They say inspiration comes from the unlikeliest places.
That is certainly true for Dirk Witte struck with an inspiring idea while lying on the beach in Danang. Alone on a hot, sunny day with the East Sea beckoning, Dirk realized he couldn’t fully enjoy a swim without constantly checking that his clothing and wallet were still where he left them on the beach. “If only I had some way to secure my valuables to one of the palm trees I could really relax,” he mused.
This led the security expert and his partner Luanne Nguyen to research available options for beachside security. What they found ranged from solid containers that worked fine on the beach but were impractical to carry, to steel-reinforced systems that were easy to carry but could result in injury if suddenly taken by force.
With over 10 years of experience in the security industry, Dirk decided to design his own practical yet attractive bag. The result of four years of design, planning, and testing is the Eazylock sling, a hip Kevlar bag with a unique locking system.
The first challenge was designing the locking mechanism. “As you do, I overcomplicated things in the beginning” he said of his initial idea of a retractable design. “But I soon found it was too bulky and impractical for a bag.”
Their ultimate solution was to use the sling strap itself. During normal use, three riveted holes provide a decorative touch to the sling bag’s strap. However, when the user needs to leave the bag for a while, the strap can be unclipped at its base, wound around a fixed structure, say a piece of furniture or even a palm tree, and one of the holes slots over a small but sturdy metal hub on the front of the bag. A lock of your choice or Dirk’s preferred Master combination lock, can be slipped through the hub above the strap to secure the bag firmly in place.
To prevent slash and grabs, the bag itself is made of Kevlar (the same textile used for bulletproof vests and body armor). While strong enough to stop a bullet, or, in this case, a bag slasher, it remains light and flexible for wearability. The Kevlar is covered by an outer PU film shell, which is both breathable and water resistant. The interior of the bag is fully lined and has useful pockets to hold and protect devices. There is even a pocket big enough to hold an 11-inch laptop.
The bag closes with a tamper-proof zip that has steel loops to fit over the hub. For extra protection, a large flap folds down over the zip. Like the strap, the flap has a riveted hole that slips over the hub on top of the steel loops. Finally, a lock holds everything in place keeping the valuables inside, out of the reach of opportunistic pickpockets.
The greatest challenge in producing the bag has been importing the Kevlar from China. Since the carbon fiber fabric has military uses, its import is subject to greater scrutiny and control than other textiles, which translates into a lot more paperwork and effort to get it into the country.
The central hub for the locking mechanism also proved difficult to produce locally as the quality of the metalwork ended up inconsistent. This is also sourced from a factory in China. However, the final manufacturing occurs in Vietnam.
The team used personal testing to determine if the bag design was practical and useful. A previous version of the bag was given a severe workout in the Dominican Republic where one of their friends and product testers used it for over a year to carry equipment on visits to job sites in remote jungle locations. The bag is reportedly still going strong.
At the moment it can be purchased for USD120 online at eazylock.com (along with retro combination locks for USD15). The idea is to gradually introduce it in markets like Vietnam and Spain where the safety features of the bag will be most appreciated. Other bag designs are under development like a saddlebag and a ladies’ bag for excursions around town. Of course, all this also means the next time Dirk and Luanne visit the beach, a friendly palm tree and their Eazylock will be all that’s needed. Who says you can’t buy peace of mind?
*Images by Neil Featherstone.