WHAT CAN LINEWORKERS CARRY IN THE BIG EASY TOOL BACKPACK?
BUT FIRST, WHAT EXACTLY IS THE BIG EASY™?
The Big Easy is DragonWear's brand new tool backpack (and first of its kind in a line of FR clothing and accessories) that has been specifically designed to carry all the essential equipment used by lineworkers. It contains one large main compartment over 3700 cubic inches in size, a large front pocket, and two side pockets, totaling over 5,000 cubic inches of storage overall; enough to carry larger pieces (and even multiple sets) of gear like climbers, boots, and harnesses all together.
The main compartment is designed with a 3/4 zip-around that allows the bag to front-load like a suitcase, which provides for efficient loading and easy access to the gear inside. From a durability standpoint, the backpack is made from 1680 Denier Ballistic Polyester fabric that provides an abrasion-resistant exterior with built-in grommets to drain any water and keep your gear dry. Additionally, the Ballistic Polyester fabric boasts a tensile strength of more than 400 pounds; what exactly does this mean? Tensile strength measures the rupture point at which the fabric will break apart if you apply great force to each end.
The Big Easy is constructed with a thick yarn that is large in diameter, meaning the bag is heavy-duty at the fiber level and can withstand over 400 pounds of pressure; imagine two burly guys tugging on each side of the fabric with all their strength and it still won't rip in two. Now, your pack will likely never need to hold up to that type of pressure. The capacity of the pack should be measured by what the wearer's back can comfortably, and safely carry. Our customers report that the pack can easily carry between 50-60 pounds of gear, and our in-house testing also confirms that this is a comfortable weight for most lineworkers. Some people may find a little less or a little more weight is fine according to their needs on the job.
With the more technical details of the Big Easy out of the way, what pieces of equipment are absolutely essential for linemen to carry with them? From climbers to gloves, and fall protection to rain jackets, here are all of the common pieces of lineman gear you'll find in a Big Easy backpack.
1) VARIOUS HAND TOOLS
You'll never see a lineman climbing a pole without their toolbelt. A lineman’s tools are a bit larger than your traditional household screwdriver. These tools pack a few pounds of steel and are strong enough to work on even the most rusted bolts.
These hand tools cover everything from:
There are a variety of different nuts, bolts, and screws up on the powerline which cover a large range of sizes. Because of this, linemen must be equipped with a diverse arsenal of these basic hand tools to be prepared to work with any situation. The Big Easy contains two large side pockets that are designed with flaps for added water-resistance and grommets for drainage. These pockets are ideal for holding and organizing the various hand tools that lineworkers bring with them to the job site.
2) GLOVES & LEATHER PROTECTORS
If you've ever seen a lineman working high up on a pole, it is likely you've considered some form of the question "how do they do anything in those gloves?" and most of the workers probably wonder this themselves. Linemen must learn to maneuver around, and complete sometimes-tedious tasks that require finger dexterity while wearing these bulky work gloves/leather protectors. And given the electric nature of the job, taking them off (or any type of PPE) at any point simply isn’t an option.
That being said, gloves are certainly not something linemen want to forget to pack in their toolbag. In fact, in order to be in compliance with electrical safety standards, two sets of gloves are worn;
Rubber insulated gloves (With optional glove liners)
When worn together, the materials will protect the worker from electric shock and therefore are an absolute essential (and quite frankly, a necessity) when packing up the Big Easy tool backpack.
Imagine your favorite pair of boots.
Now imagine your favorite pair of boots, only now they have spikes attached to them allowing you to become Spiderman. These are climbers.
Climbers to linemen are like gas to a vehicle; Without them, they simply can't perform their job, making them an undeniably important piece to the arsenal of any line worker. The Big Easy was designed to be large enough to hold all of the essential gear and more, allowing climbers to be easily stored in the main compartment. Up to two pairs of climbers can be comfortably stored in the main compartment alongside other equipment.
4) FALL PROTECTION
Fall protection is like a cousin to the climbers. It is another piece of gear that not only keeps linemen safe but helps them to climb and provides stability. Fall protection (and sometimes referred to as the bucksqueeze) is the "belt" which wraps around the pole and allows the lineman to ascend while also reducing strain on the legs and upper body.
While climbing a pole, the lineman will gradually shift this up as they ascend, and it allows them to distribute weight backward to take additional pressure off the legs. Once an obstruction is reached (a type of blockage or object preventing further climbing), the lineman will wrap a safety strap around the pole so they can safely unhook the bucksqueeze and re-attach it above the obstruction. This is certainly not an item you want to forget to pack in the Big Easy.
5) RAIN GEAR
While not exactly a tool, rain gear can serve as a lineman's most important companion out in the field. Due to the nature of the job, lineworkers will find themselves working in dangerous weather conditions which oftentimes lead to power failures, thus prompting the public utility departments to dispatch.
In fact, linemen are among many of the first responders in the event of a hurricane in order to restore power to heavily affected areas (including the most recent hurricane, Dorian). Additionally, for workers who don't perform their job in a traditional office setting, being prepared for the elements is always on the top of the list of items to pack.
A LAUNDRY LIST OF LINEWORKER GEAR - HOW CURRENT WORKERS ARE UTILIZING THE BIG EASY TOOL BACKPACK
Surely the list of items to carry in the Big Easy could go on for 100 pages. Perhaps it would be easier to visualize how real linemen are currently utilizing this tool backpack. Of course, the equipment a lineworker carries with them will depend on the job, the amount of travel required, their position, etc. However, in an effort to push the backpack to its limit, we recently asked one of our friends, David, a superintendent for Maui Electric to show us all of the gear he fit inside of the Big Easy.
Here is the list of all the gear he was able to carry:
ON THE INSIDE
Climb gaff gauge
Hard hat light
Clear safety glasses
Various hand tools (screwdriver, crescent wrench, etc)
ON THE OUTSIDE
Ultimately, the Big Easy can be used in whichever way is seen most effective by the worker.
WHERE CAN YOU BUY THE BIG EASY TOOL BACKPACK?
The Big Easy is currently available through the following DragonWear® partner dealers:
Additionally, an alternative DragonWear dealer can be found using our dealer locator.