Picture of Duct Tape Messenger Bag + Hardware
This Instructable completely details the construction of a duct tape messenger bag. This includes the bag structure and hardware to make it useful. It can be made and ready to use within a few hours. No stitching is required. Other than the metal pieces used in the hardware, it is made completely with duct tape. Total construction time is about 2 hours, or so.

I have been using a prototype as often as practical for school and it has performed admirably--when not failing. It took a few weeks to recognize and repair most of the weaknesses and has operated stress free for most of the semester. It's also survived a couple of semi-rigorous bike rides.

This tutorial is based on the bag I've been using, but with important changes that will improve durability. Also, this is the most basic design I've made. Version 2 can be easily customized to suit the needs of the builder.

Here are pictures of the model currently in use (v2.2) and the one made for this instructable. Version 2.2 has taken some abuse and has underwent many, many repairs.

Don't let the 19 steps daunt you--making a messenger bag from scratch can become complex. I've attempted to simplify it, despite the many steps.
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isisthor2 months ago

Very useful(I haven't thought of making my own hardware)...

emtsevilla1 year ago

this is my favorite instructable ever. i remember seeing this for the first time when it got posted. didn't try it but i got the idea of covering notebooks with duct tape. :)) i might make one of these soon.

use some nice 357 gaffa and two layers would be enough for the main body. (one layer would hold more then enough but who likes being sticky. i'm thinking of making this bag withg affa
neumaics (author)  it_dont_work6 years ago
You're right: I noticed after making this instructable that the tape I was using could be considered thin, which meant more layers. Any tape thick enough should work. I think I'd still do 3 layers though for purely cosmetic reasons.
i'll see how mine turns out after two layers if it'll look better i'll do three still. i grabbed 150m of gaffa after i finished working a gig last night. i'm straying from your design abit for something simpler looking just for carrying cables and adapters for work.
neumaics (author)  it_dont_work6 years ago
Interesting. I'm curious to know how well it holds up to work usage. To be clear, I used three layers because a checkerboard pattern developed on my first piece of duct tape fabric. On that I used two layers, each with perpendicularly placed tape--which I didn't like. Then I tried two layers placed parallel, which I never completed because it seemed impossible not to make a mistake (and ruin a huge sheet of tape), though there would be no checked pattern when finished. If you don't mind that checkerboard pattern, or have the skill to place two layers parallel, then there ought to be no problem with two layers.
worked great been suing the bag for 2-3 years now, currently just sits in the back of my 4wd for recoverie gear and gets slung over the snatch strap. looks abit scrappy without the third layer of tape but help up fine! thanks for the idea
Willow173 years ago
ya my first attempt at this cam out a little crooked but i know what went wrong. but sadly now i'm out of duct tape T_T

oh and ya i used like 3 different colors cause i was running low, its unfinished
ilpug3 years ago
I am planning on doing this, but with Gorilla tape. Amazing project!
Appollo645 years ago
How did you make the side pockets?
neumaics (author)  Appollo645 years ago
It's somewhat complicated. Though, basically, it's a mini version of the main compartment.

If you adapt the process for making the primary compartment, you'll find they're easy to make. I just made a box that's 2 widths of tape wide and tall and 1/2 a tape width deep, not including the flap. The strap wraps all the way around the box and clasps closed with a buckle.

The box is taped securely onto the side and "cleaned up."

I hope that explanation was adequate, though I'm afraid I'll have to update the instructions for it to be clear.
Thanks, that really helps!
Appollo645 years ago
Thanks, the diagrams really help. Great instructable!!
_chink_5 years ago
this bag looks fantastic. I think that if I (god forbid) attempt it, because I know I'd love to if only I had the time, I would look at building the main sheet of duct tape in the overlap method, and trimming the piece down to size. I guess the finished sheet would not be as pretty as yours, but I think it would be a hell of a lot easier.

big thumbs up for the design
typhoid5 years ago
That cutting board looks like none of the heavy green mats I've seen before - flexible enough to fold over a table, and that large? Is it a special roll of cutting area or grid? We don't have Home Depot in the UK, but perhaps I could find something similar. Could you describe what it is exactly, please?
neumaics (author)  typhoid5 years ago
The cutting board is made out of corrugated fiberboard and was actually purchased at a sewing supply shop.  The grid is printed directly onto the paper and is 1in x 1in, it also has several lines at 45 degrees to align the fabric's bias.

It seems to be standard as far as cardboard cutting boards go, for I've seen them in a variety of sewing supply stores (branded and priced differently, of course).

Apologies for the late response.

