SGT Rock's Hiking H.Q.


SGT Rock's Ruck


Site Index


Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links
Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links


SGT Rock's Ruck SGT Rock's Ruck SGT Rock's Ruck

Cost to Build: $6, would have been more but I salvaged parts from an old book bag and had all the other parts lying around the house

Weight: 12.9oz

Capacity: 3500ci, 4400ci with extension collar

Largest Load Tested: 27.75 pounds

Recommended Maximum load: 27 pounds

Owner Height/Weight: 68"/155#

How To Build

How to load

Initial Review

How to build one:

There isn't a lot of pictures of assembly because I made the pack while doing the experiment. I'm not going to go buy the materials just to make some pictures.

Step #1 - Gather Materials.

a. Start by getting a cheap book bag that has a waist belt and a padded back. All other functions are going to be discarded so they don't matter. I saw many at Wal-Mart for around $15. I got mine for free a long time ago.

b. Get an industrial strength mesh laundry bag from Wal-Mart. They are green and black and cost about $6.

c. Buy some black nylon thread at Wal-Mart.

d. Get a buckle assembly for 1" webbing. I got one off an old backpack.

Step #2 - Disassemble the backpack. 

1. Use a seam ripper to remove the shoulder straps, haul loop, waist belt, and back panel from the book bag. 

2. Take the back panel and rip the seams holding both sides together so you can get the foam pad out and are just left with two sheets of nylon.

Step #3 - Prepare the Laundry Bag.

a. Cut off the nylon carry handle as close to each end as possible. Don't seam rip it, the possibility of cutting the mesh is too great.

b. Remove cord lock, the draw string actually has two strings and two cord locks. Take one cord lock off and pull that string out.

c. Fold over to the inside 10" of the mesh and then use a sewing machine to sew a line about 1/2" all the way around.

Step #4 - Sew on the straps onto the strap panel.

a. All the work is done on the panel that will be against your back.

b. Sew on the haul loop at the top using a two satin stitches. I use the term satin stitch because that is how it is described on the automatic settings of my sewing machine. Another, maybe more accurate, term that was recommended to me by Rosaleen, is a Bar Tack. The stitch is basically a very tight zigzag stitch.

Top Shoulder Strap

c. Sew on the top of the shoulder straps next to each other using three bar tacks.





Hip Belt and Lower Shoulder Strap

d. Sew on the bottoms of the shoulder straps. They should go out at a 45 degree angle.

e. To make the hip belt, use the nylon handle you cut off the laundry bag. Cut this in half, then melt the ends to prevent fraying. Sew the ends directly over the base of the bottom of the shoulder straps, but straight out - in line with the bottom of the panel. Use three bar tacks.

f. About 10" up from the hip belt, sew the old hip belt from the backpack so that it will clip around the pack as a compression strap. Use two bar tacks.

Step #5 - Put the panels on the mesh bag.

a. Use strait pins to pin the two nylon panels together. Start by aligning the strap panel onto the bag. Use the bottom of the old laundry bag handle as a guide to line up the bottom of the strap panel. Then put the other panel inside the bag and pin the two together.

b. Using your sewing machine, sew the edges of the two panels together.  Turn under the edge of the outside panel to get a nice finish on the edge and prevent fraying. This is the hardest part because of all the bag material to work with. When you get to the bottom of the panels, you will want to sew around the hip belt/shoulder belt attachment so that you have a triangle of fabric attaching the belts to the pack. Hem up the edge of this triangle to prevent fraying. Then sew two lines evenly spaced up the middle of the panels for a little extra re-enforcement.

c. Trim off the extra material inside the pack.

Step #6 - Put the drawstring in your loop.

Drawstring to form extension collar.

a. On the 1/2" line you sewed, pass the draw string you removed from the laundry bag until it is all the way around. I actually prefer 550 cord that has the inner strings removed, so that is what is pictured.

b. Then put the cord lock on it and tie a knot in the end of the strings. Now you have an extension of 10".

c. I add a piece of cord that secures the cord lock in place. The benefit to this is one handed closing. To do this you pass a loop of cord through the lock with the cord for the drawstring, loop it around the cord lock, then tie that small piece to the rucksack.


The straps should be trimmed to save weight but ensure you do so to allow for layering in cold weather. The 12.9oz listed was before trimming the waist belt.

Back to top

How To load

Obviously an almost all mesh backpack cannot be handled or packed like a normal backpack, but it does have lots of other advantages over a normal backpack. It's light, dirt resistant, allows things to dry easy and it's easy to find what your looking for.

So to pack the Ruck, start by using your sleeping pad to make a frame. If you use a normal pad, just put it into the pack and let it unroll. If your using a Z-Rest, then lay the pack on the straps and fold the pad into two equal halves and put it so that it will be against your back like a frame. I cut my Mt Washington pad into a 40" pad, then folded it into fourths, this works great. I have found my favorite way is to use the pad as an outside wrapping (like in the photos) then put the gear in the middle.

Next I put in my food bag, which is a large sil-nylon stuff sack which I lay on the bottom length wise. On top of that I put my sleeping bag and clothing in a trash compactor bag. I use a large sil-nylon stuff sack to hold the sleeping bag and my silk liner; I use an oversized bag to prevent over stuffing my down blanket. The clothing goes into a sil-nylon stuff sack as well.

Next I put my hammock, mess gear, and other odds and ends along the sides of my clothing and sleeping blanket stuff sacks - inside the trash compactor bag.

Outside the rest of the gear, next to the mesh mesh I put anything that needs to dry.

On top I make the extension into a separate gear bag and put my my rain gear and water bottle so it is easy to see and get to without going into the main compartment.

When picking up the ruck, remember to use the haul loop or the shoulder straps. Never lift by the mesh or drawstrings.

Back to top


Not completed yet.

Back to top

Back to Backpacks

Hall of Honor Recipients for this page:
Lynne Whelden