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Musings on the project

August 25, 2008

In an attempt to get myself working on my project at some time before tomorrow morning, I figured I’d write a bit about what I’m working on, and what I’m working towards.

I’m designing a backpack – the point of which is to eliminate my need for my current backpack and the various toolboxes I end up carrying around because the backpack doesn’t carry what I need it to carry. Sounded easy enough, but then comes the hard part – designing more than a fabric bag that happens to fit little plastic cases. I’m also not a giant fan of hardshell backpacks, so I was hoping to avoid those too.

Some of the ideas I was thinking about:

1. Expanding fabric pack, modular hard cases.

This train of thought is a direct hybrid of the two inspirations for project, a plastic toolbox and a fabric backpack. With the addition of an internal frame to the backpack for support, my thought was to build a set of boxes that attach to that frame, inside of an exterior ‘skin’ of fabric that would be much like a standard backpack. I thought about using some tensioning system on the fabric skin to allow it to expand to a needed size, if you needed to add more boxes – either tensioning it outwards (think fabric laundry hamper with a coiled wire inside the rim to keep it standing, yet can be folded down flat), or in (fabric can expand to its maximum size, but has elastic bands keeping it to the size of whatever is in it).

This design direction has me a bit on the uneasy side, since it seems to be the most obvious and direct option I have. As a direct hybrid of the problem causing items, it tends to be less innovative, but comes with some problems from tossing the two original designs in the same general space and seeing how they fight it out. Its there in case I need it, but it depends on how it all sorts out.

2. Soft cases, soft backpack.

I’m a bit uncertain about this one, and some research may be in order, but thinking about the original toolbox, I’m not certain all the toughness of the bins and whatnot are required for most uses. Unless I’m carrying unprotected exacto knives, most everything could deal with a simi-hard case. This spawned another generation of the idea, that also solves the hard cases + soft shell problem – some sort of skeleton of plastic + wire that can fold flat, but when given the space it needs, springs to shape, complete with fabric dividers and holds what you need it to hold. Keeping stuff in the bins as the backpack gets knocked around may be a bit difficult, but with some fasteners, I’m sure that’d be perfectly reasonable. Designed right, this could have signifigant resistance to deformation from certain directions, protecting things from being crushed if weight was applied… but this could use some study-modeling and playing around with materials to figure out.

3. Hard Shell + case

Most akin to projecting a toolbox form and function onto a backpack shape, this is also not exactly the most original solution, and probably the least versitile – But put some sort of system for attaching boxes of stuff into a hard shell backpack, and you have a functional backpack that has modular boxes that can hold whatever. Disadvantages include the limitation of what fits in a hard shell, and the backpack is the same size all the time. This also tends to be slightly less eco-friendly then the other options, in that it uses more materials that are less renewable, but it retains the modular advantage, and the durability//repairability factor.

Anyways, thats what I’m thinking.

-Bryan

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