I've actually made my own bag, and have been using it for a few months and it works great. When i get the time i will try to post a pic of it, but just so you know it is a bit worn now.
First want to say that this is a great bag and plan to make one myself, I just have a few questions first. In this instructable, what are the dimensions of the finished bag? Also approximately how much did this set you back? Thank you.
neumaics (author)  BATTLESTAR9996 years ago
This bag should have dimensions of about 3.76in x 11.28in x 9.40in when finished. I used widths of tape as a basis of measurement, so that equates to 2 x 6 x 5 widths of tape segments. That should be easy to change if you wanted to do so.

Using unit prices for the components, it cost around $12.50USD to make at the time, which doesn't include labor, by the way.

Also, thanks :).
well, instead of buying some components, using this around the house(clothes hanger, cardboard, ect) as substitutes i can build it for $3.21
Aggrieved6 years ago
with the gunk-on-scissors issue, generally a substance like eucalyptus oil or any kind of goo remover will work, just make sure no goo remover touches the plastic on your scissors as some removers will melt this
neumaics (author)  Aggrieved6 years ago
Interesting. Now I feel silly. Thanks, I'll have to keep that in mind next time. Also, I've updated the instructable, giving credit of course.
KrazyKow6 years ago
How do you tell how long your duct tape roll is? Mine doesn't say so on the cover thingy.
neumaics (author)  KrazyKow6 years ago
Hmm... If it doesn't say on the cover, it ought to say on the display where you bought it.
tengaman6 years ago
hey man i have a way for ppl that dont have mad duct tape skills instead of the layers just do 1 and 4 and put paper in the middle
neumaics (author)  tengaman6 years ago
I used a similar method with my first bag (I instead used some type of bubble insulation). It got me thinking, though. At what point does it get called a duct tape bag? At what point does it become a paper/cardboard/foam bag with duct tape coating? To avoid those questions altogether, I decided that this one wouldn't have any fabric structure material other than duct tape (unless necessary i.e. the ruler). It's really a minor distinction, which probably will make no difference in the grand scheme. For future revisions, I agree, layers of other material would make it easier. I'm thinking about using thin packaging foam sheets for my next one. When you make it, I'd like to see it. Especially with the modified dimensions and buckle.
actuly now that i think of it i have an easier way for people like m who cant use duct tape well put layers 3 and 4 together before puting them on the bag and its easier infact you could put layers 2,3,4,and 5 together and then add them to the first layer its easier but more complicated well its all on perspective isnt it?
thanks for the encouragement and i will try to make soon but im having some thoughts on how to make the layers a bit more efficient if i can because of how much duct tape if i think of anything ill post it
tengaman6 years ago
hey man i wanna make but i gotta head to store i modified to 12 by 12 by 6 and i made a mini that was basicly paper coated with duct tape lol
btw i love the design and i have a new buckle
Phocian6 years ago
I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm genuinely curious: why use duct tape to make any kind of clothing or equipment? I admit a lot of the duct tape stuff on this website has obviously taken time and thought and dedication to build but why? The stuff is cheesy-looking and, frankly, ugly.
neumaics (author)  Phocian6 years ago
Interesting question. Unfortunately, though, this probably falls into the old "if you have to ask, you'll probably never understand" situation. Despite that, I'll try to explain for me, at least. Basically put, the idea is taking something that is useful and making it more useful, in (mostly) unexpected ways--there is a certain silliness in seeing something typically used for quick repairs being used as a personal accessory. Also, there is joy in taking something that is not necessarily amenable for use in anything other than repairs, then designing around its shortcomings, while taking advantage of its strengths. Admittedly, it doesn't make the best material to make a messenger bag, but to say that that is the only consideration would be missing the point. I won't address your last sentence, though... 'eye of the beholder' and all that.
excellent instructable, good pictures, thorough explanation, and a great idea. five stars, and favourited. cant wait to make one.
neumaics (author)  mynameisjonas6 years ago
As always, I'm interested to see it when you make it. Seriously. As always... again... thanks.
mariome1016 years ago
i think i might use this as a laptop bag... that is if i can get the duct tape
neumaics (author)  mariome1016 years ago
Obtaining the duct tape really ought to be the easiest step... Side note: v1.0 functioned as a laptop case, but had a few major flaws. Needless to say, it was made obsolete, quickly, by v2.
mariome1016 years ago
Oh one more thing, I like smiles. . . ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? I don't know what i am saying but ... I LIKE PIE!
neumaics (author) 6 years ago
I added a couple of pouches to the side. I'm not sure how useful they'll be, so I'll refrain from updating the Instructable.
static6 years ago
... :)
the_keiser6 years ago
I wish I could favorite it more then once. This is wicked!
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