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110 g backpack
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Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
110 g backpack on 11/10/2006 05:40:56 MST Print View

I finally did my first make-your-own project. I made a backpack out of a plastic bag you get at supermarkets here in Holland.

I designed it without a specific weight target, just wanted to learn how to sew and make it as light as possible. It came out at 3.5 oz and i'm very happy with that. When it was finished i did wonder if it was big enough (I guess it's about 1000 to 1200 cubic inch) but I tried all my SUL stuff inside and it all fit.

Here are some pics (note the measuring tape is in centimeters, each colour change is 10 cm ~ 3.9 inch):

backpack back view

backpack side view

Here's a pic of me carrying the backpack:

carrying backpack

I designed my backpack to use my gulines as hipbelts, thus saving those fractions of an ounce that can get you into sub 5 or sub 4 gearlist. Here are some detail pics:

Guyline hipbelt detail


Here's a detail pic of how the guyline hipbelt connects to the backpack (note my sloppy sewing):


And the last pic of the shoulder straps connecting to the backpack:


It was a very fun project to do. I learned a lot. I used Ray Jardines book as a guide how to make the shoulderstraps and found those straps a bit small. I did redesign them a little so i can use my socks as padding like in my GG G4, but on a next project i will have to make them wider and longer.

I also didn't reinforces the area where the shoulderstraps are sewn onto the backpack and had to do that afterwards cause the material started to tear there. But it was a good leaning experience and next time i'll reinforce that area.

I'll use this backpack for SUL hikes with a three day, two night maximum and I hope I can stay under 14 lbs with food, water and all gear carried in the pack, cause I don't think it'll carry more due to the lack of reinforcing of the shoulderstraps.

But if it'll fale I can always make a new one.

Material costs: less than $ 10,-
Time to make: about two aftenoons.

Let me know what you think,


Edit: oh, I made the pics with my telephone so the quality isn't very good, but I think it'll do. I also reduced the pics in size reducing download time and scroll effort.

Edited by EinsteinX on 11/10/2006 05:42:34 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: 110 g backpack on 11/10/2006 11:23:00 MST Print View

Good job Eins. Way to go.

Let us know how it works for you on a trek.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/10/2006 12:05:44 MST Print View

Will do PJ. But it'll take a while. I have very little time to hike. Plus temps are low now and my warm sleepingbag wont fit. But i'll tell after i've test driven it.


Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Re: 110 g backpack on 11/10/2006 16:11:30 MST Print View

Overheard at a supermarket in Holland

"Paper or plastic sir?"

"Plastic of course, you ever try sewing shoulder straps on a paper bag!"

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/11/2006 03:46:48 MST Print View

Bravo, Frank. Good one. You might have a future in "stand-up" [comedy].

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/11/2006 09:20:34 MST Print View

That is a very fun project! Thanks for sharing. I think you'll close the loop in satisfaction by going out and using it now. Cool trick with the guylines.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/11/2006 10:03:00 MST Print View

Thanks Ryan, if only i had time to test drive it :(.

@ Frank: Funny!


Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: 110 g backpack on 11/11/2006 13:27:50 MST Print View

Eins, thats a great use for a supermarket plastic bag. The plastic is obviously pretty strong, especially when you consider the weight of the groceries you can put in them at the store.

Instead of sewing, is glue an option of joining the straps? I don't own a sewing machine but gluing the straps might reduce the manufacture time. I should point out I have never tried gluing anything to a plastic bag but you have got me thinking. Maybe, I could could make some straps out of another plastic bag and glue them on.

You have given me something to think about now!

Excellent project, well done. Loved the guy line use.

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/11/2006 15:55:26 MST Print View


Lightweight, Cheap, Disposable yet Recyclable that should make everybody happy

Good thinking Einstein!


Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/11/2006 18:37:38 MST Print View

Nice work Einstein!

Your pack gives me an idea, though unfortunately I have no sewing skills so I won't be able to make something myself. I'm not sure if in Europe they use garbage compactors, but in the US lots of people use a garbage compactor bag for a pack liner. these usually weight about 2 - 2.5 oz. These are very durable bags, and a pretty good size.

I think a really neat project would be to make a simple home made harness/frame, out of fabric, similar to what Ryan used on the Arctic 1000 expedition, but sized for a garbage compactor bag. Maybe it could accept some simple carbon arrow shafts for a frame, or maybe it would be just frameless. The garbage disposal bag would be a replaceable item, and could also double as a partial groundsheet too.


Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/14/2006 10:29:30 MST Print View


Thanx for your nice comments.

Glue might be an option, but i have no idea which you should use. Some glues just melt the material and i don´t think you would want that for your pack. BTW I also don´t own a sewing machine but my mom does, maybe yours as well?

You wrote: ˝Maybe, I could could make some straps out of another plastic bag......˝ that´s the way i did it, should work, I don´t know about the gleuing though. Try and let us know if it worked.


Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/14/2006 10:34:08 MST Print View


Prior to two weekends ago I also didn´t have sewing skills. I just wanted to try making my own bag for the first time. You can see in the pictures that i´m not really good at sewing, but with some guidance of my mom it worked really well. If it wouldn´t have worked I would´ve only lost $10 in material cost and some time. I´d say just give it a go.

I`m not sure what you mean with a garbage COMPACTER bag. We have trashbags here in NL of course, not sure if thats the same.


Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/14/2006 10:42:57 MST Print View

>I'm not sure what you mean with a garbage COMPACTER bag.

A "garbage compactor" is a kitchen appliance that squashes your trash. E.g., here's one. The bag has to very sturdy because stuff is going to get squished against it and you don't want it to cut. (There was one in an apartment I used to rent; kinda cool.)

