Although the Wilderness Equipment Breakout lies towards the budget end of their classic Australian canvas pack range it is the perfect entry-level and institutional-use WE pack model. It has been in the range for almost 30 years and, as result of this long experience, continuously refined to optimise durability and comfort. It incorporates WE's original, efficient, zip-free back pocket, wide-mouth throat, high-cut bag with heavy-duty draw cord closure - features frequently copied these days. WE's strong, quick-change, dual-back-length system is unique and fitted to all bag sizes. It provides for teenage growth and solves the problems of best fitting a range of body sizes in any youth group. Perhaps surprisingly, the Breakout includes WE's sophisticated Synchro-FORM harness system. Its adaptive fit is an important advantage but so too is the possibility of simple repair. This is a perfect first backpack for young people beginning a life of outdoor adventure.
Features and Specifications
- Single-compartment, wide-mouth, high-cut canvas bag with fixed back and top pockets.
- Wider fit range with two, strong, quickly selected back length choices built into three bag sizes: XS/S, S/M and M/L
- Designed for highest durability and easy maintenance.
- Bag Fabric: Heavy-duty cotton-polyester canvas
- Reinforcing Layers: 1000d nylon Kodra, PU coated.
- Colour: Navy / Grey
- AX internal Frame System: High-tensile, aluminium, asymmetric cross
- Shoulder Harness: 3-D contoured Synchro-FORM.
- Hip Harness: Synchro-FORM Hi-Load with 3-D multi-laminated hip pads
- Harness Face Fabric: Tough, soft, 640d spun polyester
- Back sizes: XS/S (350/400MM), S/M (400/450mm), M/L (450/500mm)
- Bag Capacities: XS/S: 65, S/M: 70, M/L: 75 litres
- Pack Weights: XS/S: 2.6, S/M: 2.8, M/L: 2.9 kg
More Information on the Breakout
The Wilderness Equipment Breakout is a rugged, simple pack for use by anyone - individuals, family groups, schools, outdoor clubs, youth organisations and hire equipment businesses. It is specifically designed for reliability, good wet-weather performance, minimum maintenance, and therefore the benefit of lifetime economy.
There are Breakouts packs out there nearing the end of their second decade of continuous use with outdoor education units. We have included our sophisticated Synchro-FORM harness system on recent Breakout packs. This premium, unique harness system has benefits that are particularly relevant in the shared use, institutional equipment arena. Besides the advantage that the hip level of this system automatically adapts to any hip shape, it is by design particularly durable and, unlike any other hip harness on the market, its components are easily removed from the pack bag and simple to repair if accidentally damaged. For example, the hip pad laminated foam inserts can be removed from their 3D shells with the need to unpick a single stitch!
Bag features: By cutting the canvas bag rim higher than usual and finishing it with a simple, strong, eyelet-free drawcord system WE have avoided the durability problems typical of lightweight throats. The bag capacity has been increased a little and, to the top cover, WE have added a convenient 'camera pocket'. On the back of the pack, each side of the simple, zip-free, more-waterproof-than-any-other back pocket WE havve provided webbing loops so, if you like, shockcord lacing can be fitted. (The new Breakout incorporates all the features of our previous Discovery 1 model).
A note for institutional buyers: Although WE now offer a more economical, full-synthetic-fabric version of this pack (the Outbreak) model, WE invite you to give consideration to the particular advantages of a canvas pack within the outdoor education sphere of application. The extremely tight weave of canvas means that in ten years time the seams will be holding up as new. If and when re-proofing of the fabric is required, the procedure is a simple spray-on saturation of the fabric with a wax solution followed by a few warm days for drying. The pack only needs to be reasonably clean and hanging for this treatment. No disassembly is needed. Then also think about the user. The generally better wet-weather performance of a canvas bag will act as insurance for novices who do not take sufficient care to protect their clothing and sleeping bags from getting wet. There is still a chance of their first wet backpacking experience being a positive one!
Options and Accessories
If you require hip pads with a longer reach, size Large pads are available and can be exchanged for the standard Medium size fitted (provided these are not soiled or worn). If you are particularly slim and require smaller reach hip wings both the standard medium hip pads and medium hip plates need to be changed to size Small. (Small pads do not fit on the standard medium length plates).
WE's universal side pockets, supplied in pairs, can be mounted on the Breakout's side compression straps if you really need added capacity.
Wilderness Equipment Syncro-Form Harness System
Go back to 2003. To improve on the comfort of the long-serving Perfect-Fit harness system was quite a challenge but one we rose to with enthusiasm and cunning. We had carried the idea of an independent hip harness system over many miles of back country travel. With 'thinking time' over, the introduction of our new, independent-wing, Synchro-FORM hip harness was a true advance in backpack comfort. For the first time in a backpack harness system, perfect load-transfer and control was combined with true, resistance-free dynamic freedom, automatic conformance to the wearer's hip contours, a simple adjustment sequence and readily interchanged and maintained components - an extraordinary mix of features, some previously considered to be in conflict.
