Looking for an affordable, lightweight backpack that doubles as a shelter, fire kit, rabbit stick and more? Here at Wilderness Awareness School, we can help you design the perfect survival backpack just for you!

First you’re going to need some sticks. Three to be exact. The size, type and weight will depending on the individual and what you’re using them for, but all three sticks should be similar in size and weight. We have chosen to use vine maple, roughly an inch in diameter and cut green for durability. Second you will need about 25 feet of Parachute Cord (P-cord) and a few toggles (small sticks). You will lash together the three sticks, using a traditional diagonal square lashing (check out this article for more details) to make a triangle as depicted in the picture below.

Toggle and p-cord
survival pack
Three sticks of similar size and weight lashed together

Now to make some toggles. These are key for easy set-up and also come in handy in different shelter set-ups using your tarp. Remember, everything needs to have multiple uses or we don’t use it.

Now lay down your tarp on the triangle and start packing your items. We’ve added an extra set of clothes, a wool sweater and a sleeping pad. You could easily add food, a stove, or other items you like to carry with you on a backpacking trip.

IMG_2149 Spread out tarp over the triangle, then lay your items in the middle.

Now fold up all the items in the tarp nice and tight, getting out any air and overlapping to prevent any water from getting it.


wrapping backpack 3
Fold the corners of the tarp, overlapping them to make sure pack will be waterproof.

Using the p-cord and starting with a figure-8 knot around the first toggle, you will then wrap it around the opposing toggle and work your way around the tarp pack and triangle diagonally several times until you feel it is secure or you run out of p-cord. Secure the p-cord. Remember not to cut your p-cord – preserving its full length can be very useful in a survival situation.


Wrap the p-cord and toggles around the pack and triangle several times till you are sure it is secure.

Now you can add some items to the back of the pack that you want immediate access to, such as a shovel or axe.

You can add some items at the back of the pack that you want immediate access to.

Time to put on the pack!

survival pack
Survival pack

Using a climbing rope, we’ve secured the pack to the top of the triangle using clove hitch knots with equal lengths hanging down either side. You can pass the lengths of rope over your shoulders to hoist the pack up on your back. Then wrap it around the shoulders and go over the bottom two points of the pack to secure it and tie it around your waist. Adjust to your liking and add a shirt, bandana, or bark underneath the shoulder straps for added support and comfort. Now you’re all set to hit the trail!


Wilderness Awareness School offers classes on Survival and Bush Craft as well as a 9-month Intensive Course



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