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My Wife's Day Pack
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John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
My Wife's Day Pack on 08/29/2011 20:38:29 MDT Print View

OK so here's the deal. I started this pack for my wife and everything from work to family events has slowed my progress. It doesn't help that I am training for my two week trip on the AT in another 4 weeks.

I figure if I start posting the construction pictures it will give me a push start on finishing my dear wife's pack.

Here are a few design particulars. It will have a hip belt, frame sheet and tubular hoop shaped aluminum stay. Both the frame sheet and stay will be removable.

Frame sheet and form fit tubular aluminum hoop stay

The shoulder straps are modeled after Chris Zimmer's style of shoulder straps as shown in his tutorial.

Shoulder strap detail

The frame sheet material is a one dollar plastic place mat from WalMart and the hoop stay is 6061-T6 .030" wall 1/4" OD aluminum tubing from Online Metals.

Frame sheet and hoop stay sleeve detail

The sleeves for the hoop stay were sewn to the frame sheet and are made from one inch grosgrain ribbon.

The goal of the design of this pack is to purposely build a day pack for my wife that carries most if not all of the load on her hips. In the recent past frameless daypacks have left her with low back pain with even light loads after carrying all of the weight on her shoulders. Hopefully when completed all the shoulder straps of this daypack will do is keep it from falling over backwards and hanging by the hip belt behind her knees.

I guess my ultimate goal is to make a daypack that looks like a normal backpack but carries like a lumbar pack.

There will be more pictures as soon as construction progresses.

Party On,


Christopher Wilke

Locale: Colorado
Re: My Wife's Day Pack on 08/30/2011 12:57:10 MDT Print View

Well, now you're officially on the clock!

I love seeing the construction details like for your sil pack. I can see you've Zimmerfied you photo approach ;-) How much does your frame sheet weigh without the aluminum tube? How much does the aluminum U tube frame weigh? Online metals is a great resource. We use them at work all the time.

Those are some nice looking shoulder straps. Do you have a link for Chris's shoulder strap tutorial? I haven't checked that out yet.

Can't wait to see the rest. Tick tock ;-)


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: My Wife's Day Pack on 08/30/2011 13:10:44 MDT Print View

Regarding the aluminum -
"Tubing", is hollow, "Rod" is not. Is it "Tubing"?
What is the weight?

Regardless, How did you bend it?

It looks Great.


Edited by greg23 on 08/30/2011 13:11:54 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: My Wife's Day Pack on 08/30/2011 14:44:30 MDT Print View

@ Chris,

Here is the link.

@ Greg,

The hoop stay is 6061-T6 .030" wall 1/4" OD aluminum tubing from Online Metals.

It was bent with a hand tubing bender from Harbor Freight.

I'll post the weights of the frame sheet and the tubing stay as soon as I can weigh them.

Together the frame sheet and stay weigh 3.85 ounces. The tubular hoop stay weighs 1.45 ounces and the frame sheet weighs 2.40 ounces.

Party On,


Edited to add weights.

Edited by Newton on 08/30/2011 18:43:48 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
My Wife's Day Pack Weights are posted on 08/30/2011 18:48:44 MDT Print View

The weights for the frame sheet and tubular aluminum hoop stay are posted in an edit to my last post. See above in blue text.

I am toying around with the idea of removing some weight from the "assembly" by cutting out some strategically placed circular cutouts in the plastic frame sheet.

Party On,


Edited by Newton on 08/30/2011 18:51:50 MDT.

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: My Wife's Day Pack on 08/30/2011 20:47:16 MDT Print View

The shoulder straps look great, nice job! I also love the weight of the aluminum hoop!

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: My Wife's Day Pack on 08/30/2011 21:10:24 MDT Print View

Thanks Chris

Nice to have you back on the forum.

Guess what I'm going to use on the sternum strap of my wife's daypack? ;-)

Party On,


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: My Wife's Day Pack Weights are posted on 08/31/2011 06:58:52 MDT Print View

"I am toying around with the idea of removing some weight from the "assembly" by cutting out some strategically placed circular cutouts in the plastic frame sheet."

Oh, c'mon John! This is for your wife! Where's the romanticism? The cutouts should be heart shaped!

