These backpacks are made from upcycled car seat belts & airbags

Airpaq upcycled bags
© Airpaq

Airpaq's one-of-a-kind rucksacks are putting used car safety components back to work to help protect and haul your gear.

Making products with renewable materials is an admirable green design ingredient, and incorporating recycled materials can be another step toward sustainability, but upcycling takes it to another level. Taking previously used materials and turning them into a new product using minimal amounts of processing and energy is a great approach to today's waste-laden culture, and with the Airpaq project, there's something poetic about converting lifesaving car parts into a bag meant to be carried while walking. They call it reinCARnation.

According to Airpaq's origin story, the founders of the venture took a visit to a scrapyard as a means for finding inspiration for a student project in 2015, and found a relatively untapped resource -- car airbags, seat belts, and seat belt buckles. Adrian Goosses and Michael Widmann built their first prototype out of these components "the same night," and have been working on the Airpaq concept ever since.

"We are Adrian and Michael, two good friends from different backgrounds with one shared vision: We are passionate about the idea of creating alternative uses for things that otherwise would end up in the trash. Our passion stems from two motives. First, we are convinced that sustainable actions such as upcycling/recycling are essential for our life on this planet. Second, we are fascinated by the charm and the singularity that products of upcycled nature exhibit. Our goal for Airpaq is to combine these motives by creating products that convince our customers both ecologically and aesthetically."

The bags, in keeping with the sustainability aspect of the project, are rather simple in design, with a single large compartment made from an airbag and accessible via a rolltop closure, with a car seat belt buckle securing the top. The inside of the main compartment includes separate areas for a tablet and laptop, plus smaller compartments for those little items that need to be secured, and the whole thing is lined with water repellent fabric. Seat belts form the straps of the backpack, which have some added padding on the shoulders, and a woven panel of seat belts is used for the back panel of the bag.

Because the materials are upcycled from various makes and models of cars, each Airpaq is slightly different, and includes material from two airbags, four seat belts, and a single buckle, which may vary by manufacturer. The bags measure 28 cm wide by 44 cm high by 15 cm deep (~11" x 17" x 6"), weigh in at 1.2 kg (~2.6 lb) empty, and have a volume of about 21 liters.

To launch the Airpaq bags, the founders have turned to Kickstarter, with a crowdfunding goal of raising at least €10,000 (which they quickly met and surpassed). Backers of the campaign at the €115 (~$131) level will be among the first to receive their upcycled car part rucksacks when they ship sometime in November of 2017. Learn more at Airpaq.

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