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MYOG -Failures!
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Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
MYOG -Failures! on 05/23/2007 17:03:00 MDT Print View

We all talk on here about how great our home made gear is, but lets be honest and share some disaster fabric tearing, seam ripping stories!

I'll start it off, my new back pack.. this weekend I was doing some class 5 bushwacking with it and was slowly noticing that the hip belt kept feeling loose, when I finally stumbled back to the road I noticed that the whole thing had ripped out and only the side load lifter strap was keeping it on. bummer!! back to the sewing machine it went!

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: MYOG -Failures! on 05/23/2007 19:16:16 MDT Print View

If it rips, it's a prototype ;-) Never take a prototype anywhere where failure could be a problem. So far I've never had a failure with sleeping bags (actually a buddy melted a zipper in a drier once, but that was user error and gave me an "opportunity" to add more down),quilts, stuff sacks, tarps, or tarp tents. I've had trouble with windpants made of 1.1 oz miniripstop getting worn out, including seams blown out before I adjusted the pattern. Windshirts seeem to hold up fine in 1.1 oz, but they need constant washing and DWR treatment. I haven't made an UL pack yet, but my 12 oz per pair low rider bicycle front panniers made out of 4 oz oxford and 1.4 oz silnyl have held up for about 600 miles of unsupported touring so far. My rear panniers are 20+ years old and have thousands of mile on them, but I backed up the original stiching the last time I used them and the fading nylon is starting to look like polymer death.

I've scrapped more homemade gear to polyurethane coatings reverting to a sticky, stinky mess than I have to workmanship failure. That's one good thing about silicone coatings, they'll never morph into mystery glue on you.

Years ago I tried to sew my own climbing harness with inadequate thread and sewing machine. It didn't survive the first bounce test executed in a tree branch test fixture. I wish now I had a video tape of the experience, but at the time it would have been mortifyingly embarassing. It's been commercial harnesses, replaced regularly ever since.

I've fixed a lot of commercial gear that wasn't properly put together. I've yet to find a pair of commercial trekking poles that have the straps correctly set up in a mirro image of each other's twist. I swear, most companies never use the stuff they put out.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
MYOG -Failures! on 05/24/2007 06:40:33 MDT Print View

> Years ago I tried to sew my own climbing harness

You are a brave soul, Neil!

Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
myog gear failure on 05/24/2007 07:47:17 MDT Print View

I am just now getting into making my own gear, and don't have any stories just yet. I have had to repair store bought gear regularly though. So I figure it will be the same for my own, learning along the way . . .

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: MYOG -Failures! on 05/24/2007 08:39:41 MDT Print View

I have one. I made a pack out of a bunch of nylon webbing and a bivy sack. It's maiden voyage was on a week long trek with the scouts. We spent a little time up on some snow fields and had ice axes and helmets. Rank newby mistake, testing a homemade pack for the first time on a week long trek. This pack required a lot of webbing and hardware to cinch down the bivy with all my stuff in it. The problem was that the hardware didn't hold and kept slipping as I hiked. The shoulder straps were yoke style from an Osprey day back and were not sewn on. As I hiked the pack would recede from my upper back until it was at quite an angle. I had to stop and tighten the straps numerous times until I finally tied knots in the webbing to keep it from slipping. The yoke style shoulder straps were made for a day pack and so were uncomfortable for the 33 pound load I was carrying at the time. It was also a real pain to pack it up in the mornings, though unpacking was a breeze. The final thing that relegated this pack to a one time use was that fact that it still weighed just over 2 pounds. It was 6 oz of bivy sack and the rest webbing and hardware. I was just starting on my utralight journey then. I now use a GoLite Jam and have lots of webbing and hardware in a drawer at home.

Edited by ericnoble on 05/24/2007 08:42:04 MDT.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: MYOG -Failures! on 05/24/2007 11:11:10 MDT Print View

"Years ago I tried to sew my own climbing harness"

Who is your next of kin going to sue if your homemade climbing harness fails?

