Saturday, June 2, 2012

Things I Now Know About Backpacks

Even if the pocket for your iPad is about an inch bigger than the iPad in both directions, when the backpack is packed, it'll take forty-five minutes to get the iPad in and out of its pocket.
 It was a really good idea though, to have the semi-hidden and secure pocket, but it did mean that if I wanted to look at a map in the middle of the sidewalk, I'd have to take the backpack off first (since I'm not that kind of contortionist) and wrangle it out of the pocket.

I ended up either putting the iPad in my purse with its cover (which also wasn't great since the purse is a bit awful) or in the backpack without its cover, which worked quite well.

Ultrasuede is not suitable for backpacks as it's not even close to sturdy enough.
 The above is the secondary tear which manifested the last couple of days of the trip; below is the primary tear which luckily held off being a great gaping rip until my actual last day of travel.
Part of the problem is also the strap attachment position. I found many sewing sites that talked about making backpacks, and one of the items I gleaned from them was attaching the traps close to centre back, which upon some actual thought on my part would have immediately have been rejected on account of the fact that I am not a child with itty-bitty shoulders, and many of the backpacks were for kids.

The straps being so close strained the fabric even further, but almost more importantly, hurt my neck and shoulders, placing too much stress there. Ideally the separation between the two straps should have been just slightly narrower than my neck.

The corollary is that nylon straps which must be heat-sealed to prevent fraying are very sharp and will wear through anything, and make snags on your new lightweight summer cardigan that you bought for the trip, so much so that you have to spend an entire evening with a needle, loosening the stitches in the rows that were tightened up by the snags, and there were many.

The sharp straps will also create such a huge snag in the shawl/scarf that you bought in Krakow that you find yourself looking at sewing patterns so that you can use the unsnagged parts of it in a garment since even though it is woven and ought to be easy to unsnag, you have had absolutely no success in unsnagging even a single thread.

And you buy another shawl since you actually really like them and feel that you should leave Eastern Europe with one of these shawls, even though they are undoubtedly made in India or China. Still, they are endemic and to you will always symbolize the colder than expected May you spent there.

The side pockets designed for water bottles were a really good idea.
They worked pretty well.

The whole backpack could have done with an extra two inches in all three dimensions, as it was just that tight. For the most part I didn't need to carry a whole lot, but some things were so close in size to one of the dimensions or another that it became a little awkward sometimes.

I think I should have stiffened the base quite a bit more, as one of the feet came off on the last day too (it had nothing firm to attach itself to). I usually stiffen these things with plastic canvas, but I was all out and in too much of a hurry to buy more.

Next time I might also make a small base compartment as well: a shallow rectangular pocket on the bottom perhaps two or three inches high with a zip on three sides and containing pockets or channels for small things like pens and lip balm and hand cream. This would also help to firm and stabilize the base of the backpack.

All-in-all it was useful, and served its purpose as I was trying to avoid the shoulder pain and hassle of a tote bag or large purse, but truthfully, when I carried the iPad (the heaviest thing I wanted to carry with me daily) in my purse, it wasn't so bad in terms of weight although since the purse I used was old and less than ideal in shape and size, it was awkward getting it in and out of my purse.

I think I'll design a better travel purse for next time instead.

No comments: