Primitive and modern outdoor skills

plasticless backpack, try 2


This is an update to an older post . In this post I wrote about taking an old kelty frame (with the top part of the bars hacksawed off), and replacing all the plastic components as a way to figure out how to make something without plastic work.

After using this on several backpacking trips I decided, while the shoulder straps had worked okay and held up okay, they weren't robust enough for a longer trip (like a thru-hike). So I decided to follow a friend of mine's suggestion and remake the shoulder straps in a slightly tougher way.

The idea is simple, sew the leather over, cut a notch at the end where it's rolled over, stick a stick through it, and tie a rope to the stick. It's easier to see than it is to explain, notice the stick just poking out on the left side. It's literally just a tree-branch.

Here's the lower part of the strap. Another problem I ran in to was that the thin hemp rope I was using was not tough enough. It was *strong* enough, but it couldn't stand up to the abraision, so I replaced it with some 1/4" cotton rope I got off of amazon; NOT the braided type. This stuff is much stronger. Note the constrictor hitch at the bottom, with an extra hitch to make sure it doesn't walk, and the taughtline hitch I use to make the strap adjustable.

After I did this I was re-tightening the upper back panel of the frame. And *RRRIIIIPPP*... crap...

I actually didn't get back to this for a bit... but recently I tried replacing this back panel with the neck section of a deer hide I brain tanned myself (sorry, I forgot to take photos). Since it's buckskin I skipped making any grommets (saving me a TON of time). I wetted it and tightened the strings in the same manner as the canvas backpannel. I then used this on the last backpacking trip, and while it held up, it kept going slack on me... I'm hoping it will stop stretching eventually, and will hold up better than the canvas (if so I'll replace the lower panel as well, which looks like it might fail in the not too distance future), we'll see.

I also decided on this last trip that I need to add a water-bottle holder. I can hang the waterbottle over my shoulder for short trips, but it gets pretty annoying, particularly on more technical terrain (like snowy passes), so that's been added to the to-do list as well.

And lastly, for your amusment, here's a WWI (according to the label) era pack frame I saw in a store recently. I thought it was neat, but couldn't figure out how you would use it as it's currently set up, clearly something is missing or set up wrong.