Ultralight overnighter backpack

A lightweight backpack following the Backpackinglight.com design here. It’s made out of PU-coated ripstop nylon. The design is pretty faithful ot the original, with the addition of a few experimental features to try out other ideas I had.

This was my first MYOG (Make Your Own Gear) backpack, and I originally shared this project on Flickr in 2011.

I subsequently made another pack, sized a bit more realistically for my typical loads, made of tougher Cordura fabric, and better suited to wet weather backpacking. That project is extensively documented here.

Raw materials. Purchased from Pennine Outdoors. I used PU coated ripstop nylon fabric. Also shown here: webbing, shock cord, braided cord, a buckle, two ladder locks and two cordlocks.
Sewing the shoulder straps. This was one of the fiddliest parts of the project
Shoulder strap lower attachment points
Side pocket closures
Side panel with pocket attached
I added elastic straps about 8″ above the pocket to allow for using the side pockets to store bigger items such as an anorak, fleece or wet tent outer
Shoulder straps with top compression strap
Pinning the shoulder straps onto the back panel
Sewing in the shoulder straps
Back panel complete. There is an elastic strap sewn in about 4″ below the shoulder straps to hold a flat foam mat and give the pack some structure.
Back panel straps. These diagonal straps hold the (hypothetical) foam back pad at the bottom
Very long front and back panels
Attaching the side panels
Very stressful sewing
Side panels attached
The whole pack sewn, still inside-out
Misaligned top cinch closure. I had to unpick this whole seam and do it again.
Double Fishermans Bend. Used on the shock cord compression system
Finished pack. Stuffed with two pilows to give it some shape
Viewed from the side
Viewed from the back. The elastic straps at the top and bottom of the back panel are more clearly visible here
Side pockets. I added about 2″ of extra fabric in the pleats, and the pockets are about 8″ high once the seams are sown in. In retrospect, both of these measures are too small. The shock cord closure is also much more difficult to use that the simple briaded (non-elasticated) cord used in the main pocket
Rolltop closure. Classic ultrlight top closure. I think a simple rain flap to cover this up would be useful and not add too much weight
Gear unpacked. I put together a few things to represent typical pack contents. Along the top are things attached to the outside of the pack in my pictures (L-R: bulky Goretex Pro Shell jacket, water bottle, text anf tent pole). Along the bottom, things that I packed inside (L-R: food bag and stove, sleeping bag, Thermarest and clothes bag). It’s all a bit hypothetical as my current sleeping bag is three times the size of the one shown here and would never fit in this pack.
Packed with real stuff. Earlier shots show the pack stuffed with pillows to make it look nice. I’ve also been using it around town, and here, trying to pack it with actual camping gear to see how it copes. It’s about 20% too small for my current gear.
Carrying my tent on the outside. I didn’t have space to put the tent inside, so I tried using the side pockets and elastic straps. It just about works, though the pockets are too small for this really.
Shoulder straps under strain. With about 10kg in the pack. Holds up OK, and is pretty comfortable, even without any back padding or rolling up a foam mat inside. But stability does suffer for the lack of hip belt