#38 Pin Flag Organization

I mentioned in a previous post that I would post a solution to the pin flag problem.  What is the pin flag problem? Pin flags are a problem in two places: your back pack and your vehicle.  In both cases pin flags tend to get into general disarray after a short time and require constant attention.  In the vehicle people tend to put pin flags just anywhere in the truck and by the end of the week or session they are bent up and are all over the back of the truck.  Pin flags in the backpack are just a hazard.  There is a good chance that they will poke through the pocket you put them in and fall out anyway.  They could also poke through your water bladder.  There is a solution to both of these problems.

You can buy a pin flag sheath but there is another option that should cost about $5 or less.  I recently made my fiancè and I new flag tubes and, like an idiot, I didn't take pictures of the process.  However, I decided to expand the flag tube idea to the work truck, but on a slightly larger scale.  What follows is the process with pictures and both sizes of tubes at the end.

For my supplies I went to Home Depot and Michael's.  I got the tube supplies at Home Depot and the duct tape at Michael's.  Of course you can get the duct tape at Home Depot but Michael's has a rack of about 15-20 different colors and styles of duct tape so you can get that individual look.

Black 2 ft. PVC tubes. (c) 2011 Chris WebsterWhite 2 ft. PVC tubes. (c) 2011 Chris Webster












Start by buying a pre-cut PVC tube in the color of your choice.  If you cover it in tape or spray paint your creation then color won't matter much.  I chose a 1 1/2" diameter for my backpack.  You may need to find a way to cut the tube down to size.  The two foot standard holds the longer pin flags out there but not the shorties.  You could still store them in the tube but you won't be able to grab them from your backpack without taking your backpack off.  I like being able to reach over my shoulder and pull out a pin flag whenever I need to.

2" black end cap. (c) 2011 Chris WebsterYou will need an end cap for your tube.  For the black tube that I'm making to hold pin flags in the truck I could only find a flat-ended end cap.  My white one has a rounded end cap which I think is better for your backpack.  Fabric does not like pressure points and over time the flat end could cause stress that could result in a rip or tear.

There is an adhesive that is specially made for PVC.  You don't really need it if you decorate your tube.  Duct tape is cheaper and more versitile than a can of PVC adhesive that you will likely only use once.  Also, the end caps fit on pretty snug without any help.

Apply your end cap and place two strips of duct tape, in a "plus" pattern, over the end cap, securing it to the tube.  I then put a horizontal piece around the tube, covering the end cap pieces.  That should be enough to secure the cap in place.

Next, I put in the duct tape in a barber pole pattern.  I only used one color of duct tape so I kept the spiral pretty close.  On my fiancè's tube I first did a widely spaced spiral in pink and then I did the same spiral, covering the open areas, in polka-dot pink.

As I said above, you don't have to use duct tape.  You could spray your tube in distinctive colors.  You could also just leave your tube naked.  You should glue on the end cap in some way, though.  When a bundle of flags is dropped into the tube they have a tendancy to knock the end cap off.

Completed backpack tubes. (c) 2011 Chris WebsterAbove are the two backpack tubes that I made.  We used them for a session and they work really well.  I'm able to easily place the end of the tube in a side, outer pocket, of my backpack. I secure the upper half with a side strap on my pack.  I can easily grab flags when I need them.  As of yet, I can't put flags back in very easily.  However, I haven't run into this as a problem.  Usually we are collecting flags after recording a site and I'm not wearing my pack.  When I return to my pack I put the flags in the tube and move on.

Stay organized and I'll see you in the field!


Written in Sparks, Nevada.


From the Dictionary of Archaeology, Peguin Reference, 2004, an entry chosen using a random number generator Pg 179, entry 1:

Glyph a symbol in a writing system.  In the Mesoamerican system, a glyph may represent an idea, word, sound, syllable or some combination of these.