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Michael Haubert
(SoCalMike) - F

Locale: So Cal
Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/15/2014 15:41:00 MDT Print View

Here is a sneak peak at my latest project: A Bamboo External Frame Backpack.

It’s a work in progress and I’m still tinkering with it, but I hope to have it ready very soon.

It is made of bamboo poles and paracord lashings. The straps to hold the gear to the frame are nylon with plastic buckles. No metal involved at all. The pad for the back is multi-use: The pad can be removed from its pouch through a Velcro opening so it can be used as a sit pad during breaks and as extra insulation under my feet in my hammock or in my tent.

The top can be loaded with either a large or small bear canister.

The bags will be 20 liter waterproof drybags with roll top closures. I ordered some gray ones so I don't have such a "rainbow" effect with the multi-colors. The nylon straps that hold the bags are affixed to two vertical poles running down the middle of the frame. They won’t slip because there are several holes running along the poles and the straps are tied into place. The holes make it adjustable so I can shift the fixed points along different points along the poles.

I’m experimenting with adding a loop for holding a water bladder for drinking on the go. Should be easy, but don’t know if it will swing too much and be annoying.

It can be set up with or without a sturdy hip belt. It’s not necessary to have one, but the heavy duty belt does help with higher weights. The problem is that my hip belt--a military MOLLE belt--weighs a whopping 16 oz. So, I’m trying to avoid using that or find an alternative that sets up similar to the MOLLE.

A special thanks to Daryl Clark whose lightweight external frame packs inspired me to jump into this project. His help with previous projects was invaluable. And a big thanks to Henk Smees (aka "The Flying Dutchman") for his input and sharing his external fame creation with me. I borrowed quite a bit from his pack design.

Michael



Basic Frame:Basic Frame

Removable Pad:Removable Pad

Pack Front:Pack Front

Pack Back:Pack Back

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
RE: Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/15/2014 16:40:10 MDT Print View

Very cool -- it reminds me a bit of a LuxuryLite.

Have you thought about replacing the paracord with strips of cane (like you would use for a woven cane chair)? You soak the cane strips in water to make them malleable, then you tightly wrap the bamboo, and the cane actually continues to tighten as it dries. Trim it to fit, wood glue the end, and it'll be stronger, more durable, and lighter than with the cord. You can google cane furniture repair supplies to find the cane strips (something like this: http://www.hobbyshopamerica.com/commonwealth-basket-fine-2-5mm-chair-binder-cane-refill-for-kit-200f-fc.html?gclid=CNfpnOnMlb0CFcURMwodemMALA).

Really nice work!

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/15/2014 17:02:38 MDT Print View

Hi Michael,

REALLY cool project, I must say.

Questions about the pad pocket/back panel: Does it move away from your back when packed? Is it enough padding along the frame?

Also, what does the pack weigh?

Thanks you,
Todd

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/15/2014 17:05:29 MDT Print View

Nice job Michael.

I'm glad you posted it so others can learn from your efforts.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/15/2014 18:02:01 MDT Print View

Cool project! Gossamer Gear sell 4 oz hip belts.

http://gossamergear.com/packs/pack-accessories.html

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/15/2014 18:33:03 MDT Print View

It's as if Jansport had located on Gilligan's Island.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/15/2014 18:36:42 MDT Print View

Awesome little DIY backpack!! A mixture of the Molly Mac Pack and the LuxuryLite StackPack - two very unique and niche packs!

Michael Haubert
(SoCalMike) - F

Locale: So Cal
Feedback on 03/15/2014 20:18:51 MDT Print View

@ Valerie: Thank you so much. I had not considered your suggested method for the joints. I will have to experiment with that. It’s very appealing since it uses more bamboo instead of synthetics. I did consider a resin process such as some of the bamboo bikes because it’s strong, but I decided against it because of cost, hassle, mess, etc.

