So, for a long time I've needed a new backpack. My current one has served with distinction for the past 5 years of academia, but it's starting to wear thin. I plan on designing and building my own backpack for daily use as well as possibly expanding it for camping/general travel. The idea is to make a solid frame out of 1/2 inch dowels, with a 'foot' protruding at a right angle at the bottom of the frame. That frame will have the first layer of the basic cloth of the bag, which will ideally be a sandwich of heavy canvas and a type of batting used to insulate ironing boards. The main 'pocket' of the pack will be a open top with a flip over canvas cover with two buckles on leather straps to fasten it. With this design I feel like I gain a lot of flexibility for what kind of things I can put in the pack and it leaves me open to add more pockets all around it as i find them necessary. The whole thing will be machine sewn, and then riveted, but I haven't found a good durable thread that I like yet, short of kevlar. The part of the pack that will actually be against my back will be triple padded with the insulated batting and impact foam over the bars of the frame. canvas straps, 2 inches wide and padded at the shoulders with adjustable buckles (leather)
Has anyone ever done anything like this before? Designed and built their own gear?
I don't know how determined you are to building your own bacg, but there's a company out in San Francisco called Mission Workshop that makes absolutely stellar handmade bag that truly last. I've owned one for over a year and with daily wear and camping trips, it literally looks just like the day I bought it. I'm pretty certain these are the same guys that designed the fantastic Chrome bags as well.
Anyway, they have a pretty cool system there where they make modular bags called Arkiv that are completely built out of what you choose for it, like number of pockets, size, additional things on top of the bag, but they're really fucking expensive if you take that route, so who knows if that's up your alley.
Even if you don't want to buy from them though, they're a small company of complete enthusiasts who are stoked about what they do, so if you email them for advice on building your own and what materials to use, I'm sure they'd love to respond and help out.