Via Making An Improvised Backpack | Brian's Backpacking Blog The shoulder straps could be improvised from rope, seat belt webbing, canvas, towstrap webbing, innertubing etc. The pack frame may be made more comfortable to carry with padding on the main contact points on the shoulder and back. It would be a nice exercise to share with your youngsters as an exercise in lateral thinking, improvisation and adaptability. Not to mention exercising knotting and lashing skills. Edit: An improvement would be to choose the long poles from poles that have a slight curve at one end and position the curving ends at the apex, curving away from the shoulder. This will keep the sharp ends away from the body for comfort and safety. Bamboo would be a good choice if available...the struts could be hollowed out for additional storage, and the bamboo would assist in flotation.