Just returned from St. George and examined the equipment you dropped off at
my home. Your Heaps pack is a work of art. No problem putting in the pack
frame unit, just copied the placement from the other pack. It's obvious
you've put some thought into this gear. Nice to have a specific canyoneer's
backpack like these are.
Much nicer than the inadequate little canyoning
packs Petzl and Edelweiss are selling. Much nicer than an ordinary backpack
with grommets. And much more durable appearing/better designed than my old
Vaude canyoning backpack. These Heaps packs appear very rugged and look
like they will last a good long time. I'm going to have some fun with these
this year! Thanks for all the great service.
See you in Heaps (maybe),
Salt Lake City, Utah
Imlay Pack Models
||Heaps - 42 Liters
The Big Kahuna of Canyoneering Packs, the Heaps is a medium-sized backpacking pack built from the ground-up for canyoneering. Big enough for several-day adventures in the Grand Canyon, yet small enough to actually do stuff while it is strapped to your back.
||Kolob - 32 Liters
Perhaps the most versatile of the Imlay packs, the Kolob is the daily workhorse for the canyon leader who must carry substantial gear. Tube-Light Frame, full-wrap hipbelt and three-point shoulder straps carry your stuff in comfort. If you have only one canyon pack, the Kolob is the choice.
||Spry - 28 Liters
Many canyons do not require vast quantities of gear, and the Spry is for these canyons. A little lighter, and a little easier to pull through tight canyons. A good choice, especially for canyoneers of modest stature.
||Mystery - 23 Liters
Simpler, less. While designed for guiding, the Mystery makes a good 'large pack' for small canyons. Built to the same dimensions as the Spry, with NO LID and less armor, it is ideal for low-gear canyons where less is more.
- 15.4 Liters
Make me smile! The Lep is just big enough for what you need, and not big enough for what you don't need. When canyons are dominated by climbing and a pack, any pack, is a substantial encumbrance, the Leprechaun really shines. It is smaller than you are, and glides gracefully through the canyons, just like you do. Ideal for canyons where WAY less is WAY more functional.
WHERE TO BUY
Many canyons do not require vast quantities of gear, but some canyons do, and that is what the Heaps pack is for. The Big Kahuna of canyon packs, the Heaps is a medium-sized backpacking pack built from the ground-up for canyoneering. Big enough for several-day adventures in the Grand Canyon, yet small enough to actually do stuff while it is strapped to your back.
Colors: Desert Orange and Sage Green
Weight: 2000 grams or 4 lb 10 oz
Back in the day, there were two choices in packs. Some people (let's call them "Europeans") made packs out of extremely durable plastic-laminate fabrics which held up really well, but due to the fabric's stiffness were extremely simple. A bad pack that is very durable is still a bad pack - it just means you have to suffer through it for a long time.
Other people (we could perhaps call them "Americans") used packs made of Nylon Cordura with lots of straps, pockets, zippers and sophisticated suspensions that carried really well - but did not last long in the abusive canyon environment.
Imlay Canyon Gear Hybrid Packs select the best attributes of both these systems. Heavy duty laminated PVC fabric forms the armored exterior of the packs. Sophisticated shapes and features are taken from the American tradition of high-performance packs - though we tend to focus on the "carries really well" part of that tradition, rather than following the current backpack fad of fabulous complexity. Our Insta-Drain Design provides lots of places for water to drain out, and eliminates places for water to catch.
Details: Hybrid packs are, in essence, one pack inside another. The interior pack is made of heavy and coarse nylon mesh, which allows water to move along the mesh to the drain holes. The interior pack also keeps your stuff inside, should the canyon chew holes in the exterior of your pack.
The outside of the pack is armored. The sides and bottom are PVC laminate fabric, with drain holes punched in it near the bottom. The bottom panel is backed with foam which adds to the life of the pack. Exterior Pockets are pleated, thus putting (in most places) a triple-layer of 1000 denier Cordura Nylon fabric between the canyon walls and your stuff.
In five years of canyoneering pack-making, I have studied where packs get beat up, and where they don't. The side of the pack that touches your back (usually called the "back") is a part of the pack that does not get beat up. Much. Perhaps it is the foam panel behind the fabric, which makes that panel always smooth, but my experience is that the Cordura back panel holds up well, and is considerably more comfortable than PVC against your back.
The Hybrid design applies differently to different sizes of packs. The 18 oz PVC laminate is considerably heavier than the 11 oz Cordura. Smaller packs, where the weight penalty is less of an issue, get more armor, while the Heaps gets less armor to keep its weight reasonable.
The Heaps's suspension is simple yet sophisticated. Two aluminum tubes provide a rigid vertical structure, which are tied into the pack via eight-inch-tall sheet-plastic panels at the top and bottom. The structure is separated from your back by 3/4" of closed cell foam. The tubes are straight, though some degree of curve is built into the shape of the pack. A sumptuous full wrap-around hipbelt ties the bottom of the pack firmly to your hips. The hipbelt and the shoulder straps are lined with comfy, nylon 3-D mesh.
Of internal frame packs I have made, this is by far the best "ride". The rigidity of the structure is helpful in controlling bounce, an energy-losing effect of flat-bar-based suspensions. The lack of pre-curve in the 'stays' allows the pack to have a wide fit range - helped by the willingness of the foam to develop a 'memory' of your particular shape.
