Cross-posted from Hammock Forums, where I'm an active member
I've been working on a Molly Mac Pack-inspired backpack for a couple of months now. Unfortunately, my sewing machine being sidelined until last week--at which point I purchased a 70s-vintage refurbished Husquvarna Viking--prevented me from finishing the pack sooner.
The week running up to the 2nd Annual Florida Hammock Hang was a blur of sewing and resewing interspersed with meals and work. I finished the pack with twenty-four hours to spare and went to work on a couple of customized stuff sacks to go with it.
Many thanks to MacEntyre for his wonderful Molly Mac Pack design (and his permission to share my take on it; you can find his work at http://www.mollymacpack.com/) and Daryl Clark for his lightweight carbon fiber frame design.
This is not a super-ultralight pack; instead, I've traded off some weight for modularity and quick access to all of my items without having to root through a large bag. It also allows me to strap pretty much anything I want to carry to the pack, regardless of whether it's in a stuff sack or not.
To the pack proper...
[*]Total Frame Height: 23.5"
[*]Total Frame Width: 14"
[*]Vertical Shaft Length: 22"
[*]Horizontal Shaft Length: 12"
[*]Frame Weight: 79g (2.8 oz.)
[*]Waist Belt Thickness: 2/3"
[*]Waist Belt Padding Length: 28.5"
[*]Waist Belt Max Height: 5"
[*]Waist Belt Min Height: 3"
[*]Waist Belt Weight: 79g (2.8 oz.)
[*]PALS Array Height: 10 Rows/19"
[*]PALS Array Width: 7 Columns/10.5"
[*]Back Panel & Shouder Strap Weight: 376g (13.3 oz.)
[*]Total Weight Before Stuff Sacks and Connection Straps: 680g (24 oz.)
[*]55" Length Lashing Strap: 38g (1.3 oz.) each or 76 g (2.7 oz.) per pair
I started out with Daryl Clark's sub-three ounce pack frame. He's graciously given me permission to use it. I used carbon crossbow bolt shafts, purchased from WalMart and then cut down by a local archery place to the lengths above.
I then sewed up the back panel, which is two layers of 1.9 oz./sq. yard ripstop nylon that I got cheap from JoAnne Fabrics, draped over the top crossbrace and then sewn at the edges to make channels for the vertical spars of the frame. I then sewed ten pieces of ~10.5" long, 1" thick nylon webbing to the back panel 1" apart vertically, bartacking every 1.5" across to make the PALS array.
I then sewed a set of shoulder straps from an old Coleman pack that fit me reasonably well to the back panel. I attached the load lifter straps to the top row of the PALS array, the bottom adjustment straps to the outside of the back panel, and I sewed a pair of 1" nylon webbing strips to accept the "rip and stick" attachment point at the center of the straps.
Finally, I sewed the waist belt together, putting the 2" belt proper on the double-layer of nylon I was using for the exterior of the belt and sewing loops of 1" webbing to hold the plumbing barbs at the bottom. I bartacked the 2" webbing down approximately every 2" or so to hold it in place, sewed up three sides of the waist belt, slipped two layers of cut-up CCF pad (glued together) into the pouch, and turned it right side out to sew up the last portion of it. To the 2" webbing, I sewed a side-release buckle.
I then sewed up several lashing straps for my stuff sacks. The longest ones (used for my hammock, insulation, and sleeping clothes all-in-one package) are 55" long. I'm probably going to reduce the length on those; they're a little too long.
Things I need to change in the Beta design for this pack:
[*]Rougher material on the inside of the waist belt: The ripstop is too slippery, and the belt slides down on me when I have more than twenty pounds on the pack.
[*]"REI-style" waist belt buckle: I'm going to switch over to 1" webbing for the belt in a "V" shape rather than 2" straight across, and add a pair of adjustment locks to the ends of the waist padding rather than using one at the buckle proper.
[*]A pair of keepers for the waist belt: I had the frame slide apart on me this past weekend. There really isn't anything keeping it together but for friction at the plumbing barbs, and the waist belt is almost heavy enough to pull it apart. A set of velcro or omni-tape pads on the belt will help keep it together when I pick it up off of the ground, and will help keep the belt from falling down vertically so that it doesn't face my body when I'm picking it up.
[*]A haul loop for the top of the pack.
[*]Heavier material for the pack: Now that I have a sewing machine that will handle heavier material, it's going to be worth it for durability.
[*]Homemade shoulder straps.
[*]"Keeper" straps added to my stuff sacks: a simple piece of webbing or fabric added vertically a stuff sack will help to hold it in place and keep the sack from sliding when I run my lashing straps around it.
Other than that, I'm pretty happy with the pack. I carried ~ 35 lbs with it for three miles this weekend, and it handled pretty well. I carried ~25 lbs with it for another three miles, and it handled really well. I carried ~12 lbs with it for about twelve miles, and it handled like a dream. I think that, with the waist belt issues addressed, it will be a wonderful pack. I'm pretty sure that it will stand up to about 40 lbs with no trouble whatsoever, and that's about as much as I want to carry at any given time.
Here's a quick video for you on the pack:
An overview of the waist belt and frame:
A close-up of the frame attachment point at the waist belt:
The back panel, sans frame:
A close-up of a lashing strap passing through the PALS array: