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Evolution of the Nomad Art Satchel, Part 2: Expanding the Functionality

Posted by Darren Yeow on

Hey all, Daz here, I hope you're well. Time for another update on the road to Kickstarter!

While my last post zeroed in on fixing the shortcomings of the original Nomad Art Satchel, I wanted this post to focus on how we've significantly broadened the feature set of the new bag.

Some housekeeping, I wanted to add a disclaimer that these features are demonstrated with two different prototypes with slightly different details (the leather accented one being the latest). So keep in mind that while these features are indicative of the functionality we are striving for in the final product, the final look and materials are still in flux and will be nailed down at a later stage when I visit the manufacturer in a month or so.

Oh and before you dive into the meat of the post, check out a quick video we shot recently of our prototype traipsing around the city with my Co-Founder Simon and our friend Bat-Chen who we literally met while shooting hah.

Anyway, on with the show...(grab a coffee, this is a long one)

If the video tickles your fancy and you haven't yet done so, then please join our mailing list for ongoing updates and other goodies in the lead up to our new Kickstarter campaign!

NEW FACE

One of the most obvious changes from our preceding prototype is the face of the Etchr Art Satchel - we had feedback from a number of people that they wished the bag was a little more stylish so that it wasn't just its functionality that differentiated it from other art bags.

We've added a full grain leather strip with laser etching (yeah I know, Etchr is etched...) to the leading edge of the front flap.

This decision is partly styling choice and partly a way to further protect a high wear point of the bag.

For those not too familiar with leather bags, in time after extended use, a patina (or soft sheen) develops on the surface of the leather, imparting a personality to the product that is unique to each user, kinda like a fingerprint :)

Another significant change to the face of the product from the earlier prototype is that there are now two tension hooks / g-hook buckles in order to balance the tension load. This results in a more even surface tension distribution and gets rid of the previously unsightly diagonal tension wrinkles seen below on the earlier prototype:

Also note the two different styles of tension hook / g-hook buckles in the new proto - we're testing a few different styles out to determine which allows for the smoothest operation.

The leather strip, interior material interfacing and the blind side tension strips are made of Toughtek to help keep the front flap relatively wrinkle free while adding significant utility value which I'll delve into later.

SHELL MATERIAL

I didn't mention in my previous post that we're changing the external shell material from ballistic nylon to Kodra. Kodra is a weatherproof material that is scientifically graded as 'sexy'. Well, not really, I don't think there is a scientific designation for 'sexy', but it looks damn nice.

The grey is stylish yet neutral enough such that it fits into a wide variety of settings from office to urban day-to-day. Importantly the bag is rugged enough to withstand a serious hike through the forest for some plein air work.

Oh yeah, it's also easier to photograph than black ballistic nylon...so there's that too.

SIDE RIM ATTACHMENT

New to the Etchr Art Satchel is the inclusion of external webbing material around the rim wall of the central compartment stitched with military MOLLE (or Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) designation which is in standard use in various military branches around the world.

This addition basically allow a large number of after-market additions to be attached onto the Etchr Art Satchel and the MOLLE webbing can also be used as anchor points for any straps. The most obvious use is that you can now easily attach a tripod in various configurations to avoid having to carry it separately as was the case with the original Nomad.

You can also use a couple of carabiner clips to attach things like...

CONCEALED MOLLE WEBBING

MOLLE webbing is awesome for extending the usefulness of any carry product, but as it originated from the military and is still largely associated with it, it naturally imbues a certain militaristic vibe to any product that has it on display as below.

For this product at least, I wanted to steer clear of the military look, but I could see all the benefits of the MOLLE system, so I decided to install some underneath the front flap to retain a refined look. This helps to increase the functionality of the product significantly but maintains the bags ability to work in a more "professional" setting.

Even a fairly small bank of MOLLE allows you to do things like...

'LLAMA' MODE

'Llama' Mode is one of the most significant improvements to come out of this latest round of prototyping.

Essentially, the front panel works in tandem with the MOLLE rim, the g-hook straps and the front flap conduit for significant carry capability.

Firstly, the straps attached to the g-hooks that hold the flap closed are super long and they've been designed that way to latch large items into the void space that is typically ignored by other satchel or messenger bags. I saw this as a wasted opportunity to provide greater user flexibility.

As you can see, it can accommodate pretty large objects, which is great, but I wanted to take it a step further, so I included a conduit piece of Toughtek on the blind side of the front flap - check it out.

This seemingly innocuous addition allows some pretty spectacular maneuvering and essentially allows the user to secure large unwieldy objects that cannot fit inside the bag itself, into the void space. It is large enough to thread the g-hook strap through...

Then, the g-hook can secure into any of the slots along the MOLLE rim, which essentially creates a customizable cage for various objects.

Here's a practical example where I used the Llama carry mode recently. I needed to lug my new gimbal for a product shoot and I didn't want to carry both my satchel and my gimbal case, so I lashed this baby on...

Even when carried in portrait / upright mode, the gimbal case remains securely attached.

