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Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight
Part 2, Stuff Sack

Complete instructions to construct a 0.2-ounce stuff sack sized right to compress a SUL tarp (Part 3) into a tidy 4 x 4 x 8 inch bundle.

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by Jay Ham | 2006-11-28 03:00:00-07

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight <br>Part 2, Stuff Sack

Editor's Note: There are four articles in this series.

Overview

Cost
(US$)
Weight
(oz)
Time to construct
(hours)
Skill
(scale 1-10)
Tools
(scale 1-10)
$140* 0.2 1 2 7**
*This project is part of a series. The cost is for making all components.
**Tools include a hobbyist level sewing machine.

This article is the second in a four part series on turning 5 yards of spinnaker fabric into a SuperUltraLight (SUL) tarp, pack, and stuff sack. Five Yards to SuperUltraLight, Part 1 showed how the fabric was divided efficiently into the various pieces for each project. In Part 2 we will construct a SUL stuff sack. I have used this stuff sack design for years. It has everything a stuff sack needs without extra bells and whistles, and can be made in under an hour. The simplistic design resonates in the 0.2-ounce final weight.

Recommended Materials and Equipment

  • Spinnaker fabric (12 inches x 16 inches, plus a small 2 inch x 2 inch triangular reinforcement piece)
  • Micro cordlock (1)
  • Length of Spectra cord (20 to 25 inches)
  • White Gutermann’s thread
  • Consumer grade sewing machine
  • Scissors, measuring tape, seam ripper, pins, pens, etc.

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 1
Pieces needed to build a SuperUltraLight (SUL) stuff sack; large piece of fabric (12 inches by 16 inches shown), small reinforcement triangle, small micro cordlock, length of Spectra fiber cord, and white thread (not shown).

Construction

Stuff sacks are quick and easy to make, requiring only the straight stitch. I will begin by sewing the draw cord sleeve along the top opening. Sew the sides and bottom in a single straight stitch. Add a couple additional stitches across the bottom to give it a square shape. I finish by sewing a small triangular reinforcement piece at the top, just under the draw cord opening.

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 2

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 3

Begin by determining the top of the stuff sack. For a stuff sack, usually the fabric is wider than it is tall, so the top will be one of the longer sides. In our 12 inch by 16 inch fabric piece, the 16 inch side is the top. The corners of the top are folded inward and sewn as shown by the red line. I fold in about 1 inch, and taper 3 inches down each side. This will allow an opening for the cord to pass through.

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 4

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 5

The next step is to fold over the top to the inside (left), in the same direction we folded the corners. I folded mine just a little over an inch. Use a straight stitch (right) to sew the flap down to create the cord sleeve for cinching the bag closed.

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 6

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 7

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 8

After folding the stuff sack in half, inside out, we sew around the perimeter of the open side and bottom starting from the top opening (top left). Sew down the stuff sack, turn at the corner (bottom), and complete the stitch with a reverse feed stitch at the bottom corner. Note that we do not begin sewing at the very top of the stuff sack (top right). This would seal the ends of the cord sleeve. We want to leave the ends of the folded sleeve open for the draw cord to pass through, so begin sewing where the sleeve’s horizontal seam meets the stuff sack edge, as shown in the top right photo.

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 9

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 10

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 11

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 12

I like to give the stuff sack a square bottom. The first step is to refold the stuff sack on its side, and inside out, with the corners folded down (top left). Next, mark the location of the seam. Since this bag is roughly 16 inches in circumference, or 4 inches on each side if square, our seam will be 4 inches in length (top right). Once marked, sew a straight stitch across each corner (bottom left) and trim off the excess material (bottom right).

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 13
The finished bottom will have a square shape and the seam work will resemble an “H.”

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 14

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 15

The top of the side seam, directly beneath the cord opening, receives the most stress and will be the first to fail if not reinforced. I reinforce this area using a small triangle of fabric (left). I place this on the outside of the stuff sack and sew around its perimeter (right).

Final Step

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight - 16
Finish the stuff sack by feeding a draw cord through the top sleeve and adding a small cordlock. My finished stuff sack weighs a scant 0.2 ounces and is sized just right for storing the tarp we will make in Part 3 of the Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SUL series. See you there.


Citation

"Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight
Part 2, Stuff Sack," by Jay Ham. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/make_your_own_gear_5_yards_to_sul_part_2.html, 2006-11-28 03:00:00-07.

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Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight Part 2, Stuff Sack
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight Part 2, Stuff Sack on 11/29/2006 06:27:20 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight Part 2, Stuff Sack

Frank Perkins
(fperkins)

Locale: North East
Re: Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight Part 2, Stuff Sack on 11/29/2006 12:32:49 MST Print View

Cool article, two things:

1) Can the cost be changed to only make the item identified in the article?

2) Mig asked in part I of the article where to buy Spinnaker online. Unfortunately, after searching through the forums, I can't find any online sources. Anyone have a website that's selling it online?

Edited by fperkins on 11/29/2006 12:34:12 MST.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Re: Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight Part 2, Stuff Sack on 11/29/2006 13:41:55 MST Print View

I have some to sell as well as other
similar fabrics.

another possible source
http://www.therainshed.com/


Dave

owareusa.com

Jay Ham
(jham) - F - M

Locale: Southwest
Make Your Own Gear: Five Yards to SuperUltraLight Part 2, Stuff Sack on 12/01/2006 20:33:34 MST Print View

Frank,

Dave at Oware is great to deal with, and has the fabric. I would definately use him for a source.

Unfortunately, making a single stuff sack is less economical because you have to buy minimum quantities of fabric and other materials, and shipping cost won't be reduced much. I usually make my stuff sacks from leftover material purchased for other projects. If you wanted to make several stuff sacks, your cost per sack goes down considerably. With a yard of Spinnaker, you could make as many as 10 small stuff sacks, or a fewer combination of larger and smaller, for about $40.

Jay
MYOG

Nick K
(nkline) - MLife

Locale: Northeast U.S.
Re: fabric updates & sources on 01/06/2009 15:11:28 MST Print View

I noticed the last post was made about two years ago. Since I am considering making the gear discussed in this project, I was wondering if there have been updates on the types of fabric to use and the sources to obtain them.

Other recommendations and/or lessons learned on this project are appreciated.

Thanks,

Nick

Edited by nkline on 01/06/2009 15:12:15 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: fabric updates & sources on 01/06/2009 20:19:51 MST Print View

Not many changes in the last year or so.

Cheers

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Sources on 10/30/2009 21:07:41 MDT Print View

Thru-Hiker.com has a stuff sack kit that is an economical way to obtain the necessary materials. The 'premium' kit includes 0.7oz SpinTex, 5 small cord locks and ample draw string (although I do wish it was lighter spectra cord). You can buy this for $19.95 and make 5 stuff sacks with it. With some extra cord and cord locks you could make a lot more than 5 sacks if they were small ones.

So far I have made a small sack (about 2L) for my 'essentials' and another similarly sized sack for my pot. Both weigh 6-7g (0.2 to 0.25oz). I've also make a sack for my stakes that weighs 2g (0.1oz). I have a lot of fabric left (about 75% of it). I could definitely make some bigger sacks but I'm a bit nervous about using this material for higher stress applications like a food bag.