(I thought I should come and add a quick note after using it every day for a year and a half. Still totally delighted with it. The surface mounted buckles on the flap haven’t turned out to be a problem like I thought they might. (I feared that they might tear out, but that hasn’t proven itself to be the case.) The only thing I would go back and change is the part where the shoulder strap emerges from the body on the front; I would add maybe three or four inches of webbing before the side release buckle. The reason being that when I reach behind myself to swing the bag forward, I’m grabbing the buckle. On a few occasions, I’ve managed to inadvertently release the buckle. A few inches of webbing to grab on to would be nice. Other than that...if I may be so immodest...fantastic bag! Exactly what I wanted and needed. And the construction has held up just fine. I had wondered about the 2" SRBs that all that weight hangs from, but they’ve done just fine.
On the list of things to add has been a more substantial shoulder strap, but to be honest, the makeshift strap I’ve been using has served me just fine. Strong, comfortable. One of these days I might get around to making another one, but for now, I have other stuff ahead of it in the queue.)
Oh, and a note on DIY....If you’re thinking of tackling a DIY project like this because it will save you money, you’ll be disappointed. I’m sure there are some DIY pastimes where you can indeed save money, but this was one instance where buying it would have been cheaper. Some of the stuff I already had - all the black webbing, hardware - and some I had to buy - the black Cordura, red rip-stop, red webbing, red seam tape, some incidental stuff like the red thread and another spool of black upholstery thread, a white pencil. If I had to add it all up, I would guesstimate, somewhere between $75 and a $100. Let’s not get into the time I spent. DIY is fun, gives you exactly what you want, but if saving money had been my aim, MEC sells a messenger bag/attache case type of thing for $30. (Made in the People’s Repressive Communist Regime of Vietnam of course.) If saving money is your aim, this approach is not for you.
And for anyone interested, some pics snapped during the construction. Again I apologize for the photos taken under less than optimal light conditions, with a less than optimal camera of a less than optimal colour. But hopefully you can get a sense of what I did.
The back. As mentioned, angling the shoulder strap connections and having them along the back, totally the way to go. Lots of reinforcement and bartacking here due to the strain this area would be subjected to.
The slot pocket that sits along the back, with the cutouts for the concealable waist belt.
The concealed pocket.
The top of the flap, to be folded to form the hidden pocket.
The rest of the flap, front, back and opened to show the back of the surface mount buckle. I dabbed white paint on the prongs, pressed them on the fabric to leave a mark to know exactly where to cut. Surface mount buckles are tricky to install.
These three sections were then joined together.
Which was then mated with the front section.