You may have noticed this photo in one of my recent posts about the South Coast Track: Della making stirling efforts to repair my backpack under trying conditions: overcast, rain, sandflies etc at the Waitutu Hut; a woman to die for: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-waitutu-to-westies/
Now that we are home she has properly repaired my old backpack (http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml) whose cuben fibre back panel had finally shredded and become quite irreparable with even more tape. She has carefully unpicked it and replaced the back panel and the rear pocket with 4.8 oz/yd2 Dyneema (like the rest of the pack) so that it is now quite bullet-proof (yet still under 500 grams!)
This was a difficult repair, quite beyond my ability even if I had the hands for it (They are coming along though! http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hannibal-lektors-hand/ ), so I am more than delighted. Once I have sewn up our new decagon tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/catenary-curves/), we will be off somewhere to test it out!
The sewing is doubly difficult as first I had to download a sewing machine repair manual, then dismantle the sewing machine whose reverse gear stopped working. It is at the moment in pieces all over the dining room table. If/when I succeed in fixing it, it will be on with the sewing!
In the lounge room the pack seems most comfortable. I was having an incurable problem with load transfer in a replacement pack which caused me no end of trouble in NZ. The belt was too wide: this is clearly a problem if you are stout! Thank you Della!
Once I am done with tent design I intend to move on to backpack design. Similarly to tents I feel most of the offering out there (in bought items) are unfit for purpose, too expensive and too heavy. Making your own backpack ought also give the opportunity to properly tailor the pack for fit – which should improve comfort immensely. If you are not up to doing your own sewing, the folks at Zpacks will make you a bespoke pack (as above). PS: Della’s Zero pack is still going strong after many years: she is not so tough on packs as i am, but also does not cram so much into them or push through so many blackberries etc as i do when hunting. These are the packs you see us both carrying on our logo and on our South Coast Tasmania trek in 2011: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tasmanias-south-coast-track-hells-holiday/
If you are buying a new Zero (recommended) I suggest you upgrade it to their new 2.92 oz/yd2 cuben hybrid material – or ask for it in Dyneema which is very nearly bulletproof! Mine in Dyneema still weighs under 400 grams with all the options, bells and whistles!