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First MYOG project: Cuben backpack
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Jeffrey Stylos

Locale: Northeast
First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 04/17/2012 21:20:51 MDT Print View

I just finished my first MYOG project: a cuben backpack to use in my PCT thru-hike attempt this year. The other MYOG forum posts here were quite useful sources of design and technique tips, so I wanted to share a few details of my project.

My goal was to create a lightweight frameless pack that would be durable enough to withstand a PCT hike and spacious enough to fit a 10 degree sleeping bag and bear canister. The resulting product is a 6.4 oz frameless pack that seems to be able to hold and distribute a 30 lb load comfortably. The materials are 1.43 oz cuben from ZPacks and 1/4 inch closed cell foam from an old Gossamer Gear sleeping pad, with some webbing from Quest Outfitters.

The main design inspiration came from the ZPacks Zero pack I used on my AT thru-hike last year, which was basically a dry sack with arm straps and side pockets. The main changes I made were increasing the capacity of the main body and side pockets, adding a beefier hip belt, and adding side straps to optionally attach to the roll top. I also reinforced the attachment of the top of the arm straps to the back of pack, since this seemed to be the weak link in my ZPack and first prototype.

My process was to create three prototype packs out of cheap rip stop nylon from JoAnn fabrics (they regularly have 50% off coupons) and use these prototypes to hone my previously non-existent sewing skills and the details of the design.

Some things I learned from the prototypes:

Getting the exact location of the hip belt was tricky. I knew my torso size and knew the right position of my previous, webbing only hip belt, but using this to determine the correct position of a differently sized and shaped hip belt still took trial and error.

Determining the right amount of elastic shock cord to use in the side pockets was also surprisingly tricky. Too little and the pockets are too tight (and the elastic compresses the pack when empty), too much and everything is loose. For these pockets I found that I needed heavier weight shock cord provided enough tension to hold an upright Platypus in place without compressing the fabric of the empty pack.

By making the wing-style hip belt in three pieces I was able to hide any visible seam, which I think looks much better than the prototypes where I made the hip belt out of four identically shaped pieces of cuben.

I put the seam of the side pockets is on the inside of the pockets, which was a huge pain to sew. Now I know why the ZPacks side pockets have seams on the outside of the pocket.

Rainbow colored thread is fun!

Pack pic 1
Pack pic 2
Pack pic 3
Pack pic 4
Pack pic 5
Pack pic 6
Pack pic 7

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Good work on 04/17/2012 22:02:24 MDT Print View

Nice streamlined look. I like the double Gator pockets, that should keep the weight by your center of gravity well. Impressive weight to volume ratio. The extension collar looks nice and big and the roll top straps can double to lash on wet gear on the sides. Nice work, I know how much time goes into a myog pack!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 04/18/2012 07:45:52 MDT Print View

Nice looking pack

Thanks for the ideas, some day I may do something like that

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Re: First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 04/18/2012 09:23:23 MDT Print View

That looks fantastic!

I was wondering, with the side pockets being cuben won't they hold water? Say for like a rain, or a spilled drink, or whatever. Maybe that's just not the end of the world =)

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 04/18/2012 10:00:10 MDT Print View

Nice pack--I'm guessing main bag volume is in the 30-35 liter range?

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 04/18/2012 11:08:54 MDT Print View

Very nice job for your first production model. It does look like you're a wee bit short on the torso though (or your pad has collapsed a bit more likely) as the straps angle down the back of your shoulders.

Kristofer McKenna

Locale: North Texas
looks good on 04/20/2012 13:27:38 MDT Print View

well, it looks well-made :D I'm not a fan of the "worn out plastic" look lol. But that's on the fabric, not on you.

As for being your first project, I can only hope my first project looks that nicely done lol.

James Reilly
(zippymorocco) - M

Locale: Montana
Very Good on 04/20/2012 18:59:55 MDT Print View

That is a project to be proud of. Looks like it will serve you well.

Angela Alexander
(crayon) - F
Fantastic! on 04/23/2012 19:05:51 MDT Print View

Looks fantastic! I love the roll down buckles on the side. You said you did some demos first- what fabrics did you use for your "test runs"?

BTW- Love your profile pic! :-)

Jeffrey Stylos

Locale: Northeast
Thanks on 04/26/2012 00:14:05 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for the comments! I fly out this morning for San Diego, I just hope that it survives being checked airline baggage.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 03/21/2013 20:05:42 MDT Print View

I would have put it in some plastic bags, and maybe wrap a cardboard box around it.

Or there is a case for not, because when an employee sees it they will be carefull with it.

Looks great, how has it been?

Jeffrey Stylos

Locale: Northeast
Re: First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 03/26/2013 21:11:30 MDT Print View

And the verdict is... yes, the pack made it all the way to Canada!Success!
I did end up putting the bag in a large airline-provided plastic bag when checking it, and it survived the flight just fine. It was pretty worn by the end of the PCT -- the back and side pockets were reinforced with a fair bit of duct tape -- but it held together. You can push cuben a while, but after ~2200 miles it becomes a bit of a pain with all of the loose threads that snag on stuff. I took the lessons from my PCT pack and made a stronger, larger cuben-hybrid pack for the CDT, which weighs in at 9.3 oz.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 03/26/2013 21:19:22 MDT Print View

That's really awesome. Congratulations. But now we need photos of the new pack.

Also--fantastic picture. You should have that framed.

Christopher *

Locale: US East Coast
Re: Re: First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 03/26/2013 21:26:09 MDT Print View

Well, how about that.

Jeffrey Stylos is "the other Shutterbug". Or were you the original? I could never keep track. I'm still trying to sort out all the "Gourmets" as I go through all my photos.

We crossed paths very briefly at Kennedy Meadows. I knew the older Shutterbug, so you were a stand-out in my mind.

Good luck along the divide.

(PS: No pics of the new pack?)

Jeffrey Stylos

Locale: Northeast
Re: First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 03/26/2013 21:30:48 MDT Print View

I've always gone by "Portrait" -- as far as I know, that makes me the only one (although there were stories about a bartender in Damascus who planned to use that trail name if he ever hiked).

I'd like to post pictures of the new pack, but I'm pretty busy preparing for the CDT trip (I'm writing an Android app for the CDT, along with all the normal prep work). But if I have time I'll try to upload a photo of the new pack before I leave and get it all dirty.

Christopher *

Locale: US East Coast
Re: Re: First MYOG project: Cuben backpack on 03/26/2013 21:48:36 MDT Print View

Oh cr@p, Portrait.

Too many pseudonyms! I knew it had to do with cameras. LOL. I'm really bad with birthdays too.

We met at a confusing time. There were a bunch of guys with photography names and a bunch of guys with super-light-weight cuben packs, including a French guy and some guy with a name like mouse or something.

Good luck. Lots of good company out there this year. (Actually I think I heard Peru already started.)

Edited by cfrey.0 on 03/26/2013 21:56:54 MDT.

Jeffrey Stylos

Locale: Northeast
New pack pic on 04/07/2013 20:31:54 MDT Print View

Here's a quick picture of the new pack -- I didn't get a chance to do a full pack photo shoot, so I don't have pictures of the other angles, but this gives a glimpse of it.New pack

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

CDT Pack on 04/09/2013 19:33:20 MDT Print View

Awesome. Best wishes on your CDT adventure.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Well Done !! on 04/09/2013 20:30:55 MDT Print View

Looks amazing Portrait !! Enjoy the last point in your Crown !