Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fun pre-hiking activity: Make a backpack out of duct tape

Forty-yard roll is all that's needed for great craft project

In tough economic times, there’s no need to buy a daypack – instead, kids can make their own (with a little help from you the parent, of course). All you need is duct tape – a 40-yard roll will do nicely – and a scissors. A ruler or tape measure also will be helpful but isn’t necessary.

You can choose any color of duct tape. Camouflage or green duct tape should be popular.

Backpack's width
Begin by determining how wide you want the backpack to be; it should be as wide as the child’s back. Now cut a strip of duct tape that is about 3 inches longer than this width and set it sticky side up on a clean, flat surface.

Cut another strip that is the same size. Sticky side down, lay about half of it over the strip you’ve previously cut. Now fold over the first strip so that it makes a clean edge.

Flip this new piece over and add more strips in exactly the same way until you’ve created a sheet that is about three inches longer than twice the backpack’s height will be. The backpack’s height will equal the length from your child’s shoulder blades to the top of the small of the back. Make sure the edges are smooth.

You should reinforce this sheet with another layer of duct tape by placing perpendicular strips over it. You’ve just made the backpack’s body.

Side panels
Side panels come next. You’ll need two. They should be as tall as the backpack will be high and as wide as the backpack’s final depth.

Fold the first duct tape sheet – the one that is the backpack’s body – so that a section in the middle forms the backpack’s bottom panel. The other two sections will be the backpack’s front and back panels.

Tape the side panels to the front, back and bottom sections. Reinforce these seams with additional duct tape.

Using the tape measure or a piece of fabric, estimate how long the strap should be so it fits comfortably on the child. Cut a piece of duct tape that it is this length plus the backpack’s height. Place another piece of duct tape over it so that the sticky sides are against one another. Make a second strap in the same way.

Between the backpack’s bottom and backside and near the side panels and about four to five inches apart, cut two slits as wide as each strap you just made. Thread the straps through these slits. Pull one side of the strap through the backpack’s inside and then tape the strap’s ends together so that you have a closed loop. Repeat on the other backpack’s other side. Then tape the straps inside the backpack to the back panel so that they remain sturdy and strong.

The flap
You’ll next make the flap by creating another sheet, the exact same way as you made the backpack’s body. This sheet’s length should equal the backpack’s height, and the width should be the same as the back panel’s width.

Tape the flap to the back panel, leaving edges on the front and two panels loose. You can get more elaborate by adding hooks and fasteners so that the flap closes more securely.

Tape up any holes and place duct tape over any rough edges. You’re all done – and congratulations on your new backpack!

How long will the duct tape backpack last? Because duct tape is waterproof, the bag should hold up well in the elements. The key to its longevity is ensuring that it is reinforced along the seams and the straps, which will take the more war and tear.

Learn about more than a hundred other hiking diversions for kids in Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities.