Outdoors Backpack




Introduction: Outdoors Backpack

In this instructable, I decided to make a backpack for camping and everyday use. It took me a weekend to make it and I can't wait to properly try it out in summer camping season. Its basic design is suitable for novice sewers like me. It features two side pockets, one under flap pocket, and a roomy interior that can accommodate up to 20L of gear, and a large opening for easy use. Steps are easy and it only takes patience and sturdy sewing machine!



  • 2m of the main fabric. I used an old army tarp.
  • A bit of accent fabric. For me worked camo twill fabric.
  • 2m of liner fabric. Preferably something light in color and smooth to touch.
  • Matching thread
  • 50x25cm foam padding. The workout mat did the trick for me.
  • 7x45cm thin padding. I reused some from a scrap jacket.
  • 1.2m of 3cm webbing.
  • 3m of 2.5cm webbing.
  • 20cm zipper
  • 3cm velcro tape
  • 3 sets of buckle and clips
  • 2 strap adjusters


  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler and square ruler
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Pencil or pen
  • Clothing iron
  • Pins or clips for sewing
  • Sewing machine

Note: Fabric must be prewashed so it doesn't shrink when washing the backpack

It is better to use thicker fabric for this project so that backpack has structure.

Step 1: Cut the Fabric

In this project, I used 1cm seam allowance everywhere except in the main seams of the backpack, where I used 1.3 cm instead.

Out of main fabric cut out:

  • 2x 30x35cm for front and back panels.
  • 2x 18x35cm for sides.
  • 1x 30x45cm for sewing back padding in.
  • 1x 30x18cm for sewing bottom padding in.
  • 4x fabric for straps. For the shape of it, use another backpack for reference and add a 1 cm border around it.
  • 1x 30x30cm for flap.
  • 2x 28x26cm for pockets
  • 2x 12x12cm for pocket covers.
  • 4x triangle shapes for pocket covers.
  • 2x 10x10xcm for attaching webbing on back side

Out of accent fabric cut out:

  • 2x 30x12cm for front and back panels.
  • 2x 18x12cm for sides.
  • 1x 30x18cm for the bottom panel.

Out of liner fabric cut out:

  • 2x 30x47cm for front and back panels.
  • 2x 18x47cm for sides.
  • 1x 30x18cm for the bottom panel.
  • 1x 30x30cm for flap.
  • 1x 25x50cm for front pocket lining

Out of 3cm webbing cut out:

  • 4x 30cm long pieces.

Out of 2.5cm webbing cut out:

  • 2x 12cm long pieces for flap buckles.
  • 1x 20cm long piece for handle.
  • 2x 30cm long pieces for flap clips.
  • 2x18cm long pieces for strap adjuster.
  • 2x40cm long pieces for adjusting the length of straps.
  • 1x 18cm long piece for attaching opening buckle.
  • 1x 18cm long piece for adjusting opening clip.

Out of padding cut out:

  • 1x 12x25cm for bottom padding.
  • 1x 38x25cm for back padding.

Out of thin padding cut out:

  • 2x pieces about 7cm wide and 45cm long by using another backpack for reference.

Step 2: Sewing the Front Panel

The process of building a backpack consists of making and finishing each panel and then sewing it all together.

To start making the front panel, sew main and accent fabric right sides toward each other and sew on 1cm seam allowance. Turn the fabric around and press with a clothing iron. Topstitch on the seam to get a nice and flat finish. This step is the same for all panels.

Adding the 3cm webbing:

I used 3cm webbing but 2.5 will do the job the same as this is just for aesthetics. Space out the 3 pieces webbing with the fourth as shown in the picture from the seam and each other. Sew on center then about 5cm apart. Here I used a zigzag on the machine for a nicer finish.

For adjusting the length of the flap clips attach 30cm long pieces as in the picture above and sew them to the front panel. The ends of the webbing are bent to get a nicer finish.


For this mark a 20 cm long line where you want the zipper to be and make two 5mm to 7mm offset lines. Cut along centerline and fold-out then press on offset lines. Turn the panel right side of the fabric to you and beneath the hole place the zipper so that it lines up. Topstitch the zipper in place. To the top and bottom of zipper tape sew 25cm long side of the front pocket liner fabric. After this, sew the sides of the liner fabric to close in the pocket. This step requires patience and know-how and is helpful to see youtube video on this process.

