Manufacturing a Disc Golf Pannier Bag
This is a follow-up to a previous post: Prototyping a Disc Golf Pannier Bag.
I’ve never built a physical product before. I’ve always focused on building digital things. Digital products have always been my comfort zone, and creating anything physical has always scared me — with good reason. Warehouses, upfront costs, shipping — I’m in a cold sweat just thinking about it. Despite all of that, I am in love with the idea of a genuine disc golf pannier bag. Living in Vancouver, our disc golf courses have bike racks that are always full in the evenings. All my best projects have always been things I needed; this is no exception.
I first Google “how to manufacture a backpack”. It’s not a joke when software developers talk about Google being one of the most important tools they use at work.
There’s a vast spectrum of options out there. Sites like Alibaba that focus on discovering Asian manufacturing facilities (cheap), large companies that offer minor customizations (I.E., adding logos and color customization) to existing bags (pricey), and lots of smaller boutique firms that provide complete design processes (steep).
I did not want to invest the considerable amount of capital it would take to do the design process with a serious (and expensive) firm, so I went the Alibaba route. First, I looked through all of the vendors that offer disc golf bags and customization and reached out to a few of them.
My biggest priorities were finding someone who was easy to work with, would build a few rounds of prototypes, and had a low minimum order quantity if I decided to move forward with a complete order.
The side effect of working with an Alibaba-sourced manufacturing facility is that the design project is not very involved. It consisted of WhatsApp conversations and images being sent back and forth with the markup on top of them. No 3D renders or design files here. This was not what I expected when I fantasized about designing my disc golf pannier bag!
After some back and forth we figured out the details. We started with a base disc golf bag design, making it longer to accommodate the pannier mount. Next, we tweaked the pouches on the side and added a water bottle holder. Finally, I took some final images back and forth to confirm everyone understood, then the payment was made, and I just had to wait for it to arrive in the mail.
After waiting for a month, it arrived in the mail! I had just returned from traveling, which was the most exciting item in my mailbox. So I filled it up and took it out for a spin — and my first round of disc golf in a few weeks.
It worked precisely as envisioned! Which is, well, exactly how the prototype worked. It fit a decent number of discs, mounted to my bike correctly, and looked great.
Then the failure. It only took a few weeks of regular use before the bag started falling apart. The weight of the discs and the pannier mount to the bag just wasn’t up to the job. Sadly I’ve had to rip the pannier mount off, and it’s now used for storing extra discs in my closet.
I will also not move forward with manufacturing a disc golf bag this way. I am not interested in working with companies that create cheap, shoddy knockoffs. If I ever pursue this again, I want to find some high-quality manufacturing facilities that will make a product that will last a lifetime, not just a few uses.
I’ve always had over-the-shoulder bags, but after doing some user research, I found that most players biking to disc golf use larger backpacks that carry many more discs. So I’ve bought myself a backpack bag to try and started exploring the other backpack bags. Trying to find the design features I love — and those I don’t like.
I don’t think I have the time, energy, or motivation to pursue developing a disc golf pannier further right now. It’s too much work, and it’s just not something I have enough expertise to follow on my own.
Is developing a disc golf pannier bag something that gets you excited about it and interested in collaborating? Please reach out!
Part of my 2022 Year of ProjectsThis post is part of my 2022 Year of Projects! You can read about the project or check out the other posts below.
- January - A Crypto Skeptic makes an NFT
- February - Building a Ski Resort API
- March - Prototyping a Disc Golf Pannier Bag
- April - Unlimited Sparkling Water from the Tap
- May - Scraping Last Minute Film Festival Tickets
- June - Adding YouTube Subscriptions to Plex
- July - Adding Post Thumbnails and Having Fun with DALL-E 2
- August - BCFlights - A Regional Flight Search Engine for British Columbia
- September - Manufacturing a Disc Golf Pannier Bag
- October - Disc Dispatch — Disc Golf Event Newsletter