Shoulder strap construction methods
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Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
Shoulder strap construction methods on 03/01/2007 12:07:56 MST Print View

I'd like to start some dialogue on how to make shoulder straps.

I'm currentally working on a set of padded ones for my never ending pack project. Before I started into it last night I came up with about 5 different ways to basically do the same thing - Foam with fabric on both sides.

My intended use is not SUL backpacking, more mountaineering, skiing and abuse with 20 lbs or so

Spew your methods please... Joe F - The ones on your winter pack look great please do tell...

I sewed up one last night making a sleeve for the foam and it came out ok... I also tried using grosgrain sewing throught the foam and a few other ways.
open to suggestions.
Thanks!

Edited by EricP on 03/01/2007 16:29:09 MST.

Joe Federici
(need2boat) - F

Locale: North East
My straps on 03/05/2007 13:19:39 MST Print View

I've made mine a few ways and change my templet a bit but for the most part I make mine from 1.9oz silnylon and 3-D mesh. I use 1/8th mini cell foam inside the top 12". I've make then with and without pockets, buckles, loops and other stuff but at this point I don't add much. I don't really like a chest strap and I didn't find the pockets that usefull.

I can post some pictures tonight of some.

If your making your first set I'd download the Gossomer gear directions, make a few set out of cotton and patern as you go. Once happy make them for real. 3-D mesh isn't cheap but I really like the look and feel of it.

JFF

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Shoulder strap construction methods on 03/05/2007 13:38:43 MST Print View

Thru-hiker sells pre-made shoulder straps for about $10. They have a ladder lock and padding and weigh .96 oz a piece.
http://thru-hiker.com/MaterialDetail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=mg153&subcat=Hardware

They also sell the 3D mesh that is used for a lot of shoulder straps. $20 for a yard of it that's 54".
http://thru-hiker.com/materialdetail.asp?product_id=mg168

Don't know much about making shoulder straps, but those are the options I'm considering for a pack project I have in mind.

Adam

Joe Federici
(need2boat) - F

Locale: North East
construction methods on 03/05/2007 14:23:19 MST Print View

Another thing to consider with straps is your sewing machine. Once you start working with 3-D mesh, foam, and webbing you need something with a strong feeder like an industrial machine. I currently use a semi industrial unit and even it skips a few stictches when dealing with this many heavier fabrics at once. If you can use something with a walkiing foot you'd be golden.

Joe F

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
update on 03/05/2007 16:38:09 MST Print View

Thanks Guys,
I ended up going the sleeve route for the straps. Lacking the 3d mesh I used some strechy scholer soft shell material for the "skin" side. I'm going to be using the pack mostly in cold conditions so I didnt really feel like waiting to order the more breathable and wicking 3d mesh.

They came out good but I started to loose patience fiddling with them and I think i could have tweaked the shape a tad more for better neck clearance.

Anyway, after building the side panels and pockets, I decided I wanted more volume and am scrapping them, taking a step back for round two starting tonight... getting closer...
Cheers

ps. I'm sewing on a Viking and It goes through pretty much everything. I did 7 layers the other night no problem.. amazing!

Edited by EricP on 03/05/2007 16:39:32 MST.

Joe Federici
(need2boat) - F

Locale: North East
my straps on 03/05/2007 20:49:54 MST Print View

Eric-

Sounds like your heading in the right direction. Anyone who starts a pack and isn't ready to start the next one before he's done isn't doing it right!.

This is a picture of a pack I'm working on now. It's a Day pack and due to the smller size I'm having a time making everything work out to a good fit.
3-D straps with padding on daypack

These are some test straps and one of the temp I use to make them. If you are going to use some type of foam or thicker mesh you need to add about 3" at the end some you can sew them to the pack without binding.
test straps

Good luck

Joe Federici

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
Thanks Joe on 03/06/2007 11:18:14 MST Print View

Looks like a nice work in progress Joe.
I argree, when ever I'm working on something, if I incorporate all the ideas that come into my head while I'm working on it I'd never actually finish anything!

I cranked away last night and changed a bunch of things around. I'll have the main pack done pretty quick tonight, with only the top lid remaining. I'll try to get around to posting some pictures.

