I have been given a Trabasack Curve to review. Whilst this product was sent to me free I have been using these products for many years and have brought several. This review contains my honest opinions and experiences of the product. This was originally written for Disability Horizons but I have been given permission to post it on inclusivelivingconcepts.
What is a Trabasack?
A Trabasack is a bag and a lap tray all in one. It is a versatile product that has many uses. My main use is as a removable tray but it can also be used as a bag and for storage. My spasms are just one aspect of my disability. Therefore I needed a tray that I could have food on without my spasms chucking the food all over the place.
The Trabasack was invented by Clare as a lap tray for her son Joe who uses a wheelchair. The tray had to be safe and practical to use. There are now three main models of the Trabasack. The Max, Mini and Curve. The Mini and Curve Trabasack models come with or without a ‘connect’ surface. The Connect models are made with soft Velcro material on the tray portion of the Trabasack Curve. This is useful if you want to Velcro items so that they stay put on the tray. For this review, I was given the option to receive a Curve model with or without this feature.
Curve Connect or Curve?
I chose the Curve model without the Connect feature for the purpose of this review. I’ve learnt from experience that the ability to wipe the product clean is important to me, not because I’m particularly messy but everything sticks to Velcro. My main use for this product is to eat and drink and having owned a Curve Connect for seven years prior to receiving this review unit. I know that crumbs in particular stick to this tray like glue! Connect is a lovely feature that is doing what it is designed to do but it is not particularly convenient with food I find.
The Connect versions are great for anything and everything you want to stay in place. Check out my review for more information.
Using the Trabasack Curve
The Curve comes with an instruction leaflet and two straps, one short one long. Which strap/s you use depends on how you want to use the product.
As I’m always in my wheelchair I prefer to use one strap around my waist. This keeps the curve as close to me as possible and is the most stable. Due to my disability, I cannot reach around my back so if I’m by myself I connect the two straps together and wrap them around my armrests at the front. This position isn’t as good but at least I can secure it independently. The Trabasack can also be worn like a standard rucksack and slung over one shoulder. It may have been created for disabled people but it makes a really great laptop or tablet bag whether you have a disability or not.
D-Rings and ring pull zips
The Trabasack has six D-Rings to which the straps attach. These are strong and sturdy as well as being easy and simple to use. Instead of fiddling about opening the hook and then struggling to attach it to the ring, simply press the hook end of a strap against a D-Ring. The hook will be pushed open and snap onto the D-Ring.
The zip runs all the way around the product and the zips are fitted with ring pulls so that the zips are easier to use if you find using zips hard due to disability. Instead of having to grip a tiny object, simply place a finger or thumb in the ring and move your hand to the side to open or close the zip. Much easier to access if you have strength or dexterity issues like me. I keep the zips together as I like the way it looks and I have no trouble gripping them but if you want to make it easier to open and close always have one zip at the front of the curve. That way you only have to pull one zip instead of two to open or close the bag.
Trabasack Curve Tray
The tray portion of the product is not only wipe-clean but also non slip. If, like me, you want the wipe-clean Curve the company does sell a non-slip mat, cut to the same shape as the Curve. This can be very useful and can be kept inside the Curve when it is not needed. I have used one before and keep it handy but for day to day, I find the original non-slip surface good enough for my needs.
The tray portion also has quite a high lip/edge on it to stop items from sliding off. I have to say this is why I brought a Trabasack Curve in the first place. I saw a photo of somebody in a wheelchair, using a Trabasack Curve to carry a plate that contained an English breakfast. This may not sound impressive but the plate included baked beans, the person’s lap wasn’t level and the plate and more importantly ALL the food was on the tray!
Curve Tray Bean Bag
The reason the breakfast didn’t end up on the floor wasn’t just due to the built-in edge around the tray and the straps. The Curve also has a removable bean bag inside it to help keep it level. If you spend a few seconds setting it up on your lap then it really is very stable. My spasms and startle reflex have tested this so this isn’t just empty praise. Before I came across the Trabasack Curve I couldn’t use a tray at all as food simply slid off my lap!
Eating with the Trabasack Curve
Eating outside and using unsuitable tables when out is possible with a Trabasack Curve. Unless I have a lunch box I do prefer to rest the front edge of my Trabasack on a table as then I don’t have to bend to my lap to eat, (my knees make it very low!) Prior to having the Trabasack Curve when eating out, I had to lean forward as my wheelchair wouldn’t fit underneath restaurant tables. In fact, when we went out for a family meal two weeks ago I forgot that my Curve had been taken off the back of my wheelchair. I then had no choice but to lean forward. Doable but a lot less comfortable.
Trabasack Curve and iPad
Weather permitting, I like to sit outside and write, watch films etc so I love my iPad. I love my iPad on my Trabasack Curve even more as I’m not restricted to sitting where tables are.
Another big plus is when I have finished using my iPad I can place my iPad inside my Curve. It is nice and safe on my lap. I am now hands-free and don’t have to worry about people possibly stealing my property from my wheelchair. With my original Curve Connect, I put velcro on my iPad case and stuck my iPad to the tray, giving me even more peace of mind. I actually ruined an iPad case doing this. Trust me when I tell you a little goes a long way! I put plenty of Velcro on the case and it worked too well! I had to remove the iPad from the case to get it off my Trabasack!
Storing items inside Trabasack Curve
I wish this bag had been around when I was at school. A laptop up to 14” can fit inside the Trabasack. It wouldn’t have replaced my school bag, too many books, but I could’ve kept my personal belongings on my lap. This is what I do now. I find my laptop too heavy on my legs to use with the Curve but many people do. The Trabasack Curve is a fantastic bag for electronics whether you have a disability or not. The padded inside ensures devices are protected.
Price and conclusion
The Trabasack Curve costs £39.95. The Connect version is slightly more, £44.95. I thought this was expensive for a tray and expensive for a bag. I brought my first one telling myself I was ridiculous for spending so much money. This review Curve is my 5th Trabasack. This isn’t because they are not long-lasting. My oldest one has just broken after seven years. The thread holding one of the D-Rings together has broken and years of using it outside mean it’s sun-bleached. It is still perfectly usable. I wanted to have more so I could keep one in the car and one on the back of my wheelchair.
If you have or know a child that needs toys etc within easy reach this will facilitate that. A big plus for me is that it’s also more portable and aesthetically pleasing than the trays that Wheelchair Services provide to their clients.
If you struggle to access food whilst eating at unsuitable tables, perhaps you need a flat surface to lean on to read. Maybe, like me, you want a portable table for your electronics. You won’t be disappointed. Please send all comments and questions to inclusivelivingconcepts.