View Full Version : Build a backpack from scratch, what are you favorite accessories for you pack?

06-17-2012, 11:23 PM
I'm going to build a drawstring backpack that I will use when I go out and day hike, or just over night camp. It will definitely be a project for me to do, so i'm excited. But I was thinking about what I like about all the backpacks I have used, but all I remember was carrying a binder around school, and nothing specific from other backpacks. So, since you probably all have backpacks, I was wondering what your favorite accessories are. For example: Loops, Side Pockets, Extra compartments, Handles, etc...

So far, i'm looking for a waterproof material that is quiet, it gets old walking around with repeated noises quick. I might just use the same material I use for my hammocks, or just a tarp cover. I'm going to make the cord, go threw the backpack and around my waste for support and act as a place I can hook a carabiner and/or my knife, maybe throw in padding for the back, shoulders, whatever. I'm debating extra compartments, loops, and side pockets. If there is anything you would like to add as an idea or suggestion it would be great! I will try to get up pictures after I get the project going, I just have to get the schematics and materials.

06-18-2012, 05:48 AM
If I were you I'd forget about the accessories and research the core requirements for a pack first. Accessories will be of little value if you wind up with a pack too uncomfortable to use. Are you going to use a frame? Internal or External? What about shoulder pads? Hip pads? You need to figure out the basic setup that is right for you before investing a lot of time in something you won't enjoy.

06-18-2012, 07:29 AM

Decide on a style that suits you best and then take it from there. In this link, in the left hand column, there are some instructions that may give you a few ideas on the style of pack you want. http://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html

06-18-2012, 09:09 AM
+2, it seems to me that you're "re-inventing the wheel," An A.L.I.C.E. pack would serve the same purpose. However I'm sure you have your reasons. An Army "duffle" bag has both a drawstring-type top and shoulder straps and might be a good place to start. :cool2:

06-18-2012, 11:57 AM
It's always nice to "make your own'....at least once.....then you can appreciate all the work and planning that goes into a piece of gear.

I tend to buy something close to what I wanting "at the time", then mod it to make it mine....even then you will spend a lot of bucks on snaps, buckles, straps, velcro and other hardware.....
I find this to be more cost effective.

06-18-2012, 01:33 PM
I am in the process of making my own pack. I have finished the suspension, and even took it out for two nights this last weekend. It is basically an external frame with suspension, and then I strap on stuff sacks on the back. The hip belt and shoulder straps are based off the military MOLLE suspension. I was able to cut a pound off of the MOLLE version. I am still trying to figure out how I want the bag to be. I am also trying to finish my side pocket designs. One thing that I like is the ability to get water out without taking off the pack. I also like the water weight to be on my hips. I also don't like to take off the pack to get things like maps, compass, vitamin I, lib balm, a knife, bear spray, and snacks. I also want my first aid kit to be readily accessible. So far I have made side pouches that fit on the belt for my water bottles. I am still trying to decide how my other side attachment pouches will end up. Incidentally, I wanted to use the ITW Nexus buckles that the military uses on the MOLLE gear, so I found an online places to buy them, and another place to buy straps. I think I have spent around $50 -60 on just those things. I bought the aluminum frame for $5 at a thrift store. The material I bought for $1.50 a yard at walmart. I was lucky with that, you really can't find it any more.

06-18-2012, 04:56 PM
FM - For the items you consider most important, maybe first aid kit and bear spray, why not make the pockets rip away so you can just grab and pull? Use velcro on the back of the pocket and you can just rip it off. My first aid kit is set up this way and it's really handy.

06-19-2012, 09:39 AM
+2, it seems to me that you're "re-inventing the wheel," An A.L.I.C.E. pack would serve the same purpose. However I'm sure you have your reasons. An Army "duffle" bag has both a drawstring-type top and shoulder straps and might be a good place to start. :cool2:

Reinventing the wheel for the 5,000th time in 5,000 years. People have been making bags and nets for carrying over the shoulder/shoulders since the first woman had her first baby and still needed to tote food back to camp and men realized they needed their hands free even when carrying gear.

