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MYOG: Backpack Design
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
MYOG: Backpack Design on 06/07/2011 14:32:51 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

MYOG: Backpack Design

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: "MYOG: Backpack Design" on 06/07/2011 17:05:24 MDT Print View

Great article Luke! Nice pictures and diagrams helped your excellent narrative. This is very timely for me as I am just beginning the planning stage of making my first MYOG pack. Thanks for sharing your experience.

I wholeheartedly agree that a complete compression system and a pad sized for the backpack are critical to the comfort of a frameless pack.

Edited by mad777 on 06/07/2011 17:06:39 MDT.

Kathy Hoffman
(basecampbound)

Locale: Foothills of San Gabriel Mtns.
Awesome on 06/08/2011 11:08:38 MDT Print View

Great attention to detail. Will have to try this soon.

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
MYOG: Backpack Design on 06/08/2011 12:37:17 MDT Print View

Thank you so much for this great article! The information on strap angle and the function of compression straps are particularly helpful. Excellent graphics, too. They've helped me understand what's going on with my "store-bought" packs and have given me the courage to try making my own.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: "MYOG: Backpack Design" on 06/09/2011 05:04:02 MDT Print View

Hi Luke,

Ahh, the wisdom of experience! Isn't it amazing how much we learn from our mistakes?

So much of what you described in your article relates to my own MYOG pack building experiences.

I started out using the pattern and instructions from Jay's article. It was a very good place to start. It had a "nuts and bolts" air about it with plenty of pictures to explain to a visually oriented person like me what the text was telling me to do.

Your article shows and tells why we do things a certain way to make our "SUL pack systems" work. We not only have to make choices of materials for our packs but we have to make the proper choices of what to put into our packs. As your example shows a well thought out and constructed pack could suffer greatly in performance from the use of a rolled sleeping pad that has been trimmed, shaped and/or is too thin and flexible.

Measure your torso twice and cut your material once! ;-)

Thank you Luke for the very informative article. I'll be saving it for future reference. It is a great example of not just how but why we do what we do in a MYOG pack.

Thanks for taking the time to sit down and write this article for the rest of us to enjoy and be educated at the same time.

Party On,

Newton

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 06/10/2011 12:50:57 MDT Print View

Great article, Luke

6 backpacks? I think you're addicted to MYOG

I like your conclusions and what you've learned from each version.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re on 06/14/2011 12:18:32 MDT Print View

Thanks for the encouragement guys. If anybody is trying a project feel free to PM me, I love talking about packs. When I deal with the sleeping pad as a virtual frame I forgot to mention that too much pad seems to be a problem too. One time I rolled a very long and stiff pad into my Golite Jam and it was very uncomfortable. As far as I could tell the pack felt like a log becuase the pad was so stiff it wouldn't allow the compression sytem to mash everything together into a more comfortable shape, something like that anyway.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
New Pack Design on 11/14/2011 11:32:32 MST Print View

I thought I would add an update to this article with some new lessons I've learned recently.

1. Pad As "Virtual Frame"
I always rolled my pad on the theory that the cylander was structurally stronger than a folded pad. The recent review of frameless packs says they actually do better with a folded pad. I tried again and Will is right, folded works better. The reason I'd had relatively good reasults rolling my pad was that I'd been making such narrow packs and using such a short pad that it made relatively little difference. With a longer pad (closer to what Will used I believe) I found a very noticable difference in comfort between a folded pad (better) and a rolled pad (worse).

2. Torso length
I decided I still needed a bit more torseo lenght after publishing the article. If you look at the final photo in the article it shows me leaning forward a bit. This is probably becuase I loosened the shoulder straps to take weight off my shoulders, the to short pack than tilted back and I naturally leaned forward to counteract this. I did three days with this pack and was relatively comfortable so it wasn't a disaster (much better than the failed pack I reference in the article) but a longer torso does improve this.

