Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poor person's homemade Tyvek & Kevlar backpack

In my REI review of my Black Diamond Trail Back trekking poles, I included a photo of my backpack with the poles strapped to it.  REI shoppers may not grasp exactly what they are looking at, since it doesn't have a $350 price tag attached to it.  

This is my backpack, made entirely from stuff I had lying around the house.  Continue reading below to learn what I made it out of.

Poor person's backpack, with Black Diamond trekking poles
Poor person's backpack, showing back support webbing and frame
The white material is leftover Tyvek.  I purchased it to make groundcloths for my tents.  It's cheap... So much cheaper to cut your own groundcloth than to buy the fancy ones they sell specifically for your tent. 

The frame of the pack is made from 1" thick rigid cellulose foam insulation covered with Kevlar cloth treated with epoxy resin.  The Kevlar and epoxy were leftover from a small boat I built a few years ago.  The foam is scrap left over from what I bought to insulate my windows.  It's impossible to see in these pictures, but the frame is contoured to match an aluminum external frame like what is found on a Kelty Tioga.

The strapping is from a busted ratchet strap.  The padding attached to the straps for the shoulders was made from foam I grabbed out of the garbage at work and covered with nylon from a torn and useless sleeping bag.  Anything to save the planet.

Now that I think about it, I DID buy something to put this together... I bought a small bottle of Gorilla Glue.  Not much will stick to polyethylene, and Tyvek is non-woven polyethylene fibers.  From what I read, polyurethane adhesive like Gorilla Glue is the best thing you can use to glue Tyvek together.  It is much stronger than sewing to Tyvek.

The pack, when completed, weighed 1 kg (2.2 lbs).  I was a little disappointed because I wanted it to weigh only 2 lbs.  Either way, it weighs about 3 lbs less and is more comfortable than my Kelty Tioga.  However, I have carried 105 lbs in my Kelty Tioga.  I wouldn't use my homemade pack with more than 40 lbs in it.  


  1. thats pretty cool man i would have never thought of doing anything like this

  2. Hey if it works, why not ?

    If I was stuck in a situation similiar I could see myself making something like this up.

  3. interesting read.. are you going backpack hiking.. cause this poor man version of this backpack will come in handy for me one day

  4. At least it gets the job done, nice work

  5. ITT: White Trash Repairs.

    nawww jk man, that is really cool. I'm all for cheaper solutions to expensive shit. I hate paying for things that I could make myself.

    I live one state away! minnesota/wisconsin rivalry ftw :P

    following/morning coffee-d