The Story of the Backpack: Why Madlug?

6th October 2020 by David McIlroy Share

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At Trek NI, we’re all about the outdoors. Specifically, the incredible Northern Irish outdoors. From rugged, wave-battered coasts to lofty mountain peaks, our little country has so much to offer.

Inspired by this, we started developing our own clothing line towards the end of 2019 that we feel reflects our local outdoor environment. We wanted to create products that were genuinely useful – things that keep you warm and cosy in cold weather, mainly – in eco-centric colours. They also had to look and feel good, of course.

Our ethos centres on sustainability. We wanted our products to contain organic or recycled materials to ultimately reduce our community’s collective environmental impact. The choices we make as consumers now will have a bearing on our future, and that of the next generation.

SHOP: The Trek NI x Madlug Outdoor Backpack.

Find Out More

So, after months of hard work (and much Instagram-ing), we have ourselves a small but mighty collection of apparel to which we’re proud to attach our name. It’s been exciting to watch it grow, and we’re incredibly grateful to everyone who’s bought some Trek NI gear so far. We hope you love it!

But we don’t like standing still; we’re always eager to create something new.

So what was next? Which hiking-related product should naturally follow on the checklist? What were we missing?

The answer was simple: a backpack. And that’s where Madlug came in.

‘Make a difference luggage’

Madlug was founded in 2015 by Dave Linton. A man whose only experience in the luggage industry was bags of enthusiasm. As a youth worker, Dave was heartbroken to learn that most children in care transport their worldly belongings in a bin bag. In that moment, he set out to do something about it. With just £480, he started Madlug (‘make a difference luggage’) and came up with our ‘Buy one Give one’ approach: with every bag you purchase, one will be given to a child in care.

The Reality

There are over 90,000 children in care in the UK and Ireland. 40,000 children enter the care system every year. One child enters the UK care system every 15 minutes. What’s more, over half are victims of neglect or abuse. Because children in care aren’t given a voice, the public don’t know about the problems they face every day. Which is why it’s so important that their story is heard.

How Madlug Helps

The cost of every bag in our shop covers: a free bag for a child in care and the item you choose. We worked with Care experienced young people and Health Trusts / Local Authorities to develop a giving bag that is centred around the needs of children in care.

The bag itself is unbranded to avoid stigma. It folds away to fit neatly into a sock drawer or a Social Worker’s car boot without wasting storage space. And each bag has a label that says “You are incredible” to remind every child that they have value, worth and dignity.

So far, Madlug has given over 20,000+ Bags into the care system all across the UK and Ireland. This is all thanks to our amazing customers who purchase Madlug as their bag brand. Your purchases are making a huge difference in giving back dignity to children in care. When you purchase a Madlug bag, not only are you getting a quality product but your bag also acts as a non-verbal communicator to every child in care that you believe in them and care about them.

I knew Dave Linton from our shared background in youth work, and I already owned a couple of fantastic Madlug bags. There was an obvious connection between the ethos of our two companies, and after an exchange of messages and a handful of video chats, the Trek NI x Madlug Outdoor Backpack was born.

Image: christinemcilroyphotography

(Well, it wasn’t quite as quick as that, but we got there in the end!)

We’re super proud of the Outdoor Backpacks – they’re top quality, perfect for exploring NI and beyond. And as with all other Madlug bags, when you buy one, a child in care also receives a bag of their own, giving them value, worth and dignity.

Image: soulgirlsadventure

Why not grab one for yourself today?


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