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 Post subject: DIY PVC Alice Pack Frame
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:40 pm 
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I love my Med. Alice pack, but i hate the frame. It just doesnt fit me properly, when I have the shoulder straps adjusted where I like them the kidney belt rode way to high to be tightened to carry any of the load. I have a long torso for a guy who is only 5'10.

I work in a fabrication shop so my first instinct was to make the stock frame longer, but since PVC is so cheap i decieded to give it a try and this is what i came up with. I used 1/2" sch 40 PVC, T's and elbows. Grand total for the build was a staggering $3.00

Here is the first version, it was an epic fail, "T" shape just wasnt comfortable

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So I disassembled that piece of shit, an settled on a contoured "L" shape. Here is what it looks like.

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I contoured the pieces of pipe using my oven, 200* for about 5 minutes make it nice and plyable, I rigged up simple jigs to hold the curve while it cooled, once cool it retains the new shape.

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Here it is assembled with a smaller shoulder bag for day trips

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And here is the version which I will most likely stick with, a Med. Alice pack. My frame is a full 3" longer, so using a Med. I have room to strap my sleeping bag under the ruck, the "L" shape makes for a nice shelf!

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Being a full 3" longer puts the kidney belt about my butt and belove my "love handles", I can cinch the shit out of it and take the load off my sholders. The PVC also flex's very nicely which adds a degree of comfort.

On a side note, My G/F doesnt find this setup as comfortable as the stock frame, she is nearly as tall as me but has a much shorter torso, this frame puts the kidney belt on her butt, That being said a shorter torso would require a shorter frame!

And before anyone posts about PVC not being strong enough, Save that BS for somebody else, I have been working with this stuff for years, Its incredibly strong!! And i understand that in extreme cold it can become brittle, But since i live in California and not the Arctic this is a non issue. My parents sprinkler system doesnt explode everytime it freezes!

I have built tons of stuff with PVC and never had a failure, here is a Float Boat i made using 3/4" pvc and a tarp!

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This thing has survived countless float trips with loads well over 400lbs and is still going strong!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:54 pm 
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Pretty damn cool. Sch 40 is tough stuff but you probaly will have to be gentler in de-rucking and throwing it to the ground than I am :lol: Looks comfy and you'll have to let us know how it holds up and works in use. Nice work! Cool boat too!

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:02 pm 
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Thanks man, I'm snow Hiking/Camping next weekend so it will recieve some harsh conditions. I'm confident it will hold up fine!

Here is a side by side with a stock frame setup for comparison purpose

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Also its worth noting that i did not glue the whole thing togeother, I used a copper tubing cutter to cut the PVC, this swedges the ends of the pipe and as a result makes for a super tight fit. It's actually difficult to disassemble. I choose not to glue it because in a pinch I could take it apart and use the pieces for some other purpose if i had to!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:05 pm 
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That looks just great to me! I also have a very long torso and long ago tossed my frame in the trash and just used it frameless. This could make it useful again.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:11 pm 
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So how did you figure out the curvature for the frame?

Based of the Issued Frame or trial and error???

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:18 pm 
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Barr wrote:
So how did you figure out the curvature for the frame?

Based of the Issued Frame or trial and error???


The verticle contour at the top I mimiced the stock frame, I didnt get all technical or anything, just eye-ball method.

The horizontal pieces needed enough contour to wrap around without my torso rubbing on my back.

Building things is what I do for a living, Ive been a Union Sheetmetal Worker for 13 years. 20k+ hours of designing, measuring and building things you get realllllly good at the eye-ball method!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:23 pm 
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I'm thinking I'm gonna try this on my Large Alice, either that or just shell out for the shelf.

This is a pretty damn good idea, though I'm built just right for the issue frame.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:39 pm 
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Like I said its not for everyone, My girl prefers the stock frame.

This material is perfect in my opinion, Its infinatly customisable, its modular so if you do fuck a piece up you can replace it, and its stupid cheap!

Virtually anybody can make this, this material is super easy to work with. You literally only need 1 tool, the tubing cutter!

