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Starting a Backpack Project
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John George
(jp_george) - F - MLife

Locale: Virginia
Starting a Backpack Project on 11/10/2009 16:31:18 MST Print View

I have decided to take on making my own pack, but had a few questions:

What kind of mesh should I use for the back/side pockets and where do I buy it? I was thinking something similar to the "4.0 Open Mesh" that MLD uses.

What do I use for padding in the shoulder straps?

Am I limited to a panel construction method like I see on most packs, or could I make a big stuff sack and attach pockets and the shoulder straps with bar tacks and x-box stitches? My thought was less places for the fabric to come apart.

Thank you for all your help,
John

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
G4 on 11/10/2009 18:20:50 MST Print View

I would suggest starting with a G4 or similar so you have some instructions to go by.

You can buy or downlaod the patterns or buy a kit. Its really labor intensive and a little over complicated to build a G4 but it seems like a decent pack.

You can download the pattern or buy a kit from Quest.

I was building mine out of cuben and ultralight materials, and about 75% through, I switched gears and decided to get rid of the bottom buldge which is an incredible PIA to sew and I built an UL frame to hang everything on, IE straps pack etc. My thinking was I was putting so much work into sewing the straps and hip belts and whatnot to the main bag, after one long section hike it would probably be trashed.

Thats when I decided I wanted something I could swap out main bags on.

I am still working on it.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Padding on 11/11/2009 11:55:58 MST Print View

I would definitely go with the "stuffable" shoulder strap style and use that to carry an extra pair of socks etc.

John George
(jp_george) - F - MLife

Locale: Virginia
G4 on 11/11/2009 21:01:51 MST Print View

Thank you for your suggestions!

I decided to buy a kit from Quest for the G4. I will later try making a pack of my own design. Something similar to a MLD pack, but with less seams. Just steal the shoulder strap design from the G4.

Tom Holbrook
(Zandar) - MLife

Locale: Central Coast of California
Starting a Backpack Project on 11/12/2009 11:31:38 MST Print View

John,

I just finished making the G4 from Quest Outfitters. I finished last weekand and feel very good about the outcome. Now, I want to give it a test, but the weather is not favorable. The kit has everything you will need.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

I did opt to add xlosed cell foam for the shoulder pads, and waste belt. And, I think I will add a "y-strap" closure to the top.

I believe this to be a great first lighweight pack. My first.

Z.

Thomas Gauperaa
(gauperaa) - F - M

Locale: Norway
Re: Starting a Backpack Project on 11/12/2009 13:12:49 MST Print View

Tom: congrats, do you have a picture of the finished pack? I have bought the kit myself but haven't had the time to start making it yet. How many hours did you spend?

Tom Holbrook
(Zandar) - MLife

Locale: Central Coast of California
Starting a Backpack Project on 11/12/2009 13:26:36 MST Print View

Thomas,

I haven't taken any photos, but I will and send them to you, and post here for others to see.

For me, the hardest part of a project is getting started and keeping the momentum going, until completion. So, as for #'s of hours, I would have to guess, since I didn't actually track the time. Having said that, I believe the time from start to finish...about 10 hours...and the fact I would work for an hour or two.

Since, I am new to sewing I took my time to read and re-read instructions, to minimize mistakes.

Z.

Thomas Gauperaa
(gauperaa) - F - M

Locale: Norway
Re: Starting a Backpack Project on 11/12/2009 13:31:33 MST Print View

Tom: that's pretty fast. I spent a lot more hours when I made the Ray-Way pack (my first project), actually to a point where I was a bit fed up with the whole thing. Hope the G4 will be quicker to make.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Re: Padding on 11/12/2009 14:11:44 MST Print View

"I would definitely go with the "stuffable" shoulder strap style and use that to carry an extra pair of socks etc."

FWIW, I have a Gossamer Gear pack (Gorilla) that uses the stuffable shoulder and hipbelt straps. Be advised that you will perspire enough to soak through any items (e.g. socks) that you have used as padding unless you have put them in plastic bags BEFORE stuffing. YMMV, but it seems simpler to me to use CCF foam as stuffing and not worry about the effect of sweat.

Patrick Caulder
(pcaulder) - MLife

Locale: SouthEast
G4 on 11/12/2009 17:38:01 MST Print View

I made a g4 awhile back with dyneema x stuff and 3d mesh from thru-hiker.com. I also used the foam in the shoulder straps instead of the of socks. Overall it's was pretty labor intensive, but it was fun to do. I think it would definately be worth giving it a shot.

g42

Edited by pcaulder on 11/12/2009 17:38:37 MST.

