Saddlebags 2.1

The same day I finished Saddlebags 2.0, we had a great idea for how to improve the design:

[Photo: Me, wearing Saddlebags 2.1 around my hips. They are two cardboard boxes at my sides, connected by a strap.]

I didn't actually need a clever system to keep the pouches from swinging. The swinging was only a problem when they could slap against the fronts of my legs while I ran. But these boxes are always flat at my sides, so they don't get in the way.

I can comfortably run and bicycle while carrying 10 pounds (4.5kg) of encyclopedias in these. They also held up to walking with a load of 25 pounds (11 kg). These pouches are slightly smaller, so I didn't go up to the 32 pounds I tried in 2.0, just because it was hard to fit that much stuff in them.

[Photo: a pile of corrugated cardboard in various shapes.]

Compared to 2.0, these are much more convenient:

  • They are slimmer (when I wear them, they're 24 inches wide instead of 28). This makes it much easier to fit through doors.
  • When I'm not wearing them, I can fit them in a much smaller space. This will be important when I ride trains or buses. I can just put the two pouches in my lap instead of taking up extra seat space.
  • They're adjustable. I don't have to worry if the size will be right if I'm wearing bulky clothing, or if my body changes size over time. And when I start selling them to other people, the same design can work for all sizes of people.

Like in Saddlebags 1.0, there's a strap in the front, but it's important that the front strap doesn't actually touch my waist. Any pressure on the front of my waist makes me feel uncomfortable if it stays there for a while. So I designed these to only put pressure on my hips.

Next steps

A lot of people have suggested I sell these to people, so I'm seriously considering it. But I'm not ready to sell them quite yet.

For one thing, I have no experience doing this! It's a little daunting. How do I market them? How do I take payments? How do I ship them? What legal regulations do I need to worry about? I know I can figure this stuff out, but there's just so much of it. If any of you have sold things before, I could use your advice.

Also, there are a bunch of design things I still need to polish:

  • The pouches need to be protected from rain. I plan to add a lid and cover them with waterproof contact paper. (The contact paper doubles as a way to decorate them with nice designs!) I also want to make the top of each pouch have a slight slant away from the body, so that rain is shed outwards instead of pooling on the lids and/or pouring onto your body. I'm confident I can make this work, but I'll have to do some math to shape the supporting pieces correctly.
  • I want to build some slightly smaller boxes to organize the stuff in the pouches. Each one will have a small compartment just under the top lid of the box, and a larger compartment below it. That way, you can store small things at the top, then grab them easily without having to dig through the whole box. Or you can pull the organizing-box out of the pouch and open it from the side, for easy access to the bigger stuff. Or something like that.
  • The foam pads don't stay on very well. The glue doesn't fail, but the foam itself can easily tear apart if you pull on the corners. And that happens every time you put them on. For myself, I can just be careful and/or keep re-taping them, but if I want to sell them, I should make them more user-friendly. I need to change the design so they don't get pulled on, and/or find a tougher type of padding to use.
  • Cutting out the cardboard is too much work for me currently. I can make a few prototypes, but building a lot of them would be too much for my hands. I'll need a different way to make the pieces. For the smaller pieces, I can reasonably pay a laser-cutting service. For the boxes, laser cutting might be inefficient because they're much larger. There are companies that sell cardboard boxes in bulk, but these are an unusual shape. I haven't found a place to buy 12"x12"x3" boxes that open on one of the narrow sides. I'll need to investigate things more.
  • Right now, the strap is just a plain strap with a rolling hitch tied in it. I'm not sure this is secure enough. I should probably use a strap with a cam buckle in it.
  • One hip support started bending under the weight of 25 pounds. I had just copied the hip support design from Saddlebags 2.0. But the 2.0 hip supports weren't designed to resist force compressing them from the front and back, and 2.1 relies on them being strong in that direction. I'll need to adjust the design to take care of that.

So I have a lot of stuff to work out. But I'm very happy with what I've got so far, and I'm definitely planning to keep going with it.

– Eli

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