by Rodney Liwanag

The LAB has a capacity of about 1800 cu in which is ideal for a sub multi-day lightweight backpacking trip. Because of its limited main packbag capacity, one will be encouraged to bring just the most essential items. However, it also has an extended volume of 2300 cu in (500 cu in for the extension collar and 100 cu in for the front mesh pocket). You may have to roll the lid/top pocket inwards so that it's out of the way to accomodate larger loads. This fully-extended mode, you'll be using the 500 cu in volume offered by the extension collar. It has a tapered profile which is wider at the base to accomodate space-consuming sleeping bags and provides a nice, cushy area that stradles the user's sacrum or hip area. An innovative feature of this pack is that it incorporates a set of snugger straps at the hipbelt region. The hipbelt webbing is not sewn to the bottom side seams but runs through a sleeve at the sacrum area of the pack. To achieve an effective and comfortable load-transferring system (LTS), one just has to clip the one-piece webbing hipbelt around the hips (just as you would wear a normal belt) and cinch tight. To activate the LTS, just cinch the snugger straps forward to transfer the load to your sacrum. This is actually the system behind many of today's internal frame packs. I just reduced it to the most rudimentary layout possible such that it is still effective. Another plus for this design is that it enables the user to remove the hipbelt webbing entirely - perfect for those occassions that require us to travel really light that a hipbelt is not needed at all.
To help us organize our gear there are two zippered pockets sewn on the lid. One is made from mesh and the other one is of solid fabric. A single 3/4" side release (SR) buckle at the front tip of the lid secures it in place. There's a wide no-see-um mesh pocket at the front which is great for drying wet or soggy items while trekking without having to worry that it'll drop on the trail unnoticed.
The compression system was adopted from packs of the old days where a lace system was used to control the load. Some use it to lash additional gear. Others find multiple uses for the "lace" (i.e. cord) at camp or in emergency situations. I personally like how it actually compresses the load together to form a nice, lithe shape. It provides more effective compression for a given area compared to the normal horizontal strap system. It is adjusted by a single cordlock attached to the ends of the lace after it has been threaded through the ear loops at the pack seams. The shoulder straps are constructed in an S-shaped (curved) fashion to follow the contours of the user's torso. For simplicity, you may just make a straight pair (recommended for the beginner). There is also an adjustable attachment option for a sternum strap to further secure the pack load to your body and prevent shoulder strap slippage during off trail hikes.