How to Make a Backpack Frame

How to Make a Backpack Frame
A backpack frame supports the load of your gear to help you carry your pack more comfortably. While it's hard to duplicate the advanced suspension systems of modern backpacks, you can make simple changes to a daypack that add structure and help take the weight off your shoulders.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Foam sleeping pad
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • 4 feet of 1" webbing
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Plastic snap buckle
Step 1
Line the inside, back of your backpack with part of a sleeping pad. This will provide rigidity and support for your back and prevent gear from digging into you while you hike. Use scissors to cut a piece of a foam sleeping pad to the dimensions of the back of your pack. Insert this pad into your pack so it lines the portion of your backpack that sits against your back.
Step 2
Attach a waistbelt to your backpack. A waistbelt will transfer the weight in your backpack off your shoulders and onto your lower-body. With your backpack on, use a tape measure to measure the distance from the bottom right corner of the backpack, around the front of your waist to the left bottom corner of your pack. Add 8 inches to your measurement.
Step 3
Cut a piece of webbing to the length you measured around your waist. Cut the webbing in half. Sew one piece of webbing to the bottom right corner of the pack so it extends out horizontally. Do the same for the left side.
Step 4
Add a buckle to your new waistbelt. Feed the tooth side through the webbing on the right of the waistbelt. Feed the buckle side through the webbing on the left. When you do this on the left, the end of the webbing will face to the left and line up with the rest of the left-side webbing. With about two inches fed through the buckle, sew the end of the webbing down to the rest of the webbing so the buckle stays in place.

Tips & Warnings

Use the foam pad you cut for your back support as a seat when you get into camp. This gives your pad a second use and keeps you insulated from the ground while you rest in camp.
Know the weight recommendations for your backpack. If you exceed the recommended weight, your backpack will not be comfortable, no matter the changes you make to the structure.


Article Written By Kathrine Cole

Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.

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