SlingFin Honey Badger Story Beta

[[ needs intro? eg what is the Honey Badger?]]

Decluttering Nepal

The Honey Badger story begins in the early days of SlingFin when lead designer Martin Zemitis needed an environmentally friendly way to ship his tents to Nepal.

The problem: a tent used on Everest is generally shipped to XXX then sent on a trek of its own that often includes transport by yak and significant abrasion by rock and ice before arriving at Base Camp. Martin wanted something tough, light, and ‘sustainable.’

His solution was the Transfer Case. Martin built containers from a scavenged durable material, held together with climbing rope or webbing and twist ties. After arriving the twist ties can be cut and the cases rolled up, tied with the web, and hauled out for reuse. The Cases had all the key features: tough, light, reusable.

But I don’t have a yak

Outdoor gear revolutions are almost always the intersection of pain points and materials research. From early days when pole construction was transformed by aluminum alloys and fabrication techniques out of the aircraft and arrow shaft businesses to Cuben fiber ported in from sail technologies, we’ve been quick to pounce and adapt anything that makes our gear lighter, stronger, or more functional.

We had a promising material. It was incredibly durable and extremely light weight. We started playing with both on the sketch pad and in the design workshop.

The first question for any new material is, “what does it want to be?” How can we fabricate gear with it? How does it stand up to abrasion and high levels of UV light? Will it maintain shape and functionality when wet or cold?

We started working with our new material building everything we could think of out of it. The more we learned, the happier we were. Ultimately we found we had ended up somewhere quite unique leading to a patent based on what we’d learned.

A whole new thing!

What emerged was a backpack.

Gear design is always about managing the trade-offs. With packs the trade-offs are generally weight, durability, and waterproofness. Often Cordura or Dyna is the solution…not a totally succesful one because conflicting demands are loaded onto a single material. We split the functional demands into clusters, optimized materials for each, and came up with a new concept.

Our new pack was:

  • Light
  • Durable
  • Tough
  • Waterproof (with an ultralight insert)
  • Highly Hackable (much more on that below)
  • Field Repairable.

More radically it was an exoskeleton.

If your pack isn’t simply a shapeless sack then it has some sort of ‘vertebrae.’ Originally it was an external frame. Then the frame migrated into the structure with a reduction in weight and a gain in balance but some losses, too. Various materials are used in the sack, harness, padding, etc.

With the Honey Badger almost all of that is integral to the container.

If your pack was a lizard, this was a beetle.

We started a process of iterative prototyping and testing. What we learned is found in the benchmarks of Honey Badger V1 and V2.

[[Best placement for the following?]]

Honey Badger Pack and Pannier V1

Honey Badger Pack and Pannier V2

Honey Badger Hacks – Function and Style