Thursday, March 20, 2014

My new Daypack

For the last several weeks I have been working on making my own hiking day pack.  I designed this pack to be a hybrid between my last two hiking backpacks, but with a roll top closure and a removable internal pocket.  This pack is smaller than my last day pack and hopefully stronger than my golite dawn pack.

DIY home made hiking day pack

The roll top closure will allow the pack to expand enough to carry two gallons of mushrooms or extra gear in the winter time.

I'm really not very good at sewing, especially by machine.  I learned so much about my old sewing machine and myself while making this pack.

Later I may post a step by step guide but for now I will just post a few pictures of my new pack and the process of making it.

I paid $5.75 for the materials to make this pack.  How did I do it so cheaply?  I recycled!  Oh wait, the word is actually upcyled.   The pack body is made from 72 denier ripstop fabric salvaged from the rain fly of my four season tent. (Eureka outfitter assault 4) The mesh I already had on hand and all the hardware such as clips was salvaged from other gear that I have tossed over the years.  I took the shock cord off two older day packs.

The biggest expense was the thread.  I used an entire 150 yard spool of thread and had to buy more thread before I could finish the project.  Most of the thread I bought is left over and can be used for other projects.  Here is my cost break down, not counting all the left over thread I have.

Thread $3.00 (Wal-mart)
Batting $.75 (from thrift store)
Elastic $2.00 (Wal-mart)

Final weight of my pack is 9.7 ounces, including the foam pad.  It would be lighter if not for the super heavy recycled oops, I mean upcycled zipper on the internal pocket.

After just a quick spin around town I found that I needed to redo the top stitching on all my pockets because the thread was breaking.  With that problem fixed I think this pack is ready to hit the trail.

Step one finally cracking open the owners manual for the machine that I
have had for 28 years.  Note that the spool of thread is in the wrong position here.
It turns out that the needle was also in backwards and the feed dogs
were not working at all.  I had to take my feed dogs a part twice to get them working.
Design took weeks

Tested my design with scrap fabric first
Front panel with pocket sewn on

The back and side panels with the side pockets sewn on

Side pockets, pad holder pockets and bottom of shoulder straps sewn on
Making the shoulder strap tops

Shoulder strap tops are ready to be sewn onto pack body
 all that is left after that is to sew the pack body together
and finish up the roll top closure

Time to load it up and take it for a spin around town
Next I need to test this out on the trail
upcycled zipper  on internal pocket is a bit heavy
Velcro inside pack to
attach pocket to

Velcro attachment on back of pocket

Update after taking the pack around town I redid the stitching on all the external pockets because the threads were popping. I thought I had fixed the problem by doing a zig zag stitch through the elastic.
 After taking the pack on a ten mile day hike some of the zig zag stitching was coming out on two of the pockets. I think my machine did not stitch all the way through the elastic or the thread is too weak.

I have now added very thick elastic (a bigger target to hit with my sewing machine) and I have both machine and hand stitched the elastic to the tops of the mesh pockets. I used much stronger thread for the hand stitching.   I also added reinforcement patches to the top of the front pocket on the inside.

I don't really understand why my thread was popping with a zig zag stitch.  Was the thread too week or did my machine have a problem?  My sewing machine is in need of repair.  The feed dogs hit the pressure plate and there is no way to adjust them that I can see.  It sews okay but after enough banging the feed dogs get loose and I have to tighten them up again.  They get loose due to hitting the pressure plate on the top of every stroke.  I don't know what the solution is short of filing bigger holes into my pressure plate.
Now with wider elastic and narrower shoulder straps
 The pack body and the shoulder straps held up just fine on my hike.  It was just little problems with the pockets that bothered me.

When I took this pack on it's first day  hike I carried my old Golite dawn pack inside of it as a back up in case of catastrophic pack failure.  But there was no catastrophic failure and I am now certain that this pack is trail worthy.
I always carry a needle and thread in my first aide kit so I can do field repairs to any of my gear.  Maybe I will add a bit more thread to my kit, but I don't think that I need to carry a back up pack anymore.

I also don't think this pack will need a hip belt.  Sure there is a bit of extra weight on my shoulders with no hip belt, but the freedom of no sternum strap or hip belt makes it so easy to shrug the pack off.  I think that freedom to shrug the pack off and the extra freedom around my hips with no hip belt make up for the extra strain on my shoulders.
One other adjustment I made to this pack was to cut the should pads in half lengthwise.  They were way too wide and were rubbing too much.



Midge said...

way to go W/M, very well done and great report on you did it !! Super idea reusing material (y)

Mossy Mom said...

Thanks Midge!

gregory said...

great blog and thanks for the post.I just got back from trecking around the forks area and told myself it was time to build my own pack.This helps me get my head around it.