Saturday, March 17, 2012

New pack (almost) done!

Is anything ever done, as in complete? I doesn't seem so. At any rate, this pack is done, expect for the sternum strap... somehow I lost the hardware for this pack. Never mind. Remind me though, if I start talking about making another pack, just what a pain in the arse it is! Geeze.

It probably took me 30 hours to get this far... not really the time to do this when I'm trying to get ready to hike the PCT. Much more important stuff to do. The weight, without the sternum strap? 16.1 ounces. Not too shabby - Woohoo!!!

Back of pack with sit pad in its sleeve
Side of pack
Front of pack
Roll top with Y strap that goes over the top.

What made this pack more complicated to make was using a pre-made aluminum stay on the inside back of the pack. This meant I had to figure out how to make a channel for the stay to slip into without it slipping back out again, as well as figuring out where to put it. Plus adding in the sit pad sleeve made the whole thing much more time consuming. Lots of sit'in and stare'in on my part on this one. A challenge though!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Newbie Anxiety

The silliest stuff keeps me awake these days. Should I send shampoo to myself along the way or leave the shampoo gods in charge of my cleanliness? If I weren't such a doily I might be willing to do that but, unfortunately I can't stand the smell of most shampoos. My friends have been kind to me and have given me containers of stuff received at motels along the way. I have been airing out a bunch of these, perfectly sized (1 oz) containers but after one week outside, they still stink.
Recently A and I went over the hill to San Jose and visited a teacher supply place, with lots of good stuff for teaching and other educational adventures. I found some bottles, perfect in that they are unused but not-so-perfect in that the volume is probably four ounces, four times what I need at each resupply spot. What to do? Carry extra liquids for a few weeks in order to accommodate my olfactory problems, biting the bullet to make each shower sublime?
I vote for sublime.... plus, bears won't smell anything perfumy sweet in my vicinity. Mostly just hiker stank.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making a pack

Someone asked me the other day, "How many sleeping bags do you have?" I almost had to take off my shoes but after thinking about it for a bit I replied, "Five sleeping bags and five quilts." Of course one of those sleeping bags is of the car camping variety (and 20 years old!) and three of the quilts are homemade. I don't know what kind of justification that is but apparently this information is important.

Fortunately, that person didn't ask me about packs. I started thinking of pack linage and remembered my very first pack was a Camp Trails, an orange (it was 1970) external frame pack. I schlepped that pack around till the early 90's, thinking I might get back into backpacking someday but I finally sold it at a garage sale. Fifteen years ago I returned to backpacking when I booked a trip with a commercial backpacking company, dutifully buying a pack with the suggested volume. This pack was a ginormous Jansport, much more comfortable than my old pack but still, it must have weighed in at six pounds, or more. As I didn't know any different I just went on ahead and showed up at the Grand Canyon and proceeded to suffer for the next week... too much weight in the pack, too heavy all around. Even though I had a blast and really liked the trip on many levels, I swore after my trip that I would find a way to lighten my load.

At some point I got a copy of Ray Jardines first book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hikers Handbook and well, that was it for me. Since that time I have probably made six packs, each one getting closer to what I think I need in a pack. I used RJ description in his book for the first one, the G4 pattern from Gossamer Gear for the second and a pattern I got from Rainshed as a general plan for the last couple of packs. In the past few months I have been thinking of the "perfect pack" and have been designing it in my head. Two days ago, I started in on that pack. Today I sewed the final few double stitches and while it isn't complete and I can already see one mistake I made, I kinda like it. I'll show pictures here of it prior to final stitching and then I'll put the finished pictures up in a day or so.
The middle portion of the pack, front to back

The general pattern I used, modified of course.

Shoulder straps

Side panels with DEEP pockets
Poor thing, hanging there with its sides un-stitched...

Did I mention I love turquoise and black as a color combination? If I could have used silver somewhere that would have made it perfect!