Tom Holbrook
(Zandar) - MLife

Locale: Central Coast of California
Starting a Backpack Project on 11/12/2009 18:24:19 MST Print View

Here are a few photos of my recently finished pack.
I just stuffed the pack with an old sleeping bag, to fill the full pack as much as possible.G4 PackG4 - Pack

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: Re: Padding on 11/12/2009 19:12:09 MST Print View

Yes you would have to pack socks in something waterproof if using them for padding, however, I'm planning on using the design anyway. Allow me to elaborate a bit on what I was thinking.

First if you plan to put the socks in bags or something and are making the pack yourself you might as well use waterproof material on the straps. A ziplock would breath just as much and this should alleviate ones perspiration issues.

Even if it isn't waterproof you could stick some thin wool gloves in there if you're using them for potholders and such.

And have you tried storing a credit card or I.D. there? I was thinking about that as well but I'm not sure if it will work well. Cash would but you'd still want to stash I.D. if you aren't leaving such things in the car.

John George
(jp_george) - F - MLife

Locale: Virginia
G4 on 11/12/2009 19:41:21 MST Print View

Both of those packs look very nice.

I was planning on using a combination of Dyneema X and the 2.2 nylon that the kit comes with.

Do the side pockets on the G4 work well for one liter bottles? Can you reach them while the pack is on your back?

Is there any reason why I wouldn't be able to stretch the pockets towards the bottom to get more external space? Or have two pockets on one side like the GG Mariposa?

Tom Holbrook
(Zandar) - MLife

Locale: Central Coast of California
Starting a Backpack Project on 11/12/2009 21:04:53 MST Print View

Anything is possible with the G4. Although, I found it best for me to follow the instructions, since it was my first project. Now, that it is completed and I am comfortable sewing, making simple modifications would be much easier to complete.

Some of the sewing steps dictate when a mod is made and still get the pack to fit properly, but again anything is possible. Just limited by your imagination and abilities.

You can do it !

Z.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
R&D on 11/12/2009 22:02:22 MST Print View

Ripoff and duplicate, that is.

When I made my pack from scratch earlier this year, I used a lot of measurements from packs I already own. Things like shoulder strap dimension and angle, torso length, packbag circumference, and so on. Then modify it to suit your new design, make good drawings, measure twice, cut once, and do it.

Once I start cutting I get excited. I built mine start to finish in an 8 hour marathon on a Friday afternoon and evening. It's too exciting.

I think the whole G4 concept is pretty goofy, especially the socks in the shoulder straps big. I prefer narrower straps with a minimum of quite dense padding. Quality yoga mat foam is good stuff.

Thomas Gauperaa
(gauperaa) - F - M

Locale: Norway
Re: Starting a Backpack Project on 11/13/2009 01:48:37 MST Print View

Tom: your G4 looks great! I am surprised how big it is. How tall are you? What do you think was the most challenging when building it?

Tom Holbrook
(Zandar) - MLife

Locale: Central Coast of California
Starting a Backpack Project on 11/13/2009 08:57:12 MST Print View

Thomas,

Thanks. I did stuff the pack with an old sleeping bag, and it is one the kids use for sleep overs, and it is real bulky. I wanted to show the pack is able to carry size. When not needed the pack compresses down to a much smaller size.

I am 6' 2", and the length fits me fine.

My next test will be to pack normal gear and see how it carries. Since this is my first frameless pack I will be careful to pack only needed items.

Z.

Eric Ayala
(badgerbirk) - F

Locale: Midwest
First G4 from kit, now mod'ing a Henley 1.0oz pack on 11/13/2009 11:17:20 MST Print View

Doing a project with my bro-in-law. He though I was a bit insane to make a backpack, until... I lent the G4 (pictured below) to him for a 7 day trek up in Isle Royale NP. I think I made quite a few converts to Ultralight.

We decided to do the Henley 1.0oz pack together (dueling sewing machines). We went with more aesthetics than weight though. We are using a real tree fabric ripstop, the G4 mesh for the pocket, (possible) sleeping pad pockets, and we are debating a roll top v. lid for the pack. Any constructive *hardy-har-har* criticisms?

http://cache.backpackinglight.com/backpackinglight/user_uploads/1157253194_00306.jpg

YAMABUSHI !
(THUNDERHORSE) - F
cool design... on 11/19/2009 00:53:39 MST Print View

There are so many bags styles/strategies/preferences...

but this is one that i really enjoy:

http://bedrockandparadox.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-make-pack.html

Steve Small
(lustreking) - F
Recently finished my G4 Pack on 01/13/2010 09:31:19 MST Print View

I recently finished my G4 pack using the kit from Quest Outfitters. I made a couple modifications, including permanently stuffing the shoulder straps and hip belt with ccf, adding a sternum strap, and adding a y-strap closure like the Mariposa.

This was my first sewing project (other than a stuff sack or two) since middle school home-ec class. I think it turned out pretty well.

Front of G4 pack
Shoulder and Sternum Straps