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Cuben Backpack
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John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Cuben Backpack on 08/01/2010 18:30:33 MDT Print View

I thought I would share my latest project. While I've made several packs in the past, this is my first time working with Cuben Fiber. I purchased 1 yard of the 1.5oz sq/yd, 54" wide material with the plan of making a pack worthy of a through hike. Here's how it turned out...

Here is how I planned to cut the cuben material;J3 cut sheet

My previous packs were of similar design and weight. The large outside pocket is one of my favorite features, but I tend to find myself digging through it to find what I'm looking for. On this design, I decided to make two shorter pockets instead. They are equally sized, and each are large enough to fit a wet tarp or single walled tent.J3 rear

The strap side of the packJ3 straps

Side view showing how the pack fits. The shock cord that closes the rear pockets also holds tall items protruding from the side pockets, such as trekking poles or 3 liter water bladders.J3 left posing

total capacity 3035 ci
main pack 2325 ci
rear pockets 269 ci each
side pockets 86 ci each

Total weight 4.9 oz

I'm very happy with how this pack turned out. Now it's time to get out and use it!

Happy Trails...

Phil O'Connor
(PhilOConnor) - F

Locale: Oh ya know
awesome on 08/01/2010 18:36:14 MDT Print View

That looks great, awesome job.

So you exclusively sewed all the seems together or did you use tape/glue/etc?

Chris Peichel

Locale: Eureka
Cuben Backpack on 08/01/2010 18:41:29 MDT Print View

your pack turned out great, I like the idea of the two back pockets.
great job!

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Cuben Backpack on 08/01/2010 20:10:10 MDT Print View

Yeah I dig the dual pockets also. Good work.

John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Re: Cuben Backpack on 08/01/2010 20:11:00 MDT Print View

Phil, good question. I exclusively sewed the pack, like I would silnylon. I added diagonal reinforcement at all of the pressure points. The idea is the Spectra threads are aligned horizontally and vertically, so the diagonal patches add the needed durability much like Dyneema X Gridstop does. Time will tell...J3 right closeup

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Nice Job! on 08/04/2010 18:28:34 MDT Print View

Nice Job on the pack.

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Re: Cuben Backpack on 08/07/2010 13:17:59 MDT Print View


This looks fantastic, man. And it's even so light, you were able to attach that lighthouse to the bottom of the pack. Is that so the pack won't float away?

What kind of attachment did you use for the lighthouse?


Steven Clark
(sclark58) - MLife

Locale: Costa Rica
Re: Cuben Backpack on 08/11/2010 14:00:44 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing! Where did you buy your Cuben material?

Thanks again, Steve

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cuben on 08/11/2010 14:39:05 MDT Print View

He probably bought it from who sell the 1.5oz cuben by the yard ($29). I don't know of anyone else that sells the 1.5oz stuff:

John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Re: Cuben on 08/11/2010 15:15:47 MDT Print View

Correct, Joe from ZPacks has been great to work with. Very good customer service! The material is very difficult to cut, but great to fold and sew...much easier than silnylon.

As for the lighthouse, I guess that was decadent bringing decorations just because the pack is so light and tough. :)

Greg Pehrson
(GregPehrson) - MLife

Locale: playa del caballo blanco
re: cuben pack on 10/04/2010 15:04:48 MDT Print View

Your pack is inspiring! I'm about to attempt to make my first cuben pack. I had a couple of questions, if you'd be so kind as to share your technique:
--How is the bottom sewn? Is it a stuff-sack, "roll three times and sew" kind of construction or something more complex?
--what kind of stitching do you suggest for securing the pack straps? It looks like the bottom of the straps are sewn into the pocket seam. Are the top straps "x-boxed", triple stitched into the reinforcement patches or something else?
Thanks for sharing your project with us, John.

John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Re: re: cuben pack on 10/04/2010 15:39:08 MDT Print View

Hi Greg,

Thanks for the kind words!

The bottom is sewn similar a stuff sack, rolled once and triple stitched. Then I square off the corners, again similar to a stuff sack, to give the bottom its square shape. The long seam against your back is felled (double stitched).

I've read all the bad things about sewing cuben, the stitches pulling out and such. I have to say, with this thicker 1.5oz/sq yd material, it's just not the case. The material actually does very well with bartack stitches. I originally had sewn the top of the straps to the pack with an x-box stitch, but the thread was actually breaking (not the fabric). I think this is because, unlike silnylon, cuben does not stretch at all. I went back and bartacked the entire x-box, and have a super tough connection now.

Yes, the bottom of the straps are sewn into the pocket, with some cuben backing on the inside as well. These too are bartacked. I made another one of these packs for a friend, who prefers a hip belt, so in this case the bottom of the straps are sewn directly onto the hip belts as seen in this photo...Golden Boy pack

I hope this helps! Good luck on your pack...looking forward to seeing it!

Jama Crawford
(Jama) - M

Locale: Western Slope
Sealant and weight on 03/24/2013 13:38:34 MDT Print View

This is very helpful, especially with the fabric layout to display the relative dimensions of each piece. Thank you so much.

Can you tell me if you sealed the stitch lines for waterproofing? And if so, what sealer did you use?

I have a yard of 1.43 oz/yd cuben. Is that a little too light for a backpack? I have mostly read heavier such as yours at 1.5 oz/yd.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Hi on 03/24/2013 16:20:20 MDT Print View


1.43oz and the 1.5oz you are reading about are the same. Most people waterproof the seams with cuben seam tape or Seamgrip.


Greg Pehrson
(GregPehrson) - MLife

Locale: playa del caballo blanco
Re: Sealant and weight on 03/25/2013 11:44:34 MDT Print View

Jana, check out John's website for more info and pics of his cuben backpack. Here:

I asked him by email a long time ago about whether he seam sealed the pack; he replied that sewing the straps and tie-out points created more holes than he thought was worth it to seam seal so instead he used a 0.5 oz cuben pack liner that had been seam sealed.

Hope that helps.