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Backpack Cover for Airline/Train Travel
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Dustin T
(linesplice) - F

Locale: New England
Backpack Cover for Airline/Train Travel on 03/30/2008 10:49:21 MDT Print View

I'm looking to make or purchase a backpack cover for airline or train travel. The duffles or covers I did locate were way too big or way to heavy. What is the best material for this type of project and where would you recommend purchasing it? I was considering spinnaker nylon but had a concern about durability.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Backpack cover on 03/30/2008 23:44:07 MDT Print View

I'm not sure that this is a case where lightweight ought to be your largest concern, I mean are you going to need to bring this cover with you on a hike? Remember that the use of lightweight fabrics (spinnaker being perhaps the most fragile) is predicated upon gentle use by a conscientious hiker. In my experience, "gentle" and "conscientious" keep absolutely no company with luggage handlers.

If you're looking to buy something, I'd take a trip to a local Dick's, Dunhams, maybe even Walmart and just stroll around - I'm always amazed by how many things that are sold for one use that are excellent for another - I'd hit their camping, sporting goods, probably even the Walmart tool section, and they may have some kind of bag that would fit the bill.

If you can't find a satisfactory bag to buy, or you just want to make your own, check out seattlefabrics.com if you haven't already. At the absolute lightest, I guess you could start with the 70 D 1.9 silicone coated ripstop, then there's the most practical choice of the 400D oxford, and finally, the coolest, 500D spectra reinforced ripstop, something they call "white widow." They've also got cordura, and even 1050D ballistics in case you plan on airdropping your pack in before you get there.

Edited by dsmontgomery on 03/30/2008 23:44:56 MDT.

Dustin T
(linesplice) - F

Locale: New England
Thanks on 03/31/2008 05:52:11 MDT Print View

Thanks for the reply!

Yes, I'm unfortunately going to have to carry the cover with me as I'm going in and out of different countries airports.

I was just looking for the best balance between something to contain the pack and still offer protection. Most of the duffel's I found at Dicks, etc. were made out of cordura, which is much heavier than I want to carry around. The retail stores (REI, MEC, etc) have travel pack covers/totes, but they are a one-size fits most design, so my bag would be floating inside one, and that means I would also be carrying unnecessary weight.

Edited by linesplice on 03/31/2008 05:55:19 MDT.

Kyle Purcell
(dufus934) - F

Locale: North Texas
Mil surplus on 03/31/2008 11:28:15 MDT Print View

I've seen large military duffle bags for as little as $5 at some places, maybe you could just buy one and throw it away (or sell/give it away) when you get to your destination. Or you could just use a thick contractor garbage bag.

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
tyvek on 03/31/2008 11:40:30 MDT Print View

If I were doing it, I'd just slap something together out of tyvek. No durability issues.

Dustin T
(linesplice) - F

Locale: New England
Mil Surplus on 03/31/2008 12:03:12 MDT Print View

Kyle - Thanks for the thought, but since I'm taking a jet two and from my hike, it means I would have to carry a bag all the way so I could pack it for the journey home.

Rick - Tyvek sounds like an interesting solution. I'll have to investigate that. Is it heavy?

Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Will have similar needs... on 04/01/2008 20:49:13 MDT Print View

I will be doing a short tour of Europe next year and had similar thoughts. My Golite Gust will be the pack of choice and will still be cavernous for whats being packed. However it may need a cover to protect the straps and make it (marginally) more secure and 'throw-able' during plane, train, bus and motorcycle travel.

After first discounting it, I am coming around to the idea of Spin nylon or light silnylon again.
Although 'fragile' if they are to maintain complete integrity they have a fairly good tensile strength and I don't really care if it abrades or loses water resistance due to pinch point holes, thin areas etc.
Any damage would be patched with ducttape/sewingkit on-route.
It can be repaired properly at home after the month long trip.
During the trip it can be used inside the pack as a second layer to protect the pack from the inside out and maybe offer a slight extra weather resistance - if it remains intact.

My thoughts were for a sack with a roll down top which is secured by 2 handle loops (on each side of the rolldown).
The handles would be sewn in a manner to spread load over a suitable area. I could padlock this if required - and allowed.
Seams could be sealed, mainly for strength.
Pack would be put into cover upside down thus total removal is required to access pack contents - possibly reducing 'opportunistic' theft.

