Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making a pack

Someone asked me the other day, "How many sleeping bags do you have?" I almost had to take off my shoes but after thinking about it for a bit I replied, "Five sleeping bags and five quilts." Of course one of those sleeping bags is of the car camping variety (and 20 years old!) and three of the quilts are homemade. I don't know what kind of justification that is but apparently this information is important.

Fortunately, that person didn't ask me about packs. I started thinking of pack linage and remembered my very first pack was a Camp Trails, an orange (it was 1970) external frame pack. I schlepped that pack around till the early 90's, thinking I might get back into backpacking someday but I finally sold it at a garage sale. Fifteen years ago I returned to backpacking when I booked a trip with a commercial backpacking company, dutifully buying a pack with the suggested volume. This pack was a ginormous Jansport, much more comfortable than my old pack but still, it must have weighed in at six pounds, or more. As I didn't know any different I just went on ahead and showed up at the Grand Canyon and proceeded to suffer for the next week... too much weight in the pack, too heavy all around. Even though I had a blast and really liked the trip on many levels, I swore after my trip that I would find a way to lighten my load.

At some point I got a copy of Ray Jardines first book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hikers Handbook and well, that was it for me. Since that time I have probably made six packs, each one getting closer to what I think I need in a pack. I used RJ description in his book for the first one, the G4 pattern from Gossamer Gear for the second and a pattern I got from Rainshed as a general plan for the last couple of packs. In the past few months I have been thinking of the "perfect pack" and have been designing it in my head. Two days ago, I started in on that pack. Today I sewed the final few double stitches and while it isn't complete and I can already see one mistake I made, I kinda like it. I'll show pictures here of it prior to final stitching and then I'll put the finished pictures up in a day or so.
The middle portion of the pack, front to back

The general pattern I used, modified of course.

Shoulder straps

Side panels with DEEP pockets
Poor thing, hanging there with its sides un-stitched...

Did I mention I love turquoise and black as a color combination? If I could have used silver somewhere that would have made it perfect!

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