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Easiest method for a simple rucksack body?
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Will Govus
(willgovus) - F
Easiest method for a simple rucksack body? on 03/02/2014 15:09:39 MST Print View

I'm looking to sew a simple ruck. As I have minimal sewing experience (stuff sacks), I was going to use cheap material to make several mock ups before using my actual fabric of choice.

Was just wondering people think to be the easiest/most simple method of creating a small simple rucksack body? I rather like the look and dimensions of Dave Chenault's small packs ( but was unsure if this would be best construction to try to imitate as a first time pack maker?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Easiest method for a simple rucksack body? on 03/02/2014 15:15:21 MST Print View

Sew a piece of fabric together forming a tube - flat felled seam

Sew end flat

Sew perpindicular on both sides forming a box bottom

or read my article on how to make simple pack with box bottom, but you have to be a "M" to read that I believe.

I saw this in Ray Jardine's book "Beyond Backpacking"

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Easiest method for a simple rucksack body? on 03/02/2014 15:43:09 MST Print View

Sometimes more seams can be simpler, if they give you good sewing angles.

For a ~25 liter rucksack I'd make the back panel (the one against your back) one piece. Do this first. It allows you a clear view and is easy to manipulate while you do things like stitch the shoulder straps on.

Make the sides and back from one piece of fabric. Still fairly easy to do stuff like contour the side panels and sew on a daisy chain. You can then fell the two seams connecting this to the back panel. This is stronger and is a good place to have such strength.

Cut the bottom as a squarish oval. No corners here make it easy to sew, especially with a non-burly machine.

Sew the extension collar or hardware for a rolltop on last.

Will Govus
(willgovus) - F
Re: Re: Easiest method for a simple rucksack body? on 03/03/2014 08:03:42 MST Print View

That helps a lot actually, and appears to be the way my HMG pack is constructed now that I look at it...

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
pack on 03/03/2014 08:49:35 MST Print View

David knows his stuff. I used his myog backpack guide and the 5 yards to SUL article , part 4 pack, as a guide and lesson plan for making my first backpack. Most important thing is to make sure all your measurements and whatnot are correct, quadruple check, and make sure you cut out the fabric correctly, I.e. reverse the pattern for left/right side panels if making contoured side panels so you don't end up with two lefts or two rights.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 03/03/2014 08:50:41 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: pack on 03/03/2014 18:31:53 MST Print View

Measure four times cut once. Also make sure you add the proper amount of seam allowance all around. Had to order more fabric a few times after screwing that up. Which brings up a good guideline when starting out: order more fabric than you think you'll need.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Easiest method for a simple rucksack body? on 03/04/2014 15:26:10 MST Print View

I would reiterate the advice above regarding doing the backpanel first. You'll find that the bulk of the "stuff" on the pack will be sewn to the backpanel (pad pocket, shoulder straps, shoulder strap 'bat wings', load lifters, compression straps). The saying measure twice, cut once is good but also keep the phrase think twice, act once in mind. That will save you the headache of sewing things on backwards, upside down, etc.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Easiest method for a simple rucksack body? on 03/04/2014 18:22:45 MST Print View

Jerry had a good idea about using the stuff sack as a model for a simple rucksack.

I would use two seams spaced the width of the back panel apart. This would allow a piece of webbing to be sewn into the seams at the point of the shoulder strap attachments.

Cut out the material for the back panel. Sew the shoulder straps to the back panel. Stitch the webbing across the shoulder strap attachment points to add strength. A bar tack through the webbing and the ends of the shoulder straps where they attach to the pack will add durability.

At this point you will need to determine where the shoulder strap adjustment webbing will be located. Cut out a square of material and cut it in half diagonally. Roll a hem on the longest side. Fold it in half over the end of your webbing and sew through the hemmed edges and the webbing. They can be tacked into place at this time. These are what someone else referred to as batwings earlier in this thread.

Sew the two long seams to the rest of the material that would form the "stuff sack" model that Jerry described. You can then do as Jerry suggested and close up the bottom of the rucksack "stuff sack".

These two long seams can be sewn as flat felled seams by simply using twice the seam allowance on one of the pieces of material being sewn together. After the first seam is sewn fold the extra material over the smaller seam allowance and then fold all of the seam "allowances" over flat hiding the raw edges and stitch them down along their edge. You should see no raw edges when done.

The top closure of the rucksack can then be done with the drawstring method or a roll down dry bag type closure. Either method will work but the roll down dry bag type closure is more waterproof.

The dry bag closure needs only some grosgrain webbing and one side release plastic buckle. Roll hem the top of the rucksack and then sew the grosgrain webbing along the top edge of the hem. Keep it even with the edge. Make the webbing longer than it needs to be because each half of the side release plastic buckle needs to be threaded into place on the webbing in the middle of each of the "side panels" of the rucksack.

NOTE: If you use this method you are not going to be able to sew the webbing continuously around the top of the rucksack as the pieces of the buckle will be in the way. You'll have to sew what amounts to four seams to attach the webbing. Bartacks on both sides of the buckle pieces will add some durability here.

Closure is done by pulling the top shut while holding the buckle pieces in each hand. Roll down the grosgrain webbing and buckle "assembly" at least three times and then bring the pieces of the buckle to the center and snap them together.

If done correctly it will look something like this picture.

Dry bag

It's a little more effort and a little more complicated but this type of closure and a pack liner will keep all your gear dry as a chip if you get caught in a rainstorm.

Post back with any questions and I'll try to answer them as best I can. If you're able, PM me and we can get each other's email address to make the process quicker and easier. ;-)

Party On,

Newton ;-)