Tyvek Backpack

One night while reading Wired Magazine i saw a picture of this:
hyperlite mountain gear metro pack backpack cost make diy how to

It's called the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Metro Pack and cost $128.  It's appeal is in that it's light weight, has a large carrying capacity and is waterproof.  So i looked at all the pictures and decided that it wouldn't be too hard to make. 
tyvek backpack camping how to make diy waterproof bag

The best part is that i knew exactly what material they used, Tyvek.  About a year ago i bought a 36" x 150' roll of NovaWrap Tyvek material.  I used it to make a Parafoil Kite and as a waterproof barrier for my Backyard Pond.  It has tons of uses and it's great to have a roll sitting around.
tyvek, novawrap, how to make camping equipment, tarp, waterproof, breathable

Tyvek is great for several reasons:
  • cheap
  • light weight
  • waterproof yet breathable
I also learned from the previous kite project that there are two good ways to construct things out of Tyvek, tape or sewing.  While making the kite i tried 4 differently types of tape and found that clear packaging tape worked the best.  It seemed like the clear tape was able to adhere "into" the fibers of the Tyvek.  Click on the parafoil kite link above to see more information about the 4 different tapes i tested.

But i decided that the best way to make the backpack was to sew the pieces together.  I used a heavy cross stitch with nylon thread to make sure the seams didn't split apart.  Although i did use several small pieces of the clear packaging tape to hold the Tyvek together while i was sewing.

I started like i always do, with lots of drawings.  Here's one of the many sheets i drew up, with ideas and materials i thought about using.  I was trying to work out what buckles to use, if i wanted a waist strap or chest strap and how to attach the straps to the bag. 
backpack plans, instructions how to make, sew, build, camping bag

I decided that the goal of the backpack was to be small, lightweight and compact.  Therefore i opted not to add a waist strap or chest strap.

I forgot to take pictures at the start of the project.  But the main part of the bag itself was made with the full 36" wide tyvek material folded over on itself, sort of like a tube.  I'm not sure how tall i made it, i just kind of eyeballed where i wanted it to sit on my back and how high it would be at my shoulders.  (taking into account that the top 6" or so would be rolled up and buckled)  But here's what it looked like after i cut the main pieces out and sewed some of them together
 material to make camping equipment, backpack, bag, tent, tarp, tyvek

This is what the bottom of the bag looked like.  It's basically just like wrapping a Christmas present.  I sewed along the entire seam, then folded it over to the center on both sides.  Then i sewed again along each edge of the fold.  It all made for a very strong joint, which is good because the bottom of the bag is where all of the weight of the bag will be focused.  The other nice thing was that it made a flat bottom of the bag.
 tyvek, house wrap, backpack, sew bag, make camping hiking

For the shoulder straps i was originally just going to cut some off of an old backpack of mine.  But i decided to try and make shoulder straps of my own.  And i have to say that i'm glad i did, it wasn't really that hard.  Luckily i had some 1/2" foam in the basement, which i used as the core of the shoulder straps.

I used one of the shoulder straps from my old backpacks as a template.  I layed it on the Tyvek and traced out the shape.  I had to cut out 4 pieces from that pattern, front and back for each strap.  The hardest part was sewing the final edge and making sure the foam was pushed in tightly.
 diy camping how to backpack arm shoulder straps, padding, foam

Referring back to some of the pictures at the original Hyperlite Mountain Gear Metro Pack i knew that i needed an additional piece of Tyvek for support to attach the backpack straps.  If i just sewed the shoulder straps to the single layer of Tyvek it might rip under heavy weight.

 diy how to make a homemade camping backpack, tyvek, waterproof, house wrap, sew

Here it is just before sewing the straps on.  To make sure they were on securely, i sewed back and forth about 5 times, or until the needle jammed.
attach, sew shoulder straps to bag, backpack, construct

At this point it looked pretty good, but i still had some tricky bits left. 
diy hyperlite mountain gear bag, tyvek, sew, plans, make

I really liked how simple the top of the original bag was secured.  All it needed was a buckle sewn at either side near the top.
homemade backpack buckle, how to make

You can see from the first two pictures that the top is rolled up and then these buckles pull in and clip to each other. 
how to make a hyperlite backpack, save money, cheap, water proof camping equpment

No need for straps or ties, this simple and strong method works great. 
simple and strong backpack top, buckle, fold, seam

The last step i had to figure out was how i was going to make the straps and buckles, which attach the shoulder straps to the backpack.  Here are the buckles on two of the backpacks i have.  They are made of pretty strong plastic, they have three slots for the straps to loop through.
backpack buckle, buckles, plastic, strap, camping

I decided not to "reinvent the wheel" but i didn't like the original design.  I thought that i could make it work with just one cross bar instead of two.  It would be stronger but it meant that two straps would have to go through the same slot.

