Pg 19: Questions and Answers
"I'm excited about buying and sewing a backpack kit, however my shoulder size falls exactly in between a S and a M. 38.5 inches. would you recommend going a little big or for the smaller size. Thank you!" - Christine B., CA
If you will be using the sternum strap, then you might choose the M. If not, then the S.
Note that either size will work well for you, with or without the sternum strap. This is just a guideline to help you with your initial purchase.
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"We just completed the PCT using your tarp, quilt and backpack. The following is a quick breakdown of how the Backpack performed - The well thought out design for the backpack was excellent. The pockets were great, directions on packing it from the AT video were excellent. When I order another backpack however, I will be modifying a few things as I guess I am quite hard on gear. The netting I would replace with a more robust material as I got quite a lot of holes in it from wear and tear - not a fault of the product. I would also probably construct the whole pack from the heavy duty material. For me, having a pack that weighs a little more, but is a little more resistant to my "roughness" would be worth it. It should be mentioned however, that although our base weight was pretty low, we had a tendency to carry quite a lot of food (ranging from 5 to 7 hiker days) in order to minimize the inconvenience and wasted time associated with hitching into town. You would probably be disgusted by how much food weight your poor little bags had to endure but they definitely stood up to whatever challenge we could throw at them, although there were a few patched and unpatched holes by the end. We would both like to send you guys are heart felt thanks as the gear was amazing." - Ben and Kate (The Australians)
Our reply: Congratulations on your hike, and thanks very much for the feedback. You say: "more robust material." We think the better solution is to take better care of the gear. I used the same backpack materials on four thru-hikes (1-PCT, 3-AT), and had no problem with them wearing out, with no patches necessary. Taking better care of the gear is a conscious effort - a mental shift - that requires more skill. Rather than throwing the backpack down at a rest stop, place it down gently, especially on rough rocks. Rather than thrashing through the brush while letting the pocket netting catch on branches, pull or push those branches aside and squeeze through without touching them. And most important, when the backpack is empty, take care not to shove or slide it across the ground. It all boils down to a matter of respect. And the trade-off is lighter weight gear that lasts a long time. Once again, Congratulations! And thanks for taking the time to get in touch.
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"I can't believe I did this but I sewed the straps to the reinforcement panel correctly, but then sewed the reinforcement panel to the Back Panel upside down. (Even though your instructions remind me which direction the tabs should face.) It's stitched 800 times so taking it apart with a seam ripper would be difficult. So I have cut the reinforcement section off 2 1/4" below the fold, turn the section around, and then sewed it back together with a flat felled seam. This worked since you have allowed for extra fabric throughout the length of the back panel anyway. I can't believe I did this! It just goes to show you must follow every direction. But The fix was very successful and looks like it will handle a lifetime of backpacking.. Thanks so much for all your help." - Chrissy L.