Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on August 1, 2013.
About this project
The Story behind creating the TOP KIT Compartmentalized Sports Gear Bag
As an enthusiastic mountain bike rider living in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, I often put my bike on the truck rack and gather up my riding gear to drive to one of the local mountain bike trails in Draper, Park City, Hurricane or Moab Utah. My riding friends give me a lot of grief for forgetting helmet, shoes, gloves, tools or nutritional supplements. The fact is, I always think everything is in my duffle bag.
Last June in 2012, my friends and I were having BBQ after a fun ride in Corner Canyon, Draper UT, and I was defending myself from their teasing because I had forgotten a glove, and making the point that I never liked duffle bags because everything is jumbled together. " I can’t tell if my black gloves are in there with a black tube or a dirty rag", I said, and commented that it would be great if someone sold a bike gear bag with compartments for the helmet, shoes, clean clothes and dirty stuff. I also mentioned that my other beef with duffle-style bags is the way that zippers wrap horizontally all the way around the bag opening. They are difficult to open and it wastes time and effort to open the long zipper every time I need to find a pair of glasses or socks. How convenient it would be to have each compartment open easily from the top to find a specific piece of equipment.
Later that night, I searched the web looking for a mountain bike gear bag with compartments like we had talked about, but could not find anything similar. That did it! I pulled out my design notebook and started to draw the basic idea. One problem I ran into right away was figuring out how to make the zipper work differently than horizontal zippers found on duffles. That night I happened to see an old shaving kit in the top of a closet and noticed it has two zippers attached by a cord and plastic tubing. What would happen I thought, if the bag had a handle that attached the two zippers, and was oriented vertical instead of horizontal? This experience and a few more conversations with other riders of mountain bikes, road bikes and downhill bikes led to the initial design of the TOP KIT Bike Gear Bag for riders who want to keep their gear organized.
Here is the longer video that tells the whole story
Already, friends and family have offered many other ideas for improvement and different types of TOP KIT Gear Bags bags. Some of the ideas I heard included bags for runners and for working out. All these sports have the same scenario, people put their gear in a bag or pack and take it somewhere else to do their sport; and they want it to stay organized.
Over the last year I have been developing the design and functional prototypes for the TOP KIT Bags, which I discovered has many technical problems required to make them work properly.
- First is the problem of how to make the handle pull the two zippers up and down together without collapsing the bag - After dozens of designs, this problem is solved. Amazingly, I cannot find any evidence of another inventor designing this solution.
- How to make bag partitions with T-intersections and ventilation - the first three functional designs were done using a a plastic mesh that also allows cross ventilation of smelly gear. The final design may use another material.
- How to produce the bag cost effectively - I am collaborating with a professional bag and pack designer, Brent Harris of Design Lines Gear, who will take it from the functional prototype to create a design prototype and help specify the materials, fittings and assembly.
Special Thanks to other companies and individuals with whom I have partnered to design and develop the TOP KIT Bags
InventaPart - Springville, UT - autocad design of zipper assembly handles and 3D printing. See their website at: http://www.inventapart.com/ and their very own successful kickstarter.com campaign for their new 3D Rigibot home printer. Michael represents the best in designers and inventors. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1650950769/rigidbot-3d-printer?ref=category
Designlinesgear - Pataluma, CA owned by Brent Harris, who is one the most experienced designers in the US of packs, bags and other softgoods gear. Check out his resume, you will be impressed too!
The next phase of developing the TOP KIT bag is to advance the concepts and functional prototype to final engineering design and digital formats. If our goals for this kickstarter backer request campaign are met, some of the funds will be used to expedite the expertise of Brent and his staff to improve the designs, create bill of materials for manufacturing and assist with the economic analysis.
Proposed Products for the Initial Designs
•Products / Sizes
- The TOP KIT Bike Gear Bag: Four compartments - 2 large, 2 small
- The TOP KIT Runners Bag: Four compartments equal sizes
- The TOP KIT Workout Bag: Two compartments equal sizes
TOP KIT Gear Bags Specifications
- Bike & Runners: W -16”, H – 13”, D – 14” (four compartments)
- Workout: W -8”, H – 13”, D – 14” (two compartments)
- Bike: 2 ea. Large – 7.5" W x 9. 2" D ea. Small – 7.5 W"x 5.0" D
- Runners: 4 ea. 7.5 W x 7 D
- Workout: 2 ea. 7.5 W x 7 D
6/21/13 - TOP KIT Zipper Assembly Handle - The vision for the handle has been expanded to include both single finger and three finger pull slot with the TOP KIT Logo.
CROWD SOURCE DESIGN - AN EXPERIMENT
HERE IS THE PART FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN BRINGING INTERESTING DESIGNS FROM THE IDEA STAGE TO REALITY. THAT IS US - THE KICKSTARTER.COM COMMUNITY
Here is the experiment - If this project is funded, every backer will be invited to review and sign-off on several major design decisions. For example, there will be design choices about the colors, carrying handles, attachable pockets and partition configurations. A survey will be sent with the design choices and a voting ballot.