Since 2013 and continuing in 2014 WE have been making significant refinements to the harness or 'back' systems on many WE pack models. For the new mid-volume models, such as the Haute Route and Pindar 60,WE have developed model-specific variants of our firmly established and renowned big-load Synchro-FORM harness system. Irrespective of the advanced design details of these new harness components the theory behind WE Synchro-FORM independent suspension holds true across all versions...
Synchro-FORM At The HIP LEVEL
The structural base of the hip harness is a pair of pivoting hip-PLATES fixed by direct mechanical means into one of WE's internal frame systems. Then, a range of both 3-D contoured and thin hip-PADS, in a spread of lengths and choice of body face fabrics fit firmly over these plates. The shape and geometry of all these components in the system have been carefully determined. Big-volume packs are fitted with the Hi-LOAD plates and pads. These have a greater body contact area and thicker padding. Daypacks and packs under 60 litre capacity are usually fitted with the slimline EXPRESS components. Body face fabrics are chosen according to likely application. Bushwalking models use WE's high-tech canvas for comfort and durability, alpine models use a tough, textured polyester fabric for snow shedding and minimal water absorption, travel and urban use models usually use a soft, comfortable airmesh. The Hi-Load THIN pad construction requires the use of a 1000d textured nylon stretch fabric, the only choice. The hip-PLATES themselves incorporate thin padding and a textured polyester face. If minimalist design is your thing, or you need to free up space for a climbing harness, try using a WE pack with just the hip plates, pads removed. The Synchro-FORM system's built-in dynamic freedom displaces the need for thick padding unless your load is substantial or you could describe your build as 'skin on bone'.
Where to Best Load the Hips?
The hip-PAD shape is such that the bulk of the surface area bears directly over the well cushioned upper surfaces of the gluteus maximus (backside) muscles. This positioning is important. It's a bad idea to somehow project the load distribution too far forward around the hips, even though you see some brands making a fuss about this and incorporating struts that terminate forward on the hip harness wings . One important reason not to is that it increases the reaction force needed at shoulder level to prevent the pack falling backwards and this can get quite uncomfortable. To understand this, stand right on the edge of a step using only your toes and the very front of your feet. You can immediately feel the backward pull of your body weight and must oppose it by holding a railing or leaning forward. Another bad effect of trying to transfer pack load to the side of the hips is that it interferes directly with the simple body dynamics of walking, not to mention climbing. As each hip rises you must also lift the pack weight it is loaded with. In summary, the upper-surface of the gluteus maximus muscles is where most load should be carried. Direct pressure on the central lumber spine is avoided by leaving a narrow space between the independent hip pads. On some models, mainly for aesthetic reasons, WE provide a thinly padded lumbar flap that fastens up over this gap. It can also be tucked behind (or permanently removed by cutting the Hypalon bridge).
How does it all work?
When you close and tighten the hip harness straps, the hip plates, with their pads, automatically rotate to conform exactly to your individual hip shape. The plates also ensure that pressure from your pack load is spread out as evenly as possible on the hip pads by preventing their edges curling back around the webbing tension lines. As you walk, scramble, climb, ski or ride the hip plates individually track your hip motion in a way that no other system can. Touch the hip plates as you walk along. Even with this gentle motion you can feel the extent of the movement! The thing is that this freedom is provided without any compromise to load transfer or precise control. Magic! Notice how the main buckle straps double back through rectangular metal loops. These act as pulleys so you can effectively tighten your harness by pulling the strap ends forward, an easier action made even easier by the 2:1 advantage the metal loop pulleys provide. Finally, side stabiliser straps are provided and allow a final tweek to the system's already excellent, built-in torsional control of the lower pack bag.
Extra-heavy load carrying causes all harnesses to want to sink lower on your hips. The Synchro-FORM hip system incorporates a simple LINK STRAP which can be plugged in to connect the bottom edges of the hip plates lobes. The length of this strap fixes the contour of the harness by limiting upward rotation - longer for more conical, typically female hips, shorter for more cylindrical, typically male hips. With a link strap in place the hip wings still retain the freedom to 'see-saw' with hip motion. Think of the link straps as anti-roll bars on otherwise completely independent hip suspension. With heavy, expedition size loads they help to offset the hip strap tension otherwise needed to optimise load pressure distribution around the hips.
