Industry

Carry Geeking :: Fidlock Buckles

by , June 25, 2013

Bags can be made or messed up with their opening method. If it’s an awkward zip angle, a distractingly loud velcro rip, or a cheap and nasty plastic ‘snap’, it’s a lot harder to fall in love with the bag that doesn’t open and shut elegantly.

So why are so many bags still closed with cheap plastic buckles? These things need to be guided in precisely, they can pinch skin on closure and on release, and they generally look cheap and like an afterthought (even though they’re very prominent in front dead centre on the bag).

We’ve mentioned Fidlock buckles before for their really clever use of magnets to guide the buckle together. In fact, we’ve spent countless hours fidgeting with their samples as we preoccupied ourselves with all sorts of other thoughts. But since Timbuk2 gave us a pair of their Especial messengers to test (more on that in coming weeks), we’ve been able to live with the Fidlocks day to day.

Let us say it on record: These things are game-changers.

Imagine a buckle you can use one-handed, without looking, without loud noises or uncomfortable pinching. The buckle finds its own way shut, it looks neat, and it won’t break the first time you step on it. These Fidlocks are every bit that good, and we’re crazy geek stoked on the things.

A quick summary of their awesome sauce:

  • They look less ‘expressive’ or mechanical, so they can blend in better with your design.

  • The benefits of one-handed and blindfolded operation cannot be undersold. There is no pre-alignment needed, so you can just get about your tasks without interrupting your flow.

  • You don’t have to line your own hand up to get enough force to push in just the right way to open them. Whatever angle your hand approaches on, a light sideways movement and you have them unclipped. Despite this ease, they don’t find their own way open.

They can do all this because the release direction is different to the hold direction (they resist force longitudinally, but release laterally). That’s just good engineering principles.

Downfalls? There are always some…

  • The buckles need some explanation because they’re not immediately obvious how to use. At the moment, this is being done with some cheap stickers. It does mean you might have a confused customer or two if there’s no one to explain.

  • Their range is nowhere near as filled out as most buckle ranges. That means you can’t find every size in every color.

  • They’re not cheap. The really good stuff rarely is.

  • And there might be some niggles with age or certain temperatures or certain situations. We just don’t know, as you never know with new innovations.

But given all that, we still think Fidlock is going to make a big impression in the world of buckles. Messengers in particular, but also camera bags, utility carry, and all sorts of quick-access bags can all increase their value proposition with these guys. We hope they become something more of a norm.

Well done, Fidlock, and thanks Timbuk2 for specifying them!

  • Brian

    I’ve used these on bicycle helmets by Lazer before, and they work phenomenally. Quiet, easy, one-handed… just so slick. Huzzah.

    • Ando

      It’s funny, I saw some footage of a world tour triathlon recently, and they were all fiddling with their helmet buckles and I was like “Dang, you could save 3 seconds with a Fidlock!”

      Haha, yep, micro time savings to be had everywhere…

  • Scott

    Do you like these better than say the arkiv system at mission workshop ?

    • Ando

      They’re different. The Arkiv feel a touch more bling, the Fidlocks a touch more humble.

      But they both achieve an interesting and engaging motion, which you enjoy doing. In lots of ways, the elastic resistance of the Arkiv straps feels similar to that magnetic pull of the Fidlocks, and so you enjoy using both.

      Because of their weight, the Arkivs can bang around a bit when open, but then the Fidlocks don’t feel as dressed up.

      Haha, I think I like them both, and I certainly like them both lots more than most closures.

  • http://www.fidlock.com Christian Schoene, MD Sales and Marketing at Fidlock

    Dear Ando,

    Many thanks for the positive blog about Fidlock. I am delighted to hear that you enjoy using our products. We have had tremendous feedback so far from the market, and most customers who start working with us are building their order flow. Please allow me to address the downfalls mentioned in your blog.

    • The buckles need some explanation because they’re not immediately obvious how to use. At the moment, this is being done with some cheap stickers.
    >>>Christian: We do offer hiqh quality prints or laser engraving on the buckles instead of stickers and provide all our customers with standard hangtags to show how the buckles work. Prints and hangtags are included in the price.

    • Their range is nowhere near as filled out as most buckle ranges. That means you can’t find every size in every color.
    >>>Christian: All our products can be made in a large variety of different colours and if a customer is keen to get any other sizes than the ones available we are happy to discuss opening a new mould. Moreover we offer fully customized products following the design proposals from our customers and integrating the Fidlock technology

    • And there might be some niggles with age or certain temperatures or certain situations. We just don’t know, as you never know with new innovations.
    >>>Christian: The standard magnets we use can stand temperatures up to 80 degress Celsius, but we can use an enhanced magnet which is tested to 180 degrees Celsius. To date we have not had any bad experience in cold weather.

    The link to download our catalogue can be found here http://download.fidlock.com/Fidlock_Catalogue.pdf

    If you would like to contact us directly please call us on +49 511 33859310 or e-mail my colleague Kerstin Leonhard directly at Kerstin.Leonhard@fidlock.com

    With best regards
    Christian

    • http://www.carryology.com/ ando

      Thanks for the response Christian. Your points certainly help in mitigating any concerns with the buckles.

      Good luck with it all.

  • Asa

    When will you review the actual Timbuk2 Especial Messenger bag, and not just write about the Fidlock Buckles that they use?!

    • http://www.carryology.com/ ando

      Really soon actually.

      Within 2 weeks.

  • Aaron

    Is there anyway I can buy this from a store?I would love to replace my Rummy’s buckles with these badboys!

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