All posts by megatron1505

FWA Number 1 – The Goruck GR1 Backpack

It was only just over a year or so ago that Goruck inspired an almost cult like devotion from an ever growing following, and then amidst reports of quality issues and out sourcing of sewing operations to Korea the bubble burst for more than a few forum based EDC addicts. The last few months has seen Goruck diversify their original line of four various sized bags with sleeker “shadow” rucks with do not have the MOLLE webbing and lower cost, lower spec rucks which lack the bells and whistles of their more illustrious stable mates, suck as separate laptop/ hydration compartment, internal pockets and an added rigidity panel. These newer rucks come at a lower price point, in a variety of colours and sizes and even styles, check out the civvy bag to add to the already available brick bag.

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I was lead to Goruck in my quest to find brands to work with for a retail venture, we had discussions but at the time business was really booming for them and they didn’t feel the need to put their products into too many retailers, nevertheless I was fortunate enough to pick up their original and signature Ruck ,the GR1, as part of these discussions for an extremely good price and it has been my constant companion in the 15 months since.

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The GR1 is a 26 litre mid sized pack made from super tough 1000 Denier Cordura material, which is basically as close to tear proof as you get. The pack is completely constructed in the USA, designed with Special Forces troops in mind and tested by those self same Specialists in the field and in the form of the famously arduous Goruck challenges, this is not a pack for the faint hearted. My particular pack came in the original black, it is slim, sleek, sits high on the back yet carries the load close and looks the part in pretty much any setting from the office to the tundra.

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The outside of the pack, although not technically water proof is water resistant and I can assure you that it will keep your sandwiches and phone dry in the event of an unexpected downpour, I know this because I live in England which pretty much makes me an expert on crap weather. There is no denying that it looks good too, it looks tough, military and utilitarian but in a stylised manner, almost like a military pack from a near future sci fi movie or post apocalyptic computer game but it is very masculine, nothing wrong with that unless you intend on picking one up for your good ladies birthday gift. I would advise against it. Added features on the exterior are long rubber coated zip pulls which are easy to grab even in the most awkward and fumbling situations, a large entry slanted front pocket for easy access to your passport, phone, notebook or a snack, a small patch of Velcro for attaching a patch of your choice and three rows of MOLLE webbing for compatible accessories and karabiners etc…

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Inside the pack is where you really learn just how well thought out this bag is. The main compartment opens totally flat which, believe me, makes this bag such an effortless joy to use on an aircraft, if you have ever spent any time becoming frustrated when looking for your earphones in the bottom of your carry on whilst your fellow passengers barge past you in the narrow aisles then you will thoroughly appreciate this feature. At the top of the main compartment you have a smaller zipped webbing compartment, ideal for medications and things you need swift access to, under this is a larger zipped webbing compartment to secure larger items. On the opposite side on the main compartment, and backing onto the rigid portion of the pack, is a slip pocket ideal for folders, notes or tablets and all this is before you even look at the cavernous main compartment.

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On the back side with a thickly padded and rigid compartment ,ideal for a 17″ laptop or a hydration system, with another easy grab zipper which open across the top and down the full length of one side of the bag. The only slight criticism I could make here is that, due to the padding, the back can become rather sweaty on the back on a hot day.

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The GR1 is an ideal size for versatility, it can be an EDC day pack just as comfortably as it can be packed up for a few days worth of travel. It is tough as nails and in the 14 months I have had mine it had handled numerous domestic trips all over the country as well as trips to Indonesia and Japan where it was used as carry on luggage. Most importantly to me is that it comes with me every day to work, it carries my notes, my lunch, my stationary, my lunch, my small medical kit and my flask of green tea. Now this might sound like a simple task which could easily be performed by pretty much any pack but what makes the GR1 so awesome is that I don’t have to think about it or consider whether it is wearing out, it still looks pretty much like it did when I unwrapped it 15 months ago and it is backed with the Goruck life time guarantee.