Here's a quote from one of my posts in the "Cheapest UL Gear List Challenge" thread. It might be of some use.

"I took an empty bag that held 40 lb. of pellet-stove pellets; I think it's 3- or 4-mil poly. I made shoulder straps (fixed length) from 1.8-mil packing tape, sticky against sticky with about 4-6 inches of the tape stuck to the bag above and below where the strap attaches. If the strap is attached a bit below the top of the bag, the top can be rolled closed. This is a pretty beefy pack: I put 40 lb. of pellets in it and walked around for a while without causing any damage to the pack, shoulder straps or my shoulders. Shoulder strap padding, if needed, is easily made by taping on an old polyester sock or a thin piece of closed-cell foam. External pockets can be made by taping on cut-up bags, zip-lock bags or plastic mesh of the desired size. There are several ways to make the fixed-length shoulder straps adjustable. Repairs are easily made in the field with a bit of extra packing or duct tape.

The result is a waterproof 1400ci (23l) backpack that weighs 2.1 oz (60g) and costs about a nickel to make. One household with a pellet stove could furnish an entire troop of scouts with free bags over the course of a single winter, and $5 of packing tape will make over 100 backpacks. Even if you go out and buy trash compactor or lawn bags of your desired size, the cost is still less than $1."

Unfortunately, my pellet bags this year are much thinner.

Edited by Otter on 11/14/2006 10:48:08 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: 110 g backpack on 11/14/2006 13:59:23 MST Print View

> Instead of sewing, is glue an option of joining the straps?

There are several sorts of adhesive tape available. One sort has a low bond so it can be peeled off, while another sort has a more powerful bond. Some tapes are even designed to make a permanent bond, and this would be ideal. Tape bonding is much beter than sewing for this sort of thing. But you might have to contact a specialist tape company for the permanent bond ones.

The biggest problem may well be the plastic bag: I am not sure whether the pernmanent bond adhesives will work on plastic. Ask.

Kevin Pietriyk
(pietriyk) - F

Locale: Northeastern PA
gluing bags on 12/01/2006 11:17:06 MST Print View

Grocery bags here are mostly PE, I think. I've heat-welded soft PVC and PE before, but I think the thin film of the bag would tend to shrivel, unless you could sandwich it between two release panels and iron it.

I'd try some Gorilla Tape, I've been testing it all summer on some different materials and in different environments, and I'll say that it ain't no duct tape! It will literally pull a PE tarp apart if you try to remove it. Maybe some small reinforcing patches of tape on both sides, with a simple stitch run through the tape and bag material? I've been eyeing some of the heavier clean-up bags that I have here, will have to try solvent welding some this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

I know our bags here are super-super-thin. Once they get a little puncture, it seems to flash across the whole bag quickly. I'd hate to have to watch most of my gear cascading down the side of a ledge!

Cool project, very inspiring.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: gluing bags on 12/04/2006 05:49:26 MST Print View

>Cool project, very inspiring.

Thank you Kevin. I have no idea what gorilla tape is but it sure sounds a lot tougher than duct tape. Nor do i know how to solvent weld. Allthough i still haven't had time to take my pack on a hike it still looks sturdy enough for my max 6 kilos incl. food and water list.

>I know our bags here are super-super-thin.
>Once they get a little puncture, it seems
>to flash across the whole bag quickly.
>I'd hate to have to watch most of my gear
>cascading down the side of a ledge!

These bags are thin but i wouldn't say super thin. They easily hold 15 kilos of groceries so my 6 kilos of gear shouldn't be that much of a problem. I do however worry about the pack breaking while hiking, but i'd be using the pack for a max 3 day, 2 night hike in the Ardennes (Belgium) which are no way near any ledges. And IF my pack would break i'm never any further tha, say, an hour away from civilication; NW Europe is very densely populated. To give you an idea: there are ~1150 people per every square mile here in Holland whereas there are ~80 per every square mile in the USA.


Kevin Pietriyk
(pietriyk) - F

Locale: Northeastern PA
Gorilla Tape on 12/04/2006 08:40:58 MST Print View

Eins, is the site for the tape. It's like duct tape, but has a double-thickness adhesive layer. Probably can't get it in Europe at all, it's about 8-9 dollars per roll here.

At that weight, you could probably carry a spare pack in your pocket!

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: I finally took it on a walk. on 03/20/2007 03:42:44 MDT Print View

This morning I took my backpack on an hour and a half walk to work. It performed pretty well, basically meaning that it didn't fall apart :)

The shoulder straps, that are a bit too small, do cut a bit into my shoulders so i wonder how that'll be after two or three days.

Half way through the walk i unbuckled the 'hipbelt' and carried the pack by the shoulder straps alone for the rest of the walk and that (oddly) seemed to be a bit more comfortable than with the hipbelt on.

The pack doesn't show any wear now and i think that i could easily make a better second version.


Harold Wilstead
(squeelee) - F
Backpacking Locations on 02/28/2008 16:18:34 MST Print View


I'm an American living in Germany and would like to do some backing and wild camping. Can you recommend some locations that would accomodate a 5 day trek where I would have to carry everything necessary in a pack?

Kyle Purcell
(dufus934) - F

Locale: North Texas
High Volume Option? on 03/07/2008 08:51:31 MST Print View

Go for the high volume and make a bag out of a 50 gal contractor bag!

Really though, that is an awesome project. Very creative. I will be anxious (as I'm sure most will) to see the durability of this bag.

Edited by dufus934 on 03/07/2008 08:54:15 MST.