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Wingnut Gear: a Low-riding Load System
May 24, 2010

I've been pondering low-riding loads lately.

I enjoy a fannypack for my allday ski outings. -- I appreciate the ability to rotate the bag around for snacks and wax. But I dislike tightening and unloosening the buckle every time to do so. And I dislike the sagging load. I pine for suspenders. Actually, I'm usually wearing them but for my knickers. If I added the fannypack to them then I couldn't rotate it!

The low load is sweet cause I move better that way. Center of gravity, and all. It keep my back dryer, too. I sweat up with rucks when I'm moving. However, a narrow ruck might be good -- so I'm now testing a couple Camelbak-type rigs. For even bigger days it's handy to combine Camelbak and fannypack. --One unit for storage of clothes and bigger food items, the other for rotateable quick access.

What might get rid of the need to rotate the pack might be pouches on the waist-straps of a pack. I could have pouches on my shoulderstraps as well. But would these in turn get in the way? I'd like to find out.

This search led me to military surplus concept gear, with the dozen "load bearing vest and belt" options out there. Most put the load on the chest -- too high. But a half dozen options keep it down on the belt. I'm trying to narrow in on something. Right now I found a $30 MOLLE backpack that's mostly a suspender and belt with a bladder pouch on the back. Hmmm! (MOLLE is the swappable pouch military system. It used to be ALICE in Vietnam days.)

What I really need is a less-than-quart-size horizontal pouch on both sides of the waist-strap. These would be for snacks, pizza slices, and waxes. And I'd probably want water-bottle-pouches at the back corners -- they're good for excess hats'n'gloves, too, maybe (with drawstring). (Most mil-pouches are designed for quart canteens. Hmmm. With a grenade on either side. Hmmm.) Then I'd want shoulderstrap pouches about the size of vertical eyeglass containers -- for camera, cellphone, ?. I see they make MOLLE pouches that would do this duty. Then something good for map, compass, GPS, as well! But I don't quite know what that'd be or where it would go. They make official map cases but they're like 8" square and seem like they'd bang and flap around. They make a big fannypack pouch for the rear or medium ones you could swap out for shorter missions. I really like the plug'n'play nature of MOLLE.

I've also realized that the military option must be hugely overbuilt to handle the, what, 50-100 lb loads those dudes carry. ...Heroes! They carry lead. And grenades, explosives, ammo, gallons of water. Whew! ...Heroes!

By contrast, I want to go light. And wimpy. So we'll see what I find.

But I digress... In lieu of introduction... There's an outfit out there that seems to have made just what I'm after!

A pal from the iBOB retro bike culture email list pointed me to They've developed a low-riding load system. They're gearing it toward mtbiking -- even with a forward lean to some of the designs, it seems -- but it should work for anything, I'd think. They have pouches on the "side wings." That should do the trick! Maybe there's a shoulder-strap pouch option, too. I'll see if I can test one someday.

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