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Reviews > Packs > Pack Accessories > Vaucluse Gear Pack Frame > Test Report by joe schaffer

Vaucluse Gear Cool-Dry Pack Frame

Test Report by Joe Schaffer
INITIAL REPORT - March 7, 2022
FIELD REPORT - April 9, 2022
LONG TERM REPORT - May 30, 2022

NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 74
TORSO: 17 1/2 in (44.5 cm)

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); snowshoeing a mile or so (1.6 km) towing a sled.


product Product: Cool-Dry Frame 6

Manufacturer:  Vaucluse Gear

    Website: ""
Product purpose: Allow air circulation between pack and back

Features: lightly edited from website
    Honeycomb design flexes to shape of back
    Non-mesh, non-absorbent material
    Soft, flexible, recycled TPU-approved thermo-rubber
    Universal attachment
    High elongation at break
    High tensile strength

    Weight: 6 oz (170 g)

    Dimensions: 15 x 9 x 1.4 in (38 x 23 x 3 cm)
depth based on 0.75 in (1.9 cm) spacers
    Colors: White, Blue, Green, Pink, Orange

      Sizing: One-size unisex; fits torso 15-19 in (38-48cm)

    Origin: USA design and manufacture

    Care Instructions: None indicated

    Pricing: presently US $54.95

    Warranty: Satisfaction or purchase price refund

    Received: 3/3/22

My Specs: (as assembled) 
    Weight: 6 3/4
oz (193 g)
    Length: 16 in (40.6 cm)
    Width: 9 in (22.9 cm)
    Depth: 1 9/16 in (4 cm)

My Description:
    This p
roduct creates space between a backpack and the wearer to allow maximum air flow between the two surfaces for evaporation of perspiration and a cooler ride. The piece is two matching layers of mega-honeycomb separated by 20 plastic spacers. Each honeycomb cell is about 2 1/8 x 2 5/8 in ID (5.4 x 6.7 cm), comprised of flexible synthetic 'strands' 3/16 in (5 mm) on top and 1/16 in (2 mm) on bottom in a type of I-beam about 3/16 in (5 mm) high. Three columns of six cells comprise a layer's main structure, with the columns divided by five triangles each, about 1 1/8 in x 1 7/8 in (2.9 x 4.6 cm). The middle column near-center honeycomb cell has three cross bars at center about 1/8 in (3 mm) wide. The entire piece of about 144 square in (0.09 sq m) has about 25 square in (0.02 sq m) of contact = about 83% non-contact space.

    The assembly attaches to the pack via two 'loops' at the top which go over the pack's shoulder straps at the top of the pack. Attachment happens either by undoing the loop anchors (which my fingers don't seem to be able to manage); or the pack's shoulder straps, feeding each through one loop. Vendor's product video shows loops on each layer; product arrived with loops on one layer. The other layer does have accommodation for loop attachment.

    The unit came fully assembled and with four extra spacers, deftly packaged in a custom cardboard box.

    Over the last decade I've chosen
internal frame packs 34% of my backpacking days. Internals fit directly against the back, providing the greatest amount of stability; and gravity the least opportunity of leverage. One of the trade-offs of such close contact is near elimination of air flow. They tend to accumulate perspiration and can be hot even on not-hot days.

    With that in mind, I'm expecting to feel a cooler ride with the Cool-Dry frame insert, though I believe the 'eliminates sweat' claim to be marketing optimism. What the test may determine is whether the incremental decrease in perspiration accumulation and heat build-up more than compensates for the additional weight of the product; and perhaps more importantly, the additional grasp of gravity on a load situated that much
farther outboard.

    Other points of observation will include how well the construction manages to remain in its original configuration. All photos on the website show the product with day packs, presumably never more than about 20 lb (9 kg). As a backpacker I'll be squishing it under loads typically nearly twice that, and hopefully even a bit more if I can wrangle some longer gambits this year as I did last season. Will be interesting to note how the product's attachment behaves in the process of getting a heavy backpack mounted. I like to move camp nearly every day, an effort generally exhausting any energy reserves that might otherwise encourage day hiking.


Field Conditions:pack

    1) Apr 4, 2022: Garin Regional Park, California, USA. 3 mi (5 km), 1 hr; 15 lb (7 kg); 345 - 920 ft (105 - 280 m);Clear, calm, 65 F (18 C); day hike.

