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Then and Now: An Analog DIY for the Digital Age

Posted by Erika Haugen-Goodman at Mar 17, 2016 01:20 PM |
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Before backpacks had storage for cellphones and cameras, hikers had to create their own means of carrying personal items. Learn how to make your own DIY shoulder strap pouch.

Gear today is vastly different from the hiking equipment of the 1970's. Ask any hiker who's been around to see the changes and you'll hear things like how light everything is compared to 30 years ago, and how far waterproofing has come. Backpacks in particular have been through an interesting change, going from external, to internal frames and beyond, with gear pockets and storage for every gadget you can imagine bringing with you into the backcountry.

Then: carry your pens, paper and personal items

In the 1970's, the Signpost often featured do-it-yourself tips for things like making your own bathing suit with a handkerchief (we don't recommend trying that one), how to effectively waterproof your boots, and adding pockets to equipment using a needle and thread. The tips were meant to aid hikers who demanded more from their gear prior to those features being standard straight from the manufacturer.

One DIY project we came across was the "Shoulder Strap Office", a tour de force that took the backpacking world by storm in 1978. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that popular, but it did give hikers a way to carry a pen, small personal items, a notebook, or whatever else they wanted to pack along and have easy access to on the strap of their backpack. If you're up for a fun project, give it a try! Instructions below, taken from the January 1978 edition of Signpost.

Shoulder Strap Office DIY - Signpost January 1978
With the right materials and mindset, you'll soon be able to show off your own Shoulder Strap Office.

Note: the instructions above are for backpacks that have shoulder straps attached via grommets. You can avoid removing the strap of your backpack by sewing the pouch around the strap instead of sliding it on.

Now: an analog project to store digital tools

While the "Shoulder Strap Office" may have been used for more analog means in the 1970's, today it can be sewn on your bag to give your backpack a new cell phone holder or camera pouch. It adds a bit of personal flair to your bag as well, and is a fun way to personalize your gear. Plus, how many hikers do you know today that can say they created something like that from scratch?

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