Was thinking of using 1.1 oz silnylon for the "extension" part of the top opening. Not sure if that's too light a fabric or not but am going to see how it works anyway.
Cheers

Joe Federici
(need2boat) - F

Locale: North East
1.1 oz on 03/06/2007 12:21:01 MST Print View

if your going to make a roll down collar, I think you'll be fine. The last pack I made the is from .08 nylon except for the last 4" where it attaches to the main part of the bag. This way most of the lighter fabric is rolled up when the bag is in use.

JFF

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
yep on 03/06/2007 15:22:38 MST Print View

Exactally, I'm using the dyneema 210d for everything, but was going to use the 1.1oz for the top 4" collar. It will just be rolled down to get in the pack and fairly rarely used when I'm maxing out the pack volume.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: yep - roll collar on 03/06/2007 15:24:48 MST Print View

I did that with a Dyneema-bodied pack I recently finished. It works fine. I used a 12" collar.

Joe Federici
(need2boat) - F

Locale: North East
lite fabric on 03/06/2007 16:09:55 MST Print View

The only place I've really had problems with switching to light weight fabric is side pockets. I did a pack where I used some .08 oz nylon and it didn't end up wearing well. I carried a tarp tend in it and over about 3 days it riped a bit but fixed it when I got home.

That said I've gone away from the idea of using 1.1oz on most of my packs. I just don't see the weight savings pan out for me. My summer weight is about 12lbs pls food. saving 2 or 3oz but knowing the pack will wear out quickly isn't worth it.

At this point I just try and use light but not crazy light fabrics. Most of the body is made from 1.9 oz sil coated nylon. you can only find this at Seatle Fabric. It's a bit stronger then the poly stuff. Pockets are either a stretch mesh or regular mesh and with 1.9 bottoms.

I've used Cuben but not for packs. I've made a few stuff sacks and I'm watching them for wear. So far wearing much better then most of the other light weight sil stuff. may try it at some point for a silly light pack.

JFF

Eric Eaton
(ericeaton) - F
Thanks, and any more pack making ideas on 03/06/2007 17:01:37 MST Print View

Hey guys,
I’m glad you’re talking about strap design ideas.
There are a bunch of projects I’ve completed (and probably should learn how to photograph and post), but have not posted about. I think I’m getting the idea that maybe my stuff could help someone else with there stuff. To date I’ve designed, made, and used (abused also) a silnylon poncho/tarp (7.1 oz), a silnylon/pertex quantum/noseeums bivy (7.6 oz), a nylon shell/climashield summer quilt (15 oz), and a nylon shell/primaloft shoulder season quilt (23 oz) – for winter, I combine the 2 quilts with a simple matching strap and loop design making for very cozy nights and does double duty to keep the quilt loose or tightly tucked in as weather and mood dictate.
All in all it’s been a hoot. But, now I’d like to try my hand a pack. I’ve been using a Golite Breeze during my transition away from UHW (UltraHeavyWeight) gear to a more svelte kit. There may be something to be said for allowing winter gear to loft out fully inside its voluminous interior I suppose, but this pack is way more than I’ll need this spring through fall. So, there’s a new pack in my drawing board’s immediate future.
Any input is appreciated.
Thanx in advance,
Eric

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
pack making ideas on 03/06/2007 21:11:02 MST Print View

Packs would probably attract as much controversy as alcohol stoves if they were easier to make and more folks did it. So you will probably get opinions going all over the place.

For what it's worth here are my prejudices:
a) 1.3 oz silnylon works for me on everything but packs that are to be subjected to public transportation, including hitching and lots of butt-sliding over granite --IOW, for the AT or other long trail use. For that, I think Dyneema grid-stop makes sense. With that said, I have UL packs that have survived the AT - at the cost of a certain amount of anxiety.

b) Flat, wide packs keep the load closer to the back and better balanced than bulging bags like the Breeze. Matching stuff sacks provide structure and superior load control.

c) For long trails, good load control means reducing the size of the bag as the food load shrinks, so some form of compression is a good idea. For short trips, compression is irrevelant, and the bag can be as clean as possible. Side compression keeps a flat bag flat while front compression tends to give it an undesirable barrel shape.

d) If you use detachable shoulder straps, you can move them from bag to bag. Shoulder straps are a pain to make, and I avoid doing it when I can. I have a good contoured design and several straps made on that design, so I reuse them - pull them off one pack and put them on whichever pack I plan to use next.

