Friday, August 02, 2019

The 1 oz(ish), Waterproof DIY Man Bag

When backpacking, I like to organize my essentials in a carry-friendly bag of their own. That way, when I wander away from my main gear I can easily bring them along. Previously I experimented with a DIY chestpack, which was functional but could be improved.

For our most recent backpacking trip I tried an alternative solution. As I surveyed my existing camping gear I noticed how ideal the 8L Sea to Summit ultra-sil dry bag was. It was sized right, super lightweight and even waterproof. Perhaps I could fashion it into a sort of satchel to use around camp?

I imagined all sorts of sophisticated solutions for turning the stuff sack into an easy to carry bag. Before I got ahead of myself though, I decided to build a prototype. I grabbed a trout float and placed it in bottom of the bag. I then grabbed some cordage, fashioned a lark's head and looped it around the fabric which held the float. I tied a figure 8 at the other end of the cordage and clipped a carabiner to it. I dropped my man-bag contents into the stuff sack, rolled down the top and secured it. Finally, I snapped the biner to the loop created by closing the dry bag. I had my prototype.

As I swung the bag into place I was surprised at how comfortable it was. I imagined the thin cord was going to cut into my shoulder, but because the bag contents were so light, this didn't happen.

I removed the bag and tried stuffing it into the front stretchy pocket of my backpack. It was a perfect fit.

I realized my prototype checked all the boxes, and then some: it was easy to store in main backpack, easy to carry on its own, waterproof and lightweight. I had my solution!

As for performance in the field, it worked great. The thin cordage never bothered me, and the larks-head solution performed well. Getting the shoulder bag in and out of my main backpack was easy enough. At one point, I found myself in need of a short length of rope and I loved that I could easily detach the 'shoulder strap' and use it in another context.

Next time I need a super-lightweight man bag, I'll almost certainly give this solution another go.

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