Sailcloth Bags by SailFast

They're just your average sailcloth bags, but somehow they're just right. "Gear Up" from our August 10, 2010, SW eNewsletter

Sailing World
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With its new line of sailcloth bags, SailFast has a size to suit your racing needs.Courtesy SailFast

The fact that SailFast donates 10 percent of its profits to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society means you can feel good about buying stuff from this Connecticut company. The fact that they make good stuff is another reason to feel good about buying it.

I took a pair of SailFast's new sailcloth bags—the duffle and the backpack—with me on a recent road trip to Buffalo for the Lake Yacht Racing Association's annual regatta, about which I'm writing for our October issue. Basically, I lived out of the trunk of my Buick for a week, and the SailFast bags came along for the ride. The duffle was just the right size for the Freeman Cup, the regatta's overnight race. I packed my PFD and foul-weater gear in the large main compartment, and the side compartments had plenty of space for accessories. There's nothing revolutionary about the duffle, but it's well made—from North Sails' Kevlar/Mylar scraps—and it's just the right size for those outings when you need to bring a fair amount of gear and you want to keep it all organized.

The backpack, meanwhile, is perfect for day racing. It's small enough not to raise any eyebrows when you bring it aboard, but it packs a lot of functionality into a slim profile. There's a main compartment with key clip, an organizer pocket with zippered mesh compartment, elastic webbing for attaching wet or oversize gear to the outside of the pack, generously padded back panel and shoulder straps, and a waterproof compartment, which draws my only criticism: too small for anything but a pair of soggy gloves.

Lately, a lot of the backpacks I see incorporate some type of storm flap over the main zipper. This helps keep the bag dry inside, but it's also a source of frustration, as the flap tends to get stuck in the path of the zipper. The SailFast backpack has a storm flap, but it's user-friendly. Simply fold the flap back, and it stays there, not to interfere with the zipper. These are the kind of mundane details that have helped the SailFast bags win me over. On the one hand, they're just bags made out of sailcloth. Nothing we haven't seen before. On the other hand, they work really well, better than expected, in fact: In Buffalo, my SailFast duffle—with my last clean pair of boxers, my wallet, my cell phone, and the Sailing World camera inside—fell into the drink. It only stayed there for an instant, but in that instant the bag achieved total submersion. I snatched it up and tugged at the zipper, expecting to see my belongings floating in a watery grave. Not the case. Everything was dry as a bone. Disaster averted. Road trip saved. Thanks, SailFast!

Duffle: $95, Backpack: $60, www.isailfast.com