GVP Ultralight Pack
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 post 3 of 4. You can read the other parts of the series here: Jones Tent2, Alpine Rucksack, Sleeping Quilt. A co-worker and I went backpacking in the summer of 2006. Despite having trained for the trip for several months ahead of time, carrying the weight of traditional backpacking gear lead to a shoulder re-injury. It was then that I decided to investigate light and ultralight backpacking gear. I read several books on the topics of light and ultralight backpacking. The general consensus was that the backpack, tent, and sleep system were the items with the largest weight saving potential.
Having already sewn a tarptent and two backpacks (both using the Alpine Rucksack pattern), I decided to sew a third backpack in 2016. This time I used a minimalist design: the G4 Ultralight Pack by Glen Van Peski. You can download the PDF instructions here:
An updated version of the pattern with new and improved instructions can be purchased here:
(Quest Outfitters also sells kits for making this project)
Note this pattern is for personal use only.
This pack features a deep mesh side and back pockets and a hip belt. It has a capacity of ~ 4400 cubic inches (70 L) and a weight of ~ 12 ounces (~360 g) when sewn with coated oxford and silnylon.
Here are my thoughts on this project.
The pattern begins with an introduction, describing the author’s motivation for designing this pack. Next are the features lists and material lists. The materials list includes Quest Outfitter part numbers, for those wishing to order from that company. The comprehensive materials list includes notes about the different fabric options and how they effect the final product. I sewed my backpack with ripstop nylon and cordura scraps.
Step 1 is cutting the materials. There are several diagrams showing how to cut the various fabric pieces. I really had to study them carefully and label my cut pieces as I went. The rolled goods (webbing, shock cord, hook and loop tape) are get cut at this point.
Steps 2 and 3 are constructing the shoulder straps and waist band, respectively. . I found the narrow pieces of hook and loop tape fiddly to work with. The instructions were clearly written and more illustrations helped.
Step 4 is constructing the back panel. Step 1.1 of the instructions ends with the sentence “Some modifications of the dimensions may be indicated for people over 6’4” or shorter than 5’8”.”. I’m ~5’ tall and found that I needed to do a lot of pinning and trying on to figure out where the shoulder strap tops needed to be in order to fit my properly. Once I had figures out where the shoulder strap tops would be, I noticed that my there wasn’t enough room between them and my hipbelt for my folded up sleeping mat. Instead of sleeping pad holders, I added two strips of foam for padding. I’ll be carrying my sleeping mat inside of the pack instead of outside.
I attached the hip belt, should strap bottoms, and lashing straps according to the instructions.
Step 5 is creating the front panel. This section was problematic. Does the mesh cover the lashing loops or the lashing loops cover the mesh. Also the mesh tended to slide around when I was trying to sew it to the ripstop. Between these two factors, I did a lot of ream ripping and re-sewing.
Step 6 is creating the side pockets. This step went smoothly, despite the slippery nature of ripstop and mesh.
Step 7 is attaching the sides, front and back. Here was another opportunity to try on my pack and check the fit. I was relieved that the pack fit me well. The extra time spent on step 4 was worth while.
Step 8 is creating a ripstop collar. The illustrations made this step surprisingly easy step.
Step 9 is creating a slide closure and optional rolltop closure. The slide closure instructions were clear and easy to follow. In the free PDF their are diagrams, but no written instructions for the rolltop closure. To be honest, I didn’t understand the all diagrams and opted out.
This backpack would benefit from an additional closure at the top. While I didn’t create the rolltop closure, I will be adding a piece of webbing and a quick release buckle to this pack in the future.
Here are some photos of my finished pack.
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 4400 cubic inch (72 L) weighs 1.3 pounds (575 g).
Do you backpack? Have you made any backpacking gear?