A Little Introduction
A few months ago I built Floki, a 35L ultralight backpack. It was the pack of my dreams, and had everything I could have wished for: big comfy straps with water bottle pockets on both sides, a stretchy bottom pocket, an innovative side pocket design, as well as a uniquely striking colour scheme.
Three months have passed and I’ve put Floki through his paces. Despite my wish that I’d never need another backpack again, I was unfortunately wrong. I took Floki well beyond his limits during my time on the Cape Wrath Trail. – He deserves a more considerate owner.
A few bumps and scrapes later, including a tumble down a rocky river, I established that there are a few areas where Floki could be improved:
- The main mesh pocket material is far too lightweight. There are a couple of holes from collisions with rocks.
- The ice axe loop doesn’t hold my ice axe that well, which tends to slip out.
- The Seam Grip didn’t waterproof my bag as well as I’d have liked when taking a dunk in the river Carnoch.
- The side pockets don’t have enough space to fit more than a 1L water bottle. Not ideal for long water carries.
- There are a couple of weak seams that could cause problems with heavier weights
Overall these are things you could certainly live with, and not deal breakers. However, I’m about to embark on the Pacific Crest Trail and I didn’t want to be compromising on such a core bit of kit. I started to draw up some new patterns in Adobe Illustrator and after a bit of scouring material suppliers I found some Dimension Polyant X21, which fitted my needs perfectly. I’m sorry Floki, but I think we’re going to have to move on…
The Side Pockets
One of the biggest areas of redesign were the side pockets. These are now much bigger, with a mesh bottom. There’s an elasticated cord to clinch the opening shut, or secure bottles around the neck. These new pockets fit two 1L bottles on either side. That equates to 4L on the side pockets, a vast improvement. I was also more careful with detailing on this build, and made sure that every sew line counted. I used the Dyneema Gridstop pattern where possible to hide stitch lines.
I was overall very happy with the straps on Floki, and they fit me very well. I made only minor adjustments in this area, including giving them more cordage for larger puffy jackets.
This pack is seam taped. I used a combination of a 3 layer laminate tape and your usual transparent seam tape. The 3 layer tape was used on the VX21 panels, and transparent tape on the X21 and Dyneema Gridstop panels. Fingers crossed this keeps my belongings dry.
Felling The Seams
This is by far the hardest part of making a backpack (the final seam) and I took a picture of this part of the build. It’s simply horrible and you have to be very precise with these seams too, since they’re visible on the outside of the pack, and are crucial to structural support.
Once the seam felling was over, I just had to finish off the roll top of the bag, seal the main stitch lines, turn it inside out, and voila! Here’s the pack fully packed. This is a small iteration over my last pack, but I’m really pleased with the little improvements that put confidence in this pack lasting for many miles.
Thanks for reading,