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Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Padded Backpack Straps on 02/21/2011 20:10:31 MST Print View

I have been thinking about and looking into adding some padding to my backpack straps. So I finally got around to ordering some FY20 or Beva Lite2 from OWF. It is a 2lb density closed cell foam and is really some nice stuff. I ordered 1/4" and 3/8" thickness as I was unsure of how thick I wanted to make my shoulder straps. I wanted my straps to have some curve to them, but I knew the more curve I had the harder it would be to insert the foam, and boy was I right. It was quite a battle that involved some blood sweat and tears, but I finally prevailed. Below are some photos of the straps.View 1view 2View 3Top Straps with load lifter

I am very pleased with how the straps turned out and they are super comfy. If anyone is unsure about what kind of foam to use I would take a look at the FY20, it was really nice to work with.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Padded Backpack Straps on 02/21/2011 20:33:34 MST Print View

Hey Chris,

You ought to be developing quite an on hand stock of backpacks by now. :-)

As always your packs are well done and exhibit excellent craftsmanship. This one is no exception.

When it comes to inserting the foam in your shoulder straps have you tried rolling down the fabric like a sock and placing the "toe" of the padding into the "sock" and then rolling up the material over the padding. It has worked well for me.

What is your source for the webbing on your straps and compression system? I really like the look of it. It seems like it would be just the right weight and finish needed for easily adjustable but non-slipping shoulder straps.

Party On,

Newton

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Re: Padded Backpack Straps on 02/21/2011 20:44:46 MST Print View

open shop...

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Padded Backpack Straps on 02/21/2011 20:51:30 MST Print View

Chris, you continue to do wonderful work. The shoulder straps look great!

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Padded Backpack Straps" on 02/21/2011 21:00:59 MST Print View

Seriously!? Who are you guy? You're making some amazing work in rapid fire order.

Great straps, even better ruck. Thanks for sharing the eye candy.

Jared Dilg
(Village) - MLife

Locale: Texas
Re: Padded Backpack Straps on 02/21/2011 21:03:28 MST Print View

Wow, that pack looks great!

I posted it in another thread, but one trick to inserting foam into shoulder straps is to sandwich it between two stiff metal rulers (aluminum are great) and shove the whole bundle into the fabric tube. The rulers glide right in and pull out easily, leaving the foam in place.

I'm going to bet that webbing is nylon MIL-W-17337. It's usually designated for adjustment straps on mil contracts.

Chris, in case I missed it, what mesh are you using for the side pouches and hip belt outer layers? I've yet to order some for my projects. Thanks!

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Padded Backpack Straps on 02/21/2011 21:26:07 MST Print View

Hey John, yeah I have a closet full of packs now and I can't see an end in site for making them...... I need some help! :p
But after fighting with the foam for a while I ending up doing exactly what you described by rolling it up like a sock. Jared I like your method as well and will have to give it a try that way as well. The webbing is 3/4" nylon flat weave from OWF, it works great for shoulder and compression straps. Jared the mesh for the side pockets and hip belt is a sports mesh I found at a local fabric shop. I have not found an online retailer for mesh as of yet, but please let me know if you find some nice mesh.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
LOAD LIFTERS on 02/21/2011 23:36:10 MST Print View

Ive always wondered if it would work to attach load lifters straight to the top compression straps of a pack.

I feel like it would pull the front of the pack towards you, bringing in your center of gravity, compress gear, and still act as load lifters.

The way you did the load lifters and the compression straps on top made me think you did that for a second.

Jedd Cheshier
(JeddCheshier) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Very Nice on 02/22/2011 10:17:09 MST Print View

Is this the orange that is being offered by Rockywoods currently?

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Padded Backpack Straps on 02/22/2011 16:49:29 MST Print View

Tyler, they do kinda work like how you are thinking, when the load lifters are pulled it brings the top of the pack more toward your head.

Jedd yes the orange and gray are from rockywoods, the photos make the orange look a little hot or bright, I had to overexpose the photos a little to get the details in the blacks and grays to show up. In person the orange is not as bright.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Padded Backpack Straps on 02/22/2011 17:34:29 MST Print View

Chris,

I am particularly impressed by your efficiency of design on the load lifter straps. On the packs that I have made my webbing or grosgrain runs up the shoulder strap from the ladder lock and gets sewn into the same seam as the padded shoulder strap material. I just used it to reinforce the SUL material that I was using for the shoulder straps.

I noticed how you accomplished two objectives with the same piece of webbing. Your webbing helps to reinforce the shoulder strap and "takes off" from the shoulder strap to end at a higher point to accomplish the load lifter function. Nice! Dual use. :-)

As another poster mentioned, tying in the top compression straps in the way that you did also aids in the effectiveness of the load lifters because it pulls the whole pack closer and tighter. Well done!

I noticed that you seem to have bar tacked the shoulder straps at their attachment points. Was there any reason you chose this method over box stitching? Are there any other lines of stitching that are not readily visible in the picture at the shoulder strap attachment points? How many stitches per inch or "tight" were the bar tacks?

That is a pretty pack! ;-)

Party On,

Newton

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Padded Backpack Straps on 02/22/2011 18:41:12 MST Print View

Newton, I first use a box stitch to attach each shoulder strap to the gray vx21. I then take a 2" piece of cordura 12" long and fold it in half and place it on the back side/non face side of the vx21. I place the two raw ends of the cordura in the middle of the strip so when it is sewed down the edges look finished. I place 4 bar tacks one for each corner of where the strap is connected, these bar tacks go through the cordura. I then place a 1" strip of webbing and line it up with the cordura strip on the back and run a line of stitching on the top and bottom edge of the webbing. I find that the webbing on the outside and cordura on the inside make for a nice finished look to the pack. I then place two more bar tacks on the top sides of each strap, these bar tacks are going through the webbing, shoulder strap, VX21 and doubled up cordura. So a whole lot of stitching has to fail for these straps to come apart. For the bar tacks I run a straight line forward and back and then switch to a zigzag and set my machine to 3 for stitch length and 4 for stitch width. On my previous packs I also ran the webbing into the connection area, but I was using lighter materials for the straps, these straps were made from vx21 and corura so I was less worried about any fabric failure.

