Wooden Pack Frame

One of many projects happening around here this yule-tide season.  A new classic-style rucksack is being sewn, much leatherwork is occurring, and this pack frame is being finished.  The wood is shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) made from a bowstave section and some other scrap from the pile.  All was split before finishing so the grain is perfectly aligned with the lumber.  This made for easy steam bending.  As I was working from many examples but no actual plan, there was a lot of mock-up and tweaking of the design to fit my size and intended needs.  There’s no metal in the construction.  The freight bar and cross members are half-lapped and lashed with rawhide.  The bar is also pegged to prevent slipping under load.  More to come as it gets finished and field tested.



Here’s a few older frames I could find around the ‘net:




18 thoughts on “Wooden Pack Frame

  1. I love them or at least the look of them and the genius behind them-
    How do they perform in real lofe though? Comfortable to carry, even with heavy loads?

    1. Ron, that’s the only important question! I don’t know yet but, I think, from carrying it around the house, that it does it’s job. Distributes a load better than nothing. I will hopefully get to take it for some hikes soon and see how it performs. If nothing else, I could certainly strap a huge load of stuff to carry (e.g., an elk quarter or a big load of water). I’ll let you know!


  2. Great prototyping, rawhide lashings, pegs, and the steam bent parts, 1/4×3/4? white oak? reminds me of my greenland kayak ribs. its a flatbed truck! versatile. cant wait to see complete.

  3. Congrats from good ol’ Germany to the craftsman !
    I am impressed – a great ‘n piece of handcrafted art !
    Things like that – or other compareable craftwork – helps the re-enactors all over the world… and keeps the acknowledege of past crafting alive !

    1. I don’t really sell much of anything these days. I am experimenting a lot while I have a “real” job to make designs to sell in future. When that day comes, the blog will be filled with leather and canvas porn for sale.

  4. Thanks for sharing your plans and build, George! Very impressed. I’m contemplating building one for a three day hike on Eagle Rock Loop in AR the first of July. Nostalgia aside, have you given it much of a test for comfort and functionality? I’d love to hear your feedback!

    Thanks again,

    1. I know this is lame but I have never taken it on a serious hike yet. It has only been loaded for about a mile. I have no doubt it will need some adjustments and tweaks on the straps and webs but I think the frame itself is absolutely fine.

      1. Lol, I’m probably going with my Osprey since time is short for building and testing. But this is a build I want to tryout. I’ll be in touch with you I’m sure for detail questions. Thanks again!

  5. I would be interested in updates as well.

    Very interested in how much it weighs compared to more modern backpack frames (even aluminum ones like I used as a kid) and how durable it is

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