I think I get the idea. It looks like your “load lifters” work more like a top compression strap, rather than proper load lifters – and pulling the straps, which brings the whole lot nearer to your back, seems to be very functional. And that’s exactly how I think about my gear: Apart from being functional, it has to be simple, multi-use and light - I’d say very light :); these are the four requirements that my gear has to meet when I start designing things for myself. I also like it to be strong and tough – although I take care of my stuff, I don’t want to be babying it all the time. Now-a-days it is possible to get very light AND strong materials -like Cuben Fiber-, and I don’t mind paying a higher price-ticket, if that gives me the possibility to make something UL and strong at the same time. Aesthetics is something that doesn’t bother me that much. It sure makes me feel good if something that I made turned out nice, but it won’t break my heart if it doesn’t.
With regards to the weight, I already thought the Cabela’s would be too heavy, so I’ll stick with the Cuben to make my own Dry Bags.
I’ll definitely post some pictures so that others can take advantage of my design (if they think it can be of interest). And with regards to your last question: No, I haven’t had any problems with the Dry Bags willing/wanting to “abandon me”. Once the straps are properly tightened, they don’t go anywhere; if you have a close look at the pics, you’ll see the stays and the webbing actually “dig” into the Dry Bags. I have even been able to run down slopes with my pack on and, as I said before, no problem at all.
Thanks for saying my sewing looks pretty good, but, to be honest, I did little sewing on this first prototype (and all the sewing I did, was hand-stitched). As I said in my previous post, all the different pieces of the pack where assembled together taking things from stuff I already had at home; I didn’t want to spend money on something it didn’t know would work out well. The shoulder straps and the back padding came from an over 30 year old pack (Greenvalley), which I hadn’t used for I don’t remember how long. The hip belt was -and still is- a climbing harness; if I have to do a bit of scrambling whilst on a thru-hike I can use the harness (which avoids me having to bring a specific one) – multiple use, as I said before. The Dry Bags on the pics are also store-bought (probably over 20 years old as well, but still like new).
My frame is made of trekking pole parts. My trekking poles are Komperdell Contour Titanal and I bought two spare middle and lower sections of exactly the same poles. Once again: multiple use; these 4 sections are used (1) as pack frame, (2) spare parts for my trekking poles and (3) one of the stays (one middle and lower section) is used at night to hold up the back of my tarp. The front part is held up with the normal trekking poles (complete, at max. length) in an A-frame style.
When I designed this pack, I thought it would be nice to be able to play with the length of the stays, because it would enable me to take as many Dry Bags as I would want. By extending the stays to max. length, I could -theoretically- take up to 6 Dry Bags – that means 120 L. (sorry but I don’t know how many cu.in, this would be). Not that I was planning on doing so, but...... it was a nice thought. After having used the pack A LOT during the last few years, I know now that the most I’ll ever take is 3 Bags, so the stays don’t need to be extendable. Another problem with these pole sections is that they are pretty heavy (242 grams = 8.54 oz.) and that’s why I’ll be using arrow shafts in my new design.
With regards to saving weight on the webbing: I have at home webbing of (metric system) 10, 12, 15, 18, 30, 40 and 50 mm (the thinnest -10 mm- being about 3/8”?) and I’m experimenting with several of the thinnest, together with their buckles, to find how much the weight savings will be, whilst still being strong enough. Nevertheless, thanks for the suggestion.
My main “problem” with having one large bag, with 3 stuff sacks inside, is the fact that, if I need something that is on the bottom, I’ll have to take the others out first to gain access to the last. I like the organization of “my” system: The bottom bag holds my sleeping bag and my “cold” clothing (puffy pants, vest and jacket), which I -normally- only need at night; the top bag holds my food and cooker and the middle bag holds the rest. Oh, I forgot...... items I want to have instant access to (camera, rain pants, wind-shirt, etc, go in small hipbelt pockets. So, whenever I want anything (ex.: Mid-day stop for having some food), I only have to unlash one bag, the rest stays where it is. Another thing I forgot: I don’t carry a rain jacket anymore (after having spent an AWFUL LOT OF MONEY on many different rain jackets I got fed up with the so-called waterproof breathable fabrics there are supposed to be made of). I bought a poncho and modified it in such a way that now this is (1) short enough to be able to see where I place my feet when walking on steep unpaved (cross-country) terrain; (2) I added some buckles so now it works very well as a pack cover (double protection for my gear, together with the Dry Bags); and (3) when it starts to rain I can deploy the rest of the poncho WITHOUT HAVING TO TAKE MY PACK OF to cover myself and be protected against even the heaviest rainfall. The poncho I bought was a cheap one, just to find out if I would like it, but I’m planning to make my own from Cuben, together with a rain skirt and some chaps.