Trimmed for Travel
A nice spin-off of the independent hip pad design is that, harness cover or not, by releasing the side stabiliser straps to their limit, tucking the lumbar cover flap behind (and disconnecting one side of the link strap if you use it) the hip wings can be rotated upwards to lie vertically along the pack harness panel. If you then fasten the hip closure buckle around the top carry handle and cinch in the shoulder harness straps, the pack is ready for a baggage system. No projecting parts. Double magic!
Synchro-FORM at the SHOULDER LEVEL
WE's Synchro-FORM shoulder harness also features some nice, unique, solutions. Like the hip pads, WE's shoulder harness arms are now 3-D, with pre-curved side walls where they curve over the shoulders. The fabric used on the body contact face is the same as that used on the hip-PADS. Don't underestimate the amount of work in making these sophisticated components in durable fabrics. Yet, put on a new WE pack, and the benefits are immediately clear.
Shoulder Harness Curvature
Shoulder harness comfort depends on even contact and pressure distribution over the upper surface of the shoulders. With the wide variation in human shoulder surface contours - due mainly to the level of trapezius muscle development - no one fixed-shape harness can rest evenly on them all. Providing the shoulder harness arms with some pivot freedom where they depart from the harness panel is only a partial solution. At the front of the body the shoulder harness must eventually follow the line of the adjustment strap connecting it to the pack base. Steeply falling shoulders require more curved harnesses or pressure will concentrate inside against the neck. The pain increases as the day wears on. Flatter, more level shoulders need straighter harnesses.
Previously WE solved this problem by offering several curvatures of interchangeable shoulder harnesses. With the new system the solution is as simple and effective as it is novel. The region of the shoulder harness shell fabrics that lie over the top of the shoulders (body face, top face and crescent side walls) are all cut on the fabric diagonal or bias. This allows them to shear or distort to different shapes when forced. To effect this change of shape we have developed a series of stiff, curved plates that slip into closely fitting pockets on the upper surface of the shoulder harness arms. The plates are designated '10', '20' and '30' to correspond to shoulder slopes of roughly 10 degrees, 20 degrees and 30 degrees. The undistorted harness shape conforms well to a 20 degree shoulder slope and the 20 plate is fitted at assembly. Back-country pack models that are likely to see high loads are supplied with 10 and 30 plates packed in the top/camera pocket. For users of other packs these plates can be supplied at request. Use a pair of GP pliers to assist in changing shoulder insert plates. We were probably the first pack brand in the world to use high-density plastic plates on WE's hip harness wings to prevent edge curl of the padding (in 1980). Now at the shoulder level WE's insert plates also perform this additional function. You will not find a more sophisticated or comfortable shoulder harness anywhere.
The Harness Panel
The shoulder harness arms emerge from the harness panel through simple guide sleeves which provide complete lateral stability. The harness arms are joined by a contoured fabric bridge which prevents the padded arms leaving the guide sleeves. Extension and retraction of the shoulder harness is done at the 3-bar slide at the base of the harness panel, usually hidden by the lumbar flap. Both Quick and Comprehensive pack fitting instructions are provided on the separate webpage Using Your WE Backpack. Read these to get the most from any backpack. Since you may be trying a WE pack on with a view to purchase please note that our top stabiliser straps and the main shoulder harness adjustment straps use a thicker webbing which prevents them creeping out of adjustment in use. Adjustment requires more than a simple pull on the webbing tail. A deliberate action to tilt the adjustment buckle is also needed to allow this webbing to run. That's a small price to pay given you can walk in comfort, hour after hour, without having to make constant adjustments. Finally, the sternum strap is built-in on the shoulder harness and not removable. We have retained the perfect wrap-around capture of the harness arms and vertical adjustment is simple.
Size Changes - Mix and Match
All pack models are fitted with medium size Synchro-FORM hip system components and shoulder harnesses of a size corresponding to the pack back length. Longer hip-PADS mount directly on the standard medium hip-PLATES, small hip-PADS - for extremely narrow waists - require a change of Hip-PLATE, to small size. Synchro-FORM shoulder harnesses are completely interchangeable but the only change likely to ever be necessary is up a size for a longer span, usually to accomodate a particularly heavy build. Packs fitted with the slimline Synchro-FORM Express hip system can be retro-fitted with Hi-Load hip components if super-heavy loads are carried.
Removing and Re-fitting Synchro-FORM Harness Components
Where a daypack is not fitted with a substantial hip harness WE specify the back length so you can judge how it might rest on your back. Some long daypacks may be too long for use on very short torsos.
Where WE quote a back length of 450mm this is the distance from base seam on the harness panel up to either the shoulder harness top stabiliser strap anchor buckles (if present), or otherwise, the seam where the fixed shoulder harness arms attach to the pack bag (as with the classic canvas daypack models). Our daypack back lengths are either 400mm (S), 450mm (M) or 500mm(L).
