the Husqvarna chainsaw backpack? It's like 1/5 the price of the Dakine pack...


    http://www.husqvarna.com/us/forest/a...rna-back-pack/

  18. #18
    VP/ Terrain Designer
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    I own a Dakine builders pack; and it regularly carries my 372XP Husky with 28inch bar. I have had no issues with the saw securing straps, coming loose. When my pack is fully loaded with saw, fuel, oil, wedges, axe, pulaski, saw tools, protective gear, snacks, water, and first aid kit; it weighs a scant 65-70lbs. But considering how hard it is to get all that equipment out to the build location by other means; the Dakine builders pack is my prefered method of transport.
    Braun Enterprises LLC, Building Cool Stuff

  19. #19
    VP/ Terrain Designer
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim250
    Anybody ever try the Husqvarna chainsaw backpack? It's like 1/5 the price of the Dakine pack...


    http://www.husqvarna.com/us/forest/a...rna-back-pack/

    And it works 1/5th as well as the Dakine Builders Pack.
    Braun Enterprises LLC, Building Cool Stuff

  20. #20
    I build my own.
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    I've been using a Dakine Builders Pack for about a year now. I don't have a lot of experience with high end backpacks. Usually I use my kids hand me downs bought at Walmart. The thing I liked best about the Dakine pack was the amount of weight I could put in it and carry for many miles. I'm a prospector as well as a trail builder and I sometimes carry a pick and a sledgehammer. The back pad and straps are miles beyond the cheap packs I used to use.

    I wouldn't want to try doing trail maintenance with a full pack on but it gets my gear out to where I'm building. I use a small garden type wheelbarrow when I'm doing maintenance sweeps. I can easily lift a 2 cu. ft. wheelbarrow full of tools over any obstacles I can't wheel it over.

  21. #21
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    I also own a Dakine Builder pack.

    I really enjoy this bag. Sizing is perfect. The nails bag is a brillant idea. Well built. Strong enough to hold a medium-sized chainsaw and buch of smaller things.

    A Camelback sleeve would be a nice addition. Currently, my 3l bladder is always getting crunched at the bottom of my bag as I empty it, which make the drinking tube too short.

    When I just go flagging, I always carry a small hatchet on my belt and never felt the bag to be an issue. I'm 5'10"/175lbs.

    When I design trails, I usually attach my iPod on one side and the GPS on the other. A GPS/cellphone/iPod pocket in front would be a really nice addition too. Maybe one on each shoulder strap?

    Finally, the last thing that should be added to this pack is a rain coat that can be hidden in a small pocket in the bottom part, like most expedition pack have. This thing get heavy when totally wet!

  22. #22
    humber river advocate
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    comfy pack, easy to carry my saw, axe, wedges, helmet, chaps etc with it.

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  23. #23
    i like rocks
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    Quote Originally Posted by NastyNick
    I own a Dakine builders pack; and it regularly carries my 372XP Husky with 28inch bar.
    i was just about to ask if it would carry a 372... using one of the oregon rw bars? love mine.
    Tim M Hovey

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