DIY Backpack




Introduction: DIY Backpack

About: I recently bought a sewing machine and have made some gear for hiking and camping, I hope to learn to sew clothes as well, but one step at a time.

This is a 40 l. frameless back pack I made for ultralight hiking and weighs only 380 g. Each side has two large water bottle pockets that can easily fit two 1 l. water bottles and above the pockets are compression straps for securing tent poles or hiking poles. The front of the pack has one large mesh pocket for rain gear, maps and any items you want easy access to. The main compartment is 18 X 30 X 55 cm., approximately 30 l. with a collar that is another 20 cm. The collar is meant to be a roll top like a dry bag and is closed with two snaps and a side loc buckle. On the top of the bag is another compression strap for further securing the load or attaching a sleep pad, as well as a grab handle. The shoulder straps are padded with 1/4 " foam on the inside as well as 1/4" 3D mesh foam on the exterior. They have a series of gear loops for attaching a compass, whistle, thermometer, ect. On the back I added shock cord in a criss cross pattern so a sit pad could be used as a frame sheet and to give the pack a bit of comfort.


1/2 yard - 420 D Robic nylon, for back panel and the bottom of the pack.

1 yard - Hyper D 300 diamond ripstop, for the front and side panels.

1/2 yard - 2.2 oz. Hex70 ripstop, for the side pockets, shoulder straps and collar.

1/2 yard - 1/4" 3D mesh, for the shoulder straps.

1/2 yard - 1/4" closed cell foam, for the shoulder straps.

1/2 yard - 1.7 oz. pocket mesh, for the front pocket.

2 - 3/4" ladder locks, for the shoulder straps.

1 - 3/4" side release buckle, for the roll top closure.

1 - 1/2" side release buckle, for the top compression strap.

10' - 3/4" nylon webbing, for the gear loops as well as the adjustment on the shoulder straps.

3' - 1/2" nylon webbing, for the top compression strap.

6' - 3/32" shock cord as well as a mini cord lock, for the sit pad holder/pack stiffener.

4' - Paracord, for the side compression straps.

2 - linelocs, for side compression/gear straps.

12 - 3/8" tri rings, to run the shock cord and side compression strap through.

5' - 3/8" grosgrain ribbon, to attach the tri rings to the pack.

2' - 5/16" elastic, for the tops of the pockets.

Start with a basic idea of the size you want, I chose a simple dry bag style backpack with two side pockets and a front mesh pocket. I measured in metric because it is easier to convert the L X W X H into liters.

Step 1: Design

- After you decide on the size of pack you want, make a set of drawings of the basic design, make sure to add 10 - 20 cm. to all your dimensions for the seam allowance.

Step 2: Creating a pattern

- Convert your drawings to a scale cardboard pattern of all the individual pieces, sides, pockets, front and back, bottom, shoulder straps and top collar. The front and side pockets should be cut larger than the front and side panels to give them depth.

Step 3: Layout and cutting

- Use the pattern to cut the fabric, you can use a hot knife, rotary cutter or trace the pattern with a fabric pen and cut with scissors.. Cut the closed cell foam for the straps 10 cm smaller than your pattern to allow for your seam allowance but cut the 3D mesh the same size as your fabric piece.

.Step 4: Construction, all the little things

- to give the pockets depth, a pleat should be added to the bottoms and a piece of 5/16" elastic the same width as the corresponding panel and sewn into a rolled hem channel on the top, these are then attached to the corresponding panels along with 3 tri rings and 1 lineloc each side, using the grosgrain to make the side compression straps.

- Sew the webbing, using a bar tack stitch, creating the gear loops and attach the ladder locks to the fabric for the shoulder straps. Next sew the fabric and the 3D mesh, good sides together, (the webbing and ladder locks should be inside) leaving the side that will attach to the pack open. Next turn the strap right side out and insert the closed cell foam between the fabric and 3d mesh.

- Attached to the shoulder straps to the top of the back panel, closing the end you left open also using a bar tack stitch as well as the grab handle and the one end of the top compression strap with the female side of the 1/2" side release buckle.

- Attach the tri rings for the shock cord to the back panel using the 3/8" grosgrain.

- Attach the webbing for adjusting the shoulder straps to the bottom edge of the back panel using a 10 X 10 cm. square of fabric folded into a triangle, sandwiching it in between the folded fabric and securing it with more bar tack stitching. Make sure the webbing is facing upwards on a 45 degree angle.

Step 5: Construction, sewing the panels together.

- Sew the front, side and back panels together using a flat felled seam.

- Next attach the bottom using a french seam, thus ensuring that everything is double stitched.

- Attach the collar next also using a flat felled seam and finish by sewing a rolled hem on the top of the collar and add the plastic snaps. Then attach the 3/4" side release buckles, male and female, to either side of the collar, using a short piece of 3/4" webbing.

- Attach a longer piece of 1/2" webbing completing the top compression strap, with the adjustable male end of the side release buckle, to the pack just above the front pocket in the center of the front panel.

Step 6: Fill with your favorite gear and go for a hike.

I find this pack to be the perfect size for a weekend hiking trip, it can handle 20-25 lbs without any difficulty. The straps are very comfortable on your shoulders, I may add a sternum strap for a bit more stability but other than that I am really happy with how it turned out. Thanks for your interest, if you have any questions I will try to answer them as best I can.

Backpack Challenge

Participated in the
Backpack Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Lighting Challenge

      Lighting Challenge
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Puzzles Speed Challenge

      Puzzles Speed Challenge

    6 Discussions


    2 years ago

    The material choice was very well done, you have a good eye for artistic quality.

    One recommendation though, I bet you will benefit from adding a hip strap to that bag, and it will definitely assist to make it much more comfortable to wear. From what I see here in this post, with your skill level it will be an easy task for you to do. Besides, I have been requested to give advice on how to make the actual hip strap, maybe you are willing to fill the gaps here for an addition to this post?


    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi Danielinthelionsden,

    I actually made a pattern for the hip belt as well, when I was doing the layout, I had it on my original drawings along with a simple internal frame. But prior to making this pack I made a prototype out of a bunch of scraps of fabric I had and didn't add a hip belt to that pack and was very happy with how it felt on some hikes I went on, so I ultimately decided against adding one when I made this pack. Usually my base weight is around 10-12 lbs and total weight 20 lbs or slightly more with food, water and fuel, so I felt transferring the weight to my hips was not that necessary. The one thing I probably will add though will be a sternum strap. Thanks for your comment.


    Question 2 years ago

    I am flabbergasted that it is even possible to make a backpack from scratch! Have you been able to use it yet?


    Answer 2 years ago

    Hi Thorondor95, yes I have used it on a few weekend trips now, with hikes of around 30 km. and find it quite comfortable. I try to keep the weight I take around 20 lbs so a big part of that is what food and clothes I take with me.

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    2 years ago

    That is a super impressive backpack :)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks Penolopy