You can turn out a light weight pack bag in an afternoon or two. That means you can have several bags sized for the season and the load and not have to worry with compression issues. Just move your strap set from pack to pack. Shoulder straps can be attached with 8" strips of 4" Velcro. At a minimum of 5 pounds of strength per square inch, one strip per strap will hold 160 pounds. That ought to do it. Make the strips on the pack longer to provide torso length adjustment. For reasons that escape me, Velcro narrower than 4" does not work as well even when using one per strap -- whereas, you can put both straps on a single 4" strip. Go figure.

e) Large sleeve pockets on the sides of either mesh or nylon, but certainly with mesh bottoms, can hold water and fuel and a leak will not get in the pack.

f) As mentioned earlier in this thread, roll-down tops let you vary the load and compress the pack from the top for load control. They are also weather resistant (as a final protection, not as the first line of protection), and they work better with the wide, shallow pack recommended in b). Contrast that with the drawstring top of the Breeze which tends to result in a cylindrical top. In practice, letting the top go cylindrical does not hurt the balance much, but the drawstring, while a little lighter, does not let you vary the load much.

g) If you make your own packs, you can experiment with unusual ideas. But start simple. My favorite is to go without a hip belt. Almost everyone who starts out to make a MYOG pack tries to incorporate a hip belt, but they rarely, if ever, work as intended. As Ryan Jordan demonstrated in an article on pack design here at BPL ("Frameless Backpacks: an Engineering Analysis"), packs without supporting frame members such as stays will compress between the hip belt and shoulder straps, eliminating the support the hip belt is supposed to provide. I don't use hip belts for loads under 35 pounds or so, and find my walking is easier. Hip belts restrict full body movement, reduce your stride length, put pressure on critical muscles, and generally get in the way of walking.

h) Beware foofawraw - anything you add to a simple bag means more weight, and it adds up fast. A 5 ounce concept can quickly double in weight with extra straps, reinforcements, pockets, etc. Also beware mixing incompatible materials - especially heavy or stiff webbing or reinforcement material on UL nylon. The result will be a dog's breakfast. Be aware that UL packs have little inherent structure and heavy or stiff components will distort them, strain the fabric and cause failure.

Eric Eaton
(ericeaton) - F
Re: pack making ideas on 03/06/2007 21:38:19 MST Print View

Thanks Vick.
My intention is to build a few packs, so your shared strap idea is quite an elegant solution.
I am in training already for my 2007 AT through hike. As I am a poor but hearty private music teacher, I will have limited time to complete my trek (approximately 110 days is all I can afford in terms of time off). This may seem a fool’s errand to the more experienced amongst us, but it is my unwavering intention.
The need for multiple packs is due to mostly to the variety of weather and trip length I encounter. Most training hikes start predawn and end a few minutes before my first students knock on the door at around 3PM. So, I have been using the breeze as an oversized day pack. Weekends find me doing local (Long Island, NY) trails of 40 to 50 miles split between Saturday and Sunday with an overnight on trail. My kit weight hovers between 5 and 8 pounds (had a windy wet low in the negative single digits which required more insulation and resulted in a frozen beard and water bottle). Then, when school is on break, I do a seven to nine day hike sometimes nearly filling my pack for all the food and clothes. So, I’m thinking a pack for each purpose, and one for the long trip.
Good heads up on the compression. My first thought was to load the side seams nearest my back with loops. These I would thread with chord both front and rear to hold my sleeping pad between my back and pack as well as to give a bit of pack compression.
Thanx again for your thoughts. Wish me luck.
Eric

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
pack making ideas on 03/06/2007 22:08:00 MST Print View

One of my major concerns with regards to packs is the smell that can get into the pack straps from underarm secretions, especially when not wearing a hip belt so that the shoulder muscles are forced to work hard and thus perpsire heavily, even when using strong anti-perspirants. Whatever those secretions are, they either have no smell or even smell nice on the skin, but they stink to high heaven once they get into the pack straps and dry there. After a while, it becomes nearly impossible to remove this stink. McNett Mirazyme may remove it, but nothing else seems to work: not bleach, nor hot water and detergent, nor vinegar nor lemon juice nor baking soda.

