I had been just throwing hand warmers in my backpack and placing my lenses and bodies in toques (woolen hats) to keep them warm. After my camera batteries froze a couple times this winter, I started looking online. But I quickly changed my mind. A camera bag is just foam and fabric, I can do that :-)
A $10 suitcase from a second hand store, some fabric scraps, and a couple reflective blankets worked perfectly.
- A suitcase or backpack
- Closed cell foam (a foamy sleeping mat, etc)
- 2 Emergency blankets (that shiny thing in your emergency kit)
- Velcro (both sides, you will need more loops than hooks)
- Hot glue
- Sewing needle and/or machine
- Utility knife or other cutting tool
- Fabric (I used velvet, sail cloth, and some suit lining)
- A ruler and/or measuring tape
Have a great day! :-)
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Step 1: Slice and Dice
Time to remove all of the extra fabric and slice open all of the panels to accept foam and reflective blankets.
You must decide whether you would like to slice open the panels and then sew them shut, or tear out all of the fabric and upholster your foam. I striped off the sides, but initially left the base. I later removed the base too. It is always easier to cut it out later than to put it back ;-)
Step 2: Sacrafice Your Foamie and Emergency Blanket
I cut three pieces of thermal blanket to cover each panel of the briefcase, then hot glued them the pieces in three layers thick. (Pic 1/2)
Next I cut foam pieces to exactly fit the panels of your suitcase or backpack.A quarter to half inch over sized is not a bad thing. (pic3)
I first reinforced around and behind the suitcase frame (pic4).
Cut out the bottom (pic5).
Then I cut out a single strip of foam to go around the sides of the suitcase (pic6).
I also slid a piece of foam behind the fabric on the lid of the suitcase and then sewed it shut. Although it is a little hard to see (pic7).
Make sure to carve out the foam to allow for rivets/seams/bolts. (pic8)
Step 3: Upulstry and Hot Gluing
I used felt to cover the bottom foam. I first coated the front of the foam with a thin layer of hot glue and ran a thick bead around the bottom edge. I then glued it to the bottom of the suitcase. I did the same on the strip for the sides but left both ends unglued. I then glued the two ends of the strip together and left it in the case overnight, to allow it to form to the shape of the case.
NOTE: I did not glue in the side strip, it is held in with velcro.
Step 4: Velcro
I placed Velcro tabs on the sides of the suitcase (loops on the suitcase
side). I also glued a strip of Velcro along each side of the foam liner. Make sure the loop side of the Velcro is always out, this way it will not scratch your camera gear or hook clothing.
Step 5: DIY Dividers
First cut out sections of foam. I made mine the same height as my sides
and long enough that two fit across the width of my bad and three across the length. I then cut scrap pieces of sail cloth large enough to cover each piece of foam and allow for a tab on each end. I then trimmed the corners of each tab and sewed the edges and the hook side of the Velcro. I then sewed on one end of the loop side of the Velcro to both sides of the divider, glued down the Velcro and sewed the other. If your sewing machine is not good and tough, you may want to hand sew the Velcro to the foam.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Now enjoy your new insulated and padded camera case! Keep your batteries warm in the cold and your gear safe while traveling.
NOTE: make sure to open your case when you get somewhere warm. This case keeps the heat in just as well as it keeps it out :-/ Mine stayed nice and frosty for over a day :-(
So I guess it could also work as a cooler in a pinch ;-)
If you have any suggestions for improvement, or have any questions I
would love to hear from you and see what you have built. Feel free to comment below! Or Contact me on Facebook or Instagram :-)
Have a great day!