“Necessity is the mother of invention”
The Challenge is almost as much about solving problems as it is about teamwork. The better a team is at finding the simplest, most elegant solution to the problems in front of them (and the better they work together), the better off they’ll be. This fact might contribute to the reality that many GRT’s look for better and more efficient ways to haul their bricks after spending 12 or so hours of “quality time” with them. To this end, Todd Forkner looks to have something really unique to offer the community.
Todd is a GRT Evolutions reader who recently reached out to me requesting a review of a prototype he’s been working on. The product Todd has invented seeks to serve as a better way to haul bricks through a GoRuck event, and I have to say – I think he’s on to something! In his own words:
“I first saw a GoRuck ruck about 8 months ago when I was looking to replace my REI backpack with something much simpler – less straps and poofy pockets. I ordered the Radio Ruck for EDC. Shortly after it arrived I found myself at Lowe’s looking for bricks. I wanted to try some lunchtime walks with some weight to see what all this was about. While walking I noticed that the bricks seemed floppy in the pack. They lifted back away from me and pitched side-to-side a bit. At the time I wasn’t able to find any information on how people were fitting their bricks, so I figured everyone else was probably wondering the same thing. Maybe after an event people could talk and compare notes, but going in to the first one it seemed a person would have to wing it. So I started thinking of ways to get those bricks to stay put. That’s how the Brick Panel started. And it was kind of a fun little hobby project too.”
One of my 1st posts for the site – and one that continues to be one of our most popular write-ups – highlighted the method I’d settled on for hauling bricks during GoRuck events. It’s still a great way to go, but after a few days of testing, I think I may be using Todd’s Brick Panel moving forward. Let’s take a look.
Todd’s Brick Panel is essentially a sheet of Cordura with straps and rings on the front and MOLLE straps with snaps on the back. The product is strong, appears durable, and is made with quality materials.
Once the product has been woven into place, it sits perfectly inside a GR1. Todd claims that this has been tested as a workable fit inside of GoRuck’s smaller packs as well.:
The included lashing straps can then be used to strap the bricks tightly into the pack. The benefit is not as apparent in the top of the pack, as the MOLLE inside of GoRuck’s packs work nicely for that. In the bottom of the ruck, however, Todd’s Brick Panel really shines:
I’ve deployed this product with 4 bricks in the top of the pack and two in the bottom. The panel works great like this. I figured I’d need the 5th and 6th (included) lashing straps to cinch things down left to right, keeping the bricks from shifting laterally during harsh movements, but that wasn’t the case. The Brick Panel was rock solid during my testing. This including a ruck march, a short jog, incline pushups, bear crawls, crab crawls and “no strap privileges”. Todd’s solution worked great all around.
Todd is looking to bring his prototype to market and has relaunched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his entrepreneurial brainchild.
I observed a few minor issues with the product that Todd will need to rectify if he sells his product to the masses. The 1st are his lashing straps. The ends were melted to prevent fraying, but the ends should be looped over and sewn to eliminate any potential of them pulling out of their buckles. There were also some stitches that were doubled over on the product to address a bad stitch here or there.
These are nitpick items and things Todd can very easily rectify.
Todd let me know that one of the reasons for his campaign is to allow for the purchase of an industrial sewing machine capable of handling these heavy-duty materials. * With that, I have no doubt that the stitches will be be cleaner and prettier in the production model if it makes it to market.
* NOTE: Todd offered a correction for this part of the piece. In his words:
“One correction I would like to note is that I would not be building these panels for people. I have been in contact with Will at Last US Bag and they have all the machines, people and supplies to build these in large quantities and will do a much better job than I can. I think we both saw my seam stitching. 🙂
Also, all the stress points will have bartacks like the GoRuck packs do for even more strength – not that it needs it for a couple of bricks, but it would look awesome.
I love the suggestion of looping over the ends of the straps so they won’t pull out of the buckle – I will definitely do that to the prototype I send in to have manufactured.”
It’s worth noting that Todd’s product offers additional utility outside of the Challenge. The panel is very unobtrusive and could be left in the pack full time for other purposes. Even better, the panel could be mounted upside down on the OUTSIDE of a GR2 (for example) with the loose flap tethered to the ruck handle. This could really expand the utility of the external MOLLE webbing, allowing additional supplies (sleeping bags, tents) to be strapped to the exterior of the ruck. Here’s an example of this
This offers real potential benefit for backpacking with a GR2. I’m talking to you “GRT Hike & Camp”! 🙂
If you’re interested in learning more about Todd’s creation, supporting his Kickstarter campaign and (hopefully) getting a Brick Panel of your own, stop by his page. I think he’s on to something and I hope his attempt at launching a little American manufacturing of his own makes it off the ground.