The proposed method is to award each KS backer the number of voting points equal to their backer support. The greater the support, the greater the design influence. The results of the crowd design vote will be published and the winning design choices will be implemented in the first product release.
For this reason, every kickstarter backer will be acknowledged at the first product release trade show as crowd designers.
Design Components - Some of the final DESIGN DECISIONS determined by Kickstarter backers crowd source design review.
- Bag main body styling
- Bag end with attachments panels for pockets and bottle holders
- Partition assembly and internal pockets
- Carrying handle assembly
- Bottom support
- Pockets, attachable 2 ea. Water bottle holders, attachable 2 ea.
- Basics: Red, Green, Blue, Yellow
- Light Touch: lavender, sunset pink, sunshine yellow, sky blue
- Forest:Light green, Dark green, light brown, Bark brown
- Red Rocks: Moab / Zion’s National Park inspired colors.
If this project is funded, here is the expected timeline and deliverables to finish the design, manufacture and distribution the TOP KIT Sports Gear Bags.
June / July 2013 - Functional Prototype to start Engineering Design. This is the transition from a functional prototype to creating the engineering specification for soft materials, hardware, colors, logos, pockets, water bottle holders, handles and production sequences.
July 2013 - Final patent protection applications. These will include two utility patents and one design patent.
August 2013 - Final engineering design and design approval. Depending on the level of funding, the goal will be to create the engineering designs for the TOP KIT bike, running and workout bags. This is the period where all Kickstarter project backers will be invited to assist with the crowd design and approval experiment.
October 2013 - Short run manufacturing. Kickstarter.com backers rewards will be included in this production run.
October 2013 - Initial Online and local sales for customer feedback and design improvements.
December 2013 - Enhanced design and production samples run in preparation for product launch. Kickstarter backers will be asked to participate in crowd feedback and design decisions.
January 2014 - Introduce to international market at Outdoor Retailers show in Salt Lake City, UT, or the earliest trade show. This will depend on the total level of kickstarter backing.
NOT PART OF THIS KICKSTARTER.COM PROJECT. I
February 2014 - First full scale production run for distribution. if orders are received at outdoor retailers show, the first large production runof all the bags and colors will be done. Currently, I am looking at manufacturers in Vietnam, Mexico. If possible, I would really like to find a way to produce them domestically and will keep researching that option. If orders are not received at Outdoor Retailers, the next big shows for the biking industry is the Sea Otter Classic held every April in Monterey, CA and Interbike held in Las Vegas every September.
$75,000 - If this goal is reached, I can afford to speed up the final design and manufacturing and deliver all the kickstarter.com rewards with the first production run in late September 2013.
$150,000 - If this goal is reached, I can afford to add the three proposed color pallets to the October production run and give all supporters your choice of colors.
$300,000 - If the kickstarter.com community is generous enough to support the project at this level, we can bring on an additional designer and start to design TOP KIT bags for other sports. Some additional sports ideas include lacrosse, large size biking bags, tennis and climbing / canyoneering gear packs. For the packs, I have a design created for a type of pack that I have never seen anywhere! - and believe me, I have a gear room full of packs. KS supporters will be updated on additional rewards available if this goal is reached.
Risks and challenges
This project has several risks and challenges. Hopefully, my 15 years experience as a professional technology project manager will be helpful with identifying and mitigating them.
1. Protecting the intellectual property. There are at least three unique ideas in this product that could be appropriated by some of the big players in the outdoor sporting goods industry. I have started the patenting process for all of them. The "current art" search for domestic and foreign looks clean for the three unique features. Also, I have engaged with a patent lawyer in Park City, UT with experience in outdoor products. I am currently working with an experienced bag designer who has many years experience outsourcing manufacturing in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Mexico, and will make mfg. decisions with this risk in mind.
2. Producing the zipper assembly cost effectively. There are several parts to the zipper assembly that will require hand assembly and quality control. The mitigation for this risk will be to produce very detailed manufacturing assembly instructions, videos and training. It will also require a quality control inspection process before accepting the zipper assemblies that will be attached to the main body of the bag.
3. Partition - Manufacturing the partition will be a challenge. There are two primary options, extrusion which is cheaper, but the dimensions of this overall partition may be too large, and injection, doable,but more expensive because of the cost of the mold and ability to produce one to four pieces at a time.
4. Finding a reliable and cost effective manufacturing source. Currently I am researching several companies in Mexico, the US and Vietnam.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The colors shown on the prototype in the KS campaign are only for functional design, not the final color. The current plan is to have four distinct colors on each of the zipper assemblies, but to make them subtle and blend in with the overall fabrics and design of the bag. The other aspect of the final design that I believe will appeal to consumers is part of the structural design of the zipper assembly will allow it to detach from the main bag via a patent pending internal frame and rail design. This will permit a person to buy the bag in one color set and then change it around by buying additional colors of panels. The timing for this option to be available will depend on the level of funding raised by the KS campaign as indicated by the stretch goals.
- (45 days)