Having secured supplies of the rPET materials that we need for our backpack, our attention has since turned to the next fundamental question – what will our backpack look like? This in turn will be determined by our design philosophy.
Our philosophy is simple. We want to design a waterproof backpack catering specific to the cycling community. It will probably be more profitable to make a bag for the general mass-market, but we want to stay true to our community and convictions. This will be first and foremost a cycling backpack, with the needs of everyday cyclist front and centre. If it also turns out that the bag is great for general use – then that’s a bonus.
In terms of our design ethos, they can be described as below:
From the outside, we want to make the bag look as clean and uncluttered as possible. We won’t be attaching features upon features on the bag. The only permanent pocket will be a front pocket for carrying essentials such as bike tools or a mobile phone.
We do however recognise the need for the bag to be able to have attachment points for things like locks, helmets and water bottles. That is why we will be looking to design modular features that can be attached to the bag as and when necessary. When they are not required, they can be removed so the bag maintains its clean look. Having a modular approach also means that pockets and nets are not permanently attached to the bag which frays and becomes damaged over time. I am sure most of us have had experience with broken/ripped bottle holders which just makes the entire bag unattractive to look like.
Aero and breathable
We want the backpack to be as aero dynamic and breathable as possible. Our design task is to do everything we can to avoid the sweaty back, which everyone hates. We will be looking to use mesh and ventilation holes in the shoulder straps to maximise airflow. The backpack will be foamy with lots of gaps for air to escape from the back.
Cycling commuters are always fiddling with stuff. Keys for bike locks, security passes for the building and office, areas to attach bike lights, these are all things that need quick access and solutions. We will design features to make cyclists’ journey into work as seamless as possible.
Relating to above, we want to compartmentalise as much as possible, from technology, to wet clothes, dress shirts, and shoes, we want to clearly separate the typical things that cycling commuters bring into work. You will finally be able to escape the black hole and hopeful grabbing that is associated with waterproof dry bags.
We could easily make a normal backpack and slap on a rain cover. But we do not want to because it doesn’t guarantee that electronics and paper notebook will stay bone dry. That is why this bag, although it will be made from recycled PET bottles, will still contain a lining of TPU to ensure waterproofing. We will also certify water resistance to at least IPX5 levels, so that even the most serious downpours will not leave you worried one little bit.
Eco-friendly and sustainable
Cycling is a sustainable form of transport. We want to make sure that the gear cyclists use are sustainable as well. We will make the bag primarily from recycled materials. We will also design a system around the bag so that the most sustainable outcome is achieved. We are investigating the Circular Economy and studying how other apparel companies minimise the environmental impact of its products, and will be looking to support the bag post-purchase through programs like repairs and take backs.
What do you think of our design priorities. Do you think we have them right?