Frequently Asked Questions


Help design the next Fiordland Pack. Have your say!


Do you carry stock?

45l, 55l and 65l packs are in stock and I am working to make more packs available from stock.

Stock packs are available in the following sizes only:

  • Torso: 45cm Waist Belt: Large (85cm -100cm)
  • Torso: 48cm Waist Belt: Large (85cm -100cm)
  • Torso: 50cm Waist Belt: Large (85cm -100cm)
  • Torso: 53cm Waist Belt: Large (85cm -100cm)

An analysis of my pack sales shows this would cover most people.

The large waist belt is slightly longer than the standard size I have used in the past. but my research suggests most people would prefer a slightly more length. It is no problem for me to make a shorter or longer waist belt or different torso length.

I am very happy to make other sizes anytime, just order a custom pack.

What is a Pack Builder?

If you buy a pack through this shopify it will be in stock, but for custom packs the pack builder allows a lot more options.

When you submit a pack builder form it lands in my email.

Every morning my first job is to check new submissions, to reply by email, and send an invoice using MYOB. Payment is possible by direct deposit and Stripe

About four in five orders are direct.

Why should I buy a NZ made pack?

The general business model for chain store packs is cheap fabric, cheap labour, high margin.

If you choose a well made pack made with better quality fabric, you will be fine. Choose carefully, many are commodity packs designed to part you from your money and nothing more.

But then there is labour. Your $150 pack is paying someone in a developing nation very little to work long hours.

Sewing a pack is a highly skilled job requiring extreme focus, never underestimate the work involved.

NZ is a nation of trampers, the living wage is semi-reasonable. Your pack is not causing harm to those who made it. We, the makers, use and understand packs, know the conditions.

My main fabrics, Ecopak EPX200 or EPX400 are recycled and recyclable, that helps. Also, as far as possible my fabric comes here by sea freight.

Value is entirely in use, buy a pack you will use. Try to minimise harm in the process.

What is your favourite pack?

To begin with I loved a simple light 35l for myself, fast packing some interesting places. I am always fond of a 45l aka Sandwich pack, there is still nothing else like it out there, anywhere in the world.

My favourite though is an AC50, it works for almost everything I do, though once in a while when I need to carry a specially big load it is a bigger AC series pack.

I have used my AC50 for huge carries, but prefer a pear shaped pack for that if possible. An AC 60 would be a good compromise.

I am spoiled, I have one of each, AC50, 60, 70 and use whichever works best.

I really like to use EPX400 as the main fabric, it is a little heavier than Ultra, but great.

How much weight can I carry in my pack?

All Fiordland Packs are designed to carry what a reasonable tramper would expect. I regularly use my packs myself for above average loads. I have never had a problem and neither do I get packs back for repairs with weight related problems. My larger packs have more reinforcing than the smaller packs. I have stress tested a 25l Strong with several 10 hour days carrying 20kg of pindone, it was too full to close, I can show you that pack here, I still use it regularly.

Bear in mind that 40kg of meat is not a reasonable load for any 1kg pack, if this is what you want buy a 3kg pack elsewhere. It’s simple, physics.

My torso length is 40cm?

Be careful. Many people measure short and in my experience there are few people this size.

My advice it to measure yourself a few times at different times, ask someone else to measure you. Measure a pack you alread know works well to see how that compares.

Measure Your Torso Length

Will a 45l pack work as hand luggage?

Maybe. It depends how lenient airport staff are. It is certainly no bigger than many carry on bags you see. The dimensions are in the product description, the height of a rolled down pack will be a little more than its torso length. If yours is very long you may be pushing the limits.

I travelled myself with a 35l, had no trouble at all and would highly recommend it for overseas travel. It does limit what you can pack, and bring home, but actually that is a huge advantage. No more heavy bags. I did end up posting books and other items home, but there were never any worries with checked on baggage.

What kind of problems do you see in packs returning for repairs?

First, I repair my own packs when they come back and I do not usually charge for this. Expect to pay postage to get it here, and then it is almost always free.

Most problems are related to abrasion. My standard 55l and 65l packs are designed so that the floor can be removed/replaced. This gives me easy access to most of the pack. I have a crazy 700g VX07 70l (aka 55l + extra rolltop) out there with quite a few patches after a few seasons full time work. (No! Don’t ask me to make one for you)

Plastic buckles sometimes break when traumatised by a fall, they can usually be replaced without trouble.

Some things can be hard to fix.

Sometimes a piece of tape is the best solution. Generally a rip in XPac and EPX fabrics will not spread.

There is a point at which I will say ‘no more’, but it takes a while to get there. I like people who use their stuff.

Why do your straps tie into the frame?

I do this on my framed packs because it makes for the most stable load possible. My packs are designed for full body off track tramping, climbing under and over things. Great walks are for tourists, not kiwi trampers. Fiordland Packs have a high strength strap insertion and are very comfortable provided you measure your torso reasonably accurately.

It is also a system that carries exceptionally well. Using the Y strap over the top, you can tie your load into a tight bundle and distribute the weight easily to the whole torso, for maximum agility, stability and comfort.

