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.
- ~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)
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for reading,