Just Jeff's Hiking Page

"Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose
we came from the woods originally."

- John Muir

Backpack Version 1

I wanted a backpack smaller and lighter than my GoLite Speed, so I decided to make one. I like the Speed, so I kinda copied it...more like the Breeze actually, since it doesn't have the upper mesh pockets on the sides.

I salvaged some padded straps and the bottom reinforcements from one of my kid's old school packs. They weighed 1.5 oz each. Then I used 1.1 oz silnylon for the front, back and side panels, 1.1 oz DWR for the side pockets, and $1/yd noseeum mesh for the big pocket.

  • The main back panel was cut 34" long by 11" wide. That includes the extension collar, and this panel wraps around the bottom to connect to the front panel. This is the same seam as the bottom of the mesh pocket. I ended up needing an extra ~2" at the top end, though...I'll use ~38" if I make this model again..
  • The front panel is 20"x11" cut.
  • The side panels are 9" wide by 19" tall, plus a rounded bottom. But when it was done, I saw that 9" is too wide...the pack turned out bigger than my Speed. So after it was put together, I put a big dart into it, making the hourglass shape below. I probably took out 4" along the middle. Next time I'd just use about a 5" wide strip for the sides.
  • The mesh pocket is 14"x15". I put a channel and elastic along the top, and darts on the sides and bottom. I pinned this to the front panel and sewed it into that seam.
  • The side pockets are 10"x12" with a rounded bottom, elastic on the top, and darts on the bottom and sides. I sewed these right into the main seams, too. Pins really helped keep everything in place when I sewed.
  • The pad pocket strips are DWR, about 11" wide and 4" tall. I hemmed the long edges, then put the sides into the main seams.
  • Above the mesh pocket, I wanted a shockcord to dry wet items. So I put some loops in the side seam to hold the shockcord. See the pic below.
  • After I sewed everything together, I put the drawstring channel in the top. I used Air Core Plus just b/c I had the right length already cut for something else I don't need anymore. The cord needs to be kind thick like this so the cordlock gets enough friction to keep the pack closed. Thru-hiker.com sells Griptease that might work well, too...I've never used it, but apparently it has more friction than most cord that light.
So in the end, the pack is about 10" wide, 24" tall, 8" deep at the top and bottom, and 5" deep along the middle. Probably just under 2000ci in the main body, plus the outer pockets. Total cost about $3 in material, plus the recycled straps. It took me a few hours and weighs 6 oz w/o the sit pad.

Backpack v1
Nice and small, and pretty comfortable. The straps should attach a bit lower on the pack...I should have added an extra inch or two. This fits my older son pretty well, though. If it's comfortable, I'll probably let him carry this one on our trips together. Otherwise, it's the Deuter Fox 30 for him.
I like the narrow profile, and at 6 oz it feels like I'm hardly wearing anything. Still have to see how it works when it's loaded down...I don't expect to carry more than 20 lbs in it.

You can also see how the bottom flares out a bit to give me extra room for for my quilts and hammock. The top flares out to make loading easier, too.

Packed bag...I haven't measured it, but I think it's just under 2000ci, then add a bit for the pockets. The mesh pocket has my MacCat Standard and the water bottle pocket is holding a 1 liter Nalgene and a 16 oz soda bottle...still has a bit of room in there.
Detail of the drawstring. I sewed the channel, then used a hot needle to melt a hole for the string to exit. Then I threaded the string through and sewed a small strip of nylon webbing to protect the hole. The cord is crossed under the webbing so it should put any stress on the hole.
I doubled over two strips of Ed Speer's polypro webbing, an inch wide by about 2" long, and sewed it inside the panel seams. I threaded the shockcord through them to stabilize the top of the pack when it isn't full and to give me a place to dry wet gear.
Bottom of the pack, showing the tarp pocket and the water bottle pockets. The reinforced seam across the pack includes the back panel that wraps under the bottom, the front panel, and the mesh pocket.
Detail of pad in pockets. I intentionally cut the pad too big at first, then trimmed down a little at a time to ensure a tight fit. It kinda bends a bit when it's just sitting there, but it stiffens up nicely when I put it on.

I didn't have enough room on the bottom to put the straps right where they need to be. The bottom strap reinforcement should be no lower than the bottom of the pad pocket, because that's where the pack starts to curve towards the front. This might cause a stress point. Next time I'll make sure the torso is long enough.

Detail of the straps and top pad pocket. There's a layer of silnylon inside the pack to reinforce the straps, then another layer outside, then the pad pocket is sewn on top of that. So from inside out, it's a reinforcement, the back panel, the straps, another reinforcement, then the pad pocket.
Bottom pad pocket. I think these should probably be a bit bigger, but they work ok. It's very easy to remove the sit pad for breaks.

You can really see how the strap reinforcement is too low here.

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