The shape of the Heaps is important to its carry. It is wider than the Kolob Pack, allowing the weight to be carried closer to your back for better balance. It is wider still at the bottom, but less deep as the bottom is sharply angled. Packing something solid into the bottom of the pack helps its carry considerably - on day-trips, this is where my rescue rope goes; on overnights, this is where my drybag-with-sleeping-gear goes. The sweep of the bottom up and out of the way is very helpful on downclimbs, with the big pack on.
Volume and Pockets
The volume of the Heaps body is about 37.2 liters, and the lid, our standard pack lid, is 4.7 liters. Three pleated pockets add to the volume-capacity for the approach, but don't work too well in-canyon (where I suspect you will have a wetsuit and harness on anyway) because things can fall out of them. The pleated back pocket is sized to fit a helmet. Behind the pleated pockets is 13oz Mesh, which helps with drainage.
Inside the pack, a mesh watertank pocket against the back can be useful for holding objects in tight control against your back. I don't like using a watertank in technical canyons, but I often put my waterbottles in the mesh pocket, to keep them tight to my back for best carry, and so I know exactly where they are when I need a drink. For watertank fans, there are slots for the tank-tube to exit above the shoulders. The back foam panel removes and unfolds for those unexpected canyon bivies.
Imlay pack handles are big and easy to grasp, and stout because we canyoneers rappel with the pack, and often need to dangle the pack from the handle. The shoulder straps use a quick-release buckle so that when stuck with the pack on your back, the pack can be easily jettisoned. Not recommended as a regular activity, but once in a while this proves useful.
Inside the pack, a handy "rack" keeps your technical gear handy when needed in-canyon. The gear can be flipped out of the way for packing and unpacking.
FAQ Packs / Heaps Pack
Where are your packs made?
Imlay Packs are made in The Philippines using materials sourced in South Korea.
How is the pack volume calculated?
I used to make a number up, but now they are measured with ping pong balls.
The "Volume" number stated by manufacturers is a way of communicating the volume of the pack, and has traditionally had only a remote attachment to physical accuracy. I chose numbers based on my experience as pack manager at Black Diamond, where we did actually measure pack volumes using plastic balls. In Fall 2010, I bought a set of balls (I know, I know) and actually measured the packs, so the current stated volume is accurate, though it may not reflect the same size as stated volumes from other manufacturers. The stated volume does not include the pleated pockets.
I am "X" tall. Will the Heaps pack fit me?
The Heaps fits well men from about 5'10" to 6'2" who are HWP. Beyond that, the fit is less good. The frame height is 22". Because the suspension does not have a shaped, rigid structure, the fit range is broader than many other packs. Whether it meets your requirements for a good fit is up to you.
I need a bigger pack. Will you make me one?
No, certainly not now, and most likely not in the future.
I made the Heaps as the biggest pack a person could actually do canyoneering with. Our folks in the Grand Canyon certainly push the limits on this, but have found the Heaps pack to be pretty much just right, even for multi-day trips. Pack better, carry less stuff.
My personal opinion is that my person cannot carry a larger pack. But there are people out there much stronger than me, so... My professional opinion is that the market for a larger technical canyoneering pack is very, very small. I do not have the capability to make 'real' packs here in the US, and have no interest in making custom packs, anyway. If you cannot fit what you need for your technical canyoneering adventures into a Heaps Pack (including tying a lot of stuff on the outside), then you should reconsider your 'kit' and carry less stuff.
The zipper on my lid is chewed up. Can I get it fixed? Under warranty?
Fixing zippers does not work, but we do have new lids for sale. Replacement is not covered by our warranty, however, beating your gear up is.
The buckle on my hipbelt broke. Can I get it fixed? Under warranty? Where should I send it?
We can, but if it is just the buckle, it would be great if I can just send you a new buckle. It CAN be installed without unstitching the pack, though it usually takes some time, ingenuity, patience and a pair of needle-nose pliers. If you have access to an industrial sewing machine, it is often easier to slit the stitching that holds the end-of-strap clump with a razor blade, slide a new buckle on and restitch the clump.
What IS the warranty on your packs?
WARRANTY: Imlay Canyon Gear products are warranted against defects in materials and workmanship. We also warrant that canyoneering will beat the crap out of you, your clothing and your gear. If you have a problem with one of our products, please contact us to arrange action.
What "known problems" are there on the Heaps Pack?
On current and recent production, there are a few minor glitches:
- 2007 to 2009, the sternum strap has a whistle on it which is kind of a cheesy little whistle but occasionally useful. But the buckle that the whistle is available on is not a very good buckle, so for 2010 we have gone to the better buckle and dropped the whistle. If your pack sternum strap buckle has broken, please return the pack and I can put on a new buckle.
- 2007 & 2008 - the stitching on the shoulder straps occasionally was not strong enough. If it looks like it is coming out, please send your pack in for reinforcement.
- 2007 & 2008 - the stitching on the lid straps occasionally was not strong enough. Please send the lid in for reinforcement if it looks like the front buckle straps are coming out. For 2009 and 2010, I reinforced the stitching before sending them out. For 2010, bartacks have been added at the factory.
- 2007 to 2011 - How strong is that handle? While I built the handle to be Robust!, there are limits. We've had three of them blow out in-canyon, mostly dropping the full pack a couple of feet onto a leash. For 2010, I changed the design to be stronger, but still... Strong enough for most activities, but if you drop your pack 3 or more feet, when full, onto a static connection, it could blow. Sitting on your pack as a belay seat at a hanging rappel station is not recommended.
Imlay Canyon Gear
PO Box 5532
2625 S State Street
Mount Carmel Utah USA 84755