Here’s a fun little project for anyone who would like to be a little more visible at night when commuting on a bike, skateboard or personal electrical vehicle. With the help of my friend Landon, we put together a super affordable, DIY LED Backpack kit that can be applied to just about any backpack that you may already own. Please note, you’ll need some basic tools and electrical skills to put something like this together.
I chose to use my classic Lowepro 650 camera backpack. It is extremely comfortable to wear with plenty of storage room for camera gear, a laptop and other miscellaneous items. It’s also my favorite pack to wear when cycling or skating because it feels very balanced across my back.
For the LED lights, we went with these super bright COB LED lights that measure about 7″ x 1″. They are extremely lightweight, waterproof and have a clean design that doesn’t scream cheap LED’s. They are also aggressively bright at full power but can be tamed using a dimmer which I’ll get to in a moment. To attach the lights to the bag, I used standard adhesive velcro strips along with fabric glue to reinforce the bond.
We used four 18650 Li-Ion cells to power the lights which might seem like overkill, but provide some serious long lasting work life. Additionally, I’m using the Nitecore i2 smart charger which is an affordable but high quality charger that’s compatible with a wide array of Li-Ion bateries.
The batteries are connected in series using a generic 18650 cell case to output about 16.8v. That may seem like too many volts to push to the 12v lights which is why I opted to use a dimmer control with a 12v regulator.
The best part of this build is the ability to control the lights wirelessly using a small RF controller. Since it’s an RF signal, it’s able to pass through the bag easily and has a long controlling distance. Other features include custom brightness levels, dynamic modes and speed adjustment for dynamic modes.
I just ordered another set of lights but this time with red LED’s which I’ll wire to the back of the bag as a rear stoplight. It’s really easy to get creative by combining a wide variety of backpacks and COB LED colors while also remaining safe and visible when riding at night. If you have any questions or suggestions for this build, hit me in the comments below.