Annals of Bad Design: COS Lightweight Backpack + Our FIX

When we looked at images of the COS Lightweight Backpack online and read the product description we thought PERFECT. Just what we’re looking for:

Made from a lightweight technical fabric, this cotton-lined backpack has an all-over print and fastens using a magnet and wide drawstring. Multi-functional, it can also be worn as a tote bag using the two top handles.

We ordered one and the harsh realities set in.

When we loaded in the minimal stuff we carry in a day and put the backpack on, the magnetic fasteners held it closed for about 30 seconds. Then the bag sagged open, inviting anyone to reach in and grab our wallet, cellphone, shawl…

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

The drawstring works to only minimally draw in the bag; it gives it a nice slouchy look but definitely DOESN’T close it properly and is a pain in the neck.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

BAD DESIGN! Whoever designed the backpack attempted something we love: a lightweight bag that could morph from backpack to tote and take us through the many parts of our day. But it seems they failed to actually TEST their design out and see if the magnets would hold. COS prides itself on cool-looking, minimal design. We’re all for that, but it’s got to work; it’s fine as a tote but not as a backpack. We want BOTH, as advertised.

Annals of bad design cos tote

As ever when confronted with a problem, we tried to solve it. We spent a good half hour adding nice-looking bar magnets from our collection to the bag’s magnetic closure to see if they would hold the bag closed. NOT.

Then we wondered if we could sew loops onto one side of the backpack that would encircle the shoulder straps, thus keeping the bag closed when we wore it but easy to open when we wanted to. To test our idea out, we used our biggest silvery binder clips.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

We affixed the clips to one edge of the bag. Then we pinched the handle nearest the straps to separate them from the clip temporarily so we could enclose the straps (we also stretched the handles a bit wider with two pairs of plyers so that the straps wouldn’t narrow too much.)  We removed the outside handle on each clip for a cleaner look.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

 

We wore the backpack around for a couple of days and, sure enoug,h the clips held the bag closed and made it easy to open. Our next step will be to use some of the existing strap, which is too long, to fashion holders more visually-pleasing than the binder clips (We’ve just ordered a bunch of metal loops from a bag hardware company). Stay tuned for our backpack hack!

 

One Response to Annals of Bad Design: COS Lightweight Backpack + Our FIX

  1. ,Sheila 09.25.2014 at 3:58pm #

    Hi, just wanted to say I thought I was the only one thinking the COS backpack was a v bad design. Mine never stays closed,.. What I do is use the straps on top to pull it shut and then I knot those straps lightly to keep bag closed. I love COS products, but can’t believe that they didn’t test this out before producing it. Thanks for your tip.

Leave A Comment

Feeling Inspired?

If the Improvised Life is a source of creativity, inspiration, ideas and change in your daily life, please consider becoming a Friend with Benefits. A little bit goes a long way towards helping us publish fresh AD-FREE content each day.