On my visit to the London Graphic Centre in Covent Garden before Christmas I spotted some unusual looking bags, made from recycled tarpaulins, displayed in the shape of a Christmas Tree. My interest was piqued and I decided to look into them further and discovered a fascinating story of how two brothers were looking for a robust and waterproof bag to hold their creative work and hit on the idea to reuse tarpaulins from trucks.
There are now over forty different models, with each bag unique and incredibly strong. With an overnight trip to Kufstein on the horizon and Christmas ahead of me, my own idea started to form and so during our Christmas shopping we ended up back at the London Graphic Centre. In my mind I thought I'd leave with a yellow or green bag, but it turned out I was wrong.
We left with this red and blue F251 Kowalski.
Not yellow. Or green. At all.
In the shop, this was the one that spoke to me.
My biggest concern was if it was practical for a short break.
And having travelled light on my recent trip to Kufstein and Munich, it was.
It was also much admired, and drew comments on just how light I was travelling. But with careful outfit planning, I had plenty of options.
I packed a pair of trousers, pyjamas, two long sleeved T-shirts, a vest top and cardigan, toiletries, my bag of liquids to get through airport security and a big wooly scarf to help combat the expected negative temperatures. I didn't pack a pair of shoes, because I didn't think I'd need them for two nights away, especially if it was that cold and with the information that heels weren't permitted in the fortress at Kufstein where we were dining.
I didn't realise it but packing our panniers back in the summer was good practice!
It's quite a clever design, apart from the tarpaulin I mean. Pushing the shoulder straps to the side frees the top opening, and then it does look a lot more like a (stylish) cycling pannier. On the Freitag website they say the bag is "automatically weatherproof and closed when on your back" and they're not wrong.
Inside there's a couple of smaller side pockets which came in handy for my passport and smaller items. It's a bit dark in there, but you get the gist.
And it's strong. I pushed it to the limits, adding more papers and paraphernalia for the return journey, like always seems to be the way. But it's tarpaulin, from trucks, it's made for hard work.
But I bet no one expected them to be recycled into something so stylish in their next life. There's plenty more colourways on the Freitag site, and a short video showing how the design works.
I think this has to be one of my most stylish Christmas presents ever, and over the coming year (and beyond) I'm hoping to put it to good use.
Gorgeous isn't it?