Simple, waterproof, and durable—those were our goals when we started making our caving packs in 2001. The first Push Pack prototype used a PVC-coated polyester material with as few seams and stitching as possible. No buckles, no hardware. The straps were sewn right into the seams so there would be no excess stitching and used a roll-down closure, similar to a dry bag. The prototype was tested in a gear-thrashing cave. Eight hours later, the pack was toast.
Later, when Kevin (Swaygo co-founder) was inspecting the prototype, he mistakenly put it on upside-down. At first, we joked about what a dork he was. Then, the epiphany — upside-down works! It streamlines the load and lowers the profile, an obvious advantage in the tight spots cavers find themselves in.
Back at the drawing board with this idea, we found some new material, used new construction techniques and created prototypes #2 and #3. #2 used a heavier PVC fabric, while #3 used a Hypalon material. Both packs had RF welded seams and kept the minimalist features of the first prototype. Neither material held up to our expectations, though the Hypalon did better than the PVC. The upside-down arrangement was a smashing success.
For the fourth and final prototype, we found even better material—polyurethane impregnated and coated nylon. We also added the Tuck & Roll closure and a grommet to the top of the pack. The first test run was in January 2002. The pack worked like a dream. We made three more identical prototypes and spent the next year and a half testing and refining the design. As a final addition, we configured the Quick Strap system and put the Push Pack into production.
With rigorous testing and your feedback, we are always finding new ways to improve our next models. Stay tuned and we’ll have some great new Swaygo gear out soon.