A number of companies have been working on modular backpacks and messenger bags that can grow and adjust to suit different trips and purposes. One designer seems to feel they haven't been taking things far enough. His new RukSak hangs 10 different modules on a multi-day backpack, making for dozens of different configurations and uses.
On his final military tour in the Middle East, RukSak creator John Hubbel worked on a special anti-terrorism team. His missions ranged from quick operations that were completed in an afternoon to longer, multi-day commitments. Equipment needs varied accordingly, but Hubbel's backpack always remained the same, something that proved problematic in the field.
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Once back in the United States, Hubbel decided to tackle the one-size-suits-all shortcomings and designed a new type of backpack with military usage in mind. But after some insight from his wife, realized it could be quite useful to general outdoor users, too.
The base of the RukSak is a 60.5-liter (3,700 cu in) alpine backpack with carbon fiber suspension system. You can use the base pack on its own, but if you require more room or organization, the RukSak has 10 individual accessory pouches that bring total capacity up to 80 liters (4,600 cu in).
It appears to work similarly to Heimplanet's M.O.L.L.E system, with pouches able to be rearranged and removed. They can also hang from included belts to function as separate packs, such as a fanny pack and leg pack. Unlike backpacks that just provide hydration compatibility (i.e. a sleeve inside where you can store a "sold separately" water bladder), the RukSak comes with its own hydration pack for use with or without the base pack.
With so many possible configurations, the RukSak can be fine-tuned for all kinds of trips. You can use the full pack to haul multiple days' worth of gear into the backcountry and pull off the pouches for day hikes and activities.
We love the idea behind the RukSak, but its implementation looks a little rough. The 10 modules hanging off appear like they could easily get snagged on a tree branch, fence, etc. They look a little bulkier and less streamlined than other systems we've seen, including the Mission Workshops Arkiv, and could benefit from further development. Hubbel told us that the RukSak is still a prototype and he does plan to offer a separate line of slimmer pouches in addition to the big ones pictured.
Hubbel has placed the RukSak up on Kickstarter and is hoping to raise US$150,000 to pay for manufacturing costs. A pledge of $300 gets you a full RukSak system, and several lesser pledge levels buy you components. Hubbel's plan is to begin shipping components by September and full RukSaks by October. The estimated MSRP is around $350.
The video below illustrates the different configurations the RukSak can take on.