Homemade Tri-zip pack for Duplex frame

Rockchuck

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Mar 26, 2012
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242
I just posted this in another thread and thought I would add it here too.

I used to run Mystery Ranch packs and loved the layout and durability of the packs. I had the longbow, crew cab, and 6500 that I ran on the Nice frame system. However, the lack of load lifter angle for my 21" torso and the packs weight ultimately made me look for other options. I missed the tri-zip design of my longbow, but always wished the bag was bigger. I tried tracking down a cbmr manticore, which I think is somewhat of an overgrown predocessor to the longbow/skirati packbags, but coulld find one on the cheap and I ultimately decided to make my own and try to save some serious weight too. So, it was time to see what I could do about mixing the tri-zip design on a bigger bag with my newly acquired duplex frame that has been pretty comfy so far and provides that lovely lifter angle that I never could quite get even with the 6500 before. So, I started with trying to sew a zippered pocket as a first project. I had a lot of extra strap material and buckles lying around from tiedowns and older packs that I decided to cannibalize to keep costs down on this little experiment. I bought 500 denier cordura off ebay and some heavy duty thread to go with it and also picked up the stoutest needle I could find to punch through the material. I pulled out my wifes sewing machine and soaked up some youtube knowhow and got started. the pocket turned out ugly, but servicable. Now that I was feeling like a pro, I decided I might as well just go for the backpack!

Now looking back, I should of drawn up a pattern or something, but just kind of flew by the seat of my pants. It was interesting trying to imagine the pack inside out for sewing purposes and having it planned out on paper first would have probably made the finished product better. I went with velcro attachment points inside for hanging a water bladder and other mesh style pockets so I wouldn't have the weight of permanent pockets as I had in the longbow and some additional modularity. I sewed in a zippered pocket up top and kind of slaughtered it. Once again, ugly, but servicable...Starting to see a trend here right?! Also added the outer bottle style pockets for spotter and tripod. I really like how they turned out and sewed tehm in with elastic so that they grip whatever is in the pocked nicely. It was a cheap alternative to the longbow, but time consuming. I run this on my duplex 26" frame, but I am assuming attachment is similar between the bikini and duplex. For attachment, I simply sewed a pocket of sorts at the top for the frame to slip into (similar to what I was familiar with on my MR packs) with cutouts for the load lifters to pass through. Then the compression straps attach to the frame with split buckles I had laying around from mystery ranch and also some buckles I split with my dremel. I left the straps longer so I could use it as a compression panel of sorts for meat hauling. It took probably 10 hours to do, but if you have access to a sewing machine and youtube for basic machine skills, you could throw one together too on the cheap...

I think it came out pretty good for my first sewing project. It carried a big load for me consisting of a front and rear cow elk quarter with straps, loins, and neck meat in the "compression panel" mode really nicely while leaving all the interior space available for my gear. I should have taken some pics of it in hauling mode, but didnt think of it. Here are a few pics of my brother modeling it for me though with a full load of pillows. For reference he is 6'1" and about 175 lbs. Not sure on the cubic inches, just wanted it bigger than the longbow. I figure it comes in around 4000 cubic inches?? Anyone wanna take a stab at what they thing the cubes might be on it? So far it has been great and it is fun to think I sewed it up myself. I have a few other designs floating aroung in my head as well, but have yet to start on any of them. I have been thinking of trying the bikini frame though if it has a little more flex to move with me. The duplex is super tough and hauled like a dream, but was a little stiff for my liking while just hiking around dayhunting. Hopefully I could swap it to the bikini if I make the switch. If not, I guess I could pull the sewing machine out again and come up with a mod for it!

Also, after using the pack in the field, I thing I need to add a third compression strap up higher on each side for when I have the bag compressed.

Thanks for looking and let me know what you think!

Rockchuck
 

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jherald

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Sep 16, 2012
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Alaska
That is actually pretty nice looking. What about adding some molle web to it and make it even more modular and make some pods and pouches for it.
 