Instead of toting around a bunch of Mirazyme on long trips, the solution I came up with is to simply install a wide (1 1/2") sternum strap and then pull the straps close in so that they never have a chance to pick up any underarm secretions. This will feel very uncomfortable at first, until the neck muscles (upper trapezius, rhomboid and spinal erector msucles) develop. I tried this with a thin 3/4" sternum strap but that wasn't nearly as comfortable as the thick strap, considering how much of the load I was asking this sternum strap to carry. By keeping the strap fairly high, there shouldn't be any interference with breathing, assuming you are breathing with the diaphragm rather than the upper chest.

A secondary advantage of relying heavily on the sternum strap to carry the load is that the shape of the pack straps no longer really matters. You can forget those fancy contoured shapes and just make the straps rectangular, in other words.

One way to save on the weight of that heavy 1 1/2" strap is to make it fixed length rather than adjustable. It takes a while to figure out what the optimal length is, but I found that this optimal length doesn't really vary with load, unlike the length of shoulder straps.

Edited by frprovis on 03/06/2007 22:13:13 MST.

Joe Federici
(need2boat) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Sternum strap on 03/07/2007 09:03:56 MST Print View

Frank-

One thing I've found that really works for smell is a product called sink the stink. It's sold at dive and kayaking shops. Take a look at there website and most places sell it in small tubes so your not puttting out a lot of $$$ to try it. I've used it on my kayaking neoprine booties for years and it really works.

http://www.sinkthestink.com/

As for the sternum strap idea although it sounds good I'd wonder if you can adjusting your placement of the shoulder strap on the pack, change the points at which they tie into the body of the pack at the bottom and top as well as shape. I can carry about 201bs without the straps sliding off my shoulders. The sliding off of the straps seems to be the problem and the need for the sternum strap.

JFF

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: pack making ideas on 03/07/2007 11:36:42 MST Print View

Eric,
Yeah, good luck. You are planning very high mileage, but that's been done and with the mileage you are practicing with, you ought to be able to set that kind of pace - especially in the mid-Atlantic states. I plan to start this month and to go a good bit slower. If you are starting after school is out, you can dispense with cold weather gear entirely until you hit the Whites. Even then, you can go with fairly light sleeping gear. The coldest you are likely to encounter there in August is 25F, and this year seems to be shaping up to be warmish.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Sternum strap on 03/07/2007 11:47:38 MST Print View

I agree with Joe about the stink issue and sternum straps. Sing the Stink sounds a lot like McNett's Mirazyme (SP?) which I have found to be the only effective treatment for imbedded hiker stink. On long trails, I carry two Velcro pads that match the Velcro on my shoulder straps. That way, the straps can go in the laundry without catching and wrecking other gear.

Sternum straps are a remedy for poorly designed and mounted shoulder straps, IMHO. Never needed them since settling on wide, contoured straps set 1" apart and anchored to the outside bottom edges of the pack. The angle at which the tops of the straps attach to the pack determines the angle at which they contact your shoulders; square attachment for square shoulders, a "V" or acute angle between the strap attachment will fit sloping shoulders.

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
nice on 03/07/2007 13:50:16 MST Print View

Great to have your insight Vick.
Sounds like you have a ton of experience here.

I still think a sternum strap is good to have when you are doing awkward moves. Like bushwacking, skiing etc. They keep the load from transfering from one strap the other so much. When things get silly I tighten mine down..

For normal hiking I totally see your point though :)

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: nice on 03/07/2007 14:10:29 MST Print View

Eric,
Sure - mystery moves require more pack stability than stroling up a gentle trail. A waist belt (not load bearing) is a good thing to have if your pack threatens to go over your head. Maybe even a sternum strap when climbing difficult pitches. My point is that sternum straps are generally an attempt to make up for poor shoulder strap design. They are part of the "if it don't work, patch something else on" school of design.