Rucksacks, rucks, haversacks, bags, packs, backpacks, knapsacks whatever you call them, they are an essential piece of gear a lot of us take for granted. Its easy to get excited about learning to make a survival bow, flint knapping a cutting tool, or various other survival implements. What a lot of people tend to overlook is the ability to move heavy loads of gear long distances comfortably. There may come a time where the place you are trying to survive is no longer able to sustain your needs. Whether it be water drying up, lack of game or wild edibles, or some unforeseen adversity. There is always a possibility you may be forced to relocate for better a better survival situation. This is where a pack could become just as important as the gear it's carrying. 

        Think about the amount of weight you are comfortable carrying in your pack. Now think about that same weight being carried in your arms. As a father of two, I can honestly say I'd much rather carry my 3 year old daughter on my back rather than in my arms. You get where I'm going with this. The amount of weight you can carry comfortably on your back is going to be exponentially more than what you can carry in your arms. Plus you get the added benefit of having your arms free.



ladder sticks

Step 1: Cut the ladder.

        First thing you're going to need to do is gather up enough straight green branches or saplings to make your ladder. They should be about the width of your index finger. The two runner branches should be about the length from your shoulder to your hip, plus another 2-3 inches to account for places to tie your straps onto. 

        The rungs of your ladder should be about the width of the widest part of your back. You're going to need 5 of these (possibly 4 if you're a smaller famed person).


ladder tied with square lashings

Step 2: Tie the ladder together.

        Next you're going to need to tie the rungs of the ladder to the runner poles. One of the best ways to do this is with a square lashing. If you're not familiar with how to tie a square lashing check out the video above to see me demonstrate how to do so.


base sticks layed out

Step 3: Cut the base sticks.

       Next you're going to need to cut the sticks required for the base of your packframe. This is where all of your weight will sit. The runner sticks should be about ten to twelve inches long. Make sure to leave about five to six inches sticking out of the top of the this part. This is so these two sticks can rest on the base of the bottom rung. 


base tied with square lashings
base placement

Step 4: Tie the base sticks.

         Go ahead and tie these sticks together using the same square lashing as on the on the ladder for the back of the packframe (see the video above if needed). Make sure when you tie the base sticks together you set them close enough together so the two pieces you left on the end in the previous step can fit between the runner poles of the back ladder and be able to rest on the bottom rung.


ladder and base lashed together

Step 5: Tie the base and the ladder together.

        Now it's time to lash the base and the back ladder together to form a giant "L" shape. To do this we will use a different kind of lashing than before called a diagonal lashing. If you are not familiar with how to tie a diagonal lashing check out the video above to see me demonstrate how to do so.


supports tied with diagonal lashing

Step 6: Tie on the supports.

        For this step you will take two more sticks and tie them from the end of the base part of the pack to the second rung from the top of the back ladder. To do this use the diagonal lashing from step 5 (see the video if needed). These support sticks will support the base of the ladder and stop it from collapsing from the weigh of a heavier load. To make your packframe able to carry even more weight, carve shallow grooves in each of the sticks you are tying together and tie your lashings across these grooves. This will help to prevent slippage.


wilderness packframe with straps

Step 7: Tie on your straps.

        This step can be completed with whatever is on hand. For the packframe in the this project I used a couple of cloth belts so I could utilize the D-rings at the ends of the belts for a kind of quick release method (you can see me unhooking it in the picture above). As an alternative you can use rope, paracord, shoe strings, tree roots, or whatever you have on hand. If using a thinner material make sure to wrap the cordage several times in some kind of cloth or padding to prevent it from digging into your shoulders under heavier loads. 


Wilderness pack frame example

        This type of packframe could be not only an invaluable tool in a survival situation, but a cool way to impress your friends with a pack you made yourself. Try it out, it's perfect for carrying firewood, heavy gear, or game animals. Make one on your next overnight or hunting trip. You'll be surprised how much weight this thing can actually hold. 

        Be sure to check back regularly for new how-to and gear review posts and videos. Thanks for stopping by and remember, waiting.


~The WG Team


With 15+ years of outdoors experience, dirt runs through my veins. When I was a child, often I would slip away with nothing more than a pack of matches and a kitchen knife to go on my "outdoor adventures". More than a decade and a half later I'm still here, with new adventures, a little nicer equipment, and a bit more wisdom.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here