3. New and Improved Pack
Here is a pack I just put together using lessons learned since this article was published. My homemade packs were too small to carry the stuff I needed on a recent three week trip so I had to us a commericial pack which worked fine but it gave me new ideas and made me want to make a larger pack.
I decided to change the following things on my new design

A. I would make the torso a bit longer.
B. I would make the hipbelt wider. This is not because the webbing hipbelts cut into me or hurt, its for flexiblity. When I tried the BPL Absaroka pack I realize that the wider hipbelt meant I could adjust it up or down on my hips lightly in order to get the perfect fit for my torso length. I decided to incorperate a padded hipbelt on my new pack to make the fit a bit more flexible. With the narrow hipbelt I found there was just one "sweet spot" where it would rest comfortably on my hips.
c. I would make the front pocket a lot bigger so I could access rain gear and lunch quicker.
d. I would add side pockets for water bottles to make them more accessible so I could minimize time taking off my pack for drinks etc.

side view

pack1

Shoulder strap view

For this pack I used 3-D mesh from thru-hiker.com for the insides of the shoulder straps and hipbelts. I really like this stuff and highly recommend it. Its comfortable and its stretchy. The stretch meant I could make it fit much tighter over the foam padding. This just makes the pack look sharper and more professional.

top

I used a velcro roll top closure on the top with a top strap for better compression and just in case I wanted to strap something to the top.

pack2

pocket

I wanted a full compression system so I could compress this larger pack down for weekend trips but the pockets I wanted where getting in the way. The solution was to run the compression cords under the pockets through a small hole on wither side. This took some careful measuring but worked relatively well.

compressed

This shows the pack compressed a bit more. Overall I'm happy with this pack the only complications have to do with the compression system. I had hoped to make it overly large so that it could carry bulky winter gear or compress down for summer weekend trips. It should work fine for larger loads but there are some complications when its compressed down too small.

1. First the compression system isn't perfectly even. The picture shows how the top of the pack is much more easily compressed than the bottom. Also the cords bind more on the top than on the sides/bottom so the bottom tends to loosen up and bulge out while the top stays tighter. One possible solution would be to seperate the compression system with three cords. There could be two cords on the sides/bottom and a third for the top section. Another solution might be to us a more abrasive cord (the current cord is very slick) which would slip less.

2.Another issue is that the side water bottle packs have problems when the pack is over compressed. As the sides of the pack are squeezed tighter together the water bottle pockets tend to flop around more because the sides are loose. If I really had the pack compressed down I probably just would not use the side pockets.

Neither of thes issues is real problem if the pack is fully loaded. They only became and issue when I try to compress the pack too much. I think I will be very happy with this pack for cold weather but it turned out to have a lot more volume than I'd really expected. I had intended it to be about the same size as a Golite Jam. It has way more room than that however. I thought about taking it apart and shrinking it a bit to solve this problem but I reasoned since I only had about $30 work of fabric invested in it I might as well save it in case I wanted to do a really cold weather trip.

I was going to make a smaller version but I found a great deal on a MLD Burn which I got instead so I'd be free to focus on some other MYOG project (tarp, vest etc). My next pack project once I have time is probably going to be an internal frame pack. My plan is to basically make a new version of the Gila Pack with a padded wrap around hipbelt and a Gossammer Gear frame on the inside.

Edited by Cameron on 11/14/2011 12:12:55 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: New Pack Design on 11/14/2011 12:30:17 MST Print View

Interesting thoughts

One thing is that if I use my pad (either rolled or folded), then the torso length is fixed at the pad width (20 inches). But, I would like a little longer.

I don't see a solution.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Torso Length on 11/14/2011 12:33:47 MST Print View

You mean your torso lenght can't be any longer than the pad? I actually got a new pad when I realized I needed more torso lenght.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: torso length is fixed at the pad on 11/14/2011 12:42:25 MST Print View

Fold the pad along its centerline so that it becomes 10" wide.

Then fold it the other way to create the length that you are looking for.

If yours is a 20" x 48" torso sized pad you'll get an approximatley 10" x 24" folded pad.

