I visited my mum today. She is an ace seamstress and I persuaded her to replace the webbing on the shoulder straps of my Gossamer Gear Mariposa. Sometimes the webbing has slipped under tension, so I replaced it with a coarser weave webbing, which shouldn’t slip. Very pleased with mum’s sewing. Took about five minutes.
I’ve been making again!
Many moons ago, I made some shoulder strap pads for my Golite Quest pack mid trip because the straps were bruising my collar-bone. While I didn’t have any real problems on Dartmoor with soreness from the Exped Thunder, the straps are a bit thin for my liking. They also wick water badly when it’s raining. If you’re wearing Paramo, this wicks through under pressure. An impervious shoulder pad should get rid of this issue. Thus, the shoulder pad has a dual use.
It was very easy to make. I used a cutoff of a closed cell mat, some Velcro and some Duck tape. Originally I was going to just stick the Velcro on, but I thought sewing it would be more secure. I used wide stitches to avoid pulling through the foam. If I were to do it again, I think I’d sew it onto a strip of grosgrain.
On the flip side, I used a length of Duck tape to secure the Velcro strips.
Despite not being shaped, they fit neatly underneath the shoulder straps. Using Velcro means they can be attached without unthreading the harness, unlike the ZPacks version. It also means it’s very easy to reposition the pad. I’m pleased with the outcome.
My Western Mountaineering Ultralite is a great sleeping bag but it has one design flaw. When the zip is fully closed, the draught baffle doesn’t fully cover the zip puller. Consequently, if you’re lying on your side, sometimes you get a cold zip puller dangling on your cheek. To prevent this, I’ve added a short fleece zip guard. Not the neatest bit of sewing, but hopefully it will work.
This is an issue on most of the sleeping bags I’ve owned. On the WM Highlite, I’ve added a zip baffle. On my Alpkit Pipedream and Cumulus Quantum, I added a snap closure. Yet again, you wonder whether gear is tested properly for these little irritations.
Many of you have taken an interest in my MYOG A frame. I’m indebted to Darren for this latest tweak. He discovered that if you remove the snow basket on a Leki trekking pole, you can screw it into the filler nozzle insert. Serendipitously, the threads match exactly. This gives a very solid coupling, doing away with the need to secure the poles with some cord. It makes the frame even more rigid. Not only does it work with a Leki pole (right in the picture), but it also works with Black Diamond poles (left in the picture). Thanks, Darren. Great suggestion.
It’s a rare bit of gear that doesn’t suffer some modifications. Here’s what I’ve done to my Exped Thunder 70 pack.
1) Shoulder strap daisy chain. I used quite thin (10mm) grosgrain so I can attach lightweight items to one shoulder strap if I want.
To ensure the loops are securely attached, the top seam is sewn to the zip backing. Logically it would be better to have horizontal loops rather than vertical but they might tear the fabric of the pocket.
All quite simple, but adds to the utility of the Thunder.
The shock cord fits behind the Ohm pockets and stays in place well. Hey presto! A lumbar pad. Along with the hip belt and frame sheet mods, I’m rather pleased with the Ohm and will be using it this summer.
I decided that I’d like the back panel of my ULA Ohm to be a little more structured and less flexible. The obvious thing to do was to add a sheet of HDPE to the foam sheet (a cut down Karrimat) that I was using. I ordered some 500mm x 250mm HDPE sheets from Direct Plastics. The sheets are so cheap I ordered 3 x 1mm and 3 x 1.5mm sheets, in case I want to use the HDPE for any other projects.
The sheets are almost exactly the correct shape. I had to cut the top corners off, which was easily done with a pair of sharp scissors. I used the 1.5mm thickness sheet as I felt it gave a little more rigidity and attached it to the foam pad with some duct tape. The weight is about 160g (HDPE sheet).
I’m pleased with the outcome. The back panel no longer bulges when you pack the sack and I can guarantee that no objects will jab me in the back. I’m pretty pleased with it. I think it will make the pack more comfortable, together with my hip belt mod. I had been thinking about getting an old style Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack (if I could find one), but I’m not sure I’ll bother as the Ohm is basically the same but with better quality materials.
I decided to make my A frame a bit smaller and save some weight. I reduced the arms by 15cm (to 16cm). This has saved 22g and the A frame now weighs 48g. My trekking poles have to extend to 135cm to get the correct height at the apex. Making the A frame smaller has not only saved weight, it makes storage easier. As far as I can tell, it makes no difference to the strength of rigidity of the frame. Indeed, it may be slightly more rigid as the plastic tube is more flexible than a trekking pole.
I’ve had a ULA Ohm for a while but not used it much because the buckles on the hip belt extend beyond the padding when the hip belt is tightened. This led to them digging into my iliac crest. Recently, I had a brain wave to extend the hip belt with some 3mm closed cell foam and some spare nylon cloth I had kicking around.
Yesterday, I put my plan into action. It was remarkably easy to do a decent job just by hand sewing. I cut the closed cell foam to the right size. I then made a pocket from the nylon, sewing it inside out then turning it right side out. Inserted the foam. Then sewed on to the hip belt. The buckles are now protected from rubbing.
As promised, here’s how I made my A frame. It’s really simple and cheap to make. Before starting, you need to do a bit of simple trigonometry to work out the measurements. In my case I wanted a height of 125cm and a base line of 150cm. Dividing the base line by two gives two right angle triangles, so you can solve the length of the remaining side, which is 146cm (the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides).
1) The first thing to do is to cut a length of pipe. I used 60cm, so each arm measured 30cm. It’s up to you how long this should be. I’d suggest a minimum of 15cm and a maximum of maybe 40cm. Much longer and the pipe will flex too much.
2) You need to bend the pipe. To make it easier you can heat it, but I bent mine gently without heating.
3) The next step is to check the nozzles fit over the end of your trekking poles. For my Black Diamond poles, they fitted perfectly. For other makes you may need to do some adjusting. Wrap the ends of the nozzles with duck tape. This needs to be thick enough that they fit tightly into the end of the pipe. Check with the walking pole inserted that there is as little play as possible.
6) At the apex, I’ve used a bit of handle bar micro fibre tape to cushion the A frame against the apex of the shelter. It’s probably not strictly necessary but it does provide some cushioning and grip.
And that’s all there is to it. Total weight for mine is 71g. Don’t forget to adjust the length of your trekking pole to allow for the tip inserted into the tube (for the Black Diamond poles it’s c.5cm). I was amazed how strong this frame is. In larger mid shelters, I think it’s wise to use strong trekking poles. For instance, in my Duomid, I would use my Leki Sherpa XLs rather than the Black Diamond Trail trekking poles.