3FUL Frameless Backpack

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3FUL Frameless Backpack

Postby JohnnoMcJohnno » Sat 01 Feb, 2020 5:23 pm

Why? Because I’m a sucker for cheap Chinese hiking gear. Buying a backpack on line is fraught with peril, but as it’s cheaper than what I have, lighter than what I have, and smaller than what I have (but big enough) I took a punt. It's a frameless backpack, the brand is 3FUL and it’s nominally 40+15 litres. It’s made to take a fold-up foam sleep mat for support/padding. A lot of Chinese stuff is copied but if this is a copy I don’t know of what. It looks a bit like a ULA pack (which I have only seen from photo’s) but unlike a ULA pack it has no support other than the sleep mat that you have to supply.

Weight - 900 grams according to the website. 860 grams according to my portable scales.
Weight.jpg
860 grams - cheap Chinese scales don't lie.


Cost – All up about $90. It's listed on Aliexpress at $81 AUD to which GST is added. The price wanders up and down depending on exchange rate fluctuations. Postage is free (or at least included in the cost).

Features - the main bag is accessed via a roll-top, there is a mesh rear pocket, two side pockets and two hip belt pockets. The rear mesh pocket has bungee cord on the outside so you can carry two layers of wet stuff. Load compression is partly via the roll top and partly via two compression straps on each side. There is a top strap so you can tie a tent or jacket to the top, and bungee straps on the bottom which I think are meant to hold trekking poles but you could use to tie something on if you wanted to.
For water carrying there is an internal bladder holder. Alternatively each side pocket can hold two 1 litre water bottles or 1 x 1.5 litre water bottle. The pockets have cinching straps to hold the bottles in place. I can get a 1 litre water bottle in and out of the side pocket with the pack on but only if there is one bottle in there.
Water bottles.jpg
A 1.5 litre, a 0.75 l and a 1.0 litre bottle


The zippered hip belt pockets are long and wide but shallow (like a pencil case). Each is big enough to hold my phone, wallet, keys, a muesli bar and several colouring in pencils.
The fold up sleep mat fits in a mesh pocket at the lower end of the pack. The top of the mat is held in place by a single strap which loops through a central eye ring to hold both corners. The sleep mat pocket is ~ 26cm wide. It doesn’t fit all mats. I have a Nemo switchback which fits just fine and a Naturehike cheapo which doesn’t. If you have a wider mat (or taller from the packs point of view) or one with different fold dimensions, it may not fit.
Back.jpg
Nemo Switchback fits perfectly


Shoulder Straps are pretty comfy, they are about 70mm at the top end and the padding extends a long way down the strap. Load lifters and an adjustable chest strap are fitted. The padding doesn’t feel firm and I wonder whether it will thin or stretch with time. This is an impression rather than anything that has actually happened to date.
The hip belt consists of two reinforced pads each joined to the pack by an unpadded nylon section. The lumbar section of the hip belt is your sleep mat. I have seen a video for an earlier model where the unpadded section failed, with a response from 3FUL that they have now fixed this. It looks strong enough but who knows? The hip belt is over 100 mm wide. It’s comfortable and unlike the shoulder straps the padding is quite rigid.

Quality - I don’t expect perfection for $90 but this looks very good. Stitching is excellent. Pack materials feel robust. The specs say 210D nylon with 420D on the base. The material is thicker and feels more robust than my Exos. Side pockets are the same material as the pack so should be OK in the Aussie bush. The back pocket mesh looks flimsy but it is at the back. Unless you are negotiating something sideways it shouldn’t be a problem.

Fit - There is no adjustment. It's a one size only pack. I’m 185 cm tall with a 53 cm torso and it fits just fine. You could probably add or subtract a couple of cm from my measurements and still be OK. More than that though and I wouldn't like to say.
On my back.jpg
Looks odd, feels very comfortable


Sadly both my stomach and chest measurements are around 105 cm. The hip belt fits with plenty of spare belt, but the chest strap is pretty much as far as it can go. Barrell chested walkers beware. Cutting a few sections off the sleep mat would give me a bit more room.

Loading it up - It's long and narrow, and having a sleep mat means nothing is likely to dig into your back. The sleep pad frame does make the weight sit far from my back. It looks odd, but with 11 kg in the bag I didn’t have any problems. 40-50 litres capacity for the main bag seems about right. I can get a fair bit more in my 61 litre Exos.

How does it carry - My plans for overnight walks were all kyboshed by the fires, so all I have done so far is throw a tent/sleeping bag/bag of clothes/bag of food/old cook set/towels/water bottles/a couple of National Geographics and done some day walks. That gives me a load of 11 kg against the packs stated range of 12-15kg (at least I think that is what it says).
Label.jpg
I can read the numbers at least


With this weight the pack is extremely comfortable. Shoulder straps are fine. No pressure points noticed anywhere. The hipbelt is very supportive, and you can get all weight onto the hip belt if you prefer. I thought my back would sweat and it does, but not too badly. Putting the weight on the hip belt helps create a bit of back air flow.

Conclusion - I like it, it’s a good pack, but it really only makes sense if you are around 185 cm tall, prefer to sleep on a fold out mat, and travel pretty light. That makes it very much a niche product. If you fit in that demographic it might be worth consideration. I personally wouldn’t use it for a super serious walk, but for over-nighters, or for a bush bash where you don’t want to take something more expensive, I think it will be OK.
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Re: 3FUL Frameless Backpack

Postby CraigVIC » Sun 02 Feb, 2020 8:58 pm

Is that the regular or short nemo pad Johnny?
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Re: 3FUL Frameless Backpack

Postby JohnnoMcJohnno » Mon 03 Feb, 2020 7:15 am

That's the regular. Cutting it back to a short is not a bad idea. I'll let you know how it goes.
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