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Dry Bag Hauling Backpack
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Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Dry Bag Hauling Backpack on 03/11/2011 11:01:47 MST Print View

It is funny how things seem to work out. I have been thinking of and designing a pack system to carry a dry bag or stuff sack for some time now, but never got around to building it. Then the other day I got an email asking if I could make a pack that does just that. So I finally got to see this pack come to life. For materials I used Xpac/VX21, I wanted the pack to be as durable as possible. The finished weight of the pack is 16oz, I left the webbing long so with the webbing trimmed it will be in the 15oz range. Here are some photos....
Side View
Front View
Back View
Other SIde

For this pack I incorporated the load lifters into the top compression system of the pack. So that when the load lifters are pulled it pulls on the top webbing attachment which pulls the whole pack up and towards your back. This load lifters and attachment system are totally adjustable so you will be able to accommodate just about any sized dry bag or stuff sack. Here are some photos of the system....
Top View
top side
top back

The most difficult part of this pack was the front connection with mesh pocket. Trying to get the mesh pocket sewed into the piece so there were no raw edges showing was not as easy as I though it would be.
front closeup
Front side closeup

Other notes, the back panel has a pocket to slide a foam pad into for comfort and structure, one could even slide in a plastic frame sheet for added support.

Over all I am very happy with how this pack turned out and it is great to finally get to see it completed.

Edited by czimmer on 03/12/2011 12:25:22 MST.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
very nice job on 03/11/2011 18:20:38 MST Print View

Another nice job on a pack!! I really like how your exploring all kinds of different pack designs. I have a question did you work as a seamstress ?Or are you just a multi talent artist like you can see in your photography? Keep up the good work you solved my ideas I had last year for a sling pack.

Edited by socal-nomad on 03/11/2011 18:22:12 MST.

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
Dry Pack on 03/11/2011 18:25:44 MST Print View

Looks great! I've been putting together plans for a pack just like this for a few weeks now, and plan on doing thIngs very similar to yours.

I love the load lifters, i've been thinking about those for about a year now.

I'll be adding a removable frame stay to mine and a full xpac bottom to be used with cuben drybags.

I'm trying to figure a way to add side pockets while still allowing the use of different size drybags...

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Superb - some questions on 03/12/2011 03:50:42 MST Print View

Hi Chris,

Looks superb!! Really!! (Although I don’t know why it surprises me; ALL you packs look excellent).

It’s a few years ago now that I made my first DIY-pack and I did this, also, with the idea of using store-bought Dry Bags; I like to be able to walk around without worrying about my gear getting wet (ever since I’ve been using this “system” now -even in the heaviest rain- everything has always stayed completely dry). Instead of using one large Dry Bag, I use 3 smaller (20 L.) bags. These 3 bags go -horizontally- one on top of the other (think about something like Luxury Lite packs – but with Roll-Top Dry Bags). I made this first pack (as a prototype, to find out how it would work) with stuff I had laying around at home and my only grieve is that it turned out to be a bit heavy (just over 2 lbs. included 2 Dry Bags and an Ursack). Since I want to go really UL, a few month’s ago I decided to make a new one with specifically bought material (I received everything I need, except the CT3.5-1.8K Cuben Fiber to make my own Dry Bags, which is in the mail) and I’m aiming at a weight of about (or under) 1 lbs (including 3 Roll-Top Dry Bags).

I have a few questions, if you don’t mind. First of: I also used load-lifters in my design and they work very nice, BUT...... to do their work properly, I always understood these load-lifters needed to be attached to a RIGID frame a little bit above the place where the shoulder-straps are sewn to the pack (at least that’s the way I did it). On your pictures I see you don’t use a frame at all. How do the load-lifters do their job? Is the content of the Bag stiff enough to avoid the necessity of a rigid frame? Or am I totally wrong and this rigidness isn’t necessary at all?

I had a look at the Cabela’s web-site (I believe the Dry Bag on the pictures is a Cabela’s Boundary Waters II Roll-Top Dry Bag), but I couldn’t find the specs on the weights for their Dry Bags. I suppose the weight of your pack (15/16oz) will be without the Cabela’s Dry Bag, because if not, -if this weight includes the Dry Bag- this Cabela’s is so light, I might as well purchase one instead of making my own bags with Cuben Fiber.