The idea is for a sacrificial cover that is less sacrificial than a contractor bag and hopefully last a month, without weighing more than my pack.

Edit: The cover could also be a second bag to throw things in and leave at an establishment during a side trip/hike etc. OR somewhere to stash dirty cloths/shoes inside the main pack.

Edited by terra on 04/01/2008 20:58:42 MDT.

Dustin T
(linesplice) - F

Locale: New England
Thanks on 04/04/2008 10:58:37 MDT Print View

Thanks for the reply!

Yes, I'm unfortunately going to have to carry the cover with me as I'm going in and out of different countries airports.

I was just looking for the best balance between something to contain the pack and still offer protection. Most of the duffel's I found at Dicks, etc. were made out of cordura, which is much heavier than I want to carry around. The retail stores (REI, MEC, etc) have travel pack covers/totes, but they are a one-size files most design, and my bag would be floating inside one and means I would also be carrying that unnecessary weight.

Robert Strickland
(robstr) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Turn that pack inside out on 04/04/2008 11:25:09 MDT Print View

If the pack has a drawstring closure, you might be able to turn it inside out and repack the contents. This will keep the straps from catching on things. If you need extra protection, Tyvek should work fine. I have made Tyvek stuff sacks from meailing envelopes. See:
http://www.peak.org/~webdawg/DIYGear/TyvekStuffSack/index.html
This wouldn't be large enough, but if you just sew or tape a seam to make a tube, the same instructions work fine for a larger sack.

Tyvek house wrap is about 1.6 oz/sq yd or 52 g/sq meter if I remember right. There is lighter Tyvek on www.kitebuilder.com. Several people sell Tyvek by the foot on ebay.

Robert

Mike Hinsley
(ArchNemesis)

Locale: England, UK
Backpack Cover for Airline/Train Travel on 04/04/2008 15:00:45 MDT Print View

Many airlines keep a stock of free bags just for putting things like backpacks in....

You could also buy some tape and rubble sacks before you fly from each airport....

But if you know you are going to be hopping on and off planes then it might just be easier to take a pack that's a bit tougher and have the slight weight penalty in the pack. The difference between SilNylon and Dynema is not that great in these circumstances.

Dynema also has to be the toughest fabric that I've ever had to try and work with.

I've done some mods to a Golite Jam and scissors strugged to cut through it especially when it hit one of the Kevlar grid elements - and I use exensive scissors...

Edited by ArchNemesis on 04/04/2008 15:17:15 MDT.

Dustin T
(linesplice) - F

Locale: New England
tyvek on 04/05/2008 07:49:29 MDT Print View

I really like the tyvec sack. How did you work the draw cord through your channel?

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Cling wrap? on 04/07/2008 07:55:15 MDT Print View

How about wrapping it in a roll of cling wrap each time you need to fly? You should have no problems keeping your pack with you on the train.

Rod

Robert Matson
(rmatson) - F

Locale: Brooklyn, NY USA
Making a backpack baggage handler-resistant on 12/11/2008 09:14:38 MST Print View

I'm dealing with this now for international travel and wanted to add to the knowledge base. This is what I plan to try. Some packages I would carry with me after use, others I would anticipate buying or borrowing. For me, considerations include: light, durable, doesn't needlessly creating trash, inexpensive.

- Using my 50' camp/multipurpose rope to thoroughly bind the entire bag, effectively "weaving" an external bag. This seems the best solution and is what I intend to try, combined with the next. (Carry rope with me for use in camp, etc.) I anticipate the airline asking me to sign a form holding them harmless from damage, which they may do for backpacks anyway.

- Using what I can only describe as a "inexpensive large woven tyvek-like reusable plastic grocery bag with zipper" as a carry-on bag, in which I'll put clothes, camera, "allowable" items in order to diminish bag size, and then use the camp rope to tie up the bag.

