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M50 TopBag Finished
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Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
M50 TopBag Finished on 01/14/2011 20:05:33 MST Print View

This afternoon I finally finished my M50 top bag, and I don't think I could be much happier with it. Final weight is 15.1 ounces with a comfortable (not uber-narrow) fit and long enough for my 6' frame. I used 9 oz of 900 fill power down, two inch baffles, and loft is consistently more than 2 inches per single layer and often more like 2.5 inches. The underside is single layer M50 with loops for pad straps and a 30" zipper.

I could have made this a little lighter by cutting back on down, size or comfort features (zip), but my goal was a very light but still versatile and usable bag. This one will work nicely for warmer and lighter trips than my other MYOG top bag, which has 12 ounces of down, an even roomier cut and is 7 ounces heavier.

Here are some shots:


bottom view

The M50 wasn't easy to work with, but I didn't think it was all that bad, either: On par with sil-nylon.


Edited by matt_f on 01/14/2011 20:21:02 MST.

Weiyi Wang
(wwyjedi) - M

Locale: mid
awesome looking on 01/14/2011 20:07:57 MST Print View

what is the zip for?

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
zip on 01/14/2011 20:17:14 MST Print View

Willy -

The zip is for versatility temperature-wise and getting in and out of the bag easier. I think it added something like just over a quarter of an ounce. Totally worth it for me.


Weiyi Wang
(wwyjedi) - M

Locale: mid
Re: zip on 01/14/2011 20:26:36 MST Print View

can you feel the zipper when it is under you?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 01/14/2011 20:33:12 MST Print View


Your head must stick out the end?

Must be about 5 inches between baffles?

Samuel C Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
"M50 TopBag Finished" on 01/14/2011 20:53:36 MST Print View

Awesome workmanship. Perhaps unsurpassed.

ziff house
(mrultralite) - F
I've on 01/14/2011 20:54:12 MST Print View

never understood how you guys that work with down handle it without feathering your entire house.

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
answers on 01/14/2011 21:03:28 MST Print View

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Willy - I haven't noticed the zipper underneath me at all: #3 zippers are really quite thin, and from previous experience avoiding it isn't a problem.

Ziff - there is a method of filling a quilt/bag with down involving a shop-vac well described on this site that works like a charm: I lost so little down that I hardly even needed to vacuum my living room when I was done. If you can't find it via the search engine let me know.

Jerry - Regarding baffle width, i think they were something like 5.5 inches in width. You are right about my head "sticking out the end"...I've got a light elastic draw cord across the top that so far seems comfortable and effective and getting a decent seal around my neck.


Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: M50 TopBag Finished on 01/14/2011 21:27:08 MST Print View

Looks good Matt.

Be careful with that zipper if you're using a single layer of fabric for the back flap. There's a reason why I decided to use omni-tape on the Cyanocittas. Trust me, it's not because it's easier to work with, cause it ain't. ;)

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: M50 TopBag Finished on 01/14/2011 21:48:39 MST Print View

Dang Matt,
You beat me to it. I thought I would be the one who was going to have the first pictures out of a completed M50 bag.

Will this be your go to bag for anything above freezing?
It's nice to see the finished project not look sooo orange with the down showing through.

Nice bag!

Edited by awsorensen on 01/14/2011 21:52:56 MST.

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Nice work! on 01/14/2011 22:34:21 MST Print View

Matt great looking bag, love the bright orange glow it gives! How many yards of the M50 did you use? Also how did you do the foot of the bag, is it boxed or rounded? Very nice bag!

Jared Dilg
(Village) - MLife

Locale: Texas
Re: Nice work! on 01/14/2011 22:51:36 MST Print View

Yeah, sweet bag! I'm tempted now to get some M50 - it looks so good. I see what you meant by Tiger Stripe. Could we get a detail shot of the footbox?

Again, nice work!

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: M50 TopBag Finished on 01/15/2011 07:45:37 MST Print View

Matt, Fantastic looking quilt! I have finally found the time to work on mine. As I already have a M90 quilt with 2.5" loft that I love, I doing a simple summer quilt with a drawcord footbox. I want to use the extra down to do a down sweater and possibly booties.

After seeing how good your quilt looks I'm ready to work on a new 3 season quilt, but that will have to wait until next summer. I must say the orange looks not only better than I could have imagined, it looks great. I may stick with the orange even after new colors come out later this year. My preference would be orange outer with a black inner to aid in drying.

