When I said I wanted to spend some of my not so large disposable income on bag organisers Lily was not convinced. Not convinced at all. I use a couple of different bags in my day-to-day life (the Maxpedition Falcon 2 and the Timbuk2 Classic) and wanted to be able to switch my things between the bags in an organised fashion. My idea was to get one larger Grid-It for my gadgets and electrical stuff I need for work and one smaller one for the things I carry every day like meds, pen, headphones and spare battery.
So what is a Grid-It?
In its simplest terms a grid -t is a solid rectangular piece of cardboard with black cloth on one side and irregular pieces of elastic stretched on the other side. It comes in numerous sizes from extra small at 12 x 18cm to extra-large at 28 x 38 cm and there are several variants that have a pouch for a iPad or laptop built into the back.
These irregular pieces of elastic can be pulled up and into it can be inserted your stuff. It might take a little bit of thought to work out what the best layout is but once its in there it holds fairly firm. At this point the whole thing is put in your bag (or a draw or left out on your desk) and you stay organised and able to get your hands on your stuff fairly easily.
Grid-It’s are made by US company Cocoon who have patented the exact design. There are several similar systems but they appeared after the Grid-It was launched and seem generally of lower quality. It is also possible to make your own and there are several sets of instructions on instructables explaining the process.
Multiple sizes are available including :
- Extra small at 12.7 x 17.8cm and 86g
- Small at 13 x 26cm and 181g
- Medium at 20.3 x 30.5cm and 295g
- Large at 24.4 x 38.4cm and 458g
- Extra Large at 27.9 x 38.1cm and 499g
All standard Grid-Its are the same colour – black with grey accents although Cocoon has shown off alternatives which do not seem to be available in the UK yet.
The grey on black color scheme which is used by Grid-It’s might and first inspection seem to be a poor choice from an accessibility perspective and it might make your initial loading more difficult but it does have an advantage – it means that your gear and stuff stands out inside your bag against the black background more clearly.
The individual pieces of elastic have a ridged line of dots along them which could be used to let you discover by touch which way the elastic goes.
Grid-It’s have no audio element.
Input and Touch
The Grid-It feels solid in the hand. The shape is given its strength by a piece of cardboard but you would never know it – it feels strong and well made. I’ve read reports of heavily used Grid-Its bending slightly with heavy use for a long time period but the most severe I’ve managed to find proof of is after over a years very heavy use and less than an inch of curve.
The elastic feels taut but not too taut – strong enough to hold your things but not so strong as to be impossible to get things into it. That being said you will need a certain amount of strength to stretch the elastic and slide things in underneath it. This is somewhat unavoidable – if the elastic was less strong items would fall out!
Some of the Grid-Its have a small zip pocket in the back. This is tapered on one side so can only take things which are virtually flat. I’ve found it useful to hold one or two crucial pieces of paper or a couple of notes of money. If you tried to put more into the pocket you would run the risk of either not being able to close it or damaging the zip. Even if you were able to get past this the Grid-It would not lie flat properly when taken out of your bag.
Grid-Its as bag organisers have an obvious drawback – you get more organisation but you have to carry more weight. With the smaller versions this is less of an issue but by the time you get to the larger version it is almost half a kilo. I would personally judge that is a reasonable trade-off for organisation but it is a factor that you have to consider.
Ease of Use
The basic idea behind the Grid-It is very easy to demonstrate and explain. A simple picture of someone elses setup explains the concept very well. The problem can come trying to fit your stuff into a Grid-It. I found myself spending quite a while laying items out to work out how to best make them fit and be secure. Even with that I had to rearrange a couple of times until I found the optimum layout.
If you have a consistent set of things you carry with you the Grid-It works very well. If you have two sets you could use two of them. If your daily carry changes every day you might not get the same level of use from it.
So is the Grid-It bag organisation worth it? The answer if you carry a lot of little stuff with you is a definite yes. Remember that Lily was not convinced at all by the idea when I bought them? Well within three days the smaller of my Grid-Its’s had vanished and reappeared filled with her meds, wallet, inhaler and daily carry. She has always had problems with forgetting essential medication and being unable to find things at the right time. With the Grid-It she only has to pack one thing and pull out one thing and she knows she has everything to hand.
For gadgets and work things it works just as well. I’ve got my most electronic things like cables, USB peripherals and so on down to the size of a large Grid-It and they live in there permanently either in my bag or desk draw. Be prepared for a little work to get yourself organised and properly laid out but if you put the time in the Grid-It will repay you with an organised desk and bag.
The Grid-It was released in 2009. The review is based on the small and large standard Grid-Its.