Crowdsourced Designs: Creating the New GRIT Trail Bags

Editor's Note

Over the last few months you may have noticed that GRIT's product offerings have expanded to include a wider variety of accessories, including Trail Handles, Buddy Handles, Anti-tip bars, city wheels, and active hands grip gloves.  This week, we're excited to announce the addition of an addition accessory: GRIT Trail Bags, designed specifically for the Freedom Chair's extended front wheel base.  

Every accessory available for sale from the GRIT online store has been developed for the same reason: customers reached out to us with questions, concerns, or requests for solutions to specific problems.  So you see, every accessory we offer has been the focus of a great deal of time and discussion, and eventual pride.  

With all that in mind, today we are extra excited to announce the addition of our GRIT Trail Bags, our first accessory that was developed by a GRIT Freedom Chair rider, for GRIT Freedom Chair riders.  We asked Nerissa to write about how she went about developing these little beauties, and she was kind enough to agree.  Read on to learn how these convenient carry alls came to be.

By Nerissa Dawn Cannon

The first thing anyone wants to do when they get a new piece of gear or equipment is customize it! It makes it personal, and somehow more fun! This is why so many companies have accessories for what products they offer. But what happens when you find you need a certain accessory that is not yet offered? Simple: you make it yourself!

When I received the GRIT Freedom Chair, I immediately began envisioning multi-day, distance hikes with it! I have an adventurous spirit, what can I say! While I knew I could strap a backpack to the back of the chair, I became aware of a couple challenges that might pose.

First of all, more weight on the back of the chair increases tipping potential. Not generally a problem in the concrete jungle, but the types of trails I was planning to hike had inclines that would increase this risk. The last thing you want to do is flip onto your head in the middle of the wilderness! Next, I found that in order to access a pack on the back of my chair, I needed to either have the strength to remove it every time I need something, or I need to have a VERY flexible trunk to twist around each time. Being as I have a variable disability, I don’t always have the strength or flexibility for either of these solutions. Then I realized that others using the Freedom Chair might have encountered a similar scenario, so I set about a solution.

I wanted a way to hold as much gear as possible on the front of the chair. I thought a type of bag would be the obvious solution. However, it couldn’t obstruct the movement of the freewheel; it couldn’t interfere with transferring into the chair; it couldn’t slide around as the chair bounced over rough terrain; it had to be durable enough to handle getting scraped by trees and bushes, as well as protecting contents whilst going through all sorts of weather. So, I set about my prototype!

I thought about adapting a bicycle gear bag, but by the time I made the modifications to be most useful on the Freedom Chair I figured I could have started from scratch and made it even better, so that’s what I did! I used my Service Dog’s backpack as an inspiration. I decided top closure would be easiest for people with limited dexterity. I built the main body out of 1000 Denier Cordura nylon. The part that touched the arm of the Freedom Chair was a non-slip backing (an idea I got from dog boots!). I figured I love lots of pockets, so I made one main pocket large enough to hold a 1 liter platypus-style bottle, and a smaller zipper pocket for small accessories. The zippers were all specially ordered waterproof zippers. I also added 3 adjustable straps all along the top to hold extra items that are too bulky to fit in the pockets, and also to act as a backup in case one closure on the bag fails; this way you won’t lose your bag on the trail!

I was pretty pleased with the first prototype! I really enjoy having things right at my feet, and easy to grab. I LOVE how I can strap my dog’s floating water toy to the outside of it and it air dries without getting the contents in the bag wet at all! Nevertheless, I wanted to make a few changes to it! Luckily, some of my fellow GRIT Trailblazers were interested and allowed me to try out the 2nd version on them! I made the smaller pocket slightly larger so you could put a full wallet in it, and I changed to 500 Denier Cordura Nylon (same durability, but slightly more flexible, and lighter in weight). So, far the feedback has been extremely positive from both Trailblazers who have been trying it out!

I was very excited that GRIT decided to offer my bags to other riders! However, in order to keep costs down, we made some slight changes, which brings us to version #3! We eliminated the second pocket due to the cost of the special waterproof zippers, but instead replaced it with an interior strip of elastic. It has 4 compartments for small items you want to keep easily accessible. Since the second pocket was eliminated, there was plenty of space to add reflective stripping for visibility! It’s a great feature for added safety in low-light conditions!

It has been a pleasure working with the GRIT team and seeing this project grow and evolve. I don’t see that design is ever done. Everyone’s needs are different, and maybe one person could inspire design that will make things even better!

Do you have an idea for a GRIT Freedom Chair accessory? Tell us in the comment section below, and don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get stories, offers and updates straight to  your inbox! 

The GRIT Freedom Chair is the most versatile chair on the market, designed from the ground up to handle any terrain. From trails to grass to snow, the Freedom Chair is built for you to push yourself. Born out of research at MIT, the Freedom Chair's patented easy-push levers reduce shoulder strain and put you in control of your mobility. Ready to hit the trails? Learn more about the GRIT Freedom Chair at