@ Todd: I’m not sure if I understand what you mean by “move away from your back,” but the pad protects against the two *inside* vertical poles and the bottom horizontal pole. The hip belt also helps as an additional cushion for the bottom pole. The two *outside* vertical poles are 13 inches apart and the pad does not do anything for those. The pad hangs between those two outer vertical poles. But those outer poles do not make contact with my back. It is not a factor. I have added some additional padding to the back panel to make it extra comfy, especially at my lower back where the most contact is made.

I knew someone at BPL would ask about weight. Mea Culpa…I don’t know. I did not start weighing the individual pieces and it's a bit cumbersome with my small digital scale to weight it accurately. I have a feeling I’m not done with this thing and will try to make it lighter where I can. I will hold off on weighing it for now and report back if there is enough interest. For now, all I can say is: It’s the lightest MYOG bamboo backpack I’ve ever encountered…Sorry, not trying to be a smarty. I’ll get some weights sometime after doing more testing and tinkering.

@ Daryl: And THANK YOU for all of your very, very helpful input. It simply wouldn’t have been right not to acknowledge your help.

@ Ian: I have a Mariposa and I like their hip belt. And I did try using lighter alternatives, but I should elaborate. The MOLLE belt has straps that are affixed to a rigid panel on the back of the belt. These things are designed to hold very heavy military packs, like the ALICE. I mimicked the ALICE pack connections with paracord on the bottom horizontal pole so the MOLLE belt would work as it was designed to work. I guess what I’m looking for is some way to repeat that effect but with a much lighter version.

@ David: Your comment made me laugh. Thanks. Part of this project was just to see if it would work and have some fun. I really like bamboo, so there you go.

@ John Abela: You hit the nail on the head. Those two packs certainly played a role in inspiring this pack. Indeed, I was about to make a Molly Mac replica with some modifications when I went in a slightly different—more traditional—path for this external frame.

Michael

Michael Haubert
(SoCalMike) - F

Locale: So Cal
Suggestions on improvements on 03/15/2014 20:22:38 MDT Print View

I would love more feedback on this project, especially any thoughts on improvements.

Does anyone have any suggestions on lightweight cordage that would hold knots well for the purposes of this pack, i.e. lashings and holding the joints? I prefer black or green, but some of the stuff out there is neon orange or bright green. I'm trying to avoid that, if possible. Also trying to keep the price down. Overall, this was a pretty low budget project and making adjustments will add to costs--but I do want it to work.

And, any assistance with a hip belt alternatives that would achieve the criteria I mentioned above with regard to mimicking the MOLLE belt/ALICE pack connections, but in a lighter version, would be fantastic.

Michael

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Feedback on 03/15/2014 22:18:52 MDT Print View

The strength to weight of bamboo is high enough that it was used as ski poles before aluminum.

Three years ago, I saw bamboo used all over China in traditional housing, furniture, musical instruments, cooking utensils, all manor of light construction and, most incongruently, as scaffolding during the construction of high-rise steel-reinforced concrete high rises.

We were told that there are many species of bamboo and some are used for food, some for structural work, etc. If, as a westerner, you grab a piece of bamboo willy-nilly, it might be like someone new to wood working attempting to build furniture from eucalyptus, airplane wing ribs from ironwood, use pine for cooking, and balsa in a post-and-beam house.

Don't take that as a criticism, I certainly don't know any better myself. But whatever you're able to achieve in your first effort, could be optimized greatly with better materials.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Suggestions on improvements on 03/15/2014 22:25:18 MDT Print View

>"Does anyone have any suggestions on lightweight cordage that would hold knots well for the purposes of this pack, i.e. lashings and holding the joints?"

I saw the 550 cord and thought of that as an obvious place to save weight. I'd use 75- to 150-pound test braided fishing line. I carry 25-foot lengths as a part of a UL fix-it kit. Lashings, replacement shoelaces, fishing line, etc. PM me if you want me to throw a hank of it in the mail to you. You'd want to wear gloves when cranking on it, but you can make joints that are quite strong and weight about 1/8 of what that parachute cord does.