Edited by redleader on 05/24/2007 11:12:56 MDT.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: MYOG -Failures! on 05/24/2007 12:24:19 MDT Print View


It wasn't bravery, more like pathological DIYitis, a disease which can be controlled, but never cured for those of us who have the congenital form. My dad was a tinkerer, my brothers and sister are tinkerers, and when no one is looking we dabble. It's mostly harmless, until something like the deadly home remodel rears its ugly head.


David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Re: MYOG -Failures! on 05/24/2007 12:35:49 MDT Print View

There is something to be said for "if you want it done
right, do it yourself"

There was the time the mechanic didn't tighten the oil plug. And don't even talk to me about stock brokers selling
tech stocks! Visit the hospital and watch one person come in
and unplug the oxygen and another come in later a plug it
back in. Being a profesional doesn't always mean taking
the kind of care for yourself or family that you would.

I have used plenty of home made climbing harnesses and
slings. I have tested them (beforehand) and know they work.

Edited by oware on 05/24/2007 12:36:54 MDT.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: Re: Re: MYOG -Failures! on 05/24/2007 14:08:35 MDT Print View

Yes, there are plenty of instances where home cooked beats 'prefessional' or 'mass produced' or 'one size fits all'.

I have long since upgraded my abilities and design insight to where I can safely make (and test on a calibrated pull testing machine if need be) load and life bearing slings. But when I can buy a BD alpine bod harness on sale to where my labor becomes worth $5 or less an hour, and I can't really improve on the design, well sometimes it isn't worth it. Sometimes a specific length sewn sling is worth the trouble. Re-slinging cams is also a useful application.

Of course, knowing what I know now about fall factors, it's possible that my early harness test wasn't so much a failure as the invention of a wearable force limiting runner like a Yates screamer. Because my tether never really came up short and neither the 'catch' or the landing was particularly shocking, and the sound of ripping stitches took a few seconds. Man that's a sound I never want to hear on an actual climb.

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: MYOG -Failures! on 05/24/2007 19:48:42 MDT Print View

Where do I begin...
My first failure was a strap pack that used a blue pad as a frame and a trashbag as a liner. 25 lbs doesn't carry well with squished 1' webbing on the shoulders. The trashbage fell out the bottom a few times too.
My silk hammock failed on my 16 day trip on the AT. Switching to nylon.
Bringing a weak tealight alcohol stove on a 12* overnighter for its first use. Rice a Roni stabbed my mouth every bite.
'Trimming' my ray-way quilt from its monsterous proportions. Ended up turning into a dedicated winter hammock quilt because it couldn't touch the ground on both sides of me when laying down.
Using Epic Liberty Ridge jacket and pants for only raingear during 2 days of straight rain. Turns out it wets through in about 10 minutes due to it being next to my skin.
I'm sure there will be many more to come!

Georgia Jackson
(wbruner) - F
Re: MYOG -Failures! on 09/10/2007 15:12:06 MDT Print View

When starting out my backpacking, I tried to convince my brother-in-law to go with me (my wife wouldn't let me go alone). He refused because we couldn't have a legal ground fire. I took a mini Heinkenen Draught Keg, cut open the side and put a vent hole in the top. I had created my own travel chiminea.

When I tried it out on my porch, my wife was very impressed...until the flames took over the entire keg. I didn't even consider the fact that the keg was also made of aluminum. I was able to get it out with a large glass of water before any damage was done to our apartment (my wife wanted to use the fire extinguisher for fun). We decided to never tell anyone about the incident.

Oh, and my brother-in-law didn't go with me. I took our dog who was a surprisingly better companion.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: MYOG -Failures! on 09/10/2007 15:20:32 MDT Print View

If you fail enough, eventually you get pretty good and then you're really screwed!

The basement turns into a shop. Every outdoor activity turns into "product testing."

