Project reviews

Alpine Rucksack

Hiking and backpacking season is here so I’ve decided to do a series of pattern reviews on do-it-yourself backpacking gear. This is part 2 and you can read part 1 (Jones Tent2),  part 3 (GVP Pack) and part 4 (Sleeping Quilt) here. I decided to investigate light and ultralight backpacking gear in 2006. I read several books on the topic. The general consensus was that the backpack, tent, and sleep system were the items with the largest weight saving potential. In this post I’ll discuss my experiences with the RS 150 Alpine Rucksack pattern.

Having already sewn a tarptent, I decided to sew a backpack. Keep in mind that there weren’t as many commercially available light and ultralight options available in the mid-2000s than there are today. I remembered how difficult it was to find a traditional backpacking pack that fit me properly. I decided that sewing my own would result in a better fit than buying a lightweight pack online. It was also less expensive than buying from the United States.

The first lightweight pack pattern that I tried was the RS 150 Alpine Rucksack. You can buy the paper pattern, fabrics, and notions here:


or here:

RS150 Alpine Rucksack at

Quest Outfitters also sells kits for making this project.

Note this pattern is for personal use only.

This pack features a removable top pocket, ladder locks and gear loops, an internal pocket for a sleeping mat, and a hip belt.

Here are my thoughts on this project.

I first sewed this pack in 2009. The pattern makes a 2200 cubic inch (~ 47 L) backpack and includes instructions for customizing according to your back length. I didn’t want my sleeping bag to take up more than 1/3 of the space in this pack. The pattern and instructions are so well written that it was easy to resize the pattern pieces to create a 3600 cubic inch (~60 L) backpack.

Other changes I made include:

  • using ripstop nylon instead of canvas or Cordura,
  • adding padding to the hip belt and back panel
  • adding backpack style straps to the removable top pocket

In 2014 I sewed this pattern in the original size of 2200 cubic inches.

I made the following changes to the project:

  • using ripstop nylon instead of canvas or Cordura,
  • adding padding to the hip belt and back panel

This is a traditional pattern with paper pieces to cut out and markings to transfer to the fabric. In that respect it was easy to sew. Ripstop nylon is both thinner and lighter than canvas or Cordura. Making that one change made a considerable difference to the weight of the backpack. The top pocket tends to slide around when the pack isn’t full. I suspect this is do to the slipperiness of the ripstop nylon. I wouldn’t recommend sewing this pattern with silnylon or cuben fibre. These ultralight fabrics won’t provide enough structural integrity for the amount of webbing, hardware, and zippers in this pattern.

The purpose of this project was to create backpack that was lighter than my 5.5 pound, 3600 cubic inch (2.5 kg, 60 L) internal frame pack. The home made 3600 cubic inch (60 L) pack weighs 2.4 pounds (1.1 kg) and the homemade 2200 cubic inch (47 L) pack weights 2 pounds (0.9 kg). Removing the 1/2” (1 cm) padding from the back panel and hipbelt would have made these packs even lighter.

Here are some photos of my finished 3600 cubic inch pack (the 2200 cubic inch pack looks the same).

Tanya's AS150 Alpine Rucksack back (Sewn By Tanya project review)
Tanya’s AS150 Alpine Rucksack back
Tanya's RS150 Alpine Rucksack front (Sewn By Tanya project review)
Tanya’s RS150 Alpine Rucksack front





Tanya's RS150 Alpine Rucksack removable top pocket (Sewn By Tanya project review)
Tanya’s RS150 Alpine Rucksack removable top pocket

Do you backpack? Have you made any backpacking gear?



Sewn by Tanya Project Review: The Rain Shed RS 150 Alpine Rucksack
Sewn by Tanya Project Review: The Rain Shed RS 150 Alpine Rucksack

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