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Cheap bag - a cautionary tale

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    Cheap bag - a cautionary tale

    So we're going on this long train trip this summer and something we were really lacking was a fold-up backpack, since we're taking our Aeronauts but will be doing lots of day expeditions. So while he's shopping this week my husband sees a fold-up backpack at the supermarket and decides he'll pick it up -- like $5.00 about. OK, let's see how it is.

    So I open it up and it at first glance OK -- tough fabric, looks water resistant. Lined. Folds up into the outer pocket. 300g. I start to think what hacks I can do to make it better -- like a couple of O-rings, a sternum strap, maybe a little elastic in the main pocket to hold a water bottle upright. Then the horrible smell of off-gassing vinyl hits me.

    I go hang it outside for an hour.

    I put it on loaded with books -- feels OK.

    Ask my husband to put it on -- we're the same height but he's much broader across the chest and back, so obviously the straps were adjusted wrong and as he tries to put it on -- the strap comes unsewed from the webbing at the lower end. OK, well, that sucks, I take it upstairs and sew the webbing back into the strap. As I'm sewing the vinyl smell is still so strong it about knocks me out.

    I take it downstairs again and look it over, especially where the straps join -- look, holes at each of the top straps where they didn't catch the fabric. OK, I'll go fix that seam then. But no -- the fabric has actually been CUT above the strap attachment points. So I sew in a length of grosgrain ribbon as a patch there. VINYL SMELL.

    Went and hung the pack outside again.

    Hours later the vinyl smell is still in my sewing room.

    Today I'm musing about whether to just donate this bag or whether I should work with it, and I'm leaning towards "donate and sew your own." I'm also thinking about the poor people who work in that factory with that fabric and that smell all the time and how their health must suffer. And what kind of horrible process produces such a fabric. I feel ashamed for purchasing something like this pack and supporting such a terrible business.

    As you may know, this year I am trying a buy-nothing year, making do with what we have already. When I do start buying again, it will be quality products made in safe factories.

    Have a great day enjoying your Bihn bags!


    I would also suggest going with sew your own (assuming there's time!). I'm doing that myself (in theory, I leave in 10 days and haven't started, lol). Found a great pattern online for cheap that I plan to alter from a straight backpack to something I can wear as a backpack, cross body, or tote (because sometimes you just need versatility....and I'm not good at making decisions ). It's square-ish so it can also double as a packing cube or squished flat for space savings.

    I just have to FIND the time (and I just started another new contract this week so ....yeah......).
    Synapse 25, Aeronaut 30, Monster Truck, Travel Tray

    “...a book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements, clumsy hands. If for a hundred and a hundred years everyone had been able freely to handle our codices, the majority of them would no longer exist. So the librarian protects them not only against mankind but also against nature, and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion, the enemy of truth.”
    ― Umberto Eco


      If I sew I will knock off the Daylight backpack -- primarily because 1) I know people here like it and 2) because TB makes bags that are efficient to construct, as opposed to what some amateur pattern makers do. Everything generally is assembled in units, stitched together, and then the seams are bound. Simple and durable. And gives me the chance to use all my great varieties of ribbon for seam binding LOL.

      I have some cuben fibre fabric and some cordura, I will have to assess how much of what. I might not have webbing for straps, if not I'll just make them out of fabric., maybe even with a bit of padding. If only I could find my ripstop nylon for the pockets/linings! It's gone I know not where... I guess I could make the pockets from mesh but I don't want to make the front panel lining from that. I could also use cordura I suppose :-(


        We got some branded bags at work that stunk like that. A year later the smell still hadn't dissipated.


          Yes, it's still hanging outside and it's still horrible! I'm thinking of harvesting the zips and sending the rest to be incinerated. gah!


            Wait, you're telling me a $5 bag has some design compromises?


              I had the same problem with two 12 liter backpacks I purchased on Aliexpress. My idea was to use them as carryon for Ryanair but after two preemptive cycles in the washing machine the awful smell and the very volatile emissions were still there so I donated them. Never used and already donated. It happens, so best option is to phisically touch (and sniff) the backpack before buying or go for a well known brand, being it TB, Osprey, Vaude, Lowe Alpine or whatever you prefer. Lesson learned.


                I’m very impressed with the year long buy-nothing goal! I barely made it through a 1 buy-nothing month!


                  You can read more about it on my blog -- The Fabulous Dr. E's Fabulous Blog – Buying nothing, making things, thinking other things.. I find it sometimes hard and sometimes very easy.

                  Meanwhile, yes. I've been stymied from making my own daylight backpack for lack of zippers -- I have everything else -- which is why I'm considering cannibalising this bag, if I can stand the stench. Mind you, the zips probably are also very low quality.