I couldn't decide what material to use so i made both.  The two buckles on the left are made out of thick Lexan.  (Plexiglass)  The two on the right are made out of aluminum.  I really liked the plexiglass, it was easy to work with and looked good.  But ultimately i decided to use aluminum.  It was only a tiny bit heavier then the plexiglass but a lot stronger. 
homemade backpack buckles, how to, lexan, plexi glass, aluminum

I did round off the four corners and smooth the edges, since my arms would be swaying as i walked and most likely brushing against the buckles.  I used a couple different metal files/rasps and finished with 220 grit sand paper.

how to make aluminum backpack bag buckle, file, metal, round, sand

Next i looped the straps through and sewed them by hand. 
sew straps to buckles for backpack bag

As you can see these are what transfer the weight from the shoulder straps to the aluminum buckles.  The reason why i made those two little humps with the straps is still a mystery to me.  It's like that on all of my backpacks.  I know that it's suppose to be a place where you can attach things like a compass or water bottle, but i've never actually used them.  Ultimately though i thought that it makes it more professional looking so i copied the design.
attach, sew straps to bag, through foam, padding, backpack

This is how the straps attach.  You can kind of see that the slot on the right has two straps going through it.  This is where i changed the design a bit.  Normally the buckle has three slots for the three straps.  But i think this is just as good, if not better. 
how to attach backpack strap to buckle, loop through clasp, strap

I sewed the other end of the straps to the bottom of the bag by hand.  Again i made sure that they were securely attached since they would be carying all of the weight.
sew bottom of backpack bag, strap, tyvek, waterproof, hyberlite,gear

And that's it, the backpack was done.  It ended up taking just a few days to make.  Mainly because i had to buy the white plastic buckles and i was designing the details as i went along.  If i had to make another one from start to finish it would take about 4 hours.  Cutting, drilling and filing the aluminum buckles did take some time though, so it might be a little longer. 
homemade hyperlite mountain gear backpack bag, tyvek, water proof material

Here i am wearing the backpack.  I put my sleeping bag in the backpack, nothing heavy.  It was fairly comfortable but i did notice the small bit of folding horizontally where the shoulder straps attach.  I didn't think it was a big deal though.  You can also see the seam i sewed running up the back.
waring the hyperlite mountain gear bag, diy, homemade, camping bag

Here it is from the side.
test, side view, wearing, hyperlite mountain gear bag, rate, rating

I had to keep reminding myself that whole point of this backpack is to be light weight and compact.  It's not going to replace my big camping backpack.  It doesn't need all the side pockets, waist straps, zippers and things.
full, carry, weight, hyperlite, mountain gear, bag, backpack

This is what it looks like all folded up.  It's super compact and would be a great thing to put in your trunk or to take with you as a spare bag on a trip.
fold up, diy, camping backpack, how to make, compact

I haven't tested it yet, but it should be somewhat waterproof, probably more like water resistant.  I mean if you fell in a river while wearing it i suspect that water will get in through the top and some of the seams.  But if you wear it while it's raining i don't see why anything will get wet.

I may end up making some other bags, probably not backpacks though.  Just simple, smaller bags with the same buckles at the top.


Animal in the Backyard at Night

A while back Karrie bought me a trail camera, also known as a deer cam.  In simple terms it's a camera that you mount on something, like a tree, pointing toward an area you want to watch.  When the motion sensors detect movement it will take a picture.  There are also infrared lights that will flash at night to take pictures in the dark. It uses infrared because a normal flash will scare away animals and they might not pass by again.

