Every now and then, someone will ask why we still use the old-fashioned 'laced grommet' system for our seabag closures; Meanwhile the shelves of modern outfitting shops are filled with bags that use a more contemporary approach.
It's really a question of durability... and it might help explain why many of the seabags that were built 50, 60 or even a hundred years ago are still around and functional, whereas it is extremely difficult to find a more recently constructed bag that will live to be 5 or maybe 10 years old.
What... no velcro?
The marine environment is a harsh mistress, and what works on land doesn't always translate well to a life at sea. If durability is a concern (and it is for us) then the use of hook and loop (velcro) fasteners is something to be avoided on a ditty or seabag. Here are a few reasons:
- Velcro loses its grip when wet. It also loses its strength over time and with use... each time it is pulled apart it becomes a little less 'grippy'. It also picks up "fuzzies" that have to be picked out by hand
- Velcro makes a loud ripping noise when it's opened, which can be undesirable in certain situations. For example opening your bag during an overnight passage while the off-watch is trying to catch some sleep.
- Velcro is made of nylon, which does not hold up well to ozone, aging, or strong UV sunlight.
We feel the same way about zippers and snaps:
- Zippers don't offer consistent, long lasting performance in a saltwater / high intensity UV environment. Even a high quality nylon or brass zipper is only as good as the fabric tape that it's mounted to. Zippers are a 'wear item' that has to be replaced every so often.
- If a seabag is packed full, snaps can deform to become either 'too tight' or 'too loose', and zippers are vulnerable to stretched teeth.
- In the event of a complete snap or zipper failure, a bag is rendered useless until it can be fixed or replaced
One of the better developments for bag closures might be the snap-buckle (sometimes called a tri-glide buckle), similar to the type used for fastening life preserver belts. However, even the snap buckle is made of nylon which deteriorates with constant exposure to the sun and sea. When they break, it's usually without warning until you have a handful of broken plastic or worse - a bag which has opened itself and spilled your valuable gear when you least expected it. Also -
- Snap buckles usually need to be fitted in sets of 2 or 3, if they are to provide adequate security to the closure. This slows everything down and makes getting in and out of the bag a little too cumbersome for everyday use
- They are not self-adjusting - which is why they are almost always fitted to a section of webbing that can allow some further tensioning
- If a bag is overstuffed (which does happen occasionally), these buckles will deform - which changes the way they perform
The old-fashioned rope lanyard closure:
So as it turns out, the old-timers were on to something when they relied upon a simple rope lanyard for closing their ditty bags and seabags. We did not invent this concept - we simply revived it, and then added a solid copper slider that locks the rope lanyard in place. Here's the result:
- Our New England Rope lanyards are rated to #2000 lbs breaking strength
- Since their are no fasteners, there is no 'point-loading.' Stresses are evenly distributed throughout the entire bag.
- Each spur grommet is constructed of solid brass, and able to withstand a minimum of #200 lbs of torque... each. There are 8 grommets in the upper band of each bag, plus 2 grommets at the lower attachment point. Even so, these grommets are not actual load-points... they are fairleads through which the rope lanyard is passed, as the entire rope squeezes down on the upper band
- The rope lanyard closes the bag silently and automatically, every time you pick it up. It is totally self-adjusting and the more weight that's inside the bag, the better it works.
- When there's little or no weight inside the bag, it can still be securely closed by pulling the rope tight then sliding the copper slider into place. With the slider in place, the bag is now completely secure regardless of its orientation (right side up, sideways, upside down, etc)
- Our rope lanyards are actually over 12' long - which makes them fully adjustable from 0 to 6 feet, and allowing total customization on the go. Fits all body types and sizes
- The rope lanyard doubles as a carry strap, and allows the bag to be carried or worn in at least 5 different positions* including over the shoulder, cross-body, as a duffel bag, as a tote bag, and as a backpack (*3 positions on the Elite)
- On bags which are featured with a Monkey's Fist knot, the purpose of this convenience is to keep the lanyard evenly 'centered' at all times whether you're opening or closing the bag.
Thanks for joining the discussion! If you have questions or comments, we'd like to hear from you. Drop us a line here, or -