Question...I had a tough time searing the edges of the fabric. Did you sear the edges or cut with a hot knife or left the edges untreated?

Thanks for sharing.


John Devitt
(cabana) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: M50 TopBag Finished on 01/15/2011 07:54:15 MST Print View

Hi MAtt,
That looks outstanding, well done! I like the zip you added.

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
thanks guys on 01/15/2011 08:10:31 MST Print View

Javan - I hear you about the zipper, but it if winds up being a problem in practice I'll likely sew in some zipper backing I have on hand from thru-hiker. I thought about omnitape, but went with the zipper as I had success using it in my other topbag.

Aaron - I may have beat you to the punch, but I am still very interested in seeing what you come up with...the more MYOG examples we have on here, the better as far as I'm concerned. Also, in spite of the fact that this only has 9 oz of down, I think it will be quite warm: the top bag design really concentrates that down where it matters and makes it a very efficient 9 oz. I've got a whitney down parka with 6.4 oz of down for 13.25 ounces total, and pairing this with the whitney ought to make for a system that can be pushed below freezing if necessary.

Christopher and Jared - The foot box consists of a rectangle with one horizontal baffle, which is sewn into the quilt aound the perimetier (not baffled). This is one spot in the quilt with sewn through construction, but I don't think it matters much because it meets up with the rest of the quilt at a right angle, and doesn't leave a cold spot. I'll try to put a photo up in a bit. I used the thru-hiker quilt kit, which basically consists of 5 yards of fabric (had about 25" left over on one end), some nanoseeum netting for baffles and 12 oz of 900 fp down.

Jamie - I'm digging the color too. I had my reservations, but I think I enjoy having something in my kit that isn't one of the standard drab colors so common in UL gear. I didn't bother with searing the fabric: I just made sure all fabric edges were sewn over themselves twice or more so that the loose edges were locked away and hidden. I think searing is a pain and the risk of starting my project on fire feels like it outweighs the benefit. As always, looking forward to seeing what you come up with regarding your quilt, sweater, etc.


Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA M50 DYI projects on 01/15/2011 09:09:52 MST Print View

Nice Looking Bag!

I'm glad to see so many folks going for the M50 and M90 for DYI projects. It saves a lot of weight in bags and garments.

I think the more DYI'ers who support the companies that lede innovation in sourcing ultra high quality light weight materials the more great materials you will get to work with in the future. I think most DYI'ers that are going to spend 10-20 hrs building a top quality bag or garment are most happy for years to come when the materials are also top quality.

Disclaimer: Paul at and I work together to source many materials so I know how much work and expensive it is to make this happen.

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
footbox materials on 01/15/2011 10:05:26 MST Print View

Here is the best photo I have of the footbox: its not perfect, but I think it'll give you the idea.

Ron - I agree regarding using high quality materials: after so much time and energy is placed into a project it feels a little like being short-changed when I've elected to save a few bucks and use lower quality raw materials.



Edited by matt_f on 01/15/2011 10:06:38 MST.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: M50 TopBag Finished on 01/15/2011 11:23:50 MST Print View

Matt - It's an absolute work of art!

Did you alter the thru-hiker pattern in any way? (aside from adding the zipper, bottom, etc to make it a topbag)

I esp. like how each baffle is so evenly filled. Great choice of materials and awesome craftsmanship by you.


Edited by funnymoney on 01/15/2011 11:24:36 MST.

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
design approach on 01/15/2011 11:41:08 MST Print View

Todd -

The thru-hiker kit doesn't really come with its own pattern, but is geared toward a set of instructions posted on the thru-hiker website for everyone to see. Basically, these were submitted by a customer (i think), and they direct the maker to customize the fit based on size, preferences etc. For this project I essentially first made a somewhat narrow quilt with permanent footbox very similar to what the posted instructions describe, but longer. After this I added the single layer bottom, zip, etc. I chose my dimensions based upon the fact that I wanted the bottom strip to be about 14-15" wide, and the overall bag to be 39-40" at the footbox and 60" or so across the chest. One thing I had to keep in mind was that I'd loose about 1-2" per side for seam allowances, and about 2-3" in width and length once I had it lofted up with down. Also, I always seem to loose a little bit (maybe 1/2") in width just from minimal puckering that happens while sewing the baffles in.

I hope this helps, and let me know if you have more questions.


Chris Peichel

Locale: Eureka
m50 topbag on 01/15/2011 18:44:17 MST Print View

awesome job! I love the orange.