Party On,

Newton

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: torso length is fixed at the pad on 11/14/2011 17:10:54 MST Print View

Fold it long ways? Interesting Newton

I use a Prolite. I wonder if folding it is good for it. I bet it will tend to delaminate it there.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Folded Prolite on 11/14/2011 17:34:48 MST Print View

Good question Jerry I don't know whether folding a Prolite in the same place will damage it or not. I've never heard of it.
This question gets into why I've changed my approach a bit as well. I pretty much always carry a short Prolite now when I hike in the east (lots of hard campsites). I've never liked using an inflatable pad to stiffen up a pack its just never seems as comfortable. This means I have to add a section of foam pad to my pack in order to stiffen it up a bit. This foam really serves no other purpose (except in winter) so the weight savings of a frameless pack verses a simple internal frame pack are somewhat nuliffied. This is a big reason why I'm considering putting a frame in my next pack so I don't have to rely on a pad to stiffen things up. My calculations are that it shouldn't be much heavier than what I have now but way better for carrying the occassional heavy load and I won't have to worry about possibly wearing my inflatable pad out quicker by using it as a pack frame.

Edited by Cameron on 11/14/2011 17:44:03 MST.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: New Pack Design on 04/15/2012 12:53:31 MDT Print View

> With a longer pad (closer to what Will used I believe) I found a very noticable difference in comfort between a folded pad (better) and a rolled pad (worse).

So you started carrying a longer CCF pad (at least fr a while) so you could fold it instead of roll it?

> 3. New and Improved Pack

Do you have a pattern and materials list for your latest pack? It is VERY much like what I'm considering making to replace my Pinnacle. Where did you source all the materials?

Since your front pocket isn't zippered and side pockets aren't mesh, did you include "drain holes" for rain?

Do you need to compress the very bottom of the pack anyway? Seems like the gear that is there (bag, tarp, etc) would not change. I'd think you could end the compression just above your side pockets.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Michael's Questions on 04/15/2012 18:40:15 MDT Print View

Michael I'll do my best to answer your questions.

>"So you started carrying a longer CCF pad (at least fr a while) so you could fold it instead of roll it?"

Yep I went to REI and bought a wide Ridgerest that I trimmed down to about 21 inches wide (my torso length). I have decided I like a folded pad better than a rolled pad.

>"Do you have a pattern and materials list for your latest pack? It is VERY much like what I'm considering making to replace my Pinnacle. Where did you source all the materials?"

The pattern I used was basically the same pattern I used for packs in the article I just made it a bit bigger. The pockets were the main change. I folded the corners to creat a "box" effect so the pocket would stand out from the pack a bit more. Its hard to describe but its sort of like the way you fold the corners of wrapping paper on a Christmas present. I like the new pockets better but pockets can be a major pain in the neck to make. I'd suggest just one big front pocket for starters.

The fabric came from Thru-hiker.com. The webbing and linelocks from REI (for convience they would have been cheaper if I'd thought to buy them from Thru-hiker).


Since your front pocket isn't zippered and side pockets aren't mesh, did you include "drain holes" for rain?

No I didn't add drain holes. I was thinking the bottom seame would be pourous enough for water to drain through. I haven't had the pack in a real heavy rain so I don't knof if I was right or not.

>Do you need to compress the very bottom of the pack anyway? Seems like the gear that is there (bag, tarp, etc) would not change. I'd think you could end the compression just above your side pockets.

Well in my case I was trying to accomodate both a summer kit with very minimal insulation and a much more bulky winter kit. It sort of worked but the pack was just a bit too big for the compression system to handle. I ended up modifiying the pack to make it a bit smaller. I took off about an inch from either side of the pack and now its much better.

Let me know if you have more questions. I can send you more pictures later. Right now I dont' have the pack with me.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Michael's Questions on 04/15/2012 20:11:08 MDT Print View

> The pattern I used was basically the same pattern I used for packs in the article I just made it a bit bigger.

Meaning the patterns came from the 2 articles you referenced? You just modified those?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Michael on 04/15/2012 20:21:44 MDT Print View

Yes the pattern is basically the same as the pattern in "Five Yards to SUL." I just added a hipbelnt and changed the pockets and compression system.