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: My Wife's Day Pack Weights are posted on 08/31/2011 08:04:04 MDT Print View


Why you old romantic you!

"The cutouts should be heart shaped!"

Very good point. MRAU and will comply.

Heart shaped cutouts are on the way. Stay tuned for the pics. ;-)

Party On,


John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: My Wife's Day Pack Weights are posted on 09/03/2011 11:36:16 MDT Print View

Hey Doug,

You asked for 'em and you got 'em. Here are the heart shaped cut outs and some other pictures of the pack's progress.

The cut outs are shown from the side opposite the hoop stay because my wife said she thought it was pretty.

Frame sheet with heart shaped cut outs

What better color to highlight the heart shaped cut outs than red!

Heart Shaped Cut Out Detail

The frame sheet and stay were designed to be removable.

Partially installed frame sheet and stay

The frame sheet pocket is closed with a velcro closure.

Closed frame sheet pocket with frame sheet installed

3D mesh and some CCF are used to add some padding at the lower back and some breath-ability to the upper back area of the pack front.

Padded lower back and breathable upper back detail

This day pack will have a padded, sewn in hip belt to aid in taking advantage of the frame sheet and hoop stay. The aim is to transfer as much of the load as possible to the hips.

Hip Belt Detail

The hip belt is constructed along the same lines as Chris Zimmer's 3D Foam pack straps with one difference. The hip belt was sewn with all the external sides / faces turned inwards. This means that I was sewing a sandwich of two layers of 3D foam between two layers of black Cordura, one on top and one on the bottom. This let my feed dogs and presser foot work against Cordura and not the stretchy 3D foam while sewing.

After being sewn together the sandwich is turned inside out and top stitched around the edges to get it to lay flat. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something "black"? ;-)

The pack is starting to come together now as evidenced by the sheer length of all the panels stitched together in preparation for sewing in the side panels.

Overall view of a work in progress

On my home computer you can just barely see the heart shaped cut outs through the orange XPAC material in the above picture.

BTW the frame sheet now weighs 2.20 ounces and the total of the frame sheet and stay is now 3.65 ounces.

There's nothing like seeing Chris's new and finished pack for his wife to get me back into the project room and in front of the sewing machine.

@ Chris Wilke,

You said that you liked seeing construction details. There you go!

Stay tuned. ;-)

Party On,


Edited to upload corrected photo of cut out detail.

Edited by Newton on 09/03/2011 11:47:40 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: My Wife's Day Pack Weights are posted on 09/03/2011 11:38:57 MDT Print View

John! Well done! Pack is looking great, and the heart-shaped cutouts are perfect!

Christopher Zimmer
(czimmer) - F

Locale: Ohio
The Love Pack! on 09/03/2011 11:58:29 MDT Print View

John great job on the heart shape cutouts, I also love the tea pot and lemon pic on the frame sheet! While in camp you can display the frame sheet to add a little touch of class to your camp site.

The pack is looking great! I like that you added CCF to the back pad it will be extra comfy for sure. The hip belt loos great as well, I like how you did the webbing attachment.

Looking forward to seeing the finished pack.... now get busy sewing!

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
Frame sheet on 09/03/2011 12:09:31 MDT Print View

Really like the frame sheet design and the art work from the place mat. I am with Chris it could be set up as art piece or hung in a tree as wind chime/flag to mark your camp site.
Do you own a commercial sewing machine to sew through the plastic frame sheet?

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Frame sheet on 09/03/2011 12:19:16 MDT Print View


It is a Singer home style sewing machine.

I've been using my wife's 35 year old Singer Stylist model # 538. The one in the picture isn't mine but it is a picture that I found online that is identical to mine.

Singer model # 538

Party On,


John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Back To Sewing ;-) on 09/05/2011 12:38:01 MDT Print View

OK so I'm back to sewing again on my wife's daypack.

I've installed the shoulder straps, haul loop and Y strap for the top closure. As you can see there are six pieces of 1/2" grosgrain sewn on to the pack front for compression points.

Pack front with shoulder straps, haul loop and Y strap

The shoulder straps are attached to the pack front using the webbing method borrowed from Chris Zimmer. I tacked the straps into position, sewed the webbing over the straps with a straight stitch top & bottom followed by a long bar tack through the entire width of the shoulder strap. If your eyes are really good you can just notice the final straight stitch that I put in just below the bar tack. This stitch goes completely across the length of the webbing and through the ends of the shoulder strap one more time.