Step 3: Sewing the Back Panel

Sew main and accent fabric, press out and topstitch. Add padding by enclosing foam with another piece of main fabric and sewing along the border of the foam and not through it. I shaped the foam by cutting the corners out.

Add the handle on top, avoiding the foam. Sew it as in the picture then flip it to the right orientation and then topstitch.


For straps, use another backpack for reference to cut out the thinner padding. To it , sew corresponding fabric with 1 cm seam allowance and sew those together and flip out the fabric. (to help yourself use the end of a wooden spoon to push the fabric out). Insert the padding and sew along the center. On the tip of the strap attach the strap adjuster. trim the strap end as necessary and attach it on back panel using 3 row of stitches. 1 to attach, 1 to topstitch and 1 to hide the edge of the fabric.


Webbing is attached with 2 triangle shapes on each side. Shape the 10x10cm squares as in the Pictures, insert the webbing and close it all up with topstitches. Attach it by sewing inside seam allowance about 5-6 cm off the bottom of the panel.

Step 4: Sewing the Sides

As before, sew main and accent fabric, flip, press and topstitch. Side panels feature 9x16x6cm pockets with pocket covers.


Out of 28x26cm fabric cut out two 8x8cm squares. Press and sew as in the picture to get the pocket body. Opening of the pocket is finished by folding in the edges and sewing it in. Add 1.5 cm long piece of velcro tape (you can use buttons or other fasteners). On the side panel mark where you want the pocket (on the center and about 6cm of the bottom edge of the panel) Fold and press in the edges of the pocket. Align those edges with marked lines on the side panel to get precise placement of the pocket.

Pocket covers:

Sew 12x12cm square with triangle shapes on both sides of the square. ( Fold and press fabric so you get a crease that is dividing 12cm square into 5x12cm and 7x12cm rectangles. The right angle of the triangle goes into that crease). Finish the edges by folding them in and topstitching. Attach the cover on the side panel so that it can close the pocket. Add the velcro tape to the cover.

Step 5: Sewing the Bottom Panel

To the bottom panel, I added the fourth piece of 3cm webbing so I can attach various things to the bottom to increase carrying capacity. Place webbing in the center and sew it on center and then 5 cm apart as in the picture.

I decided to add padding on the bottom as well. Do this similarly to the back panel ,we encapsulate the foam with another piece of fabric and sew along the border.

Step 6: Sewing the Main Body

Once all sides are as finished as possible, we can carry on with the assembly of the backpack. To do this start by sewing the front and sides together and then add the back panel. Last goes the bottom panel. I used a little more than 1 cm seam allowance, about 1.3cm. Take your time here, not to sew any strap wrongly or to get the pocket liner in the way, and help your machine when necessary as the material gets thick.

Step 7: Sewing the Flap

To make the flap. Place fabrics right sides out and align them. I cut the corners out here, about 4x4cm. Finish the edge of flap by folding and pressing the fabrics together and then sewing the edge. See the picture for reference.

Add the flap buckles by sewing the webbing to the flap and making sure to align the spacing of the buckles with clips on the front panel.

Step 8: Sewing and Attaching the Liner

Sew the pieces together of the liner.

To attach the liner and body, sew the seam allowances of each parts together as such. Start with back to back, sew side and bottom allowances together leaving the top for later. Then sew the front bottom together, following it with the bottom sides. see the picture as a reference. (sorry I kinda forgot to take pictures of this step) This gets tricky and a bit hard, take your time. After you sew it together flip it out as in the picture, blue side down and over everything. After this, once more, flip the whole backpack inside out to get an almost finished product.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

Finish the opening by folding and pressing the fabrics in. Sew on the edge on the front and sides leaving the back open. In between liner and outer fabric insert the flap about 2 cm in and mark it so it doesn't shift when stitching it all together. The trick is to catch liner and outer fabric when doing this, I missed it a few times so I had to do it two times, once from each side to get a neat finish.

Finishing the webbing.

Pull the 2.5cm webbing through strap adjusters and finish the end of it as in the picture.

Add the opening buckle and clip on both sides to allow the more secure closing of the backpack.

Step 10: Enjoy!

Hope I touched on everything important in creating this lined outdoors backpack. I am quite satisfied with how it turned out and cant wait to use it in summer. The final dimensions are about 27x42x15cm or 18L + two 9.5x16x6cm pocket or 1L each. If you have any questions feel free to ask! Good Luck!

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    4 days ago

    Impressive work!


    Reply 8 days ago