Now for something slightly more challenging and a bit more art-centric, I wanted to demonstrate the Llama mode being used to carry my pochade box and a heavy tripod. This is a relatively heavy kit weighing in at 6.2kg or ~14lb.

As you can imagine, carrying this in sling mode would get pretty tiring over a fairly short distance, so when you combine it with the backpack mode (more on that later), you're able to distribute the weight a lot more evenly and also free your hands to help navigate challenging terrain. We see this as a vast improvement on the original Nomad Art Satchel.

FLAP RUGGEDIZATION

As the front flap is such an integral part of the 'Llama' pack-carry mode, we've added some reinforcement to the blind side of the front flap. Subtly strengthening it with Toughtek material to increase friction yet reduce wear on the lining material.

QUICK ACCESS

While the front flap allows greater access to the internal contents of the front pocket for better 'RPG inventory management', it's a little cumbersome when you want to access something quickly (like a drink bottle, tablet or small laptop), so we included a quick access conduit.

ZIP PULLS

We've prototyped with paracord / heat shrink zip pullers which actually feel much nicer to use than a naked steel pull. The  paracord also acts as a buffer between the steel pullers and helps to reduce the noise signature of the bag (i.e. it's less jingly than the original Nomad).

REMOVABLE ORGANIZER

A (possibly) optional addition to the  Etchr Art Satchel is a removable organizer for your bits and pieces. While the design isn't final, it can attach to the front pocket or to the main central compartment depending on a person's requirements.

PLASTIC D-RINGS

We've replaced the former D-rings with tough Duraflex D-rings and clasps to minimize the noise signature and further help reduce overall weight.

BACKPACK MODE / VERTICAL CARRY

Certainly one of the most exciting new features (for me at least), is the inclusion the new backpack mode.

The Nomad's original sling strap is fine for relatively light weight carry but it starts to become uncomfortable when you add significant weight to the satchel and it also inherently suffers from lack of stability.

By adding the backpack mode, it allows a greater amount of weight to be carried over a long period by spreading the weight distribution and also adding to the level of stability due to two harness points rather than one.

NEW STRAP

In order to facilitate the new backpack mode, I needed to completely re-think the original carry strap.

While it might seem like a fairly simple solution, this was actually a surprisingly complex problem to solve and took months of research / designing to arrive at the new design - I wasn't particularly impressed with other solutions in the carry market.

The complexity came from having to meet a number of important criteria - ease of operation, significant weight bearing ability, comfort in both modes (sling / backpack).

As I did not want the user to have to purchase a separate item seeing as this is integral to the use of the product, I needed the strap to effortlessly move from single sling strap to two backpack straps.

We managed to track down a swivel buckle that allowed the new system to work in theory, we tried it out in prototype and wham, it's comfortable and secure :)

We've added two types of foam - a denser/harder core foam, and a softer outer foam to be much more comfortable than the rudimentary strap pad of the original Nomad Art Satchel.

SEMI ROLLTOP

Most satchel type bags that deploy a front flap typically have fairly significant gaps/holes to either side of the front flap, as seen below.

Generally, messengers bags have greater material overlap in order to cover this side exposure in landscape orientation, but because our design requirements dictated that the user had to be able to carry the bag in either landscape (sling) or portrait (backpack) orientation, a simple overlap of material would still leave the internal contents exposed to moisture seepage when turned sideways - which would render the use of water resistant materials kinda useless.

So in order to solve the seepage issue in backpack mode, we overextended the front pocket material so that when the front flap is closed the material bunches up, significantly decreasing the likelihood of moisture getting into the front pocket when the bag is in backpack mode.

SUPPORTED MODE

Supported mode in both landscape and portrait orientation both make a return in the Etchr Art Satchel.

One of the key differences is the system used to keep both halves open to increase stability. As you can see, the velcro flaps are replaced by an adjustable mini quick release clip, which is vital as the front pocket contents will now be variable. An adjustable quick release buckle means that you can tension the strap to remove excess void space unlike the original Nomad.

The original velcro flap system was a sticking point for a lot of people including myself, it just wasn't particularly elegant and was prone to wear over time, so the new adjustable quick release clip is a huge improvement.

MOLLE ELASTICS

The internal bandolier has been improved for ease of use as well as updated to MOLLE designation for further internal customizability.

REAR PADDING / LUGGAGE SLIP

Rear padding has been added to the Etchr Art Satchel, this is to provide a more comfortable buffer between your back and the tripod plate / quick release plate as well as a more stable platform when using the bag on a table top.

The padding has also been designed to allow the satchel to slip onto the pulling arm of luggage.

"LAPTOP" MODE

Using the interior side loops and mini g-hook straps, you can support the opposing panel of the central compartment to engage the laptop mode, which is great for referencing images or providing a bit more privacy as you study some new art knowledge :D

EASEL MODE

Pretty much the reversal of the privacy mode but attached to a quick release camera tripod.

Again, using the interior strap loops you can adjust the mini-hook straps to support the opposite flap as a tray for materials, tools, watercolor containers, or hack something up to meet your own personal needs. It can work for both physical and digital mediums...