You can think of these lengths as corresponding to the backpack sizes S, M and L for packs that ARE fitted with substantial hip harness systems. If you are a size L in this type of pack then you will also be able to comfortably carry a 500mm back length basic daypack.
The majority of WE's simple daypack models are 450mm, suitable for all but the shortest torsos.
Steps to Measuring Your Back Length
Measure the vertical distance from the crest of your hip bone up to the level of your shoulder surface, where the pack shoulder harness will rest. Find the top of your hip bone (pelvic crest) on one side. Hold the end of a tape measure on the bone. It slopes down as you move along it towards the front centreline of your body. Find a position directly down from a point on the corresponding shoulder at the place where the shoulder harness arm will cross it. Now, extend the tape measure vertically upwards from the hip bone and, at the same time, rest a ruler or other straight edge horizontally on your shoulder, extending forward from where the shoudler harness padded arm will rest. Ask someone to help out with this. Read off and note the distance where the shoulder level meets the tape measure.
Back Lengths and Pack Sizes Wilderness Equipment
|Measurement||WE Pack Size|
|Up to 35 cm||Extra Small|
|35 cm to 40 cm||Small|
|40 cm to 45 cm||Medium|
|over 45 cm||Large|
Wilderness Equipment AX Frame System
The WE AX (assymetric-cross) internal frame is the structural platform used in all WE big-capacity backpacks for over 30 years. Both their sophisticated Synchro-FORM harness system and the Perfect-FIT hip harness integrate directly with it. WE are convinced this frame configuration, coupled directly to their hip harnesses, can not be improved on where heavy loads are involved. The fact that the cross-frame configuration has been adopted by some well-known, international brands for their high volume, expedition pack models says something. The only reason WE can see why it is not more commonly used is the extra construction work involved in the pack's harness panel compared to say a parallel frame bar arrangement. Here is the explanation of it's simple brilliance...
What Does a Backpack Frame Need to Do?
The most important function is to provide "prop-up" stiffness to the pack bag so that load carried in the pack can be effectively loaded through the pack hip harness onto the wearer's hips. Without adequate stiffness the pack bag will simply sag and re-load the shoulders.
The next function of the frame is to form an (adjustable) surface in the harness panel of the pack bag that follows the shape of the wearer's back. In this way the pack load can be carried as close to the back as possible. This was not possible with the original, external backpack fixed shape frame designs.
If the frame is stiff enough to maintain its given shape once formed to the wearer's back profile then it can maintain a small but highly effective contact-free, ventilation clearance, a function where original, pre-seventies, external backpack frames over-achieved.
Another function of the frame is to help define and control the shape of the pack bag, particularly at the top where it usually opens. At the base of the bag the cut of the fabric panels do this job well enough. At the top, if the frame structure extends out to the edges of the pack harness panel then this rigidity will reduce the tendency for the top of the pack bag to round-out away from the wearer.
Finally, here is a nice, second-order possibility linked to the cycle of body dynamics that define walking. To maintain dynamic balance when walking, our hips and shoulders rotate slightly in opposite senses, following the swing of opposing arms and legs. If the pack frame system has built-in torsional springiness it can constantly recycle some of the energy associated with deforming it one way then the other. Frame systems that are "dead" transmit this energy to the pack bag where it is absorbed and lost.
How the AX-Frame works in a WE backpack
This simple frame consists of two light-weight, tempered, high-tensile aluminium bars. The cross-section of the bar material has a slight curvature. This increases the bar stiffness without adding weight. The frame bars are pre-curved in production, according to their pack size length, so they approximate the curvature of a typical human back profile. Even under rough handling these bars retain the essential curves built into them. Despite this, it is still possible to adjust their shape to individual profiles by applying firm hand pressure.
The bars form a cross in the pack harness panel, located in separate fabric channels. At their top ends they reach almost to the outer corners of the harness panel. Their bottom ends are located closer together and stop well above the base of the pack bag. (This makes the assymetric-cross). The exact geometry at the bottom is part of the Synchro-FORM hip harness system design. Hip harness components fasten through the pack bag directly into threaded fittings built into the bottom ends of the frame bars. This arrangement also eliminates the possibility of the frame wearing a hole in the base of the pack bag, something you see on some well used packs where the frame extends to the base panel seam.
This simple frame system achieves every function identified in the previous section. It is the cross arrangement of the separate bars that is responsible also for excellent torsional springiness. The profile arc shapes of the frame bars also add resiliency and cushioning to the system in just the same way as the curvature of the human spine protects against shock when jumping down a step.