The cam that Karrie got me is a really nice one, it takes pictures and videos.  You can change several of the settings depending on what you want it to do.  
  • Active just during the day, just at night or 24 hours. 
  • Photos or videos
  • High, med or low quality
  • variable delay between shots

I first decided to test it out up north in the Huron National Forest.  So i walked way back into the woods and put it on a tree near an active deer trail. Here it is set up on the tree.  The top circle is the camera lens, surrounded by the infrared LED flash.  The white center circle is the motion sensor.  It has lights on either side that will flash red or green to let you know that it took a picture.  The green screen at the bottom is where you change the settings.  Underneath is the battery and control compartment, it's waterproof and also holds the SD card.
deer cam, trail cam, setup on tree, strap, how to, infrared, night

The bad thing was that i was only at the cottage for the weekend so the camera was only set up for 24 hours.  During that time nothing went in front of the camera and it didn't take any pictures.  I didn't want to leave it there for a month, i was afraid someone would take it, so i took it down. 
how to set up a trail cam, deer camera, setup on tree, strap, point, align

Anyway here were some other pictures i took of the small pond back in the woods.
forst lake, pond, huron national forest, lake, clouds, lillypads

I think i used the homemade ND filter on this one.
forest lake, ND filter, water, lillypads, clouds, reflection

When i got home i decided to set it up in the backyard.  I put some cheeseballs in front of the camera to use as bait.  Here's a squirrel that passed by.  You can see at the bottom that it took the picture at 3:47PM.
trail cam squirrel, cheeseballs, bait, time, yard, backyard

The next morning i noticed all the cheeseballs were gone.  When i looked at the pictures i saw this.  Whatever it was came by at 9:35PM.  I thought it might have been a cat or raccoon or something.
unknown animal on trail cam, camera, deer, opossum, raccoon

So the next night i set it up in the back corner of the yard.  But this time i set the camera to video mode.

Sorry for the weird video quality.  It looks fine on my computer but when i upload the trail cam video's to youtube it gets that strange pink and blue lines on the bottom.

Anyways at 11PM at night an opossum walked in front of the camera.  In fact that same animal came by at 11PM, midnight, 2AM and 4AM.  It must like cheeseballs as much as me.

It's really fun setting up the camera and then discovering what walks by at night.  I can't wait to set it up at the cottage again to try and find out what time animals pass by a certain area.  For example, there may be a heavily traveled deer trail in a particular area and you might think it would be a great spot to hunt.  But then when you set up a deer cam you might see that the deer only walk through there at 2AM.  And it might turn out to only be small doe's.  

The trail camera is kind of like a spy cam for the woods.  It will let you know who, what, where and when somethings passing by. 


How to Build a Shelf for the Garage

Winter is coming.

Which means that it's time to clean out the garage, or else it will never get done.  Actually i wanted to make room so that Karrie could park her car in there and not be covered in snow.  A few months ago it was completely packed full of stuff.  Since then i've given away my old broken Snapper riding lawn mowers and a bunch of other junk.  I also moved some boxes to the basement, cleaning that mess is definitely a job to be done this winter.  But for the rest of the stuff, i decided that a big wood shelf was needed to store it all.
google sketchup garage shelf, wood shelf for garage tools, wood shelf design 
Now i could have just bought plastic shelves at Meijer or Lowe's but they are expensive and wouldn't provide as much space.  I have a couple of really nice heavy-duty plastic shelves in the basement.  They are great for small stuff but the wood shelves i planned on building would be stronger, larger and cost a lot less.

A few weeks ago i made a tool rack for all the garden tools and hung that on the wall in the garage.  So far it's been great.  The big PVC pipes are easy to use and strong.
garage shelf, tool rack, garden tools, hang on wall, shovel, snow shovel, rake, broom

Seeing how well this tool rack worked out gave me an incentive to get the rest of the stuff in the garage cleaned up.

My plan was to build four 8 foot shelves made of pine 2x4's and OSB (oriented strand board - sometimes called particle board).  8 foot just makes sense because there will be less cutting since they all come in 8 foot sections. I decided to use 2x4's because they are cheap.  And decided on OSB because it's relatively cheap but really strong.  They make OSB in 7/8" and 1/2", they were only a few dollars different in price so i went with the 1/2" thickness.

I first drew up the design on paper but then i decided to get more detailed and use Google SketchUp.  I've used Google SketchUp before to draw the two twin beds.
google sketchup bed, bed design, sketchup twin bed

SketchUp is great for several reasons.  It's free.  It's easy to understand, which means it doesn't take hours trying to learn how to draw, though it does help if you spend 8 hours a day using AutoCAD.  It's just a really nice program that lets you draw 3D object very quickly.  And there's tons of Youtube video's that you can watch and learn different tricks.