Shoulder strap attachment detail

Notice the angle at which the shoulder straps are sewn to the pack front. This was done on purpose. I measured for distance between the straps and for the angle that would make them lie flat on her shoulders. Padded straps are no good if only the edge of the shoulder strap makes contact with the shoulders.

Shoulder strap attachment angle detail

This daypack will have only one exterior pocket on the rear panel. It is pleated at the bottom and elasticized at the top. The webbing strap that is visible running up the center of the pocket will be used with the Y strap for compression of the pack. There are seven 1/2" grosgrain loops on the rear panel, three on each side and one not visible in the picture at the bottom of the mesh pocket.

Rear Panel Mesh Pocket

The webbing strap on the mesh pocket will thread through the side release buckle on the Y strap and be adjustable for tension.

Y strap & buckle

The pack will have 14 compression points counting all of the grosgrain loops and the Y strap / mesh pocket strap webbing.

I decided against adding a triangle piece of fabric on each side for anchoring the shoulder strap adjustment web straps. Instead I sewed them to the hipbelt. This area of the pack was just getting too busy. I believe the seam would just be too thick if I added anymore fabric to this area of the pack.

Shoulder strap adjustment webbing attached to hipbelt

After I've sewn in the sides and finish off the top closure it will officially be a pack. ;-)

Party On,


Edit: Updated text and added picture of
shoulder strap adjustment webbing.

Edited by Newton on 09/05/2011 20:56:47 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Back From The Sewing Room Contest ;-) on 09/05/2011 21:33:01 MDT Print View

These pictures are of my wife's daypack at about 97% complete.

My Wife's Daypack Front Panel

I still need to finish the top closure but I couldn't resist stirring up a little competition. After letting my wife try on her daypack I noticed that I had overcompensated in one area of the pack. The seam ripper had to come out and play. A change was made and all is well now.

My Wife's Daypack Rear Panel & Compression Cordage

I used cordage and mini cord locks instead of shockcord for the compression

The first one to PM me with the correct answer of what was changed on the pack to correct for my mistake will win one 328 yard mini cone of Gutermann 100% Polyester Upholstery thread. I will ship the thread to the winner at my expense. It is my way of reminding myself to measure twice and cut once. ;-)

Angled View of pack

I used black 1.3 oz silnylon to sew up a casing for the elastic at the top of the large mesh pocket.

I will update the thread with the winner's name as soon as possible. Remember to SEND ME THE ANSWER IN THE FORM OF A PM. Posting the answer on the thread will not count.

I won't be limiting the number of tries from anyone who wants to try more than once. Only being the first one to PM me with the right answer is what counts.

Hint: All of the clues needed to answer this question correctly are found by looking through all of the pictures in the entire thread. Happy hunting!

Party On,


Edit: Highlighted text,bold & underlined
Edit: Added no limit clause to contest rules

Edited by Newton on 09/06/2011 09:26:49 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Back From The Sewing Room Contest Rules ;-) on 09/06/2011 04:48:44 MDT Print View

Once a day, if I don't forget, ;-) until we have a winner.

Hint: I did not lighten the load but I did lighten the pack.

See the above post for the contest rules.

The contest rules are highlighted in

blue text.

I'll post some more pictures detailing the construction of a new and different top closure as soon as I can get back to the sewing room. Right now I have to get ready and go back to my regular day job.

Party On,


Clint Wayman

Locale: East Tennessee, US
Pack on 09/06/2011 14:54:10 MDT Print View

I just sent my second PM and once again forgot to comment on the excellently-built pack. It may not be pure University of Tennessee orange, but I'll still show support, and both of your packs will definitely keep you safely noticed in the woods.

Heck, you'd probably even be safe huntin' with Cheney =P!

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
We Have A Winner in the Back From The Sewing Room Contest ;-) on 09/06/2011 16:12:53 MDT Print View

Hello All,

The winner of the contest is Clint Wayman.

He correctly noticed that the shoulder straps were originally mounted too high creating a much longer torso than was actually needed.

