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The Nike Grind Disaster Relief Kit (DRK)

DRK provides economically feasible and durable items that assist victims and rescuers, in combating dangerous situations and in saving lives

Photo of Leonardo Faraday
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           Each year natural disasters claim the lives of on average, 68,000 people(1). Among the various types of damage that occur in the event of a natural disaster, flooding is one of the most common and one that causes a substantial number of preventable deaths. Sandbags are commonly used to combat flooding by mitigating and redirecting water flow, away from areas where it can cause significant damage. The efficacy of a sandbag relies on several factors including the material within the bag and the bag itself. If the material is coarse or gravelly and rocky then the sandbag will be less effective than if the material is heavy bodied(2). Furthermore, placement methods of the sandbags in certain areas and the speed of deployment are also important factors.

            As a result, traditional sandbags have multiple disadvantages. One of which is the type of material within the bag. As mentioned previously, sandbags may vary in the materials that they contain. Often, they will contain some kind of earthy soil, however, there are only a few soils which work particularly well. Other soils can decompose overtime and even compromise the structural integrity of the whole sandbag, if confronted with enough water. This disincentivizes individuals from storing sandbags. Another issue is the amount of time it takes to prepare sandbags. In certain disaster situations, many areas do not always have enough pre-prepared sandbags to combat flooding. Instead, these areas may often have places in the community where individuals may fill their own sandbags. It is not always efficient or safe in natural disaster scenarios for individuals to commute to these areas and make their own bags, particularly when the disaster occurs suddenly. Another issue traditional sandbags have, is their bulkiness. In disaster relief situations where there is not a lot of time to prepare or deploy, transportation and placement of these sandbags in certain communities can be an arduous task. Additionally, the risk of injury is greater when individuals must transport and place 20-50lbs sand bags.

            In addition to the importance of sand bags in natural disaster relief scenarios, thermal blankets/sleeping bags are also crucial. In the event of a natural disaster, it is possible (and in some cases likely) that an individual may be exposed to harsh environmental conditions and be displaced from their home. As a result, thermal blankets/sleeping bags are crucial tools for individuals recovering from a natural disaster. It offers a warm, dry place where an individual may sleep or a material that a person may wrap around their body to prevent hypothermia.

            The Nike Grind Disaster Relief Kit is composed of two items: a unique and lightweight sandbag replacement, and a thermal blanket. The unique lightweight sandbag replacement addresses all the issues with traditional sandbags previously stated. This unique “sandbag” is composed of various Nike Grind materials. Its composition makes it more efficient in redirecting and mitigating water flow than traditional sandbags. It also allows it to be stored for long periods of time without risk of decomposition or reduced efficacy. Furthermore, it is lightweight/durable and can be easily transported and deployed in various environments. The thermal blanket is also made up of Nike Grind materials and doubles over as a sleeping bag. Like the unique sandbag, it too is lightweight and durable.

Subsequently, the aim of the Nike Grind Disaster Relief Kit is to provide these economically feasible and durable items, that are crucial for combating natural disasters and recovering from them, to large scale communities/cities/governments and at the individual level. We can and must envision a future where no children succumb to the effects of hypothermia in the event of a catastrophe and where entire families and their homes are not swept away into floating detritus.


1. Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), The Human Cost of Natural Disasters 2015: A Global Perspective.

2. U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Flood Fighting: How to Use Sandbags.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)


Website (if applicable)


Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Laminated PU Foam
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Mixed Footwear Textile
  • Footwear Fiber "Fluff"
  • Full Grain Leather Scraps
  • Synthetic Leather

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

The sand bag will be composed of three distinct sections: the innermost layer, the inner “boundary layer”, and the outermost layer. Each section will contain different materials. As research and development continues, the mixture of each section may change to further optimize the sand bag’s efficacy. Rubber granulate, and rubber flashings will primarily compose the sandbag and its inner filling. Laminated EVA Foam, Laminated PU Foam, and EVA Foam Sheets/Blocks will compose the boundary layer. Meanwhile the outermost layer will likely be composed of Synthetic Leather, Mixed Footwear Textile, and Full Grain Leather Strips. The unique mixture of these materials is intended to lead to several effects. One effect is greater water absorbency and retention, than in traditional sandbags (with a focus on the specified mesh properties of each material and their expansion characteristics). Another effect is greater water deflection capabilities (capitalizing on hydrophobic/hydrophilic properties of EVA and PU). The unique qualities of water will also be taken into consideration (capillary action, adhesion, cohesion, etc.). Additionally, the composition of these bags allow them to have greater efficiency than traditional sandbags, but also be lighter in weight. The thermal blanket will be composed of EVA Foam Injection Straps, EVA Foam Sheets and Blocks, Laminated EVA Foam, Laminated PU Foam, Mixed Apparel Textile, Mixed Footwear Textile, and Full Grain Leather Straps. These materials have been chosen so that the blanket can also act as a sleeping bag, the whole thing can be durable/comfortable, and so that it can keep someone warm/dry in various environments.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Individuals, communities, local governments, states, and nations in/near/containing flooding prone areas.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

Please reference the Business Plan above.

How is your idea innovative?

The DRK is innovative because it is at the forefront of translational science. The material science research that we apply here to this product, is by no means limited to the lab bench. The real-world implications of this idea will increase human well-being and save many lives. The structural composition of the lightweight sandbag replacement is designed in such a way, that almost every fundamental characteristic of each incorporated material is manipulated for an optimal product and outcome.

What inspired this idea?

An average of 68,000 deaths per year is a lot of death and a lot of suffering.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

I'm a young scientist and aspiring future physician from Wisconsin, USA. I've conducted research in partnership with various universities throughout Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin. I believe translational science can change the world.

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

Sole Proprietor

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

It would not only raise awareness for the issue that we are trying to combat, but it would also allow for an outlet where people of various disciplines may work together for a good cause. As a result, the growth of our concept relies (in part) on people realizing the magnitude of our fight and in people sharing the vision that we have of saving lives.

1 comment

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Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Leonardo Faraday ,

We see this post is currently in draft mode, and thus, not submitted to the Nike Design with Grind Challenge. Was this your intention? Please join the Challenge by clicking "publish" at the top of your post.

The submission deadline is 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, TODAY, May 1.

Excited to see you joining the Challenge!