I bought a used WildThings Icesac. This is a technical climbing pack, of roughly 3200 ci. It is medium, which is sized for people 5'7" to 5'10" and fits a 19.5 inch back. It doesn't have any frame, but there is a pretty robust foam back pad that can be removed if needed. It has two 'tool tubes' designed to carry ice axes and the like. Between them is a place to strap on crampons. Skis are designed to be strapped to the sides of the pack. There are gear loops on the hipbelt (which isn't removable unlike the newer icesac's). There are 3 compression straps on either side of the pack. The top lid has two compartments and is removable. The outside zipper is pretty small making access to the outside compartment a bit difficult. It secures via 2 buckles and some velcro. I don't really like the velcro attachment of the top lid.

Back view

icesac back icesac

This is a view of the back of the pack. Many features of the pack are visible. The central area of the pack is reinforced with red fabric and has crampon straps to secure a pair of crampons on the back of the pack. On either side of the crampon straps are 'tool tubes' which are used to secure ice tools. There is a buckle at the bottom of each tube which is used to secure the tool. There are two loops in the center of the pack, above the reinforced area. Perhaps the bigger loop is for a handle, or haul loop.

Tool holder

icesac tool

This is the tool tubes, holding an ice axe. The point of the axe goes towards the center of the pack, to minimize pointy things sticking out from the pack. The ice tool heads are secured with the side release buckles below the tubes.

Pack extension

icesac skirt

There is a 10 inch long pack extension. I just noticed there are two small rips in it, one 1/2 inch long, and the other 3/4 inches long. The material is of medium weight.

Pack side

icesac side

This is the side of the pack. The lid of the pack is on. There are three compression straps. There is a smaller strap, which could be used to secure a ski or ski pole. There is a reinforced 2 inch wide piece of webbing that a ski could be secured under. The bottom of the pack is reinforced. There was a small hole, which I repaired near the bottom of the pack.

Pack front

icesac front

This is the front of the pack, i.e. the part which rests against your back. The lid is on the pack. The lid attaches to the pack with two adjustable black straps, as well as a piece of velcro that goes across the pack. Next to the lid, is a haul strap. Below that, is a piece of 2 inch wide webbing. This is where the top of the shoulder straps attach to, as well as the ends of the lid straps. The shoulder straps are thinly padded and have daisy chains along their entire length. There is a sternum strap which can be removed and moved up or down. Not visible, is the bottom of the shoulder straps which attach to the hip belt near the pack body in a robust fashion. The shoulder straps have load transfer straps which attach to pack. Two of the compression strap buckles as well as the webbing that secure them to the pack are partially worn through. It doesn't effect functionality.

Pack hip belt

icesac hip

This is the hip belt. It is pretty similar in construction to the shoulder straps. It has a gear loop on either side. It has a strap on the hip belt to pull the pack in close to your body. The hip belt is sewn to the pack.

Pack lid

icesac lid icesac lid outside icesac lid inside

This is the pack lid. It secures to the pack with two 1 inch straps as well as a strip of velcro. There ate two fabric loops near the exterior zipper. I am not sure what they are for. The exterior zipper is a bit small, making it a bit difficult to put big things inside. There is a picture of the exterior zipper half open. There is a second compartment in the lid, on the underside of it. There is a picture of it, with the zipper half open. You can see the heavy coating on the underside flaps of the lid.

Pack frame

icesac frame

The icesac has a doubled thickness of foam pad which forms the frame of the pack and acts as a pad against your back. The pad is secured in a slot in the fabric of the pack, which zips shut, completely enclosing the pad. I thought about adding a piece of polyethylene plastic sheet to make the frame more substantial.

Pack interior

icesac interior

The foam framesheet go inside a pocket inside the pack. The is visible as the zipper in the foreground of the picture. Of note, is the heavy coating inside the pack. I have never seen such a robust fabric coating used for a pack. I have folded the skirt outside the pack to make the picture clearer.

Pack repairs

  repair inside icesac
  repair exterior icesac
  repair bottom

I have made some repairs to the pack. The first picture shows two cuts in the inside fabric used to secure the foamsheet. I fixed them with SeamGrip. The next picture shows the exterior of the pack on the side, next to the bottom. There was a small rip. I fixed it with SeamGrip (great stuff). The next picture is the bottom of the pack where framesheet bottom of the pocket attaches to the frame. The seam failed, so I repaired it with #69 spun nylon thread (really strong stuff). It isn't under significant stress. I have not repaired two small rips in the skirt extension, as I just noticed them. One is about 1/2 inch long and the other is about 3/4 inch long. SeamGrip would do a good job to fix them.

Pack summary

The material of the pack is 820 denier laminated ballistic nylon with a very robust waterproofing coating on the inside. It looks like new on the inside. All of the straps, reinforcements, and the like are of very robust construction. The pack is clearly designed to take a beating. Compared to my Voyager pack of similar size, it is stronger and more useful, and seems to be of vastly superior design. Like many packs, the buckles are often sewn onto the pack, and if they break, they would be difficult to easily replace. The padding in the hipbelt and shoulder straps is quite minimal, and if I had a choice, I would increase it a bit. There is no good place to put a hydration sack, but I suppose it could be stuffed against the back pad, and there is a zipper to allow access to the back pad.

I was fixing a 1/2 inch long rip, and I removed the foam pad and turned the pack inside out. I was a bit surprised to find that the seam securing the bottom of the pad had completely failed. I could see all of the thread, but it had all come apart from the seam. It isn't a mission critical seam, but I was quite surprised, considering the robustness of the rest of the pack. There are also a few small places where the waterproofing isn't well attached to the pack, but only at the bottom of the pack. I think it is likely due to sharp things poking at it. All waterproofing does eventually wear out though. I also noticed 4 rips in the liner that contains the foam back pad. Not a critical location, but I repaired them anyway using SeamGrip, a great rip fixer. These rips are why I don't like really light weight fabric anywhere in a pack.

According to which keeps old copies of websites, WildThings said in April 2000 they were using 840 denier laminated ballistic nylon and the weight was 2lbs 14oz. In December 2000 they were using 840 denier laminated ballistic nylon and the weight was 3lbs 4oz. In 2002 they were using VX-21 fabric and the weight was 3lbs 4oz. In 2008 they were using VX-21 fabric and the weight was 2lbs 15oz. Clearly, they are a bit confused about the pack weight.

I repaired all the rips I could find, and the seam that failed. It is a very robust pack with lots of life left in it. I think it will last longer than the new WildThings Icesac with the lighter VX-21 fabric. This pack isn't for the folks that cut the ends off their toothbrushes to save weight, but for people that want a pack to last for years even if they abuse it.

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