Like all field recordists; I am no stranger to the sting of expensive gear. Being on a budget- finding cheaper but robust solutions is key for my bank account and sanity. When it comes to recorder bags, a premium price is on the premium bags. For example, a simple bag for a MixPre-6 is minimum $99. For me thats a bit of a hard pill to swallow. But when you need a durable bag, with a clear plastic flap to see levels—what else can you do?
A couple years ago I got this Amazon Basics camera bag for $18. It has served me well, with some modifications. It is spacious and durable. However a year ago during a recording session in 3 foot snow, I quickly realized the weaknesses of any old bag not made for field recording— the lack of a clear plastic flap to protect the recorder that still allows viewing the recorders displays.
Resolved to not break the bank and get use out of a bag I already have and I really do like; I looked around online for sources of clear plastic to fashion a flap for myself. Whole rolls, table cloth, sheets, and so on were too much material and too expensive. I ended up grabbing this Clear Tote for $13.
Chopping off the front flap of the clear plastic bag worked out very well. I chose an existing bag so that the shape and trim would be ready to go and would require less finesse on my end. As you can see in the above image the grey trim around the flap that was preexisting. It will help keep the shape and integrity of the flap hopefully for a long time.
The flap itself is held on by adhesive velcro (also from Amazon.com). The adhesive on the velcro to the plastic flap has so far been sufficient. The velcro to the nylon material of the bag needs some more help, so on each side of the velco on the bag I have punched a hole through the bag and used a zip-tie to keep it in place. So far just 2 on each piece has been enough.
I put velcro on both sides of the bag so I can reverse the orientation of the flap. I think on Version; 2 I will make the flap a bit shorter and have some way to have the flap securely close. Right now the flap is rigid enough to stay in place and doesn’t really need a button or more velcro.
Shaky phone footage showing removing the flap and adding to the other side:
Other mods I have made to the bag:
Removed “Amazon Basics” badge and added a NASA patch
Rubber hair ties looped on external zippers to keep them from jingling
Reflective tape on the bag
My name with label maker tape ‘cause I own a label maker
Replaced shoulder strap with one from a Porta Brace bag ( I understand the irony)
Like I mentioned before; my version 2.0 of this bag would include
Shorter flap so I can affix the flap more securely
Either velcro or magnets to secure the flap opening
Look into other thin plastics, as the one I have gets stiff in colder temperatures
So thats my DIY recorder bag for under $40. Let me know if have any cool ideas how it can be improved! FYI— the above Amazon links are affiliate links for The Tonebenders Podcast. I am not affiliated with them, but they are a wonderful podcast and deserve any support given.