I not only wanted to get the shelf right, but i wanted to make sure that it fit in the garage.  So i measured my garage interior dimension and then drew it up.  I added the two side doors and the big front garage door.  Then i drew the shelf itself and tried different orientations. The first picture at the top is what i came up with after lots of fiddling around.  But here's the dimensions for the final shelf design.  This was probably version 6, and the third time i redrew it.
google sketchup wood shelf design, wood shelf dimensions, 2x4 shelf how to

If you want to download the actual Google SketchUp files, which are .SKP and .SKP, i uploaded them to my Google Drive.  You can download them from these two links:
I actually got a bit carried away with what i could do.  Here's an early version  where i though about covering all the walls in the garage with shelves.  This was also when i thought that i should attach the 2x4's to the floor and ceiling.
how to make a wood 2x4 shelf for the garage, build wood shelf plans

But this is why Google SketchUp is great, it lets you zoom in and actually see what it will look like when you are done.  It gives you any perspective view from any angle.  That is when you realize things like, will the door shut, how tall will it look, do i need 4 shelves or only 3.
3D view of shelf design, garage shelf pattern, plans, design, layout

Now having said all that, the funny thing is that i didn't check was whether or not a car would fit.  It turned out to be ... not really.  If i pushed the shelf all the way over to the right a car could maybe fit, but there wasn't enough room to open the driver side door. 
google sketch up garage car shelf, how to make, build, dimensions

So even though this was my final designed drawings, the final location for the shelf was for it to be flat against the on the right. 

Material List:
Description     Height     Width     Length     Quantity    Price         Total
2x4                 2"            4"          8ft           15         $2.50        $37.50
OSB               1/2"          4ft         8ft            2          $13.00      $26.00

Also i ended up using around 200 - 2.5" deck/drywall screws, which cost around $4. 

The total cost with tax was just under $70 which seemed like a lot at first.  But then you figure that a cheap plastic 4 foot high shelf cost around $40.

Here's all the wood i bought.  Actually i only needed 14 - 2x4's but i got one extra, just in case.
wood 2x4 and osb particle board, wood shelf material, cost, plans

This is what the garage looked like before i started.  I made a 360 degree panorama of garage, combining around 18 pictures to make this one.  
(click to enlarge)
360 degree panorama garage, indoors, rotate view, iPhone 5

The first thing i did was to clear the area where the shelf was to go.
garage before begin work, wood shelf, how to make

And right away i ran into a problem.  Measuring from the back wall to the old wall hanging shelves i got 7.5 feet.  Which meant that i would have to cut at least 6" off.  So i cleared everything off the shelves, unscrewed them from the metal brackets and cut off 10", just to be sure.  
construction in the garage, saw horse, cut shelf to size

While cutting the shelves i decided to also lower the bottom shelf for more room. There used to be a board with weird hooks which in the way.  I never used it, so i just took it off the wall.  Before the bottom shelf was only 8" from the shelf above it.  By taking off the board with hooks i was able to drop the metal brackets all the way down.  You can compare this picture with the one a couple above and see the difference.
setting up shelf in garage, organize, 2x4 plans

Moving all of the junk, putting everything back, cutting the old shelf and all that was a lot of work, but when i was done it looked the same as when i started.

The next day i cut the short end boards and started to lay out the shelves.  These would be the vertical end pieces.
2x4 wood end pieces, how to build a wood shelf

After taking this picture i realized that i had the screws flipped backwards.  It might not seem like a big deal but if i left it like this then the screws which connect the side boards would hit each other.  So i had to remove these screws and flip them horizontally.  You will see what i mean later when i attach the front and back 2x4's.
screw pattern for wood shelf, wood cross piece

That's when i decided to make a pattern for each of the different screw layouts.  It was a great idea that saved me tons of time in the end.  The top pattern is for the shelf boards i would cut out later.  The left pattern is what i needed for the boards above.  The right pattern is for the front and back facer boards
cardboard pattern for wood shelf, how to make a wood 2x4 shelf, plans

With the end pieces all screwed together i set them in place just to see how it would look and see if it all made sense.
prefit 2x4 boards, garage shelf

