Modifying a 20$ bota

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Ursus
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Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Ursus » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:22 pm

I’ve been meaning to post this tutorial for sometime, better late than never I guess.

Water. It’s one of our biggest needs on the trail and carrying it in something Middle Earth appropriate can be a real pain. What I use is a modified 2 liter bota bag. They can be found on amazon for about 20$ and modified in total for around 30-35.

What I’ve done is first removed the plastic collar around the mouth and detached the cap. After I’ve taken some 80 grit sandpaper to the painted on logos we are left with this.
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Following that I used some Eco Flo dark brown gel dye to color it. Normally I would submerge it in a bath of my homemade walnut die but did not want to take the risk of getting anything in the plastic liner. After this is done I conceal the plastic mouthpiece with a piece of leather that is wet molded and stitched over top with a small amount of food safe epoxy dabbed on the backside of the leather for good measure.

Finally I carve a wooden stopper and attach it via a cord of raw hide. Lastly I add a carrying strap to finish things up. The result is what you see below. While not historically accurate in construction I feel it fits the look quite well while remaining easy to clean and maintain plus easy on the budget.Going forward in the future I may consider carving a wooden mouthpiece and fitting it over the plastic one and getting rid of the leather. Time will tell.
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Last edited by Ursus on Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:35 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Will Whitfoot
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Will Whitfoot » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:25 pm

very nice! Soooo... a pinot noir or???
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Taurinor
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Taurinor » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:12 pm

Cool! The cover took stain better than I would have expected it to. I did something similar a while back with the 1L version, but I made a new cover out of some leather that I had around and attached a wooden spout (the top of a candle cup, to be precise) to the threaded plastic spout with some Gorilla Glue (food-safe and waterproof when it cures). I then used some leather cordage to hold the cover and spout together and closed it with a cork. I think it came out alright -

waterskin.jpg
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I use my 2L costrel for overnighters or events where I want to be as authentic as I can manage, but for more casual day hikes or the like, the modified bota has worked quite well.
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Kortoso » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:25 pm

Very nice! Cool "kit-bashing" project.

I have a bota from Botas of Boulder when they were still in business. I've attached a pic of me with it.
One of the (many) problems with most of these botas is that the retention straps that are supposed to hold on to the strap are made from the cheapest flimsiest suede leather. I've been replacing them with latigo as time goes on.
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Kortoso » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:27 pm

I seem to recall that on the California Ren-Faire circuit, there was a vendor making turned and threaded wooded stoppers for these. It may have been a violation of some health and safety code to make and sell them, because I have never seen them again.
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Ursus » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:13 pm

Taurinor wrote:Cool! The cover took stain better than I would have expected it to. I did something similar a while back with the 1L version, but I made a new cover out of some leather that I had around and attached a wooden spout (the top of a candle cup, to be precise) to the threaded plastic spout with some Gorilla Glue (food-safe and waterproof when it cures). I then used some leather cordage to hold the cover and spout together and closed it with a cork. I think it came out alright -

waterskin.jpg
I use my 2L costrel for overnighters or events where I want to be as authentic as I can manage, but for more casual day hikes or the like, the modified bota has worked quite well.


If it hadn’t taken the dye as well as it did I was going to sew a similar cover. After seeing how good yours looks with the wooden spout I’m all but sold on beginning my own ASAP.
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Elleth
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Elleth » Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:07 am

That looks great Ursus!

For what it's worth, for those wanting a wooden mouth for their bota but don't have access to a lathe, I've used these - just drill out the bottom:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/502140019/ ... andlestick

... A wine bottle cork fits perfectly in them, strangely enough.
(I didn't order from this vendor, but it looks like the same model exactly)
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Ursus » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:56 pm

Making some headway here. I decided to disassemble the bag and replace the gray fake leather center with walnut dyed goatskin. I wasn’t quite sure how to finish the stitching once turned right side out and still leave room to insert the plastic liner. As a result there is a visible baseball stitch for about three inches near the mouth. Luckily this is the part that rides against my body so it is seldom seen. At first I thought I wouldn’t like the contrast of the lighter leather against thre darker but was pleasantly surprised at how much I did once I got it all together.

With that bit done I’ve turned towards crafting a wooden mouth to be fit over the plastic spout.

More to come!!
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Elleth » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:03 am

That looks much better!

So... you kept the existing sides, and stitched in a covering strip along the center portion?
What's exactly holding the water? Is there a bladder inside covered by a leather body? Or are those sides actually part of the structure holding the water?
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Ursus
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Ursus » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:08 am

Elleth wrote:That looks much better!

So... you kept the existing sides, and stitched in a covering strip along the center portion?
What's exactly holding the water? Is there a bladder inside covered by a leather body? Or are those sides actually part of the structure holding the water?


Correct there is an internal bladder.

I’ve been considering going the route you went with yours but I don’t know that I want to deal with the hassle needed to keep up a traditionally made bota.
"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters – but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy."

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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Gærfast » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:45 pm

That's really clever. I was thinking of what to do for water on the trail.
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Taurinor » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:06 pm

I converted another bota as a gift for a friend using pretty much the same method that I used for my first one, but I remembered to take WIP pictures this time!

waterskin.jpg
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I wrote up a how-to over on my blog - there are a lot of pictures (and most aren't very interesting to look at), so I didn't want to clutter up this thread and take up too much server space by posting them here on the forums. I'm happy to answer any questions folks might have about what I did here, though!
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Elleth » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:33 pm

That looks fantastic!!

And the tutorial is amazing: thank you!


... Are you planning to wax the cord about the neck? I imagine that might help things from getting too soppy once it's in use.
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Taurinor » Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:03 pm

Thanks!

Elleth wrote:... Are you planning to wax the cord about the neck? I imagine that might help things from getting too soppy once it's in use.


That'd probably be a good call, but I've already given it to my friend! :mrgreen: He's pretty clever, though, and he's got some beeswax, so I'm sure that'll occur to him if it's a problem.
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Ursus
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Re: Modifying a 20$ bota

Postby Ursus » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:28 pm

Taurinor wrote:I converted another bota as a gift for a friend using pretty much the same method that I used for my first one, but I remembered to take WIP pictures this time!

waterskin.jpg
I wrote up a how-to over on my blog - there are a lot of pictures (and most aren't very interesting to look at), so I didn't want to clutter up this thread and take up too much server space by posting them here on the forums. I'm happy to answer any questions folks might have about what I did here, though!



Great job on that! Not long after the original post I went the exact same direction and have kicked myself ever since for not figuring this out sooner.
"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters – but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy."

“My cuts, short or long, don’t go wrong.”

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