Introduction: Customizable Aluminium Grid Organizer Backpack Insert

An organizer for your backpack (or other) that holds all your gadgets. The base is a perforated aluminium plate. The items are held in place with elastic paracord loops. The loops of cord can be easily customized to suit different size objects.

Advantages over other organizers:

- Fully customizable

- Items are much more densly packed together than eg. 'Grid-it'

- The aluminium looks much cooler

Step 1: What You Need

- Aluminium board with pre-drilled holes

- Some cardboard or paper

- Elastic paracord (2mm)

- Hair pins

- Tools: Utility knife, scissors, cutting pliers, small iron file, marker, ruler, sand paper

Step 2: Cut a Same Size Cardboard As Your Aluminium Plate

If the aluminium base plate doesn't fit in your bag, it must be trimmed down. I made it fit the front compartment of my bag exactly.

The aluminium is difficult to cut. So I first tweak a piece of cardboard to have the correct shape, and then transfer that to the aluminium, so it can be cut to the right shape in 1 go.

So first cut out a piece of cardboard the same size as your aluminium plate.

Step 3: Tweak the Cardboard to Fit in Bag Compartment

The cardboard (or paper) has the same size as the aluminium plate. It can be manipulated easlily to give it the desired shape.

Because the bag is symmetrical wrt the middle line, I want the insert to be symmetrical too. So I make a shallow cut through the middle of the cardboard to create a fold line, and fold it in two along that line.

Now if I cut away a piece from the edge, the cut will appear symmetrically on both sides of the board.

So I just trim it down this way, until it fits.

Step 4: Trim the Aluminium Plate

Now the cardboard has the correct shap, I trace that onto the aluminium plate.

Then trim the aluminium. This plate was thin enough to cut with scissors. If you have a thicker plate, you might need to use a jigsaw.

The cut edges are rather sharp, so I sand them down a bit.

Step 5: Wrap Around the Elastic Cord

Now wrap around the elastic cord in evenly spaced loops. The cord needs to be wrapped around in the VERTICAL direction. This will prevent items from slipping out of the loops.

So first tie the cord down at one of the bottom corners.

Then start making the loops. Apply some tension, but not much. Just enough to hold the loops in place.

If your plate has rounded edges, it may be necessary to make a small notch here and there, so the cord doesn't slip away over the rounded edge. I did this using cutting pliers. I filed down the sharp edge with a small iron file.

After wrapping around the last loop, tie down again. Finished result is shown in the last image. Advantage of this way of making the loops is that they can be slided around a bit, if necessary.

Step 6: Create a Custom Size Elastic Loop to Hold Your Item

To do this, lay down the items you want to put in a single loop in the desired spot. Put the items under the cord.

To create the loop, put a hair pin over the cord and pull it through the hole from the back side. Pull along the cord until it emerges on the back side. Then slide the cord back to the middle of the hair pin to fix both into place. You now have a custom size fixed loop to put in your item !

You can adjust the tightness of the loop a bit, by pulling the cord through back or forth.

Step 7: Adding More Items

When adding more items to the grid, I like to start the next loop just under the items that are already in place. This way, all items will be stacked right next to eachother, leaving no space inbetween them.This way the items will be much more densly packed than in some other commercially available grid organizers. :)

Also when closing a loop, I like to use a hole that is just under the object I want to attatch, again, to save space.

Step 8: Slide Around the Cord When Necessary

To be able to center the loop around an object, you can just slide the cord to the left or right a bit.

Step 9: Finished Grid, Slide in Your Bag

The finished result looks like this, ready to slide into the backpack. Note that for this to work well, you need a backpack with a flat compartment that fully opens. I have an inexpensive puma backpack that has this.

The last two images show this bag. It opens from the top alsmost to the bottom. The compartment is pretty much useless as is :), but is perfect for this kind of insert. The insert I made for this one has transparent elastic nylon thread instead of the paracord. Looks a bit less cluttered, but the nylon is a bit less springy than the para cord...