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The Goruck GR1 is an extremely worthwhile first entrant into the list of First World Artefacts through materials, design, quality and endurance. There are most likely better technical packs but I’m not a very technical guy and I’m pretty sure that if the world ended in a nuclear winter then all that would survive is and army of cockroaches, all carrying Goruck packs.

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FWA – Where do I start?

I like nice things, and therefore it makes sense to me that I might already have some of the stuff on the list in my posession. A brief thought about the things which I use every day confirms my suspisions, I do have some good stuff and I can already remove some things from the list, I love a positive start.

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I love opinions, but only when people can back them up with research and experience. What I plan to do now is to begin looking at the things which I already own and consider to be amongst the best available on the market, conducting a little research on them and really finding out if my high opinion of them is justified or not. I will do this by compiling a series of reviews of my gear, discussing the features I like about it, why I think they are important and how I find it to use in real life, my real life.

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These are the things which I have, these will be the first to be reviewed and tested. Some were expensive and some were not (some were free), but each and every one is ,I believe, an object which will remain with me through my life. I will work back wards from the bottom of the list for the simple reason that the item at the bottom of the list is the one that has been put through the most extreme life tests.

Winter Hat
Autumn/ Spring Hat
Eyeglasses
Sunglasses
Autumn/ Spring Jacket
Denim Jacket
Denim Shirt
Chambray Shirt
Pullover Hoodie
Work pants
Work Boots
Casual Boots
Belt
Phone Case
Watch
Backpack/ Day Bag

First World Artefacts – The List

 

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A quick search on the internet for “essential mens wardrobe items” will yield multiple articles and lists claiming to have the “must have 10 items” or the “only 25 items you will ever need”. I read these articles and dismissed them for a couple of very simple reasons, firstly you cannot place a number on the essential items that you need as we are all different in terms of where and how we live, secondly this list is for me and my life not for a New York banker or a Swedish farmer, it’s personal.

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So the first questions I had to ask myself were how do I live and what do I use most? These questions are key to compiling my list if I’m going to come up with things that I actually need, also I have to accept that the list will not be exhaustive, we get older and we change what we do or how we do it and therefore our requirements will change. This first list will be for my most basic requirements today, the items should be timeless and I should be able to out them to a variety of uses in a number of situations, both social and practical. Something which perhaps does not need mentioning, but I will anyway, is that everything on this list needs to be amongst the best of its kind available anywhere. Made by people who know about and love their craft from materials which are both durable and aesthetically pleasing and in a manner which is ethically correct throughout their entire supply chain.

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With all these thoughts whizzing around my head I shall construct draft 1 of my ultimate list of First World Artefacts, not a list for every man but certainly a list for this man, this is what I came up with from head to toe and beyond…

Winter Hat
Autumn/ Spring Hat
Summer Hat
Eyeglasses
Sunglasses
Winter Coat
Autumn/ Spring Jacket
Summer Jacket
Leather Jacket
Denim Jacket
Denim Shirt
Chambray Shirt
Winter Flannel
Summer Shirt
Formal Shirt
Pullover Hoodie
Zip Hoodie
Sweater
Basic tee’s
Work pants
Formal Suit
Work Boots
Casual Boots
Formal shoes/ boots
Wallet
Belt
Phone Case
Watch
Backpack/ Day Bag
Holdall/ Weekend Bag
Multi Tool

You will notice that jeans are missing from the list, I will dedicate much time on this site to discussing jeans, so to fathom “the best” is beyond my capabilities I am afraid.

It is my contention that by assembling the best I can possibly find of the above items that I will have an array of component ingredients that will see me through life without too much hassle. It is capsule, it is minimal, it is restrictive and yet liberating to know that upon completion I can devote more time to thinking about other things.