I have a 30lb rule when it comes to my pack, but I have no doubt this would handle much more than that!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:21 pm 
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I used this company for a double shower setup for my Burning Man camp this year. These fittings are nice.

http://www.pvcfittingsdirect.com/_e/gdept/10/PVC_Furniture_Fittings.htm?gclid=CP_n29XVo6wCFawZQgodvi0_EQ

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:14 am 
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I also had to shit can the factory strap locks and install some Fastex buckles, the buckles I had laying around required a loop, I used zip ties to secure it to the factory strap lock like this...

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:32 am 
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Well done and just the reason I like this board over others, folks do stuff.

Thanks for sharing. Would like to know how it hold up in the cold.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:03 pm 
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Im impressed. It seems to me that PVC pipe can be utilized for things as well. Who knows what you might think to store in that pipe in the future? Or maybe rig a field shower? Its gonna keep me up at night! LOL

Also, where are you snow camping?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:37 pm 
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Gonna start out at the Crabtee Trail above Dodge Ridge Ski Resort in the Emigrant Wilderness, we are either heading to Bear Lake or Grouse lake. Elevation is around 7500ft.

Bear Lake...

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That lake is beautiful, fishing is stellar, and the best part is you have to hike 5 miles to get there. So its never crowded since most people are to lazy to do anything more than car camp!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:41 pm 
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Very nice job!

Have you considered jamming some emergency rations into the tubing? Use something like gerbil food so you won't eat it the first time you get hungry... (Unless you're one of those people who goes nuts for gerbil food, in which case you need to find something even worse-tasting.)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:18 pm 
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I live like 35 minutes from the Chain lakes trail head. When your at Grouse, look south east and look at the bitch ass mountain I climbed to get back to chain lakes before night fall. I was just up there last Aug. Have fun!!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:22 pm 
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sweet

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:40 pm 
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Replace the top elbows with T's, so the top is open, you could probably slide the fishing pole down in one.
3/4" or 1" ID, pipe can hold a surprising amount of water, put a cap on top to fill and a valve on the bottom to empty.

if the PVC would be too weak/brittle replace it with the grey plastic electrical conduit, it has a wider safe temperature range.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:55 pm 
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eugene wrote:
3/4" or 1" ID, pipe can hold a surprising amount of water, put a cap on top to fill and a valve on the bottom to empty.


This is true but it might freeze and break your frame. Better to fill with something that wont freeze... I suggest Makers Mark!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:59 pm 
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Damned ingenious man, really.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:40 pm 
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Necrodamus wrote:
eugene wrote:
3/4" or 1" ID, pipe can hold a surprising amount of water, put a cap on top to fill and a valve on the bottom to empty.


This is true but it might freeze and break your frame. Better to fill with something that wont freeze... I suggest Makers Mark!

That would have been a hit during FTX's. :)
I like the frame, looks good. Are you concerned that it might loosen up due to expansion and contraction? Er, I guess not, or you would have glued it. :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:47 pm 
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great stuff. i love shit like this!

i would add one more zip strap to that fastex buckle, or maybe two wider ones. also ive had them give ( pull out under a load ) when cut right up close to the little box with the tab in it ( dont know the technical term for that area of the zip tie ) :lol: i always leave at least 1/8" to 1/4". you can use a good scissor to round off the edges so they dont grab your clothes and stuff.

again good stuff. let us know how it holds up. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:38 pm 
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Very impressive, I seem to recall someone else making a PVC frame. Tagged for future reference.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:49 pm 
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Today I received a set of Molle straps from a member of the survivalistboards, I installed them on my frame but may go back to to the enhanced lc1 straps, I actually think they may be more comfortable.

Anyhow here is how it looks with the Molle yolk straps installed...

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:09 pm 
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What I've seen other people do with set-ups like this ... (and you should totally do too) is put a GoPro/Contour camera mount on portions of the PVC. = 3rd person view camera rig. Would be a great way to document cool parts of your trips.

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