Said bag is apx. 1/2 size of a large backpack, has handles and is very light weight, very strong, a tiny bit bulky due to the strength. It's made out of material similar to a "woven plastic" rice bag. I bought mine at the Park Slope Food Co-op (Brooklyn), but I've also seen them in Chinese groceries. It would be perfect if I could find it in duffel bag size. (Carry with me to use for trip home or throw out after use.)

- Getting "onion bags" from the grocery (these bags are made from a very strong material like loosely woven burlap and hold about 50 lbs. onions. Problem: could make my bag smell like food. But I'd expect to be able to find onion bags in many places. (Throw out after use.)

- Buying a roll of packing tape and binding the bag as necessary. (They may or may not have tape at the airplane check in, but it's easy to buy.) (Throw out after use.)

- Large cardboard box. (Use for shelter my first night if I arrive after the hostel has shuttered for the evening. Or throw out.)

- Commercial products here: http://www.polypakamerica.com/index.php

Bon voyage.

- Robert Matson

Robert Matson
(rmatson) - F

Locale: Brooklyn, NY USA
Re: Making a backpack baggage handler-resistant on 03/02/2009 18:10:47 MST Print View

Follow up. At my food co-op, I found a used large onion sack, in a loose tyvek-like weave, (for 50lbs onions) and a used large flour sack woven from a tight, opaque, tyvek-like material. Of course, both were given to me at no charge. Each worked perfectly in terms of securing the bag against handling damage and being light and packable enough to carry with us after arriving at destination.

Both the onion sack and flour sack proved very strong and survived a total of 48 hours of flight time, including eight different carriers. The packs fit perfectly without needing to remove or secure belts, straps, etc. The pack that was in the onion sack DID get a hole punched through the pack fabric on the flight out, so I feel the full coverage of the flour sack may have been better. However, the loosely woven onion sack was easier to handle as luggage since the flour sack completely covered the bag and left little to grab onto.

Airport security seemed to have no trouble with fact that the bags would have been hard to get into.

Better than expected. I'll do same in the future with either kind of bag covering.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: Re: Making a backpack baggage handler-resistant on 03/02/2009 18:52:02 MST Print View

Keep in mind that *nothing* you do to bolster checked baggage will guarantee its safety once it's out of your possession. Crushing accidents are fairly common, and I've even had a backpack made of 1000D fabric chewed to bits by conveyor machinery or some such. By the time I'd left the baggage claim office (with a cashier's check as my rather inconvenient consolation prize) it was full of... feathers!

The *only* guaranteed solution is to present your backpack as a carry-on item. Of its contents, what can't be carried on - due to airline restrictions or space limitations - is often best sent ahead to your destination via insured mail, or preferably by UPS or FedEx.

It only takes one mishap with checked baggage (or a cursory read of the airline industry's baggage loss statistics) to realize how fruitless even the best laid plans can be.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Backpack Cover for Airline/Train Travel" on 03/02/2009 19:20:09 MST Print View

CArry on Carry on Carry on. I sneak knives all the time if thats what your worried about. Ali :)

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: "Backpack Cover for Airline/Train Travel" on 03/02/2009 19:32:45 MST Print View

Well, I *wasn't* worried... (past tense?)

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Backpack Cover for Airline/Train Travel" on 03/02/2009 19:41:56 MST Print View

Brett, I was agreeing with you. You coundnt pay me to check my luggage. Ali

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: "Backpack Cover for Airline/Train Travel" on 03/02/2009 21:09:09 MST Print View

Gotcha. It was the implication of the TSA security breach in your post that might worry some... Of course it happens, intentionally or otherwise, but it sorta undercuts the main point here.

Everyone would prefer to "carry on," but for the perceived hassles and restrictions. But the lawful work-around to the problem is often a worthwhile trade-off for peace of mind.

Edited by blister-free on 03/02/2009 21:13:20 MST.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: "Backpack Cover for Airline/Train Travel" on 03/02/2009 23:24:34 MST Print View

Would it be beneficial to check, in as secure as possible a container, just the things that cannot be carried on, and carry the rest on? The checked items should be little enough that an adequately sturdy container may be little enough weight to not be too heavy in an absolute sense.

That would leave a lot less subject to the baggage handlers, and the whole discussion has been assuming that checked luggage is OK as long as it does not get destroyed.

-- MV