Zahota: the modern bota bag.

Zahota: the modern bota bag. - student project


The purpose of this project is to update the design of a hydration pack that has been around for millenia. We're addressing some of the issues with the old version (for example, not being able to clean the resevior) while using today's best lightweight performance materials. When we finish, we hope to have a hydration pack that you can take anywhere, from a hike in the hills to a day at Coachella.

Latest Version (2/17/2013):

Zahota: the modern bota bag. - image 1 - student project


Last summer I was on a road trip from San Francisco, CA to Sioux Falls, SD. On the way we stopped in Elko, NV to go to a Basque restaurant that had been recommended to us. When I walked in, I saw a bota bag hanging behind the bar and bought it.

Zahota: the modern bota bag. - image 2 - student project

Bota bags are originally from Basque Country.

I used it once, filling it with wine for an outdoor concert, and then found out that the bota bags sold today (at least from what I've seen) are missing a lot of features:

  • You can't clean the resevoir, so if you've put wine in there, the best you can do it rinse it out.
  • There are no pockets.
  • The shoulder strap digs in and can't be adjusted. It's a thin peice of cord that i think looks cool, but it's not super practical.
  • The cap is a screw on and it's really tough to work, especially when you're walking and/or drinking liters of wine.
  • They are made out of leather, which is heavy and, you know, cow.

My idea was to basically update the traditional bota to address each of these problems. I've made a bunch of prototypes with my mom and friend who is a shoe desinger in the Bay Area.

Prototype Iterations:

Version 1

Zahota: the modern bota bag. - image 3 - student project

This one was made out of forest green canvas. We weren't huge fans of the material, but we had basically captured the design: pocket on the front face of the bag (kind of hard to see the black zipper, but it's there) and a zipper on the neck to allow removal/cleaning of the plastic resevoir.

Estimated sewing time: 6 hrs. Good job, Mom!


Zahota: the modern bota bag. - image 4 - student project

We were pretty happy with this version. We used ripstop nylon to make it lightweight and water resistant.  We wanted the front zipper to pop a little, so we made it orange, and we've kept this design element in subsequent iterations. We also added the strap guides -- little peices of nylon webbing to keep the cord in place.

Estimated sewing time: 5 hrs.


Zahota: the modern bota bag. - image 5 - student project

This version was a little cleaner than V2 and we added a little pocket on the back (it's hard to see, but if the back is a clock and the spout is at 12, then this pocket is at 3), where you could maybe put your keys. The problem was it's too small, so in future versions we didn't include it. We added an elastic band on the top of the neck to make it hug against the drinking spout. Finally, we were tinkering with the shoulder strap and we added a hip strap so you could adjust the bag so it fit you and didn't bounce around as much.

Estimated sewing time: 5 hrs. We finished at 11:30pm and my mom told me that she probably hadn't been up this late for 20 years. Thanks, mom!


Zahota: the modern bota bag. - image 6 - student project

The big difference on this iteration was that instead of sewing the pocket into the front panel, we actually added another panel so that there was more room in the pocket.

We also altered the hip strap so that instead of buckling in front like a typical backpack, it angled up and buckled to the shoulder strap. This is a little simpler from a design perspective and actually gives a more secure fit.

Estimated sewing time: 4hrs.


Zahota: the modern bota bag. - image 7 - student project

This is essentially just a cleaner iteration of V4. We had a local seamstress make it and she was able to work out some of the sewing issues that we couldn't quite figure out. You can see the seams are a lot more smooth and clean on this version. 

There's no shoulder strap becuase we are trying to work on that design.

Estimated sewing time: ? -- we paid $20 to have a prototype sewn for us.