Andrew Schriner
(lettheguydance) - F

Locale: Midwest
xpac straps on 02/22/2011 20:24:32 MST Print View

Chris,

Are those straps xpac? VX21? I'm going to be making another pack soon and I am debating leaving the webbing off the main part of the strap. I have a small climbing pack on which I did this and it works fine, but this next pack is going to be bigger, so I don't know if I can get away with it again. Have you loaded the pack and seen how much of the weight is carried by the webbing versus the fabric (I ask because I see it is kind of loose relative to the strap fabric)?

I'm thinking VX21, or maybe even a double layer of VX21 if that is still lighter than adding webbing, as long as the Xpac maintains its shape and distributes the load over the whole width of the strap (rather than only over the width of webbing).

Anyways - the pack looks great! Nice work. And your "photo studio" gives professional results too!

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Padded Backpack Straps on 02/22/2011 21:01:54 MST Print View

Andrew, the top/gray is VX21 and the bottom of the strap is 500d cordura. The webbing being attached to the load lifter pulls the top of the pack more toward your head and does not get as tight as if it was attached to the shoulder strap connection point. I have loaded it with out the webbing attached and the shoulder straps felt good and secure. If you went with VX21 on the top and bottom of the strap I think you will be fine. Are you going to have a hip belt? The hip belt will help with taking stress off of the shoulder straps as well. i wouldn't think you would need to double up on the VX21, it seems to hold its shape well, but then again I have no idea how heavy of a load you are going to carry.

Glad you like the photos, photography is one of my other passions in life and it is nice to be able to do two hobbies at once.

Andrew Schriner
(lettheguydance) - F

Locale: Midwest
pack shoulder straps on 02/23/2011 09:53:12 MST Print View

Chris,

I was referring to the webbing being stitched to the strap along its length in multiple places, and the strap "puckers" just a tiny bit, especially on the bottom-most section of webbing. (hard to explain without pointing at your picture).

I will have a hipbelt. My concern is because I made a really big pack (like 80 L) for carrying tons of climbing gear to a base camp, which had a hipbelt and frame, but the webbing on the shoulder straps kind of digs in to my shoulder when the load get up around 60 lbs. So I was thinking I need to either use much stiffer foam, or do something to distribute the weight better across the width of the strap, like using Xpac (the fabric I used on the other pack is much less stiff than Xpac) and (I hope) not using webbing so the load is carried by the whole width of fabric.

This pack is going to be 35-40 L though, so the loads will also be smaller, but it will also have a removable hipbelt so I can climb with it on. So I'm thinking either a single or double layer of Xpac on top and I've got some nice 330D wicking cordura for the underside of the straps.

Ahh the joy of the design process...!

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
stuffing foam on 02/23/2011 18:59:15 MST Print View

Chris ,
Really nice job on the pack and the shoulder straps I really like how you did the load lifter straps.
I use to go through the blood, sweat and tears of inserting foam. I have found if you wet the foam down in the sink really quick it makes it easier to get it in the shoulder pad sleeve.

I use xpac laminate for reinforcement on all my packs because it strong than regular nylon and also give shape. What I do in high stress like shoulder straps,hip belts I will double up or just use little pieces of xpac behind the bartacks it lighter weight.

Mystery ranch packs they use cordura 500 with Vx21 xpac behind it for pack shape and strength .The reason they do this is the cordura 500 or 1000 can take more abrasion abuse than the xpac laminate alone. Plus it looks more traditional to their type of backpack users.

steve m
(smulvaney) - F

Locale: pdx
advice on 12/01/2011 01:01:04 MST Print View

im making my second pack, hopefully with better shoulder straps this time, and found this thread. thank you chris, this is really something to shoot for! im wondering though: if i want to make similar straps but with 3d mesh on the skin side, should i also have a layer of fabric (stiffer than 3d mesh like cordura) right next to the 3d? so 3d, cordura, foam, vx21?
my other question is what thickness foam did you end up using for this pack?
thanks
steve

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Foam size on 12/01/2011 08:08:31 MST Print View

Steve, no you will not need a layer under the 3d mesh, the mesh will hold up just fine. For foam I use 3/8" for bigger packs and 1/4" for smaller packs. Just keep in mind that some home machines might not be able to fit 3/8" fo plus the 3d mesh and webbing under the pressure foot. If you have any other questions let me know, i'm always happy to help!

steve m
(smulvaney) - F

Locale: pdx
thanks! on 12/01/2011 10:17:26 MST Print View

cool thanks chris
just to clear up, you sew 3d to vx21 face to face, then sock roll the foam in, then bartack the webbing over everything? sorry if i'm beating this into the ground...
also i seem to remember a pattern you put up once but cant find it now, ive tried a few mock ups with different curves but its not so easy to test them all under weight without making more packs.
thanks again for all you have done on these forums.
steve
btw chris, have you not posted new packs in awhile?

Nicholas Martin
(namaniac)

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
not just another pack... on 12/01/2011 23:23:04 MST Print View

..but another work of art!!!
Im working on some shoulder straps right now...and i hate them....i wish i had yours!!!
Im almost afraid to post pics of my pack when i finish it now....i may have to wait a while and let the memory of this fade...