sreda, 26. oktober 2011

A HEMA bag

Ever been a bit baffled by getting all the necessary equipment to your HEMA training?
How and where to pack everything in hope of a smooth-as-possible trip, especially if there is no car to throw the stuff all over the backseats or in the boot?

In does not take long for one to start accumulating large quantities of HEMA equipment. Your mask, gloves, protection for knees and elbows and a gambeson or equivalent (those are merely the basic items) make a substantial heap.
To that one adds the shoes, training clothes and a bottle of water.

Furthermore, there are also the weapons one practices with. For example, I practice with a longsword, a dagger, an early rapier, a sabre and a baton.

Taking all of the above to the gym can prove quite a logistical project. True, I can make it a bit easier by taking only the necessary items (I do not need the sabre in my longsword class).
Things turn a bit trickier when I travel to a HEMA gathering or a seminar, where I want to attend workshops of not necessarily the same weapon.

Until now, each one of us tried to come up with a solution in forms of various sport bags and similar. Top choices are fishing bags, fencing bags, hunting bags, skiing bags and those for golf clubs.
There were some who had specially designed bags made; however, those have not met all our needs.

In early 2011, few individuals from Academia artis dimicatoriae (AAD) led by Matej Smrekar took on the task of creating a bag which would answer to our needs regarding the transport of HEMA equipment.

The group collected suggestions and articulated them in the following list:
- all items must be safely stored and fixed in their place; the items must not shift during transport
- the bag should provide adequate protection to its content regardless of the means of transportation (travelling by airplane was particularly emphasised here)
- maintenance of the bag should be easy and not complicated
- it should be easy to lock
- the bag should not take up a lot of space when not in use
- it should last for a number of years with proper use and care
- the price must be reasonable

The basic design of the bag has been present in the market for a while.
The bag measures approx. 150 cm in length, thus safely accommodating even the longer blades (my longsword measures 140 cm in total).
The bottom of the bag measures 35x25 cm which provides enough room for training shoes and the mask.
Approximately in the middle along the length the bag narrows into its tip (15x12 cm).
The sides are additionally strengthened for extra protection during transport. Furthermore, the additional protection prevents the bag to fold in when weapons are strapped onto the sides.
The volume of the bag allows a gambeson to be stored, as well as all necessary protection kit.

The bag can zip open along its entire length, a feature that makes packing the gear refreshingly easier. The zipper can be secured by a padlock.

In addition to strong handles, the bag has a strap that enabled it to be carried on one's back.
The handles and the strap are detachable.

The first version of the prototype was completed in time for testing at the HEMAC Dijon 2011. Some room for improvement was noticed and the second version of the prototype made ready for my trip to FightCamp 2011 (by car) and Bilbao Armata 2011 (by plane).

At FightCamp, I was comfortable by leaving the bag either in the car or out in the open. Neither the bag or its content were affected by the weight of other luggage, the transport and a bit of dragging on the floor, as well as both the sun and rain. Naturally, I did not leave the bag to the mercy of any outpour of rain, but it did withstand a decent shower and some drizzle. Dust and dirt were afterwards simply removed by a cloth.

The bag costs €150, which I find reasonable for the service provided. In my opinion, the bag answers to safety and pragmatical requirements of HEMA equipment during transport. I find a modern design a particularly neat cherry on top.

Given my experience so far, the bag is exactly what the doctor ordered.

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