First World Artefacts – The Quest

Over the last 12 months my thoughts and focus on my personal gear has changed somewhat, I read many people on social media commenting about provenance about where things are made and why and for many reasons, some of them ethical some of them commercial. This, along with my advancing years and diminishing bank account, forced me to shift my focus away from simply looking to buy the latest shiny thing which took my fancy into actually looking to acquire gear that works and lasts for as long as possible, a lifetime if possible. I love the idea that the things I buy today to wear and use may some day be of use to my son and possibly even his son (I’m getting ahead of myself, my son is currently only 8 years old).

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Where my focus lies today is to step out of the habit of buying 20 or 30 items of clothing and accessories every year to simply placate my ego and fill my wardrobe, in exactly the same way as I stepped away from high street fashion 10 years ago. What I shall do from this day forward is compile a list of essential items that a man needs to rely on through his life, clothing accessories and just “things”, I will look at my existing gear and decide if it is indeed something that will stay with me through my life journey, and possibly even outlast me (if it is then it will stay, if it is not then it will go), and finally I will look to acquire the missing pieces on my list by selling, saving and bargain hunting and I will document it all here.

This is where I begin my hunt for true First World Artefacts !

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The Denim Glossary

 Sanforized Denim – This is denim which has gone through a process designed to remove all the shrinking potential from the material. When you wash sanforized denim it will stay the same size as before it was washed.

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One wash denim – This is denim which has been washed in water only to remove most of the shrink from the material. This denim may still shrink slightly further if it is hot washed in a machine. Expect between 0.5” 1” of contraction in the waist and inseam with minimal to no movement in other dimensions.

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Raw Denim (Kibata) – This is unwashed/ untreated denim, also known as loom state. This denim is in its factory produced state and will shrink when soaked or washed, most raw denims will shrink 1 – 2” in the waist and inseam, and up to 0.5” in other dimensions. It is worth noting that even if your denim shrinks past where is comfortable in the waist that it will stretch up to 1” with wear as it is a natural fabric.

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Weight – The weight is measured in ounces per unwashed yard of material. Unwashed denim will become heavier after washing due to the contraction of the threads; this also leads to the shrinkage of raw denim.

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Chain stitch – This type of stitch is performed by vintage sewing machines such as the famed “Union Special” or equivalent.

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Chain Stitch run off – This is the thread which is left behind by vintage sewing machines. Some manufacturers cut it off, some do not. It can be safely clipped without the seam coming undone.

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Selvedge – This term is derived from “Self Edge”, being the closed end on a role of fabric, this end was most often used to create the selvedge out seam on vintage jeans. Most vintage jeans were made using selvedge denim and so are most high quality jeans today. It should be noted that the use of selvedge denim and the presence of a selvedge out seam should not be seen as a stamp of quality, just as its absence should not be seen as low quality.

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Slubs – A slub is a general term for the uneven patches and runs in denim and is also known as “loom chatter”. It is generally an indicator of the use of vintage looms to make the denim as they ran with much more freedom and at a much lower tension than most modern looms. Most denim enthusiasts see a rough “slubby” texture as a mark of quality, authenticity and character as it is difficult to reproduce in a modern factory.
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Who I am and what I do.

Welcome to DenimHQ the headquarters of high quality denim and workwear. I am Gavin Smith, also know as Megatron1505, I am the manager of the Heavyweight Denim Championships, the brand manager at http://www.nokipple.com and have spent a fair amount of time travelling the world and working with various well known brands and retailers.

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The DenimHQ is where I will talk about my experiences of all things both denim and work wear related from a very personal point of view. When writing the blog I will be writing as a both a fan and consumer of quality clothing and accessories and not in any other capacity. I also have an ongoing theme through some of the pieces I write in my quest for items I like to refer to as First World Artefacts, these are the personal grails, the best of the best, the things that you buy and keep for life and will only ever replace with exactly the same.

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I hope you will like what you see and read here, and please feel free to contact me through NoKipple, Superfuture, the HWDC or the Iron Heart forum if there is anything you would like to know or ask.

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