I've been thinking about getting a new pack, but moneys tight and I just can't swing it, and I read an article somewhere awhile back about making an ultralight pack out of feed sacks which has had me thinking.
Today I got out my bag of webbing straps, buckles and what not, and grabbed a couple empty 50lb feed sacks I'd been saving for playing with that concept. The first thing I did was take my blue foam sleeping pad and roll it up and put it inside one of the sacks and let it expand. It fit about perfect. Then inside that I stuck my fleece sleeping bag and sleeping bag, my hammock and tarp, then my stove, too much fuel, my pot, cup and utensils.
That about filled it up. There was a little more room in it, but not enough, and I still needed a way to close the top.
For the top I figured I'd try just cutting the bottom off another feed sack, turn it upside down, and pull it overtop of the one I just filled up. Before cutting it I tried fitting the opening around the loaded sack to make sure it would fit. It did, and pulled down a ways it made a nice tight seal too. For the heck of it I pulled it all the way down as far as it would go.
I sat there and stared at it for a bit. I realized that if I didn't cut the outer sack shorter I could pull it up or down and adjust the room inside the pack, and really make a lot more room when I needed it, like when I wanted to bring my down coat.
Then I cut the stitches on the top of the outer sack and took one of my straps with a buckle and folded the open sack over it a few times and closed it like a dry bag you use for canoeing. That worked sweet, fast and easy access and a waterproof seal!
Now I needed to figure out a way to strap it onto me. I grabbed my old Peak 1 external frame pack and examined the hip belt and shoulder straps and wondered how I might vulturize those when it occurred to me that instead I might try and strap the sack to the Peak 1 frame. After a quick scrounge through my bag of straps I came up with a pretty simple rigging that works pretty good.
When I was done it all weighed about 15 lbs with the gear I listed above.
Here are some pics after I got it all mocked up...
The outer sack pulled down:
The Peak 1 Pack frame:
The outer sack pulled up for more room:
The way it's cradled in those diagonal straps you can adjust the sack up and down on the frame, and the horizontal straps compress the sack nice and tight to the frame. You can see in the pic of the frame that there's plenty of room to add another horizontal strap when the outer bag is extended up for more room.
I'm going to fire up the old Singer 99 and put some better stitching on those feed sacks and give this a try. I think the design has potential. At least the potential for me to put off buying a new pack this year