Tuesday, 28 September 2010

New Backpack

I've had an attempt at a backpack before. It was a good project and did produce a useable backpack. However some of the stitching and seams were a bit iffy. I used a variety of seams to see which one worked best and came to a way in which I thought worked. This seems to be how some commercial backpack companies also stitch up their bags. I'll post a photo when the sewing starts so you can have a look. My previous pack was made from very lightweight PU coated ripstop nylon. This was the wrong choice. Substantial holes developed around the stitching after a bit of use.  They didn't get any bigger and the material has proved to be tougher than it looks but it didn't inspire confidence and I don't use the pack now.

The new fabric is this.  Apparently it's the stuff that some hot air balloons are made from.  It's strong, very very strong and waterproof and cheap!  Now the colour I got hold of is yellow, the photo below does not show the full glory of this fabric, it's the brightest sunshine yellow EVER!  As you can see (from the link) they also do black.  It's tempting to get some and do a stripy wasp style backpack.  That's got to be first for the lightweight backpacking community (and probably the last).

So where was I..?  Ah wasps...  So that's the fabric sorted.  The design was the next step.  I have been really impressed by these packs.  I got one at the beginning on the summer and it's been well used and lent out to friends.  Everyone's reactions when they see it is that I've bought something that's the lightest because it the lightest and not that its functional.  Believe me it is functional and featherweight too.  Brilliant kit.  So I wanted a larger version around 35l.  The pack was picked apart over the course of a couple of evenings and a pattern taken from the individual panels.  These patterns were enlarged using a photocopier and then panels from the new fabric were cut and pinned together.  Although time consuming this part is relatively straightforward.

A couple of further evenings were spent creating the pattern for the straps and the pockets.  Pinning all these together and seeing how it looked.  I've still to do the hip belt.  The level of adjustment on the straps is minimal as I making the pack for me.  The small amount of adjustment will save on weight and materials and be enough to cope with changes of clothes and the adding of layers.

I have realised that the sewing machine I have can't cope with heavy weight thread or do bar tacks, or even zig zag stitching any more.  Luckily my next door neighbour is a professional seamstress.  So a bit of sweet talking and hopefully I can borrow her machine to sew up the final version.

At the moment I have most of the bits ready to sew up.  To get to this stage I reckon has taken around 15 hours of work and countless of hours of thinking.

 Backpacks are hard to get right.  I've a feeling that this may be too wide across the shoulders.  So I'm going to quickly put this version together and see how it works out.  There will be adjustments to make and a couple of working models before the final version is done.  I'm hoping to take this across Scotland on the TGO if I get on.  I'm aiming to get the weight under 300g, halving the weight of my current pack, the original GoLite Jam.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't occur to me to make my own rucksack, despite having read Ray's book. But you make it seem do-able. Oh no, not another project...

Maz said...

One thing I love about the GG Gorilla is the wide shoulder straps. With the S2S as a template, you might want to think about that option, especially with no hipbelt? Also, a mesh pocket at the front (like the Gorilla) will add very little weight but a massive amount of functionality - storage, drying, easy access...

Shed Dweller said...

Ah Helen don't get to carried away with the do-able. I've cut the cloth, I've yet to sew it together into a useable bit of kit!

Maz, I'm planning on putting a hip belt on, I like hip belts even on small packs. Also in the pictures you can see some mesh cut out for side and front pockets, very useful as you say.