Here it is in black at one cent per foot for 100-pound test:

http://www.amazon.com/100LB-Dyneema-Strong-Braided-Fishing/dp/B009661Y72/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1394943801&sr=8-2&keywords=fishing+line+braided

Michael Haubert
(SoCalMike) - F

Locale: So Cal
Fishing Line on 03/16/2014 07:54:30 MDT Print View

@ David: Thank you for the generous offer. I'll send you a PM. Never would have thought of using fishing line and I'd love to try it out. I'm also kicking around the idea of trying Zing It and other similar lines.

Michael

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Re: Suggestions on improvements on 03/16/2014 08:41:09 MDT Print View

David,

Thanks for the line suggestion. I just ordered some.

David and others,

After lashing something do you have any suggestions for knots or other means of securing the end(s) of the line? My knots tend to loosen up over time. I've even resorted to taping the ends down.

Daryl

Michael Haubert
(SoCalMike) - F

Locale: So Cal
Lashing Technique on 03/16/2014 11:22:33 MDT Print View

Daryl,

Here is a tutorial from Hedgehog Leatherworks that I use for lashing:

http://www.hedgehogleatherworks.com/Basic-Lashing-Techniques-For-Wilderness-Survival-s/47.htm

I have learned quite a bit from his videos.

Michael

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Lashing on 03/16/2014 13:55:21 MDT Print View

We built tents like this using a modified square lashing technique.

Tent

A lot of people make this knot more complicated then it needs to be. What we did was easier and in my opinion plenty strong.

Step 1 - Fold your rope length double

Step 2 - Put the folded end around one piece of bamboo and pass the loose ends through it to make a "slip knot"

Step 3 - Wrap the doubled over strong tightly as shown in square knot diagrams

Step 4 - Separate the two strands. Pass one under the wrapped cord and keep the other loose. Now the two strands can be pulled in opposite directions

Step 5 - Pull the two strands at tight as possible and tie them off.


I tried finding a diagram of our technique online but couldn't. The normal boy scout way looks more complicated. The closest I could find was the Japanese Mark II square lashing.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/16/2014 14:43:45 MDT Print View

Michael and Luke,

Thanks for the info. Helpful.

Here's a video that might be close to what Luke was describing?

lash

Edited by lyrad1 on 03/16/2014 14:44:22 MDT.

Michael Haubert
(SoCalMike) - F

Locale: So Cal
lashing on 03/16/2014 15:39:04 MDT Print View

Thanks, Daryl and Luke. I like that method in the video, too.

Michael

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Suggestions on improvements on 03/16/2014 15:58:18 MDT Print View

Daryl:

I've had good success with a "constrictor knot" - a clove hitch with an extra twist, which helps with slipperier synthetic cordage.Constrictor Knot

which especially helpful and easy with the starting point, but it can also be used as a the ending point to secure the line, albeit harder to take up all the slack. Once snug enough, you can apply a dap of glue to make it permanent.

If you have two lashings near each other, you can tie a loop on the end of each line with a bowline and then run another line multiple times between the two loops. That gives you a pulley-like effect, more mechanical advantage, and gives a point where you retighten everything in the future.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Re: Re: Re: Suggestions on improvements on 03/16/2014 16:08:05 MDT Print View

David,

Thanks. I made a copy and will tape (tie?) it to the spool of fish line you recommended when it arrives.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Bamboo External Frame Backpack on 03/16/2014 16:21:29 MDT Print View

Another approach would be to drill the cross members with a hole saw matching the verticals' diameter. Then rest the verticals in the 180-degree and compress the left vertical towards the right vertical with a turnbuckle snugging up fishing line between the two verticals. Here's someone else's concept where the joint is snugged up locally, through the use of a peg as an attach point:Bamboo joinery

This would eliminate the overlapping the bamboo, keep the load closer to the back, and reduce the weight a bit. I think it also be stronger - you would be using the compressive strength of the bamboo and the tensile strength of the line, rather than relying on the friction between the pieces of bamboo in a square or diagonal lashing.