Sitting directly between San Jose and San Francisco, most of Fremont is a suburban bedroom community that serves both cities. But it actually covers quite a wide area and has many industrial sections as well.
When I first visited Bob’s Foam, I still remember the awe I felt when opening the door to the shop area, seeing solid blocks of foam the size of camper vans and saws large enough to cut them.
I told the guy in the shop who greeted me about my backpack project and the kind of foam I was looking for… something that would hold its shape, protect the contents, and be thin enough to be integrated into the liner itself.
He quickly grabbed a yellow legal pad from the small desk in the corner of the shop and started making diagrams. Despite the fact that I had been researching different types of foam for weeks online, I learned more about foam from him in 5 minutes.
I showed him my prototypes and got out my sketchbook to take notes.
There are two general categories of foam- open cell and closed. Open cell is most common and cheaper because a lot of the material is taken up by air. It’s great for many uses like couches but it’s spongy and can break down over time.
Pricing everything out, this would be one of the most expensive parts of the bag if I divided it out by how many we were going to make. I thought it was worth it but I would also essentially need to buy three times more than I needed.
It was pretty exciting to see my block of foam arrive at Bob’s. There was no way to know for sure whether the final cut parts would have the properties I wanted before we made our pieces, but it turned out to be even better than I expected. It slides right into the liner but maintains the shape. And since it’s closed cell you can also collapse it flat like in the bottom of a suitcase and then it’ll rebound to its normal shape.
When I worked as a UI designer, there were several times when I had the opportunity to design for entirely new hardware devices. During the process, we would usually have prototype versions of the devices at various forms of completion. These could cost in the tens of thousands of dollars per unit and there were a handful of times when someone on the team would accidentally have one one fall off of their desk onto the ground. “Drop test!” everyone would exclaim in a half-joking, half-panicked tone. Everyone would be very happy if it passed.
Water Test of the Slim Pack Commuter Backpack
Well, a backer recently had the accidental opportunity to put our waterproof commuter backpack, the Slim Pack, through its paces during a flight. As he described:
"Just wanted to send a quick thanks/kudos for the Slim Pack. As it turned out, I received mine the day before we left for a week-long vacation in Mexico.
I had already planned to bring my laptop, so naturally took the opportunity to try out the new pack. Used it as my carry-on, with laptop and some other supplies. What happened next was great. As the slimpack was stowed under the seat in front of me, the air pressure from the plane popped open the person's water bottle sitting in that seat. She didn't notice as it slowly leaked almost a liter of water out beside the seat, directly onto the slimpack.
When I eventually reached for it, I discovered that both it and another bag I had under the seat there were drenched. Everything inside the other bag (nothing important fortunately) was also soaked. Slimpack contents though, including my laptop, were bone dry. (The exterior dried off quickly too.)" -Nathan
In my testing, I can control certain variables such as water intensity and exposure time… but in the field, conditions are more realistic. So far with rain and now this in-flight water torture test, it’s shown to hold up really well in real world scenarios.
Another backer shared his experience:
"Dave, I received my backpack in the very first batch sent. It is incredible. It was put through its paces this weekend at the NAMM show in Anaheim CA during our crazy weather. It handled the rain with no problem, and for those not in CA, this was an exceptional amount of rain. I carried my DSLR and my iPad in it with no fear. Truly impressed with the comfort." -Sam
We’re making great progress on the backorders and they’re coming out great… looking forward to getting them in the hands of the rest of the backers!