Shrek

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Jul 17, 2012
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Hilliard Florida
Looks great Rockchuck .With all the pack bags Kifaru makes you would think they would come out with a panel loader for fans of that style. There is a loyal following for that style and I bet Kifaru could execute it better than most. That and a huge 8500 + ci highcamp for alaskan sheep hunters and the like. They discontinued the old rendezvous bag and I think it leaves a hole. How hard could it be to keep a pattern around for one ?
 

Becca

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This is awesome! Did you have any trouble getting your machine to sew through the heavier pack material? I have been thinking of getting a denim needle and foot for sewing with thick stuff...my machine will do it as is, but it sure makes unhappy noises about it!
 

bbrown

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Mar 9, 2012
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Location
Fort Collins - CO
Nice work! I was just thinking this morning that a T2 with the tri zip main bag with a bottom access sleeping bag compartment, 2 side slot pockets, 1 pocket on the top lid and 2 interior pockets would be my perfect pack.
 

Ray

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Oct 5, 2012
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Needles.....when I went shopping for gear sewing top stitch needles were recommended over denim needles. They have a larger thread hole to handle the heavy outdoor poly thread. And they are seriously stout.

The biggest issue with gear sewing is the lack of bobbin thread tension adjustment on modern home machines. Cordura and webbing will present a lot of friction and without bobbin thread tension adjustment if can be a real pita to make thicker seams.
 

blackduck889

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Feb 27, 2013
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Central Michigan
Looks great especially for first try ! Im in the process of doing my own now also. I have the same duplex frame and have been experimenting with needle size, thread size etc,.. I found its difficult to lay out the pattern and make it all fit on the frame as it should, but it is doable. More pics please.
 

Shrek

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Rockchuck , I was looking at your creation again and wow ! Thinking about that being your first shot at making a pack and having just started sewing , I'm impressed.
 
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Rockchuck

Rockchuck

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Mar 26, 2012
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242
Thanks to all! I thought of adding mire webbing but was mainly trying to keep the weight down. I will have to weigh it again when I get back in town next week. I believe it tips the scales at 1.5 lbs, but i will double check and snap some more pics of how i set up the velcro tabs inside the pack for attaching mesh pockets and such. As for needles, i believe i used a #18 or#19. I just bought the stoutest one i could find at a local craft store. I have heard denim and leather needles are the ticket for things like this. our machine struggled with the thicker spots with webbing and such. I would have to "help" it by hand through the thick spots.
 
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Becca

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Thanks to all! I thought of adding mire webbing but was mainly trying to keep the weight down. I will have to weigh it again when I get back in town next week. I believe it tips the scales at 1.5 lbs, but i will double check and snap some more pics of how i set up the velcro tabs inside the pack for attaching mesh pockets and such. As for needles, i believe i used a #18 or#19. I just bought the stoutest one i could find at a local craft store. I have heard denim and leather needles are the ticket for things like this. our machine struggled with the thicker spots with webbing and such. I would have to "help" it by hand through the thick spots.


Just curious, what kind of machine are you using? I will for sure upgrade to a stouter needle for my next gear sewing project, but I don't know that there is much I can do with the bobbin tension. I have a fairly new midrange Husquvarna, which is awesome for all others kinds of home sewing projects, but that was less than impressed with the silnylon/stove jack project I just asked of it :)
 
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Rockchuck

Rockchuck

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Mar 26, 2012
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242
Also was thinking of long side pockets that would have slots sewn in vertically that the 2 compression Straps on each side would pass through to secure. That way i wouldn't have any additional permanent weight on the pack for attachment points.

I am also contemplating A smaller packbag/compression panel for day trips and Load hauling as well as a big daddy mega packbag for extended hunts and/or late season when i need more space for cold weather gear. Still trying to dream up the perfect combo of features i would want on those two though...
 
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Rockchuck

Rockchuck

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Mar 26, 2012
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242
I am not sure of the make and model. I will have to check when I get back and my wife isn't looking. If she sees me pull it out again she may get that "don't break my sewing machine" look again! It is definately not a heavy duty model by any means.
 
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