What was changed was most importantly the torso length/shoulder strap attachment point. Another thing that was changed was the color of the material above the shoulder straps from grey VX21 to orange VX07. The color of the material was secondary to the original torso length problem.

Another change that came about in correcting the torso length was shortening the shoulder straps by 1 and 3/4 inches. If not done then the shoulder straps would have been too long for the now shortened torso length.

@ Clint,

Even though I had to shorten the shoulder straps to make them work with the new torso length the change that was made was shortening the torso and everything else was secondary to my "overcompensating" on the torso length.

"Clear as mud? Yup, I thought as much." LOL

Your description of the problem and the change that needed to be made was very clearly stated. Congratulations on your powers of observation and winning the contest.

Now send me your shipping info at the email address that I PM'd to you so that I can mail you your well deserved prize.

Thank you for the kind words about the pack and congratulations again.

Party On,


Edit: grammar

Edited by Newton on 09/06/2011 16:16:20 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
My Wife's Day Pack Is Finished ;-) on 09/07/2011 15:56:32 MDT Print View

It is officially a day pack now. I finished the top closure last night. The design of this top closure is new and different for me. In the past I made drawstring top closures with the dreaded hole in the middle. Lately I have gone to a reinforced roll down closure with side release buckles and adjustable webbing to hold down the top corners. Both of these designs used a Y strap to aid in compression and/or help hold the closure closed.

Today I will show you how I made this pack's closure simpler in construction, easier to use and just as functional with less hardware which equals less weight.

I start off by trimming the top of the pack to length and sewing in a strip of 3/4" stiff grosgrain webbing completely around the internal circumference of the pack.

Grosgrain reinforcement detail

As you can see there is only one line of stitching.

Next I roll the grosgrain and fabric in towards the center of the pack once and then twice. I keep it tight so as to try to keep it as close to 3/4 of an inch knowing that it will "grow" closer to 1" as it is rolled inwards. This is OK and is by design.

Rolled fabric and grosgrain detail

Again there is only one line of stitching required.

This is how outside of the top of the pack appears after the above step.

Exterior detail after stitching the rolled fabric and grosgrain

Next I stitch one piece of omni tape like velcro from Quest Outfitters to the very top edge of each of the two side panels of the pack.

Omni tape like velcro from Quest detail

The top closure of this pack is now complete. It is what I call the lunch bag, brown bag or grocery bag style of top closure.

Now in the next few pictures I'll show you how it is closed. First fold the velcro in half and stick it firmly to itself as shown below.

Closing the pack step one

This is how it will look at this point from the side.

Side view of step one

Next, using two hands, even up the top edges of the closure pressing the front and back panels together. Hold the closure together exerting just a small amount of force outwards as if you were trying to move your hands out to the side and apart from one another. Now roll down the closure tightly as if you were sealing in your lunch for your noon day meal. Hold it in position with one hand while putting the Y strap in position with the other hand. Snap the side release buckle together and adjust the webbing for tension. You are done and it should look like the pictures below.

Top View of Brown Bag Closure

Rear Panel View of Brown Bag Closure

As you can see when scrolling over the above pictures I have decided to name this the "Brown Bag Top Closure". Many of us know how that little brown paper sack folds inwards at its sides when it is perfectly flat and just waiting for us to put in our lunch. After we put in our lunch and snacks we roll or fold it down sealing in the goodies. That is where I got my inspiration for this top closure design.

I'm thinking about ordering some Reflective Glowire from Lawson Equipment to replace the nylon drawcord that I used in the compression system. The orange color of the pack is pretty bright but at night a little reflectivity wouldn't hurt.

This pack like all of my others will use a 2 mil white trash compactor bag as a pack liner. It weighs in at 23 ounces including the 3.65 ounces of removable frame sheet and stay. I account for any extra weight due to the CCF padding sewn in at the lower back area and the additional 3D foam sewn to the front panel for breath-ability.

I make out the volume of the main bag to be 945 c.i. My "guesstimate" of the mesh pocket volume is approximately 300 c.i. This gives my wife's day pack a grand total of 1245 cubic inches or an honest 20 liters.

Party On,


Edit: To complete an inadvertent early and unfinished post ;-)

Edited by Newton on 09/07/2011 16:50:24 MDT.