Swedish LK35 - Interchangeable Side Pocket Modification

  • Hey Guest, We've had to cancel our 2020 Summer BushMoot PLEASE LOOK HERE for more information.

The Mackinaw

Member
Jun 15, 2020
16
6
37
London
*I had to re-post this because most of the images didn't come up on the original thread so here it is split up in to 4 parts* >


PART 1 OF 4

Hi folks, I hope you and yours are well.

I am new to this site, this is my very first post and one for all the LK35 nuts out there.

*Flagging this now - this is a full-on geek out over LK35 modifications.

I appreciate that some of the info in this post will be like preaching to the choir in this forum - especially if you are an LK35 veteran - however I’m sure there will be some people reading this who will get something useful out of it.

During the Covid 19 lockdown this year I thought I would finish the final modification on my LK35 (that’s a bold statement) and share it with you here.

I originally purchased my LK35 a few years back in September 2013 for €15.60 from a Czech website called Army Surplus CZ. The price being one of the many reasons why I love this pack! Unfortunately I don’t think they have any more stock as I have checked back a few times over the years.

I spent a long time searching for an unissued, cordura version I am very glad I did. Unissued LK35s are becoming increasingly difficult to find these days.

Despite being very happy with the basic pack, I felt it needed some improvements in the form of modifications to suit my needs and make the pack more versatile and more comfortable to carry - especially on longer hikes loaded with more than one or two day’s worth of kit and food. Season / style of camping respective of course.

Inspired by the ‘mod father’ of the LK35 - Mike at MCQ Bushcraft - I planned a few of the ‘classic’ LK35 mods for example; the carry strap at the top of the frame, hip belt and sternum strap. I am sure you’ll agree these three mods alone transform this pack and are well worth doing.

I opted for a US LC-2 Alice Pack kidney belt, a British Army sternum strap and I made the carry handle from an old strap and buckle I had. I didn’t feel the need to upgrade the shoulder straps and I still don’t. The original straps are wide enough to be comfortable and the hip belt is so efficient at transferring the load I’m happy with it as it is.

https://flic.kr/p/2jeEKdy https://flic.kr/p/2jeEKfn https://flic.kr/p/2jeEKid https://flic.kr/p/2jeACht
I also added in the foam sleeping mat in the main section, added strap locks to the bottom of the main closing straps and sewed in a loop inside at the top of the pack to hang a hydration bladder off. Three very useful mods.

PART 2 BELOW
 

The Mackinaw

Member
Jun 15, 2020
16
6
37
London
*I had to re-post this because most of the images didn't come up on the original thread so here it is split up in to 4 parts* >

PART 2 OF 4

After making the more ‘essential’ mods listed in Part 1, I wanted some extra space and storage options on the pack so opted for the classic Swedish utility pouch set and went about stitching them on the sides.

https://flic.kr/p/2jeEJpE https://flic.kr/p/2jeXARj
The Swedish utility pouches are a great match to the main pack in style and for a while I as very happy with them. But over time I began to feel they were too small for a few things I wanted quick access to or didn’t want to store in the main part of the pack.

Something worth pointing out here about the Swedish pouches is the hard plastic lined front and back, which although makes these tough and helps keep their shape, it also makes trying to slide a steel US canteen cup or Crusader mug in and out of them a long drawn out affair! (extra points if you got the Partridge reference there)

But this post is about something beyond the standard mods.

I’m a man that appreciates aesthetics and I wanted some larger pouches that looked as good (well almost as good) as the Swedish ones. I was unimpressed by a lot of the more modern utility pouches out there until I watched a YouTube video by ‘Simon, A Bloke In The Woods’.

By the way if you don’t know of Simon, check out his channel. Like Mike at MCQ he is incredibly knowledgeable and resourceful and has a lot of tips and ideas on kit making and modifications to share. Link to the video below.

In the video Simon attached a pair of British Army PLCE Water Bottle pouches to his pack. These will fit the crusader cup and bottle and they are pretty much the same height and width as the Swedish pouches but have at least twice the depth and minus the plastic inserts. So along with the increased capacity they have a lot more give to accommodate bulky items.

https://flic.kr/p/2jeEJsf
I picked up myself a pair of unissued 1990s British Army PLCE pouches from ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ - link below - and they were perfect. I am a big fan of unissued surplus gear in particular. All of my LK35 mods have been made using unissued military surplus stock. You can’t beat getting your hands on something that is in the same ‘as new’ condition as it would have been issued in. Lovely stuff.

https://flic.kr/p/2jeABxT https://flic.kr/p/2jeDp1f
Now I have my Swedish pouches. And I have my British pouches.

PART 3 BELOW
 

The Mackinaw

Member
Jun 15, 2020
16
6
37
London
PART 3 OF 4

Happy? Almost. I didn’t want to stick with just the British PLCE pouches instead of the Swedish.

I wanted to be able to use both types of pouches. Or neither, whenever I wanted and without having to stitch and unpick and stitch again each time.

Tall order? Yes. Put off by the challenge? Heck no!

