Introduction: Drawstring Backpack to Camping Organizers

Hi y'all, welcome to my first Instructable!

We're going to make something useful out of the free drawstring bags that you get at tradeshows and internship fairs. You know, the cheap kind that you get as swag. At the end of this Instructable, you should have a nice drawstring organizer that should help you keep your clothes and other things clean and protected while on a camping trip!


- A Drawstring Bag (preferably free)

- A Pair of Scissors (something to cut the strings to length)

- A Lighter (something to melt the ends of synthetic string)

- A Stiff Wire (something to pull the strings through the bag)


- A Length of Paracord (550 or 325 lb test will work)

Step 1: Find a Drawstring Bag

The best places to find these drawstring bags for free are internship/job fairs, recruitment events, tradeshows, and the like. Usually they are handed out as marketing material, and while they're great while you're at the event, they really don't have much use once the event is over. So today, we will turn them into something useful!

Step 2: Remove the Drawstrings

You can remove the drawstrings by cutting them away from the bottom of the bag. If your bag has drawstrings that are sewn in, you should cut them as close as you can to the bag, then pass a flame over the cut ends to seal them. Be careful not to set the bag on fire!

If your bag has tied ends, you can either untie them or cut them as described above.

Once you have cut/untied the drawstrings, you can remove them from the bag by pulling them through the sewn pockets at the top of the bag. If you are going to re-use the drawstring for the new closing mechanism, keep one of the drawstrings in the bag at this point! It will save you time in the long run.

If you plan on using a different string (such as 550 Paracord), you can remove and discard both of the drawstrings at this point.

Step 3: Measure Twice, Cut Once

Now that you have the string you plan on using (either paracord or one of the two drawstrings), you need to cut it to size. Lay the bag out, then fold the string in half and line up the folded end with one corner of the top of the bag. Leave about 3 inches, or 7,5 centimeters for the knot on both free ends, then cut the string to length.

Step 4: Fuse the Ends!

Now that we have our string cut to length, it's time to fuse the ends. This helps prevent them from unraveling or fraying during use, and makes the final product look a bit cleaner in my opinion. To fuse the ends of the rope, just melt them with a lighter or a butane torch.

Molten plastic is hot, sticky and can burn you very badly if you let it touch skin. To avoid this, you can either let the ends cool down naturally, or lick your fingers and use them to shape the end of the rope. Use your judgement and you should be fine.

Step 5: Re-insert the Drawstring

You can re-insert the drawstring a few ways. I opted to use a pair of hemostatic pliers, commonly found in emergency and operating rooms. They work just like normal needlenose pliers, except they have a locking feature that keeps them clamped when you let go. They also clamp things really well! These things are great, and a wonderful addition to any shop for doing tight, fiddly work in small spaces. I highly recommed you pick up a pair. You can either get them from places like Amazon or order them from a medical supply house like McKesson.

Alternatively, you can use a piece of coathanger wire or other thin, stiff object to pull the string through the pockets at the top of the bag. I opted to use the hemostats, and got the string through the bag with minimal fuss.

Step 6: Tie Off the Ends!

Once you have the string re-threaded through the pockets in the top of the bag, go ahead and take care of the loose ends by tying them together. I opted for a figure-8 knot, but you can use an overhand knot as well. Just make sure the ends will not easily come undone once you tie them.

Step 7: Enjoy Your New Bag!

And that's it! You just made a functional storage container for keeping your clothes and other personal items organized, whether you're backpacking, camping, or just going on vacation!

I hope you enjoyed, and let me know what you think!