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A Dirtbag Climber's Spin-Off Hobby: Making Your Own Rope Bag

Submitted by tattooed_climber on 2004-07-15

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Rope Bag

(NOTE: If anyone is interested in this story, you'll need some skill with a sewing machine and a good day's worth of work.)

After cruising MEC and other gear/climbing shops, I've found that good Rope Bags (like the Metolious Rope Ranger Bag) are pricing in at $50-70, which is WAY too much for a bag, in my opinion, that spends it's life at the crag on the ground. For this reason, the idea of saving a buck and 'trying' to make my own, came to me.

The one I designed and made was the type of rope bag that has it's own roll-out-tarp and compression straps. But it's easy to make a simple Rope Bag which is basically a circular piece of fabric with a cinch cord sewn around the edges.

For my bag, the stuff I needed was:

[list=1] - 5 meters of a nylon Rip-stop (this is way too much, but its good to have back up in cast you screw up!)

- 2 to 3 meters of 3mm static cord

- 6 meters of 1 inch flat accessory webbing

- 1 to 2 meters of 1 inch tubular webbing (spec doesn't matter)

- The strongest/thickest denier thread you can find (nylon or polyester, donít assume and ask someone at the fabric store)

- 2 sets of buckle snaps

- 1 draw-string toggle

- 1 alright sewing machine

- A ruler or measuring tape

- A white or black pencil crayon to mark the fabric [/list]

*Fabric choice is important; make sure that itís a Nylon Rip-stop or Pack-cloth. Rip-stop is a fabric with two different thicknesses of threads in it that looks like a grid. (If its torn, the thicker threads will stop it from ripping any more, hence ďRip-StopĒ). Pack-cloth is found in the construction of may older packs before technology hit backpacks like a ton of bricks falling on a five year old.

The Pattern I used basicly looked like this:


The easiest way to get the pattern onto the fabric is to make a paper pattern then trace it on.

*(if you want, double the material or whatever you use to make it last longer...aka protect your rope better)

Sewing the corners isn't too hard, just fold the corners (draw a 45 degree line from each corner, thatís where you'd be folding it, then sew a curve as shown. See pattern)

*(keep in mind that the bag will be turned inside out once the corners are done...aka sew the corners from the inside)

Once the corners are done, fold the edge of the bag down about half inch or so, then sew it all the way around, keeping in mind that you'll be threading the 3mm static cord (or whatever else your using as the pull-string) through this, so make it easy for yourself and think ahead.

Somewhere along the sewed folded edge, make a hole and melt it back (if possible, put a small eye-loop or make one with the 3mm cord to prevent wear on the hold from cinching the 3mm cord), thread the static cord though it and put the pull-string-toggle on (tip, cut a length of cord about 4 inches long, thread it through the toggle and bar-tack the two ends into the bag to prevent loss).

Pull cord

The next bit depends on the design/features that you want:

Accessory Webbing. When its time to sew the webbing on (which you don't have to, I did it to help keep it all together, for a daisy chain on, haul handle and haul loops, as well as to help hold the compression straps together), take a ruler and measure about 3 inches down from the edge of the bag, thatís where the edge of the Accessory webbing will be sewn that will encircle the bag. Mark out where the compression straps will be. This way, the compression straps can be ran under the Accessory webbing to help keep the bag together and not a tangled mess. I bar-tacked the hell out of it every time it started/ended or where I couldn't sew it to allow where the compression straps ran under. In between the bar tacks I just sewed the webbing along both edges.

Bar tacks

Haul Handle. The easiest way to sew it on is while you are putting the Accessory Webbing on. After you have sewn the webbing all around the bag, finish it off with the handle. OR, the handle can be simply tacked on.

End view

As for the construction of the handle, I cut lengths of tubular climbing-spec webbing (about 1-2 inches longer than its distance above the bag, so it sticks out), then threaded the accessory webbing through the climbing webbing, making a thicker handle and more durable (double or triple up the accessory webbing to make it real nice and thick) two bar tacks on each side should be fine but add more if you want.

Daisy Chains. Thereís two approaches to this on. You could just put a bar-tack every inch or so. Or you can go about this the same way as the Haul handles, by putting a bar-tack every inch on the back (with every 1.5 inch of webbing, so it loops out). You could also thread it with the tubular webbing like the Haul Handle.

Daisy Chain

Compression Straps. You CAN buy pre-made ones that are meant for sleeping bags or sleeping pads, but itís easy to make your own. Cut two lengths of accessory webbing about 1.5m (4.5 feet) long, cut one of each end at a 45 degree angle for ease of threading it though the buckle snaps. Loop it though the non-adjustable side of the buckle and bar-tack it. DONE! Now thread it though slots that you custom made into your bag with the webbing.

Compression straps

Roll Tarp Make this as big as you want (the one on mine is about 2m by 2m. Remember this will be face down so itís against the surface of the ground. It would be nice to fold each side over about an inch and sew it just so it doesn't fray and start to look like a rag. Then sew the middle section of one side the bag (have it sewn to the bag from the inside, looks pro then).....after that, bar tack the hell of it...

Roll Tarp

Additional Loops. Adding some loops with purposes can just make things a little easier for you. Loops of either end of the bag for a shoulder strap. A loop sewn into the roll tarp to tie the end of the rope to so it doesnít get lost or help cause knots. If you can think it, do it.

end of rope

NOW!!.. Once this is all done again, BAR-TACK THE HELL OUTA EVERYTHING!....there can never be enough bar-tacks.

Rear View

*(another idea for strength and water-proofing would to Seam-Grip all the hundreds of seams and bar-tacks, from the inside.)

This doesnít have to be a step-by-step guide to make your own, it just gives you the basics so you can make your OWN with your own design that suites YOUR imaginative with your designs and materials...A rip-stop Nylon or Nylon Pack cloth works the best, in Canada at least rip-stop and pack cloth costs about $10 per meter...and look around at the fabric stores, I think I saw a pack-cloth with a polyurethane coating (aka waterproof!). I havenít seen it yet, but Iím sure that there are funky patterns on Rip-Stop out there.

In the long run I ended spending $30(CDN) or so all the materials but realistically can be done on the budget of about $20, but it all depends on what fabrics you choose. I own saved $20 and chances are a store-bought one would last longer, better made, and has a logo and warranty(not to mention it took me a full day), but when it's made by me, thatís something Metolious, ArcíTeryx, On-Sight or whomever canít do. And to me, nothingís cooler than that.

Have fun!

Phil (aka tattooed_climber)


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