Why do this?
In my life-long quest for better designs and finer gear, I am constantly on some sort of hare-brained mission to make something new. Some readers may remember the earlier backpack I made and eventually traded off to a new owner. My friend Jacob, even made a fine copy for himself and it now lives happily in Botswana, hopefully seeing many great adventures.
Leather and Brass? (or, what the hell were you thinking?)
One thing that can be said about real leather is that it will, barring some mishap, last a lifetime but eventually fade back into to earth, leaving little trace. Leather is strong, wears well, is abrasion and heat-resistant, feels good to the touch, and cannot be beat for beauty. While I considered antler for buckles, I decided to go with a slightly more modern closures and fasteners made from solid brass. As I use antler in most of my creations, I chose to make a few well-shaped toggles as practical accents.
The downside? These materials are heavier than modern, lightweight materials but, for me, the trade-off is completely worth it.
This backpack started off as some daydreaming and sketches on graph paper sometime last November but other projects and commitments made me set it aside again and again. This was good though; it allowed me to rethink the plans and make modifications as they occurred to me in the quiet hours of the night.
What were the design parameters?
Design is always the toughest part when creating something new. I’ve been looking at handcrafted bags and packs for years so I’m sure there are a thousand images bouncing around inside my skull influencing the composition of this piece. Honestly, choosing a size was the most puzzling part of all for me. I’m a biggish guy and have a tendency to go big when I make gear so I was determined to keep this one reigned in.
I already had a “look” in mind and already decided on the construction technique. Should it be a six panel body for easier layout or single panel around the body for a more seamless build? Should it be sewn, laced, or riveted and what pockets does it need? Will it be “turned” (seams hidden inside) or will the closings be visible? Finally, where to begin construction? We can’t close the body until the external sewing is done so pockets and straps were a good place to start.
Not long after getting most of the parts gathered and cut, I found myself wounded, with only one arm for practical use. This slowed down sewing to a crawl. What should take fifteen minutes took over two hours so this bag became an exercise in patience.
Still, I managed to make headway and the pack came together over several weeks.
Maybe not my prettiest stitching ever, but as it will be mine, and not for sale, I will still cherish every flaw.
As a prototype, there were changes that must be made on the fly but overall I was happy with the design.
The shoulder straps were made to be replaceable without too much hassle and are long enough to accommodate a heavy coat in winter.
- Materials – 8 ounce veg tanned leather body, 4 – 5 ounce leather pockets, brass and antler
- Height – 16 inches
- Width – 12 inches
- Depth – 6 inches
- Weight – 5 pounds
Thoughts? Suggestions? Selfies of your hand-made gear?