The plan was to make a custom ‘Molle’ system to be able to interchange the two different pouches at will quickly and efficiently whilst still maintaining a strong attachment.

The next step is where ‘Pennine Outdoor Fabrics’ come in (link below). Pennine is a great site that allows you to purchase all the ingredients to make and/or modify packs, tarps, tents etc. So I bought some 1” (25mm) olive webbing and some 1” ladder locks and went about making my own ‘Molle’ system.

Now I appreciate the ‘Molle’ system I have made here is not to the same spec and dimensions as actual ‘Molle’ webbing but I needed to tailor it to the exact dimensions of both pouches to ensure the strongest possible connection.

This is where the fact that the British PLCE pouches being almost identical in height and width to the Swedish pouches comes in. It meant I could attach the same size ‘Molle’ like webbing system to both pouches and they would take up the same ‘footprint’ on the pack with the only size difference being in the depth.

*QUICK WARNING:
If you are interested in making this interchangeable side pouch mod yourself and don’t have a cylinder arm sewing machine - or any sewing machine for that matter - you’re looking at a fair amount of time and effort hand sewing or trying to manipulate the pack around a lot to fit a flat bed machine. But don’t let this put you off!

Fortunately for me I have a side business making heavy waxed cotton and leather bags so I am lucky enough to own a decent heavy-duty cylinder arm machine. But alternatively, you can unpick the pack and the pouches apart at the seams, attach the ‘Molle’ and sew them all back up.

Now I knew what I wanted to do and the first step was to measure out the webbing needed, cut it in to sizes and heat seal the ends.

Then I made up the ‘Molle’ like ‘ladders’ and attached them to the body of the pack using more webbing to back the stitching points and strengthen and protect the body fabric of the
pack.

https://flic.kr/p/2jfawCj https://flic.kr/p/2jeDpeX
Next was to make up the ‘weaving straps’ with ladder locks and stitch them in to place on the back of the pouches. Look up ‘Maxpedition Tac Tie’ for a similar system reference - albeit many times the price of making it yourself!

https://flic.kr/p/2jeYkR7 https://flic.kr/p/2jeUaon
Note: both the Swedish and the British pouches come with a fair amount of attachments, metal work etc. on the back so you have to unpick and remove all of that before you can begin to attach your ‘Molle’ straps or sew them directly to your pack.

Once the ‘weaving straps’ were in place I attached some smaller webbing strips to allow myself to ‘weave’ the pouch in to the pack and back in to itself to strengthen the attachment.

https://flic.kr/p/2jeEJDT
PART 4 BELOW
 

The Mackinaw

Member
Jun 15, 2020
16
6
37
London
PART 4 OF 4

And it was done.

https://flic.kr/p/2jeDpTc https://flic.kr/p/2jeDpkJ https://flic.kr/p/2jeDpmv ]
https://flic.kr/p/2jeDpvP
I am very happy with the results. I can use the Swedish pouches, the deeper British pouches, none at all or any combination of the above. Plus if I want to get more pouches in the future I can make them work with the system too.

You can see in the pictures that there is so much more room in the British PLCE pouches the fact that you can easily get a 12cm billy pot in there with room to spare is ace! It really opens up a lot more carriage options for the LK35.

This modification was made for my needs and aesthetics and I appreciate it wont work for everyone. Take it from me it is fiddly in places and time consuming but incredibly rewarding.


Bah. I now need a new project.


Thanks for reading, feel free to comment, ask questions etc. and I’ll do my best to get back to you asap.

Stay safe and happy modding!

Thomas


https://flic.kr/p/2jeDpEG


Links:

- ‘Pennine Outdoor Fabrics’
https://www.pennineoutdoor.co.uk/index.php?route=common/home

- ‘Solider Of Fortune’ for British PLCE pouches
https://www.sofmilitary.co.uk/plce-issue-water-bottle-pouch-green.html

- MCQ Bushcraft LK35 mod videos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcVEsNSJQC8&t=42s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg6s51Nb95k&t=569s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voMMiq4h0hY&t=534s

- Simon A Bloke In The Woods LK35 mod video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5-bmoI6oAg&t=124s
 

MrEd

Full Member
Feb 18, 2010
1,453
395
Surrey/Sussex
www.thetimechamber.co.uk
very cool, i put molle on my lk35 aswell, i did it on a treadle singer and it was a total ball ache lol

this is what i did to mine
 

The Mackinaw

Member
Jun 15, 2020
16
6
37
London
very cool, i put molle on my lk35 aswell, i did it on a treadle singer and it was a total ball ache lol

this is what i did to mine
Hoowee! you went the whole nine yards on that! Nice work. Limitless amount of storage options there.

I feel your pain - that must have been a real bottom on a non-motorised flat bed machine!

I didn't go with the standard molle dimensions as it just didn't work as well with the sizes of my older pouches. I'm very happy with the mod although I am eyeing up an option to put a smaller pouch on the front similar to what you've done there.. but I am also trying to keep the pack looking as close to it's original form as possible - which I am already deviating from - the thing is with these packs is they're just a joy to keep customising and working on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MrEd