DIY Backpack

Would you like to make a DIY Backpack? Below you'll see our plans for a DIY Backpack. This is still a work in progress, but we wanted to make available what we have put together so far. DIY Backpacks are not as hard as they look initially, but it is still quite a project to undertake. Be sure to think through each step before hitting the sewing machine with your cutouts. The suggested materials for this project are only suggestions.

22 thoughts on “Backpack

  1. Hi,
    Other than perhaps the ease of sewing… is there any significant structural/strength advantage in sewing seams (like on the shoulder and waist pads) using binding tape on bare edges versus a french seam?

  2. The largest needle and thread my machine can take is #16 needle and No. 40 fabric.

    Should I dare a light pack project using 500D cordura with Mara 70 (Tex 40) thread and the #16 needle?


    1. Hey Glenn,
      #16 is fine for the needle size. Mara 70 would be ok, but you may find you’ll appreciate a thicker thread – something like Tera 40, or any other polyester, light upholstery thread. The biggest struggle will be the machine itself. If your machine has metal gearing you should be all set. If it has nylon gears, go easy and try to minimize how many layers you are going through at once. I’ve killed two nylon geared Singer’s on backpack work so far. Currently I use a Singer 301A – metal gears and it has worked great.


    1. Hey Jonathan. That really depends on what you’re using it for. If you go with the full size design and are using it for backpacking, go with 1/4″ foam. If you scale the pack down or are just using it for ultralight day hikes, you could get away with the 1/8″.

  3. How much weight can this support ? I’m estimating about 25 lbs max ?

    Also, would one have to use a pad to use as a frame against the back ? Or carry it like a ruck sack ?


    1. Hi Leo. 25lbs sounds about right. I think I would want something beefier for anything heavier than that. The design does have a sleeve inside the back panel for a pad or frame-sheet. I use a sheet the 1/4″ Microcell foam.

    1. Hi Zach. The Backpack guide is still very much a beta. I don’t have any detailed instructions for it out yet. I do have the pieces listed out with sizes and color coded to material types, so with a quick glance, you’ll want one yard of each of the fabric types used to make the pack. Then just add any hardware, webbing, and foam (shoulder straps, waistbelt) that you want for your particular build. It will be much better detailed when I get a chance to put together a real instruction guide. Great question, thanks.

    1. Hi Sarah. 42″ is 2″ longer than absolutely necessary, but I figure it’s easier to trim off extra than wind up short. The front and back are 12″ wide, and the sides are 8″ wide, which comes out to 40″ (12+12+8+8). And actually, once you factor in the seam allowances, you’ll probably have more like 3-4″ to trim. Enjoy the project!

      1. If the pattern pieces include 1/2″ seam allowance, the diameter of the bag is 11+11+7+7=36″. So the collar piece should be 37″ with seam allowance. Since you would sew this piece into a tube before sewing it to the pack, cutting it too long is likely to be a nuisance.

        1. Very good point Sarah. I don’t sew it into a tube until I’ve attached it to the top of the pack. I know, that’s probably pretty backwards, but I so hate it when tubes don’t match up exactly – I’m not a good stitcher, so my more convoluted way works really good for me. 🙂

          I hear ya, for those of you who are great at having all your measurements end up perfect and stitch lines come out just right for seam allowance then my way makes no sense at all. Listen to Sarah – she is correct.


  4. Hello – Very cool project. Maybe I am missing somewhere, but how much webbing is needed for this project. I can total up the fabric and get a yardage, but looking for some advice on size and amount of webbing needed.


  5. Hi, I was wondering what part of the pack do I shorten to make it fit my 4’11” hieght? Do I just make the shoulder straps smaller? Thanks!

    1. Hi Michelle. The Shoulder straps are the first and most important thing to shorten a bit. The entire height of the pack could be shortened if you want, but you also lose packing space inside if you do so don’t do that unless you can fit everything in a smaller space.

  6. Re: 50 Liter DIY Backpack:
    1. do you have any pictures to show the location of the “inside pockets”, “inside back panel sleeve” and “back panel sleeve”?
    2. do you have any pictures of the back/shoulder strap side of the pack?
    3. do you have any step-by-step instruction on how to sew the pieces together?
    4. do you have any pictures / instructions on attaching the shoulder straps?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *