Backpack hack

Cabin Max Tallinn
Cabin Max Tallinn – Flight Approved Backpack for EasyJet & BA hand luggage

About a year ago I bought myself a new backpack, the Cabin Max Tallinn, for about £25. The reviews were favourable (average of 4/5 stars) and when it arrived I was delighted with it: mainly because it was more compact than the large rucksack that I bought for a trip to California about a decade ago.

I packed it and headed off to Glasgow and then London to seek my fame and fortune attend the first NYCGB Alumni choir singing day. It was a timely opportunity to road test the bag.

That four day trip identified two main issues. This wasn’t quite the bag that I thought it was.

However, I don’t like throwing stuff away, and I don’t like sending stuff back because it’s not 100% what I want it to be. This bag was about 95% the way there. I like the whole computer hacker culture (not to be confused with the illegal ‘cracker’) so…

Open zipped pocket

Zipped pocket that I've now sewn up
Zipped pocket that I’ve now sewn up

The first issue was that in the middle compartment there was a small, meshed pocket with a zip. I looked at that and thought it was the perfect size to store a passport, for example.

There was one small snag: the top of the zip wasn’t sewn down. So even when the zip was closed you could still slide items into the meshed pocket beneath the zip.

Who designed that?! It was like a shirt pocket with a redundant zip sewn into the top seam.

I wrote to Cabin Max and asked if this was a fault or a feature. It turned out to be a feature. I told them this was ridiculous and whoever it was I corresponded with agreed and said that she would pass on my feedback.

So I got my sewing kit out and completed the job: I sewed the zip down so that when the zip was closed it was… well, closed.

No inner straps

Cabin Max Tallinn inner straps
Cabin Max Tallinn inner straps

It wasn’t until a later trip last year that I realised there was another problem: if I didn’t pack the back completely full (as I had done for the London trip) then my clothes and whatever else I put in the large, main compartment just rattles around in there.

What this bag was missing, that every other rucksack or suitcase I own has, were straps inside that would allow me to tie down whatever I place into the main compartment.

So today I added my own. Having bought a couple of quick release tie-down straps online last week—the kind that people use for strapping things to their golf caddies (I believe)—this evening I measured them up (using the straps in my giant rucksack as a template) glued them in and sewed them down. Job done.

This weekend I’m heading to Sheffield for the second NYCGB alumni concert. I’ll report back how I get on with my two alterations to my bag.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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