Many New Zealand manufacturers tie their frame into the load lifters, this is primarily to compensate for the lack of custom pack sizes, it allows the torso length of the pack to be adjusted with buckles. It makes for a floppy, airy, pack that is hard to control off-track. This also adds exta weight, but does allow for easy mass production.

Do you seam seal your packs?

No, and I have no plans to begin.

There is no such thing as a waterproof pack, they do not exist. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen or spoken to people with chronically leaky ‘waterproof packs’. The thin internal plastic laminate used in most waterproof packs is very vulnerable to damage.

Actually, the real reason packs are seam sealed is that without the extra strength of the seam tape, the fabric is not strong enough to hold a stitch. This includes Dyneema and non TX versions of Ultra 100/200/400.

Every packrafter will tell you, use a dry bag, irrespective of the pack. Generally, if you are not packrafting, a light weight plastic bag will be enough to keep everything dry for days of Fiordland rain.

The fabrics I use do not absorb water or get heavier like canvas or standard nylons. The seams will eventually leak, drips will exit and not hang around forever.

Put your expensive wet tent in your pack if you like, protect it from damage, dry it out later when you stop for tea.

To me it is all about integrity, delivering what you promise. Many other serious pack makers also do not seam seal.

Keep calm and carry on.

Is your EVA foam heat stable?

The EVA foam used in straps and waist belts is very durable and comfortable, but it can shrink in extreme heat. Avoid leaving your pack in hot cars.

Note: This is a problem I have come across in one pack, it is still in use.

The foam used for back padding is much harder and stiffer, it seems to be better with extreme temperatures, but it is too hard for straps and waist belts.

Other than labour EVA foam is the higest cost component in my packs. It is the best foam I can get in NZ.

If you buy any NZ made pack, this is the EVA foam they are using.

Will you make me my perfect pack?

The perfect pack is like the perfect life, it is the one you already have.

I am reluctant to make anything too specialist or custom because of the enormous amount of time required to make anything really good. It literally costs thousands in time and materials to make a new fully custom pack from scratch.

The designs I use are constantly iterated on with small low risk improvements. I now have my new AC pack design, which I really enjoy making and using myself.

The best packs are simple, blank slate packs, adapt them to any purpose you can imagine. My best and most innovative work is always with these simpler adaptable packs.

I probably already have a pattern to do most things people will ask for, don’t be shy to ask. But if you ask me to make a ‘Franken’ pack, don’t be surprised if I say no. Be careful what you wish for.

Do you make a lid?

Yes I do make a lid with a zip, it weighs around 100g, is made from HDPE Gridstop and it can be used in place of the Y strap. If your pack has a Y strap you can add a lid.

Generally I prefer no lid myself which is why I do not show them off much.

Lids are very hard to get right, I have gone through quite a few iterations over the last 3 years to get to the point I am happy with it. I will probably put it on my website soon, but for now you can order one direct.

How wide are your aluminum frame stays?

The aluminium stays are 12mm wide, this is the perfect size to be contained by a 25mm sheath of webbing. There are 2 frame stays on all frame packs.

They are fully sheathed in webbing, many packs do not do this and the bottom of the stay will wear through, making the pack useless for a load. I see this often with Te Araroa trampers stopping by, near the end of their journey, needing a quick fix. Unfortunately it is often not possible to make a permanent fix for this. My webbing sheath is much more durable and will also be easy to fix.

In combination with the two 3mm layers of foam back padding this provides plenty of support.

I frequently strap my +3kg packraft on one side of my AC70, light weight PFD life jacket on the other. The unbalanced load works fine. There is really no reason to go for wider aluminium stays, all you would do is add weight.

Will you do a rush job?

My lead time is at the top of every page on my website, and is updated when it changes significantly. However I may have a stock pack already made if you are lucky.

Orders are processed strictly in the order in which they are received, subject to timely payment.

When my lead time extends out to 4 weeks, I now stop accepting orders. This is both fair to potential customers and important for my health.

Do you sell fabric?

Fabric is an expensive and limited resource. Shipping is extremely expensive. I order once a year.

Selling fabric by the meter dramatically increases waste, I do not have a straight edge on any roll.

Get it from Ripstop by the roll, that is what it costs everyone including Fiordland Packs. (If you were to buy fabric in bulk from an NZ agent the price is double, I know from experience.)

Will you modify your straps to take Aarn front bags?

No. If you want an Aarn please don't waste time, just buy an Aarn.

My straps are very versatile and adaptable, you could try a small karabiner or cord loop.

I am an internet expert ...

'I spend several hours a day trawling social media and forums for the most innovative boundary pushing fabrics and designs.'

If you are a person who knows what you want from personal experience, please do not hesitate to talk to me.

If you are an internet expert, I suggest you get out there and do stuff instead. Wear out some gear. Backpacks are a very mundane technology, not much changes. It is all a compromise. Only by experience do you learn.

I have 10 000 000 followers, give me a free pack.