Otize's backpack was very close in design to the internal frame medium alice I was issued in the Army. Wood frame instead of aluminum, but still a U shaped stabilizer with straps attached inside a big bag.


Since then backpacks in some form have been popular items for anyone with the need to tote things.


If you decide to continue the project consider heavy canvas as you material. It is tough and as silent as any materiel can be. You can spray some "camp dry" on it for waterproodfing.

06-19-2012, 09:47 AM
FM - For the items you consider most important, maybe first aid kit and bear spray, why not make the pockets rip away so you can just grab and pull? Use velcro on the back of the pocket and you can just rip it off. My first aid kit is set up this way and it's really handy.

I have considered that for the first aid kit. When I bought the bear spray, I got it with a holder. I just attach that holder to my hip belt. But, I am still thinking about the first aid kit. There are a couple of designs out there that I like. I might combine the best features of each. One thing I have been debating is whether to put the FAK on my belt or on the side of the pack. I think I am leaning to the side of the pack. Generally when you need the FAK, you take your pack off. The stuff on my belt is more for quick access while still wearing the pack (water, snacks, compass, map, knife, bear spray).

06-19-2012, 12:18 PM
I have a pocket knife and belt knife I carry but I also have a larger knife (RAT-7) on the side of my pack. I collect stuff as I walk along and a belt knife can sometimes be useful in the endeavor. My pocket knife would probably work as well. I can shave cedar bark strips or tinder fungus or junk like that. The big knife stays on the pack. Like you, I use it after I drop my pack. There are some decent nylon pouches out there for folding knives that will attach to your shoulder strap. I have a Blackhorse that rides with me that way sometimes.

06-19-2012, 05:03 PM
If I take my CS SRK, then I usually strap it to the frame of my pack. This last trip I didn't take it, but I did strap my Mora onto my hip belt. With both of those situations I have found a problem I need to solve. I like having my knife strapped to my pack (hip belt or frame) when I am hiking. It is more comfortable to carry this way. However, when I get to camp and want to use the knife, the sheath is strapped to the pack and I don't really want to take it off, because it is so hard to put back on. This means I am carrying a sheath knife around with no sheath. Not too safe, or a good example for the scouts (since I tell them to never do this).

Another problem is the backpacking with a day hike. If I have all my necessary stuff attached to my hip belt, when I drop my full pack and go on a day hike, then I usually have to transfer everything to a smaller pack. And then re-transfer again when I am rejoined with the pack. One solution I have thought of is to make the pack hip belt removable. So, I just keep the hip belt on me, and drop the rest of the pack. Everything I need is on the hip belt anyways, and I can then attach a small bag to the belt for the few other items (rain gear, FAK, lunch etc.). I have actually seen a few packs that do this.

At any rate, I am trying to make all my pouches, accessories etc. I like seeing what is out in the market, but I want to sew one myself. I have a few pouches for my Vic MT, but will probably make one to match the rest of the pack.

And, another thing I have been thinking about is the front bag. I have looked at a lot of different ones, but haven't made up my mind yet.

06-19-2012, 07:31 PM
Yeah, modular components are the way to go. Sarky boasts about the Kifaru and they do a nice job with component building. Expensive but nice. By front pack I take you mean in the front of the body as opposed to the front of the back pack. I've looked at those and there are actually some pretty cool ideas on the front pack. Not only would it distribute the weight better but it would be handy for the day pack you describe.


These are by Ribz


06-19-2012, 07:49 PM
The front pack idea, with day hike stuff seperate big pack for 'camping" seems like the way to go.

I like useing my turkey vest for this as most everything is on the front and sides.......you can still add a fanny pack,..... and still load up a bigger sleep and cooking stuff pack.

06-19-2012, 11:01 PM
I have a cheap molle vest that I'm thinking about doing something similar to the front pack thing. there is a guy on hammockforums.net MACENTYRE he builds the mollymacpac. that might give some ideas on ways to attach things. http://www.mollymacpack.com/pack.html

06-20-2012, 09:13 AM
I have seen the RIBZ, and Kifaru's front pack, and the molly mack pack, and another one that an Auzy company makes, and a bunch more. They all look good, and I like them. Just have to decide which way to go.