Then there is the brief MYOG 12 Step Program phase that quickly fails; and then before long it becomes a lifestyle!

ha ha

Edited by mountainlaureldesigns on 09/10/2007 15:21:14 MDT.

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
MYOG Failure on 09/10/2007 20:24:25 MDT Print View

Here's one from me:

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
oops! on 09/10/2007 22:08:39 MDT Print View

so, I was making my SECOND (the first went off without a glitch...) Liberty Ridge windcoat from, when I realized I had sewn the sleeves on the wrong sides of the back panel. arrrgh! It was already late, but I just had to fix it before going to bed. Of course I had already completed all three lines of the French seam, and put the hood on, so I had a lot of seam ripping to do... I regularly get up for peak hikes before I went to bed that night... the windcoat turned out fine in the end.

I also made my own synthetic booties (from project leftovers) with a pattern (modified from a fleece socks pattern) I made up for vapor barrier and bug socks. They are warm enough, but my feet always slide off the closed cell sole, so they are kindof annoying. I'll need to work on that bootie pattern.

Mark W Heninger
(heninger) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
MYOG - Failures on 09/11/2007 02:22:53 MDT Print View

I once sewed a pack straps on angled the wrong way - they looked great inside out, but once reversed they angled inward. Ugh.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
MYOG -Failures! on 09/11/2007 10:50:48 MDT Print View

I sewed a silnylon stuff sack to use in a bear hanging system and since the sack needed to be able to hold ten or fifteen pounds of food I wanted to be sure to reinforce the opening in the fabric where the drawstring comes together and ties into the cordlock. I was completing this stuff sack a day or two before setting off on a two month hike so I didn't have much time for perfection. I scanned the various fabric piles in my apartment and saw a piece of a seatbelt, cut it into a 2" section, held a lighter to the loose edges, folded it in half, cut a hole in the middle, strung the stuff sack drawstrings though the hole and sewed the seatbelt to the sack.

This solution worked for about a month but there was just some inherent failure in the seatbelt fabric because even though I'd heated the edges the fabric still unravelled. Fortunately the volume of food I was consuming required I carry two stuff sacks (I didn't have time to sew the second so I bought a Granite Gear one). The one I sewed never truly failed past the seatbelt fabric fortunately so I simply put the heavy food in the Granite Gear and the lighter food in the home made.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
The super-warm hat no one would wear on 09/11/2007 14:48:16 MDT Print View

I had some old Thinsulate insulation sitting around so I made a hat like the RayWay Bomber hat. I traced out the pattern from the hood on an old down jacket. I used some left-over light-blue 1.1 oz ripstop for the shell. I used two layers of Thinsulite.

When I put it on my whole family almost died laughing. It was way too thick, and I looked like a conehead. The light blue color didn't help, either. And it was way too heavy at a few ounces compared to about 1 oz for the Bomber hat.

I told them I'd be the only person still warm when the temperatures were way below zero. They said that wouldn't happen until the next ice age (if it comes), as we live in southern Virginia and it rarely goes below 25 degrees F.

But I'll show them one day...

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Henie-Keg = Fire-Keg? on 09/11/2007 15:15:48 MDT Print View

Nice... that would have been a lot of fun to watch...

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: The super-warm hat no one would wear on 09/11/2007 15:21:24 MDT Print View

Pretty funny story Elliott. BTW would you take a picture of someone in the hat and post on BPL? All I can imagine is Mickey Mouse


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: MYOG -Failures! on 09/11/2007 15:42:50 MDT Print View

You get failures, but that's part of designing. Just don't assume V1 will work: it's just the first step. Yes, I make and use my own tents, packs, sleeping bags, clothing, stuff sacks, stoves and even ... climbing harnesses. They all work - now.

When I was doing science R&D my group had a rule of thumb: you don't expect a successful field test until V6. I manage a bit better than that now, but rarely V1.