FIN

So that brings this giant post to a close, but before I go, can I point out two things again:

  • If you're not already following us, I'd love to invite you to join our mailing list to be kept up to date. In case you didn't know, we're going to be running a new Kickstarter campaign to help us fund the new Etchr Art Satchel, and those on our mailing list will be first to know.

Feel free to ask questions below, give your thoughts on what you've seen so far or suggest other improvements, and of course, feel free to share our progress with other like-minded creatives!

If you're interested in purchasing, we recently concluded our successful Kickstarter campaign and just opened our Pre-Order store - if you missed out on the KS campaign, our Pre-Order campaign is still offering some pretty sweet discounts!

Thanks for reading <3

Cheers, Daz.


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  • This bag looks awesome!

    Would you be willing to consider a version without the leather front strip? I would imagine there’s a significant amount of people in the artistic community(myself included) that would rather not buy leather. Maybe offer a version with a front strip of toughtek? I would imagine there are alternative materials that would be economically viable.

    I’m not sure if the front strap is actual leather or toughtek(or maybe leather on the front and toughtek on the back?) so please disregard this request if the front strap isn’t actual leather :).

    Thanks for the work and thought you all have put into this project.

    Matt on

  • Although i haven’t got my fingers on the oringal Art Satchel, this looks like a tremendous step forward! The satchel looks damn great and very functional. I can’t wait to buy one and i only have to wait untill the campaign is over :-) Keep up the good work and wish you all the best! Oh i almost forgot to say, i love the new logo.

    Jan De Beck on

  • Alice: Thank you! We’re really excited for all these new and improved features, as well as investigating how to make the satchel better for artists.

    In regards to your concerns, I’m uncertain which version of the prototypes you’re referring to. The all-gray (no leather; Kodra only) version was an older prototype, and since then has been improved to not create the ‘pulling on the entire shape of the bag’ effect as you’ve described. The pull was due to a single hook fastener (which I’m assuming is the carrying handle you’re referring to). With the two hooks that are installed now in the leather prototype, there is no warping so we should be all good. If you’re addressing the slight signs of pulled leather from the leather version, that pull is determined by how tightly you want your contents secured and should not damage or strain the bag. Let me know if this answered your concerns. :)

    Mina Roy on

  • Jess: Thank you for sharing your thoughts! At this time, the bag is still in development. We’ll consider your thoughts of embossing; though stylistic decisions depend primarily on how we can distribute our finances, and ultimately how the Kickstarter goes. We will be sure to keep you up to date as we continue to explore and solidify quality design to the Etchr Art Satchel.

    Mina Roy on

  • Dean White: Thank you! Yes, the Etchr Art Satchel should be able to accommodate for the bigger iPad Pros. If not in the front pocket, then certainly in the other compartments. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date on its development and any changes made. Don’t forget to sign up for our Early Bird mailing list so you will be the first to know when the Kickstarter goes live. :)

    Mina Roy on

  • Alex: Thank you! Yes, we should be able to accommodate for the bigger iPad Pros. If not, in the front pocket then certainly in the other compartment. Be sure to sign up for our Early Bird mailing list so you can be the first to know when the Kickstarter is live. :)

    Mina Roy on

  • Stonethrower: Thank you! We’re glad to hear the Nomad made great impressions for your endeavors! Since our number one goal is to make sure this bag meets all functioning purposes with high quality, offering a variety of styles depends primarily on how we can distribute our finances. We’ll be sure to consider this idea, as it seems a very popular request. It really is a question of how the Kickstarter goes.

    Mina Roy on

  • Renuka Madan: I’m pretty sure it should be possible. The Etchr Art Satchel is still in development, but to answer your question I’ve listed my solutions of incorporating watercolors to the satchel effectively below. Let me know if this response has been helpful, or if you have suggests for improvements. :)

    SETUP: In our article Introduction to Etchr Lab and the Etchr Art Satchel, you can see the satchel being used for watercolor purposes in the Easel Mode by combining the setup with the Laptop Mode. Disclaimer: The art supplies do not come with the Etchr Art Satchel. The water container and watercolor palette you see in the image are collapsible. I typically keep my supplies all in a plastic zipper document folder bag as a backup for easy access and preventing accidental spills.

    MATERIALS: Disclaimer: my setup has not been tested in the Etchr Art Satchel. Using my own setup as an example I use: a collapsible/seal-proof watercolor palette, collapsible watercolor brushes (regular brushes are kept in a pencil tin if necessary), collapsible pet drinking dish with lid, travel pack of tissues or small sponge, and space-efficient water bottle (like a Memobottle or Vapur Bottle).

    Mina Roy on

  • I cannot wait to have this bag. Looks amazing

    Sonia Cabrera on

  • Daniel: Thank you! As much as we’d like to take the credit for ourselves, we couldn’t have created and improved on this product without the generous love, patience, and support from the art community, our friends, and family. We owe a lot of our accomplishments and learning experiences to them, and we hope to continue developing great bags for artists.

    Mina Roy on