Sorry for being a nuisance. I promise I’ll post pics of my new pack once it’s ready (if it only turns out half as nice as your packs, I’ll be happy). I think I posted some pics of my first TFD (The Flying Dutchman) pack before but, just in case...... this is the “prototype”. The tarp at the back is my GoLite Lair 1, which I hope can be substituted shortly by a DIY Cuben Catenary curve tarp (the TFD Captar) of my own design. The pics were made during a 2-week thru-hike in the French Pyrenees in 2008.

TFD Pack 1

TFD Pack 2

Edited by theflyingdutchman on 03/12/2011 04:03:30 MST.

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Dry Bag on 03/12/2011 08:08:43 MST Print View

Terry, no seamstress here, although maybe in a past life I was, but I hope that I was something a little more exciting...

Tyler, for your side pockets, try making a rectangle packet with a channel on the back top and bottom and then you can slide the side compression webbing through the channels. when the straps are pulled tight it will hold the pocket and water bottle in place. Just an idea.

Henk, yeah i think you might be right about the load lifters needing to attached to something rigid on a conventional pack. These load lifters are a bit different though. Although my load lifters attach to the pack right above the shoulder strap this is not were they do any work really, it is just more of an attachment point to keep the webbing lined up to the shoulder strap and to connect the top V shaped webbing that connects to the front main connection (the piece with the water bottle). Because the V shaped webbing is attached to the load lifters and the front main connection, so when I pull on the load lifters it in turn pulls on the V shaped webbing which pulls on front main connection with also pulls on the bottom of the pack. It pulls everything somewhat up and toward my back. With a regular load lifter you are just pulling the frame up, my system pulls the whole pack toward your back.

The pack weight is with out the dry bag, I just used that one because I had it laying around. The dry bag is not light at all probably heavier then the pack.

Yeah please post some photos when you are finished, I would love to see it. I like the photos of your pack here, have you had any issues with the dry sacks wanting to slide out the side? Or do they stay put when compressed down?

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
Pockets on 03/12/2011 11:29:41 MST Print View


you described EXACTLY what I was planning on doing! I'm glad someone else things that idea will work.

Now I've just got to do it! And post my resuts on here!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Dry Bag Hauling Backpack on 03/12/2011 11:59:00 MST Print View

Clean lines and nice work!

Along the same lines, Exped made a dry pack that was a mesh pack bag with conventional shoulder straps and used with one of their 20 liter roll-top dry bags. I've always thought that was a good take off project for a MYOG day pack.

Exped dry pack

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Dry Bag Hauling Backpack on 03/12/2011 12:22:00 MST Print View


Nice work. Can you go back to the original post and insert carriage returns between the HTML code for each picture? This way the pictures will get aligned and not scroll outside the visible screen.

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Dry Bag Hauling Backpack on 03/12/2011 12:28:50 MST Print View

Sorry, is that any better? They were lined up vertical on my screen so I didn't even notice.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Henk Question on 03/12/2011 17:20:53 MST Print View


Your sewing looks pretty good too and a lot better than mine.

What's your frame made of?

I too have made a frame with the 3 bag lash up like yours and like Luxurylite. I reverted to just one big bag however, made of 1.9 ounce uncoated nylon. I found it easier to put the 3 stuff sacks into the big bag than to lash them on separately. The simple bag was 24" wide and 36" tall when layed flat so the fabric wieght of the bag was under 3 ounces.

On your new pack you could save some weight by using 1/2" nylon webbing in 5/8" buckles. The 1/2" webbing is plenty strong and it slides through the buckles easier than 5/8" webbing.


Ernie Fuentes
(askernie) - F
You should make and sell that backpack setup... on 03/13/2011 08:46:02 MDT Print View

Its really very simple, functional and effective.

I do short hikes with the Boy Scouts and I have been pondering a similar " laundry bag" setup. But that hits the nail on the head.

Just awesome. If you decide to make and sell...let me know.

Ernie Fuentes
Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 246
Tampa Florida

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Answers to Chris & Daryl on 03/13/2011 14:23:16 MDT Print View

Hi Chris,

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, 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.