Design Thinking

After resorting to using my old and trusty 40L 3F UL pack on my Reinheimen traverse, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t use my jungle green fastpack. Unsurprisingly, this was due to it not being able to fit 6 days worth of food. The 3F UL pack isn’t that light and is made with inferior materials and useless features. I longed for something a little more tailored to my needs. It didn’t take long for me to start dreaming up a new pack, which should hopefully tick all the boxes.

Requirements:

  • ~35l volume | Must be able to carry 4-5 days of food
  • Quick hook for opening pack | Must be able to open pack with mitts + gloves
  • Water bottle pockets on shoulder straps | Must be able to disperse weight onto chest
  • Phone/camera pouch on shoulder strap | Must be able to access camera quickly
  • Ice axe loops + holder | Must be able to hold ice axe without interfering with material
  • Large mesh front pocket | Must be able to access day stuff; tarp, food, clothing

Design & Material Selection

I spent a bit of time drawing up ideas for a pack, and came up with the solution below. I went for earthy tones, which are luckily available in the X-Pac VX21 material I wanted to use. After weighing up between HDPE, Liteskin, VX07 and VX21 I set on VX21 due to its waterproofing, abrasive properties and relatively low cost.

A: X-PAC VX21 (Coyote Brown)
B: Nylon Power Mesh (Black)
C: X-PAC VX21 (Black)

Patterning

I patterned this pack in Adobe Illustrator. The process consisted of drawing all the panels on a single art-board, then adding colour to the panels. After that I split the colours onto separate sheets, added seam allowances to all panels and organised the panels to reduce wasted material. The fabric was bought from Pro Fabrics UK, so the art-boards were then dimensioned to 0.5 metre increments.


Construction Process

I didn’t take too many photos whilst making the pack. I found myself pretty immersed in the making of this one, and my sewing skills progressed a lot. It took quite a long time to finish this pack due to there being lots of tricky seams and small intricate details. I was able to fell all main seams, thus making it stronger and after seam sealing, waterproof.

Constructing the main panels was mostly straightforward. The difficulties came when I reached the straps. Constructing neat straps with mesh pockets, padding and 3D stretch mesh is not easy. I took my time and got there in the end. The trick to sewing for many hours in a day is to take regular water and snack breaks. One slip or error could be catastrophic to the whole project, so it’s important to only sew when you’re relaxed, yet focused.

For a couple of evenings after work I found myself staying up a little later than usual, slowly making progress on the pack. Many hours later the pack started to take shape.

Final Shots

Here is the pack in all its glory. Features to look for are the mesh bottom pocket, adapted side pockets, (that are stretchy and abrasive) G hook fastener and the dry-bag style top. It is super comfy and I’m over the moon with how it turned out. This pack should be seeing a fair number of miles in its lifetime.

I’ve named this pack after the Viking boatbuilder; Floki

Testing

TBC

Thanks for reading,
Benjamin

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Hi Benjamin, this pack is very awesome, Congrats.

    Any chance you could email me the .ai file of this pack please?
    It would be much appreciated. I would love to try and make one similar.
    My email is jonathon.k.kirk@gmail.com

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Jonathon. I can send you the illustrator file with dimensions, although I encourage you to tweak it to your liking. The most difficult part of making a pack like this is sewing the shoulder straps. I didn’t pattern this part in illustrator, instead I cut straps out of cardboard and adjusted until they fit comfortably on my body. For this reason I’d suggest learning the ins and outs of high-stress seams and patterning before attempting your pack.

      Benjamin

  2. Could you share some details about the actual construction:
    How were you able to get felled seams on all four main panel edges?
    Are these true felled seams, or semi-felled since the fabric raw edges won’t unravel?
    Where were stretch stitches necessary?
    What were the most difficult parts, and what would you do differently next time?

    1. Hi Daniel,

      These are semi-felled seams, yep. I used a stretch stitch on the mesh bottom pocket elastic entrance, water bottle pockets elastic entrances and the main mesh pocket elastic entrance.

      The most difficult part was completing the shoulder straps. My sewing machine has difficulty getting all the layers of fabric underneath the needle, so it took lots of careful sewing and constant adjustment. I found that getting the foam pads all the way inside the shoulder straps was surprisingly difficult.

      Next time I’d refine and test the side pockets a bit more before putting them onto a new build. But that’s what experimentation is for, so..??

      Hopefully that’s helpful,
      Benjamin

      1. Hi Ben,

        Thank you, that is so helpful! A couple more:
        How did you get the felled seams on all four main panels?
        What kind of stretch stitch are you using here? They do not look like zig-zag stitches on the elastic hems, is there another kind of stretch stitch?

        I am gathering as much info about the process right now prior to starting my bag, and your results have me hoping I can achieve something very similar!

        1. Ah yes, that’s something else that was a little difficult. I attached the four main panels to the bottom pocket panel, then felled those seams. After that I sewed the main panels together and felled them. On the fourth edge I had to roll the bag up into a ring so that I could ‘get inside’ the bag. You have to be careful here not to overlap any material. Practicing by semi felling a small dry bag might be a good idea.

          The stretch stitches you can see are the underside of a zig zag stitch 🙂

          Good luck with the bag!

  3. Hi Benjamin,

    Nice packs you have made. Very interested in the ai file, so I can understand your design. I’m going to rebuild my old backpack, so I can use the backpanel incl shoulder straps.

    Have fun with you backpack!

    1. Hi Jeroen,

      Thanks for the kind words about the packs. I’ve emailed you the .ai file.

      Benjamin

      1. Hi Ben,

        I would be interested in the .AI file as well!

        Also, in your other bag post, you mention using Rhino to model the pack. I am very familiar with this software, and have been playing around with my bag pattern in it. Are you simply modelling the pack as a simple volume and then “unrolling” it? Or, are you actually modelling thickness and curves and such?

        Thanks!

        1. Hi Daniel,

          I have sent you the .ai file 🙂 I used rhino for the last pack to verify all measurements and get an idea of volume. I considered full-on surface modelling + juicy renders but would probably be faster to make the real thing!

          Benjamin

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