Move over DCF and Xpac, there's a new backpack material sheriff in town.

vaguehead

Ultralighter
And its catchy name is EPL 200 Ultra.

"The EPL Ultra styles with woven UHMWPE (like dyneema) are laminated to recycled polyester film. Here’s a comparison with the most popular DCF at the same weight of 3.5oz (119gsm):

Ultra 200 has 3X the UPE content as DCF

Ultra 200 has 3X the tear strength as DCF

Ultra 200 has 7x the abrasion resistance as DCF"

By Challenge Outdoor fabrics in the US. https://www.challenge-outdoor.com/
 

vaguehead

Ultralighter
Apparently EPL 200 Ultra can be seam taped, unlike most variants of Xpac in use, so it's basically a DCF replacement material. A fully waterproof backpack potentially (until the tape wears off).
 

vaguehead

Ultralighter
I know I just ordered an Atompack! Terrible luck.

(Joke, first world problem buying made in England packs. I ordered mine in Robic gridstop, a tried and true material not like these fancy waterproof nasa nonsense)
 
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Stumpghes

Summit Camper
Are you sure the new Palante fabrics are made by Challenge? The latter's website mentions only polyester, not UHMWPE (generic Dyneema/Spectra).
 

vaguehead

Ultralighter
Are you sure the new Palante fabrics are made by Challenge? The latter's website mentions only polyester, not UHMWPE (generic Dyneema/Spectra).

Yeah, just to confirm what Pala2 is saying. The quote in my OP is from an email chat I've been having with someone at Challenge. Some of the spec sheets available on the site aren't up to date and don't include EPL 200 Ultra.

As I understand it all their 'Ultra' lines are woven with UHMWPE (aka generic, unbranded Dyneema, same same).

This material really does look like it will be the next big thing and Pa'lante are leading as they have before with regard to Xpac variants.

I just wish John Z would resurrect his YouTube channel.
 
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dandurston

Ultralighter
The EPL200 Ultra stuff looks amazing. So much better than hybrid DCF because there's way more dyneema and it's on the outside where it actually helps with abrasion and punctures, whereas hybrid DCF has way less and it's under the face fabric so it does very little. The price is high, but for a premium pack it looks like the clear way to go.
 

Roo

Summit Camper
I'm guessing the higher DCF content in the face fabric should mean it also won't absorb as much moisture as the DCF hybrid?
Thoughts on the relative merits of the 200, 400 and 800 versions? If the 200 is as good as they claim, are the 400 and 800 denier not overkill for most applications?
 

vaguehead

Ultralighter
I'm guessing the higher DCF content in the face fabric should mean it also won't absorb as much moisture as the DCF hybrid?
Thoughts on the relative merits of the 200, 400 and 800 versions? If the 200 is as good as they claim, are the 400 and 800 denier not overkill for most applications?

As far as I know the only pack available using it is the Pa'lante Desert Pack it has the 400 and 800 denier versions. I've not hiked in the desert (came close in the south of Spain last year though) but I guess it involves a lot of bushes many of them with spikes. Particularly if off trail. Rocky ground with spiky things too. I guess the 800d is for the bottom panel and side pockets. The 400d for everything else. Maybe the back panel is 800d also.

In more normal environments I guess 200d would be fine as the main material with thicker ones for the bottom, side pockets and maybe back panel.

I guess if you were to mix materials, for example some thick nylon for the bottom or back panel with a PU coating, taping the seams becomes a problem because which tape to adhere to both types. I'm not sure if the Pa'lante Desert Pack has taped seams.
 

Roo

Summit Camper
Yeah it was the Pa'lante Desert Pack I was wondering about. I'm in need of a new pack; plan was to buy an Atom+, but after Brexit, buying from the UK is just as expensive, if not more so, than buying from the US. That Pa'lante pack is very tempting, but as I don't hike in the desert but rather in Sweden where everything is soft, squishy and wet, I'm more interested in moisture management than whether it can handle a cactus. Although obviously hard-wearing is a plus. But like I said, I can't help feeling that the fabric choice is overkill for my needs. It would also be my first forage into frameless, which feels a bit risky. The advantage of the Atom+ was the removable frame so I could try without but not be tied to it if it didn't work for me. I bought a frameless pack on here actually to try it out, but unfortunately it's MIA due to customs being insanely pedantic (apparently "backpack" is not an acceptable description of a backpack).
Would be nice to know if the Desert Pack is seam-taped. Seems like they used only EPL Ultra (albeit in different weights) so it is perhaps possible. I don't really fancy X-Pac though, and Liteskin seems to have been dropped by basically all manufacturers...so Pa'lante is definitely interesting. I'm half-tempted to just go for it given the re-sale value is likely to be pretty darn high. Either that or see if I can convince Tom to make me a pack in EPL200. :rolleyeses:

Sorry, went a bit off-topic here. But to get back to the subject in question, I'd be keen to know if this new fabric can be seam-taped, and how much water it takes on in the rain.
 

vaguehead

Ultralighter
I believe KS Ultralight does a similar removable frame feature. Atompack's prices are high even for those of us in the UK. It's more or less the same price to import an equivalent US cottage pack or a KS Ultralight one into the UK as to buy an Atompack. Have you considered the Robic nylon ripstop at Atompack? Temporarily waterproof until the PU backing rubs off but hard wearing apart from that. Floppy though.

I believe EPL 200 Ultra can be seam-taped. Like DCF can be. But I can only think of one brand selling DCF backpacks that actually seam-taped them and that's Hyperlite Mountain Gear. I believe the issues are that seam-taping machines cost a lot of money and the tape rubs off in a year or two so back to a liner anyway. Presumably the same thing applies to EPL 200 Ultra.

It's also not a proven material. While it looks great and they have tested it maybe there are issues that will come out in time, who knows. As far as I know only the Pa'lante Desert Pack uses it and that came out yesterday!
 
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WilliamC

Thru Hiker
I believe EPL 200 Ultra can be seam-taped. Like DCF can be. But I can only think of one brand selling DCF backpacks that actually seam-taped them and that's Hyperlite Mountain Gear. I believe the issues are that seam-taping machine costs a lot of money and the tape rubs off in a year or two so back to a liner anyway. Presumably the same thing applies to EPL 200 Ultra.
I don't know if they still do but Zpacks used to seam tape their DCF packs. It's possible to do it by hand. Personally, I wouldn't factor it into choosing a pack since, as you say, it's not reliable.
 

dandurston

Ultralighter
FWIW, this fabric is new and thus not proven but it is worth noting that the main person that developed X-Pac for Dimension-Polyant ended up leaving that company to design their ultimate fabrics with a new company (Challenge Outdoors) which is are these new fabrics. That's why the new EcoPac line from Challenge Outdoors is so similar to the X-Pac, but it also is much more environmentally friendly (e.g. recycled) and comes in cool versions like this dyneema EPL200 Ultra version. I talked to him and he said the laminating process is much better than X-Pac so it holds together better.
 

Dave V

Moderator
Staff member
ZPacks, MLD and HMG all tape dcf packs. For me, if I bought a DCF pack and it arrived untaped it would be the first thing I do. From the shelters and packs I have repaired, my own projects and packs I have seen friends using, it does not matter whether its hybrid or standard dcf, seam holes pull and get bigger when stressed. Taping over a seam by 2.5 x the width as Zpacks, MLD and HMG all do obviously adds water resistance but also adds a ton of strength to the seam, its easy to replace if/when it wears and is relatively cheap.

If there is a way to strengthen or extend the life of something and it only adds a matter of grams, I don't see the point in not doing it. Saves stress, money and potential mid trip failure.
 
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