A member of the SNEWS® testing crew says that when he was young his father showed him how to protect luggage and gear stowed on a roof rack or in the back of a truck. His father would meticulously lay out a weatherproof tarp, place the luggage, rolled sleeping bags, camping gear or whatever near the center of one half of the tarp. Then, by folding up the sides first, then folding over the top with the open end toward the back of the vehicle, he’d secure the load with some well-placed rope, straps and ties.
Worked well enough, but there were always drawbacks—flapping tarp fabric if you didn’t secure the load just right, small leaks and wet sleeping bags where rain often seeped in along the unsecured edges, and loads that had to be carried out of the garage and carefully placed on the car rack one by one. If only our tester’s dad had known about BigFoot—essentially a large weatherproof tarp that has heavy number 10 zippers along the sides.
Lay it flat. Then load it, fold it, zip it, tote it and secure it. Packing gear into a truck or onto a car never has been this easy. There’s no flapping fabric, thanks to heavy-duty, sewn-on straps and buckles that secure the load inside. And there are no unsecured open edges to encourage leaking as all the sides secure closed with easy-to-pull zipper sliders that lock together if desired. Padded handles can also be used as anchors to secure the bag on to a roof rack or inside a truck bed or small trailer.
The BigFoot bag comes in three sizes (small, 57 by 52 inches; medium, 86 by 72 inches; large, 118 by 96 inches) and several styles (a Cargo bag made from reinforced 18-ounce UV-treated vinyl; a Gear bag made from UV-treated 600 by 600 denier polyester with heavy vinyl coating; and a Yard bag manufactured from heavy-duty polypropylene.
We tested the medium-sized Gear bag over the course of a year, driving to and from destinations in driving rains, slushy snow, and sometimes very dusty conditions. In every case, the BigFoot Gear bag made loading so much simpler, even when packing unevenly sized boxes full of magazines and trade show booth materials along with personal luggage and gear. While it does take two people to heft a fully loaded BigFoot Gear bag into or onto a vehicle, it’s much easier to load up in a garage, and then transport the loaded bag a short distance to a nearby vehicle, than it is to carry multiple packages from one place to another, over and over again until packed. We’ve also used the Gear bag as a waterproof ground cloth. It’s clearly very durable and easy to clean—open it up, turn on the hose and wash off any accumulated dirt, mud, or spilled jam from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich incident.
A couple of caveats though. One, while the bag material is waterproof, and the zippers are covered with a weatherproof flat, a fully-loaded bag on the roof of a vehicle that is zipping along at 65 mph in a driving rain will develop a few interior damp spots—those zippers are not waterproof. In the back bed of a truck however, we had absolutely no leaks, even when the bag was sitting in a foot of wet slush for more than 12 hours. Also, be careful what you do load into a BigFoot. Even though we had two people to tote the bag, using nifty padded handles, it was very difficult to schlep what essentially became a giant gear burrito when the weight exceeded 100 pounds and our vehicle was more than a few steps away.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $45 for the small Gear bag up to $99 for the large – the Cargo bags run about $10 more per size.
For more information:www.bigfootbag.com