As paying customers, we simply expect products to work well for their intended use. At ChipmunkBags, we're aware of this expectation and we take designing our products super seriously. We know there are a ton of details required to go from an idea to a quality product and don't skip any corners.
We’ve been through a number of design, prototype, and manufacturing cycles. We’ve made mistakes and learned from those mistakes (sorry for any ripped bags in the early days -- hit us up, we'll get you a freshie). We started with limited knowledge about product design and have made constant adjustments and improvements as we continue to grow.
As such, we figure it’s time to geek out over some of the details and share a closer look at what makes the current ChipmunkBag the best laundry backpack yet.
Making a solid product is actually pretty simple -- it's quality materials assembled into a logical design with sound manufacturing techniques. Let’s start by breaking down the materials.
There are four main materials we use in our bags:
1. Main Bag Panels (1000 Denier Nylon)
1000 denier (d) nylon is the material of choice for our bag’s main compartment. Nylon is a synthetic polymer that can be formed into varying fibers through a melting process. Simply put, it’s plastic.
Denier is a measure of the fabric’s weight. Specifically, the mass (in grams) of 9,000 meters of the given yarn. Generally speaking, the higher the denier, the stronger (and heavier) the fabric – 1000d being on the high end of weight and strength for nylon fabric.
The fabric is super strong and also has a high abrasion resistantance. Go ahead and drag this stuff across any rough surface and you'll see for yourself... the material holds up well.
The final element we consider for the base fabric is coating. Certain coatings can add considerable strength to fabrics, but in the case of 1000d, since it's already so strong, we don't need a sturdy coating. The coating we use is called PU (polyurethane). This provides an extra level of water resistance. Important for those rainy trips home from the laundromat. More importantly, so we have an answer to our number one question... "Is the bag waterproof?"
While not technically waterproof (perhaps we'll do a future blog post on what makes a bag waterproof), your laundry and gear will stay dry when you get caught in the rain.
2. Top Extension Panel (420 Denier Nylon Pack Cloth)
The main point of the extension panel is to securely close the bag while keeping the inside contents dry. It's not load-bearing so we can use a lighter weight nylon fabric. In this instance, we use 420d nylon pack cloth with the same PU coating. It's a great option - super strong, water resistant, and quite a bit lighter.
3. Webbing (Various Width Nylon Webbing)
Webbing is all the 1-2” strap material that allows the bags to be schlepped and hauled. The two quality elements to consider with webbing is the material’s abrasion tolerance and breaking point.
The material that meets our needs is, drum roll, please… nylon. We use various types of nylon webbing on our bags (1”, 1.5” and 2” seatbelt webbing). As you probably know by now, the material is very strong and has a high abrasion resistance. Nylon webbing won’t break or rip out of seams. It also won’t become worn or “fuzzy” when frequently moving through sliders and clasps.
We played around with some less expensive options but the abrasion and cheap feel drove us nuts. We skipped it.
4. Thread & Seam Binding (Nylon Bonded Tex-70 Thread & Nylon Binding)
While these two materials might seem less important, they are super important to the longevity of a pack… especially the right thread. If a pack is made from cheap or incorrect thread, the pack may look great but fall apart.
The best thread for most packs is Nylon Bonded Tex-70 and is what is used in all ChipmunkBags. Tex-70 is a measure of weight where 1000 meters of thread weighs 70 grams (Tex-70 is on the mid-to-high end of the weight scale). Similar to webbing, nylon thread offers a great strength-to-size ratio and high abrasion resistance. The thread also has great resistance to mildew and aging – important for those frequent washes.
Seam binding, the final element, is the 1” black nylon covering on all interior seams. Covering seams in binding offers a few advantages. You get a clean look, it protects the seams, and allows the seams to be easily double stitched in production for extra strength.
Now that we’ve chosen the best materials, the next important step comes when the rubber hits the road (or the material hit the sewing machine). The most important manufacturing elements to consider for overall product longevity are: which high-load areas to reinforce with extra stitching, and how many stitches per inch to sew using.
As previously mentioned, we double stitch all seams on our current bags. One pass to bring the panel pieces together and a second layer to cover seams in binding -- all stitched between 7 and 8 stitches per inch. Sewing bags, anywhere between 6-10 stitches per inch is the general rule of thumb. Below, and the seams lack strength, above, and the fabric begins to wear from excess stitching.
To reinforce high-load areas such as the strap attachments, we use a combination of straight and bartack reinforcement stitches. For the strap attachments, there are 5 layers of stitching to secure the webbing to the bag. In short, the straps are in there for good. If they rip out, we want to talk to you. You must have been doing something radical and we want a picture.
At CMB, we’ve put much thought into our products and are proud to offer our best laundry bags and gear bags yet. Our goal is to make great products that stay in use and out of landfills. As such, we put much time into designing quality packs and back them with our lifetime warranty. If there’s ever an issue with your product, we’ll either repair or replace – no questions asked.
Thanks for reading. If you want more info on the ChipmunkBag, have a look here.