Thought I would share my experience with trying to lighten my base weight to the UL levels (<4.5 kg). After reducing everything else, I found that my pack (and tent, but that is another story) was by far the heaviest thing on my kit list. After trying unsuccessfully to find a UL pack in SA (and not wanting to import one for R3000+), I decided to try to make one myself. So, after many mistakes, finished it and can say that it is totally possible. We don’t have the material that they use in the US but found some 410D PU coated ripstop nylon in Cape Town and sowed my own. I have never sewn anything before, but it is easier than one thinks.
The pack weighs 715g with aluminium struts and hip belt. I am not sure about the size, but it fits all my gear for wilderness camping and food for 3 days (it’s probably a bit big actually). It’s the typical roll-top design with an external mesh back pouch and side pockets for water bottles. The materials cost a fraction of a new pack (about R350-R400 if you make more than one pack). I cannot tell you how great it is to do 3 days in the Cederberg with a total pack weighing less than 10kg.
We were so chuffed with it, that I have now made a second for my wife and am busy on the third.
Am basically posting this to let the community know how doable this is. I would be keen to engage with anyone else who has done this to hear what they learnt or to offer advice or assistance to those who want to give it a go (so that you don’t make the same mistakes I made). I would highly recommend giving it a go, it is one of the most rewarding DIY projects I have done.
Let me know on this thread if you want to discuss it in more detail and we can make a plan to chat.