     The device attached easily to a Medium Gregory Palisade 80. I wouldn't want to have to muster the dexterity to unhook and re-hook the attaching loops on a cold day or in low light--the two fasteners are very small and require precise fitting. The frame is about an inch (2.5 cm) longer than would be perfect, as it overhangs the lumbar pad in the hip belt. This was no issue, though, on this hike's very light load.

    With no stabilizer at the bottom, the frame went cattywampus as I slid the backpack into place. Again, no issue with a light load as it's not that hard to get the frame re-situated before buckling up. Once the pack was all strapped, there's no movement in the frame--it stays put. The pack also stayed put--no wobbling around. If in heavier us
shirte the device proves worthwhile, the bit of fuss at mounting the pack would be easily overshadowed by the frame's ventilation merit.

    At first it fe
lt quite different from what I'm used to, which is a fairly smooth backboard. After 15 minutes or so I wouldn't be able to say it's any better or worse for how it feels on the back. Nothing pinched or poked. Pressure seemed evenly displaced.

    The difference in heat buildup became evident almost immediately, though. My back was not getting hot as it otherwise would, and it stayed much more comfortable than I would have expected. On any day in an hour I'd have a damp shirt under the pack. For today's test I wore a cotton tee, thinking that to be the most rigorous testing of the device's ability to keep things dry. The picture shows the outline of the frame, where the shirt is wet in contact with the frame and dry everywhere else. I would have to rate this as impressive short-hike performance in keeping the shirt dry.


Field Conditions:
    2) May 3-8, 2022:
Stanislaus National Forest, California, USA. 47 lb lv wt (21 kg), 11 mi (18 km) mostly trail; 4 nights, 2 camps; 5,900-7,000 ft (1,800-2,100 m); hiking temps 35-74 F (2-23 C), warm & sunny to gusty snow showers.

    Test 1 day-hiked weight about 20 lb (9 kg) lighter than a usual trip load. Hike 2 tallied about a dozen lb (5 kg) heavier due to its being a relatively short, easy trek suitable for
dry shirtputting the wear and tear on hwet shirteavier gear.

    Hiking temps s
tarted off at the warmest of the trip and a light breeze. I got to our first site at four mi (6.5 k) with an unexpectedly very dry shirt, and most notably, a dry back. I could actually feel the cooling air wafting through the space between my back and the pack. Though many variables may make the comparison unworthy of much note, I (purple) was dry and my partner's (blue) shirt back was wet. My conclusion is that the Vaucluse insert definitely keeps things drier and cooler. On these points I rate the Cool-Dry insert at 100%.

    Routinely not c
arrying so much weight, it may not be fair to say that I found the insert somewhat less comfortable than with a lighter load or with no insert. On the level and downhill I could abide the 'rough' feel of the device. On uphill strains a certain point of the device poked a middle vertebra enough to become mildly vexing. Had the annoyance not been alleviated by frequent variations in declivity I would have found it necessary to surrender to it and remove the device. I was also mildly perturbed at finding a pill in my polyester shirt, the first to develop in a dozen or so outings. Yes, polyester pills readily and since the shirt isn't new, perhaps it would have anyway.

    I didn't feel any loss of pack stability with the Cool-Dry insert. As I began to tire, though, I felt gravity's greater tug with the load being pushed farther outboard. I felt less stable, and more so as the miles wore on. Those moments of having to step high to get over a log or grunt out a longer stride over a streamlet were met with some discomfiture as the weight wanted to topple me off balance. Part of that would be due to less experience carrying so much tonnage, but however much that weight is the issue, the device does leverage it. Maybe eventually muscle memory would develop to compensate, or maybe it was all in my head, but balance in critical moments seemed more uncertain with the device in place.

    The hike out was so cold and blustery that I did not want any cooling effect. Without the Cool-Dry insert and in finger-stinging chill, my shirt back was wet when I got to the car. Quite a difference from starting the trip in temps about 40 degrees higher (22 C) and arriving in camp dry.

    Even with the overweight load I did not have difficulty mounting the pack. Cool-Dry did slide out of place, and without any trouble I was able to get it properly situated. I don't know how much strain the attaching loops may have been forced to endure in the procedure, but there remains no sign of injury to them.

Quick Shots:
   a) more suitable to light loads
    b) easy attachment

    c) greatly increases air flow for cool & dry ride
    d) bottom goes sideways on mounting the backpack
Thank you Vaucluse and for the opportunity to test this product. Test completed.

Read more reviews of Vascluse Gear gear
Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

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