6 ounce Homemade Backpack

A lightweight backpack made at home


I had some leftover silnylon and webbing from a hammock project and decided to try to make a backpack. It is really just a big suff sack with webbing support. The materials are 1.1 oz silnylon and 1" polyester webbing, plus a little velcro. I didn't have a pattern, I just started putting it together and tried to figure out how to make it work. Some of the "solutions" are actually ways of fixing mistakes.

The stuff sack is 1.1oz coated ripstop nylon. Picture a 10" square with two half circles on either side. This is the shape of the bottom of the stuff sack. The sides of the sack are 40" high, and 43" in circumference. This is a fairly large bag, and it needs to be filled to work correctly. The drypack type opening means it can be overfilled if needed. When filled as shown on the pics, it is 23" high, 15" wide and 9" deep. Probably a little less than 3000 cubic inches volume as shown, but it has quite a bit more capacity. The backpack weight as shown is just over 5 ounces, but I still have to add shoulder pads. I expect to cut up a WalMart sleeping pad and duct tape pieces to the webbing.

The opening is a typical drysack type, where you roll the extra fabric up and then connect two pieces of velcro. The mouth of the bag is reinforced with a strap of webbing (red in the pictures).

The webbing connects to the top of the bag and then crosses around the back, coming around under the bottom. Hopefully most of the stress is on the webbing. There are two webbing sliders (don't know the real name) near the top of the bag and a long piece of webbing comes from underneath the bag and connects to the slider to make a shoulder strap. I still need to put some padding on it. There is a piece of webbing (blue) sewn across the back of the bag for support. There is another piece of webbing with loops sewn in each end which pulls the shoulder straps together. They were too wide apart and this solution to a design mistake seems to work well.

The contents of the pictured bag is pretty much my winter camping gear, plus some extra clothes. Total weight as pictured is 20lbs. Most of my gear gets put in homemade stuff sacks or plastic bags. I am not sure that this pack would work well if all the gear were just thrown in and not bagged. There is a plastic bag with clothes on the bottom that is actually clothes I would be wearing, more than I usually would pack in the bag. There is a food stuff sack with food for 3 or 4 days plus a pot with a lid that holds the stove, pot stand, foil windbreak and a lexan spoon. There is a tarp in a stuff sack and a sleeping bag in a stuff sack. A hammock and pod are wrapped in snakeskins and just jammed in. I don't have water or alcohol fuel in the pack yet, and I don't have my underquilt yet, but the extra clothes probably make up for the underquilt. Most of my stuff is soft, any pointy stuff could rip the fabric.

The "around the back" webbing seems to support the contents of the bag and it also pulls the bag close to you. It seems to move with you, I did not have the feeling that I needed to have a belt. The 1" straps are too narrow but were actually not too bad. With some closed cell pad material taped to them they should be comfortable. When the bag is stuffed tight with soft things against your back, it feels fine on the back. I haven't tried it out too much yet, but crouching down, standing up, moving through narrow doorways was all easy and the pack stayed right in place. My first impression is good, but I will wait till after I have packed it a few miles before I give it the OK.

As you can see, my foot pedal sewing machine is pretty primitive. It was made in Germany in 1951. My sewing skills are also not that great, but getting better. Just an encouragement to beginners, it doesn't have to be sewn perfect to work.

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