Then i screwed in the first front and back shelf boards and stood everything up.
half way through building wood shelf, organize garage

Here's the way i connected all the boards together.  Had i not changed the screws earlier, all 4 or these screws might have hit them.
the best way to fit 2x4 at corner, screw, wood, shelf, end, no glue

The interlocking way in which the 2x4's all fit together was a design i decided on with some help from John.  When Karrie and i went to Katie and John's cottage, he drew this out on the computer. 
catia design, wood shelf, screw pattern, layout, dimensions

This was my original idea.  It seemed simple, but isn't as strong, since there aren't as many faces touching and screws holding it together.  The final version is more compact and everything interlocks with each other.
computer CAD shelf design, screw, wood, garage shelf, 2x4

Next, using a jig saw, i cut out the U-shaped notches using the cardboard pattern from earlier. 
1 shelf wood, 2x4 frame, osb shelf

Here's a closer look of how the OSB shelf fits into the 2x4 support posts.
detail for wood oriented strand board shelf, how to make a wood shelf

Looking at this picture you might think i forgot a few steps, but actually i didn't.  Putting the OSB shelves in before attaching the 2x4's was necessary.   If i didn't do that first then i would have never been able to get the shelves in.  
prefitting the shelf boards, wobbly shelf i made

That's because i had to actually pull the 2x4 uprights apart to be able to slide the shelf boards in and if i screwed the 2x4's in then i wouldn't have been able to pull them apart.  Luckily i realized that before attaching all the 2x4 cross beams.

But after cutting all the shelves and fitting them in place i was then able to screw the 2x4 front and back supports together.  To make sure it was all square i screwed them in with the shelf on it's side.  By this time it was getting pretty big and heavy so i had to get karrie's help to put the shelf down and stand it back up.
wood shelf, garage, organize, heavy duty, strong, 2x4 shelf

But i was able to push it into place by myself and take a look at it.  I knew from the start that i was going to have an issue with the shelf not being level because the concrete slab in the garage is much higher near the back wall.  You can see the crack in the slab underneath the shelf.
level shelf, garage storage, how to organize you garage junk

I thought about all the different ways i was going to make sure it was level.  I though about making the front legs longer or maybe trimming the back legs.  But i decided that the best idea was to just make the shelf square and level and then deal with the uneven floor afterwords.  It was off quite a bit.
not level, bubble not centered

So i lifted up the shelf on the right side and, after trying a series of different thickness boards, found out that using two 2x4's would make the shelf almost perfect.
level 2x4 boards, wedge, shims, uneven floor

Close enough for me.
level, bubble, shelf, how to

I pushed the shelf back into the corner as much as i could and did a few things to make sure it wouldn't move.  I screwed the floor 2x4's together and attached the upright to them with just one screw
secure wood 2x4 to floor, screw down

Then, so that the shelf didn't tip over, i screwed it to the wall in a few places.
how to attach shelf to wall with screw, tip over

Here's the finished shelf in place, level and secured to the wall.
wood garage shelf, storage, organize, 2x4, simple, strong, easy to build, plans

I actually got really lucky.  The second shelf cleared the handle of the old door by a couple of millimeters.  I totally didn't think about the door handle until i went to push it in place.   If it didn't fit i guess i would have had to trim a few inches off the legs.
lucky door knob, handle, saved, old

Then it was time to start loading up the shelves.  Hopefully it will have enough room for everything.  otherwise i'll have to build another one.
need to organize garage junk, stuff, shelf, rack, tools

I took a break, then came back a few hours later to start hanging stuff on the wall.  I used those rubber coated hooks and screwed them into the studs behind the drywall.  I admit that i got a little crazy hanging the wood bench i made for Karrie on the ceiling, but it did save a lot of room.
garage shelf, hang from wall, ceiling, storage, space, inch 

Over the winter Karrie and i are going to go through all the stuff we have in boxes in the basement and sort them.   Some of the less important stuff can go on these bottom shelves.  I haven't totally fill it up just yet.

Here's a summary video of the storage shelf being built
And here is a link to another storage shelf for the basement.

New Step-By-Step video of the storage shelf being built

EDIT:  PDF Templates
Some very nice anonymous person in the comments made a PDF of the the template.  Here's a link to it  Shelf PDF Templates