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  1. #1
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Backpack into a pannier project.

    Backpack becomes a pannier with homebrew frame.

    I found a backpack at the local thrift store for $2 and decided I simply had to mount it on my touring bike pannier style. I looked at the combo backpack/pannier at nashbar and figured I could make my own. The objective was to keep costs low, as I did not want to spend more money than what the nashbar setup would cost to purchase. The material used for the frame is common and cheap PVC plumbing pipe. I purchased a 10' length of 1/2" pipe for $1.55. The schedule 40 pipe cost slightly more but I wanted the thin wall pipe for two reasons other than the cost. A reduction in weight and the ability to use the frame to carry extra water and thin wall pipe would hold a little more water. I also purchased two 90-degree elbows (15 cents ea)and four Tees'(17 cents ea). I made the frame long enough the shoulder straps would tighten up on the frame and made the width the same as the backpack. I used another pipe across the middle of the frame to provide a place to attach the frame to my rack and use some straps provided on the backpack to compress the contents and now they also help hold the backpack to the frame and keep it from sagging. No modification is done to the backpack so if required you can remove the frame from the backpack and use it as originally intended. If you're way out in the middle of nowhere and your bike is damaged to the point that you must abandon it at least you have a way to carry some of your stuff with you. I only used two 90-degree elbows for a reason. Two Tees' are used at the other corners to provide a way to fill the pipe with water and drain it for use later. Use caps, plugs, or valves on the Tees' as per your preference for filling or draining the frame. My frame will almost fill a standard water bottle. In retrospect I could have use 3/4" or 1" pipe for hauling more water. Mounting the frame to the rack was easy. I used Velcro straps made for bundling wire. A pack of them were found in the automotive section in a local Wal-Mart. There 12" long with hooks on one side and loops on the other and a slot is provided to run the strap through the slot around the frame and rack providing exceptional holding power. They're also easy on and easy off. Two are strapped to the top of the rack and the middle pipe in the frame and a third to the bottom pipe of the frame and a rack support. Below is a picture of the backpack mounted to the frame and my rear rack.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    That is very clever. I have thought occasionally about turning a backpack into a pannier, but I had never thought of turning the frame into a water container. You're right 1" pipe would weigh only slightly more, but carry a good bit more water. Can you post some pictures of the side of the frame where it connects to your rack? It might make things more clear on how the backpack attaches to the frame and how the frame attaches to the rack. I wonder if you used black pipe or painted it black if you would be able to solar heat water for a warm shower -- just daydreaming I guess.
    God grant me the serenity to accept the hills and winds I cannot change;
    courage to challenge the cagers I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
    (with apologies to AA)
    24 mi. roundtrip -- Maryland suburbs to DC and back.

  3. #3
    Mike
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    I thought about doing the same thing and got two childrens school backpacks with wheels (about 18"x12"x6") for commuting. Wanted to get the rigid bottom on the pack. Bought two Arkel mount kits and some 1/4 AC plywood. All that is left is to put everything together and use it.
    Using the water pipe to carry water is a great idea. It has me thinking about using 2, 3 or even 4" pipe with caps and ends for carrying water and other drinking liquids. Cheap, strong enough to take the occasional hit without harm and can be built in custom sizes. Now, how to make them collapsible for when they are empty? :-(
    Mike

  4. #4
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    My Photo host server is down

    Here is a photo of a different backpack strapped to the PVC pipe frame.

    I just found this backpack for $1 at a neighbor's yard sale and as it's green it matches my Army surplus gasmask bags I made into panniers. If you look closely you will see the shoulder straps just go around the top and bottom pipes. This does cause the back part of the pack to try and fold up when empty but as you put stuff in the pack it straightens out. The shoulder straps are cinched up tight around the pipes. The extra webbing that would hang down and passably get tangled in the wheel is wrapped around the bottom pipe and I used a Velcro strap to hold it tight to the pipe. The same Velcro straps go around the pipe and the rack to attach it to the frame in three places. I stuck a strap to the top/front of the rack so you can see what they look like. You just put the end of the strap through the slot on the other end and keep wrapping until the full length of the Velcro strap is wrapped around whatever your securing with them.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by n4zou; 01-14-07 at 01:12 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    I like your low-cost, creative solution!

    Just wondering...is PVC pipe safe to drink out of? I know PVC is usually used for irrigation, but I'm not sure if it will leach chemicals into the water.

  6. #6
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rnagaoka
    I like your low-cost, creative solution!

    Just wondering...is PVC pipe safe to drink out of? I know PVC is usually used for irrigation, but I'm not sure if it will leach chemicals into the water.
    It's safe to drink from. It's approved for home use in the local building codes so all the local contractors uses it for new home construction and repairs. My home is plumbed with it and it's fine. I did thoroughly clean the pipe before I glued the frame together and washed it again after completion. No change in taste of the water is noticed when trying out the water thatís been in the frame. I sealed off the bottom "T" with a plug and sort of wished I had just used a 90-degree elbow there. I purchased some flexible 1/4" tubing to use as a straw to get the water out of the frame or siphon it into a bottle. I thought about putting a valve on the bottom "T" but the last thing I wanted to have happen is the valve leak or someone opening the valve and allowing all the water to drain. It's no problem to just pull the plug out of the top "T" and use the tubing as a straw to quench my thrust. My the top plug is just a short peace of pipe glued to the cap and the other end is just pushed in and held there by friction due to the close fit of the pipe in the "T". It was cheap to make and easy to replace if lost.
    I tried it out by doing 60 miles and setting up camp for an overnight stay and 60 miles back this morning. No problems were encountered with the frame or backpack.

  7. #7
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...nd%20Backpacks

    be careful with your pvc - it doesn't stand up to impact, like a bike falling over.

  8. #8
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    If the frame was larger breakage would be a problem but the frame is small and very ridged and held up with no problems encountered on a 120 mile two day test run on rough country roads. It cost less to make than just the shipping would have cost me for that nashbar backpack/pannier. The frame was so cheap to build I could consider it disposable and make a new one for each tour. I am going to make another frame just for my Army surplus pup tent so I have more room in the backpack and not be forced to put a wet tent in my backpack if/when I get rained on.

  9. #9
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    I'd buy one if it had roller wheels on the bottom and an extension handle on the top.

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