Scramble's Floating Pocket (Ultralight Map Bag)
At Scramble we've been long time users of Granite Gear's excellent Air Pocket primarily as a free-floating map pocket worn around the neck (see below for why), however we've refrained from including it in our reviews for a couple of reasons:
- It's expensive for what it is, maybe not in the US, but by the time it reaches our shores it retails for £20 (and is rarely discounted).
- More importantly, the largest size is ever so slightly too small to be ideal for carrying waterproofed (see below) OS maps, which in real life often do not fold perfectly down to "jacket map pocket" size.
So, because we could, we decided to make a kind of clone, using almost identical components and materials: 55 and 60 g/sm 40D micro ripstop sil-nylon, YKK reverse coil zips and grosgrain ribbon loops etc ... However, there are some differences and these we'll discuss below, as well as outline why we use this kind of product over "map cases" or "jacket map pockets".
|Materials: 40D High-Tenacity Micro Ripstop Sil-Nylon (Sand - Grey Green)||55 g/sm - 60 g/sm|
|Treatments: Double Silicone Coated (Inside + Outside)||-|
|Weight (+ 2g for cord + slider): Sand / Grey Green||26g / 28g|
|Dimensions (H x W)||35cm x 25cm|
|A few development models are available (heavily discounted)||£5.00 - £8.00|
|Scramble's Introductory Price on SYSTEM||£14.50|
Firstly, we've designed these primarily to be worn around the neck and to carry maps and associated navigation aids, however they can just as well be hung from a belt via the belt loops or used as ultralight pack pockets attached to a backpack with a carabiner or two - and they don't have to carry maps either. But here we'll focus on their primary use and leave additional uses to the imagination.
- Introduction: Why a Map Bag?
- Key Differences between the Granite Gear and Scramble versions
- Product Image Gallery
Introduction: Why a Map Bag?
First off, map cases are heavy, awkward, bulky and rarely provide visible access to a sufficient number of OS map "panels" for those who cover large distances in miserable weather.
Outdoor brands use the phrase "map pocket" very loosely in our opinion. Yes, many jacket will hold a well folded Explorer OS map or two. My preference for all-weather map protection are the large (53 x 38cm) BCB snap seal bags reinforced at the edges with duct tape. These will show 6 panels of an Explorer OS map (see image gallery). This can then be folded, but these never fold perfectly and many jacket "map pockets" become a fiddly nuisance.
More important however, is the simple fact, that in warm or hot weather you're likely not even wearing a jacket or your chosen jacket (lightweight wind-tops or softshells like Rab's Borealis) don't have any pockets - but you still need to know where you're going.
During kit tests I'll often cover between 6 and 8 OS maps worth of ground. To hand, I always have the current map and the next map (each in a zip-lock bag) as well as a general route plan so I know where I'm at in the overall scheme of things.
The benefit of a free-floating map pocket, worn around the neck, is that it's always in the same place, whether you're putting on a waterproof or taking off a softshell. Furthermore, both Granite Gear's Air Pocket and our Floating Pocket can be tucked into a zipped t-shirt just as easily as any jacket making them ideal in hot and foul weather alike. They're also large enough to carry phones, GPS trackers, snacks and the like.
Let's look at the minor but nonetheless relevant differences between Granite Gear's and Scramble's version.
Key Differences: Granite Gear vs Scramble
- Dimensions: The Floating pocket is 2cm taller and 3cm wider to better accomodate UK Ordnance Survey maps in waterproof zip-lock bags.
- Weight: Being slightly larger the Floating Pocket is 2g (4g for the Grey Green version) heavier (on a like for like measure, i.e. ignoring the 2g neck cord).
- Neck Cord: The Floating Pocket comes with a removable neck cord as standard which has a maximum cord loop of 75cm (50cm is generally sufficient to loop round the neck). The cord features a set and forget design (tying off the ends with a simple knot), has a breaking strength of 90kg and weighs just 2g (including slider). Granite Gear's Air Pocket doesn't come with any cord attachment.
- Edging and Loops: We use strong grosgrain ribbon for both the loops and the reinforced edging, whereas Granite Gear only use it for their loops.
- Silicone Coating: The Floating Pocket is double silicone coated (coated on the inside as well as outside) making it more water-resistant than the Granite Gear version (which is only coated on the inside).
- Colours: The Floating Pocket is currently available in "Sand" and "Grey Green" (we're planning on doing a Grey and an Orange version too but they won't be availble for a while).
- Price (UK): The Floating Pocket is around £5.00 cheaper.
Finally, we were hoping to do a "pack accessories" review covering lightweight dry bags, stuff sacks, packing cells and the like, but we had to cancel this year's Winter Kit Test due to the fact we've not really had a winter in the UK (by the looks of it, our winter was gobbled up by the USA) so instead we're going to do a wet weather kit test sometime in April/May. When we do the "pack accessories" review we'll include pictures of the Floating Pocket modelled and in the field, until then here's the studio pics:
Product Image Gallery
Last Updated: 29/04/19