Tag: bag

Laptop Bag Round-up: 15″ Edition

After multiple weeks of going into work on Saturdays and/or Sundays in an effort to catch-up on work, I finally broke down and requested a laptop for work. I’m giving up my trusty, giantess iMac 27″ that I’ve been using. I’ll miss the luxury of acres of screen real estate, but I’m hoping to reclaim a little bit more time at home.

Having a work laptop means seeking out a new carry-all bag that could fit a large 15″ MacBook Pro when needed. Thanks to the a shoutout on Twitter last week, I got lots of recommendations. If you’ve ever in the market for a laptop bag, I thought I’d share some of the recommendations I received. Many were recommended more than once, often with caveats of having withstood years of use and abuse and traveled hundred or thousands of miles. I was so glad to see that folks were so satisfied with their bags —  from so many different bags.

laptopbags

In no particular order:

  1. Cocoon SLIM Backpack with GRid IT Organization System $89.99 (via Cocoon)
  2. The Maker’s Bag which holds a 13″ laptop $130 (via Tom Bihn)
  3. Cote & Ciel Seine Bowler also only holds a 13″ laptop $195 (via Cote & Ciel)
  4. Waterfield Vitesse Messenger bag from $159 (via sfbags.com)
  5. The Cadet $160 (via Tom Bihn)
  6. Inateck Carrying Case $19.99 (via Amazon)
  7. Cote & Ciel Moselle Backpack only holds 13″ laptop $195 (via Cote & Ciel)
  8. Uptown Laptop TSA-Friendly Backpack 2015 $119 (via Timbuk2)

I absolutely loved how unique and interesting the Cote & Ciel bags looked but the ones I liked the best were too small for the behemoth laptop sadly. And many of the bags large enough to truly hold a 15″ laptop for me were just too big (I’m only 5’4″) or too business-y looking for days when I might not need to schlep the laptop around. In the end, I had a nice chat with the folks at Tom Bihn who assured me that I could squash a 15″ laptop into The Maker’s Bag though it is not recommended. I just need to get it from the office to my car to my house and back — and usually just on the weekends so I’m willing to take my chances. (Just don’t tell my IT dept I said that!). So I placed my order this morning, before I hopped on a plane for SF. I also ordered their tool/pen wrap which can double as a DPN keeper (the knitters will know what that is!). How cool is that? So I think I’ll have a great EDC and can cram the behemoth laptop in when I need to.

Should I need to transport my laptop for a business trip I have an enormous Timbuk2 backpack that I bought for a trip to China a few years back that’s so big I could use it as a sleeping bag in a pinch.

Big shout out to everyone on Twitter who helped me on my hunt: Arman, Lee, Tindra, Ray, Calligraphy Nut, A Better Desk, Carmina, Dave, Jojo, Sandra, Ken, Brad and Daniel and even the folks at Tom Bihn!

Endless Bag Quest

current bags

Its not just me, right? Besides perpetually questing for the perfect pen, ink, notebook, planner, pencil, ad nauseum, you also are on the perpetual hunt for the perfect bag too?

I have several bags that are pretty close but not perfect. There are occasions where I need something slightly smaller, slightly larger, slightly more rugged or slightly more dressy, etc. Gentlemen in the audience who have fewer requirements, I suspect, and more pockets (“I am only slightly jealous of the amount of pockets sewn into men’s clothing,” she’s says ironically) but I also hear men raise similar ranges of needs so I’m trying not to pigeonhole anyone. Is there a “perfect” bag or can we ever get to one or two perfect bags? One for work, one for travel and maybe one for weekend jaunts?

The bags I currently have in circulation are:

I work a corporate, 9-to-5 job and I feel I’ve reached a point where most backpacks look too academic to carry to work. However, I do carry a good deal of stuff with me so I need a decent-sized bag. I like being able to switch between some sort of handle for getting in and out of a car and then use a shoulder strap/cross body strap for the 0.25 mile walk from the parking lot to my desk. Really. It’s a big campus.

Stuff in my bag

Usual contents of daily bag are:

  • pen case (pictured is my favorite LWA member-only pen case)
  • notebook (not pictured, currently XL Moleskine soft cover book)
  • planner (pictured Filofax Personal Original in dark aqua)
  • travel mug/water bottle
  • knitting project (not shown: can be small sock project or whole dang sweater)
  • small cosmetics bag (vintage Girl Scout fabric purchased at Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago)
  • phone
  • ear buds
  • sunglasses
  • business cards (Pantone case)
  • wallet (Coach wristlet)

Moleskine MyCloud bags

I’ve considered one of the Moleskine MyCloud bags ( I know, its crazy talk but I like the subtle exterior and the bright interior colors). They look well-constructed as well. There are an assortment of internal pockets for devices, pens and accesories but I cant’ find many review online so I am having to scrounge information. I have space credits (AKA money in my PayPal account) right now so I’m considering the reporter ($139.95) or the tote ($159.95). I do agree that our bags are our mobile offices and our desks-on-the-go especially when travelling.

Do you have a favorite bag? Or are you, like me, still hunting for the perfect combination of good looks and functionality?

Pocket Notebooks for the Ladies

Most of the distinguished gentlemen of the pen blogging community talk about pocket notebooks and the ease of pulling them out of a shirt pocket or back jeans pocket. But what about us ladies who might not have the necessary pockets nor want to carry a book in our rear pockets? The whole idea makes me think, “Stop staring at my Field Notes, jerk!”

So, how do we ladies carry a handy, jot-a-quick-note notebook that does not mean having a bag or purse with us at all times?

After working on a small team of almost all women last year, I discovered the handy convenience of a wrist clutch. The women on my team varied in personal aesthetics but all unanimously embraced the wristlet in various forms.

wristlets

From memory, there was a BlueQ tyvek zip pouch with pretty graphics printed on it, two Coach wristlets (one in fabric and one in leather) and a Kate Spade wristlet in stripes. All the specific bags we carried have been discontinued but these images will give you an idea of the general look. The links are to the current offerings from each brand. The prices of these pouches ranged from $7 to about $100 though several were purchased on sale or at outlet stores so I think none of us paid full retail except me. The size was fairly consistent across all four bags — about 5.5″ x 7.5″ with of about 1.5″, give or take a half on inch. In these, we each had enough space to carry a small pocket notebook or a stack of 3×5 index cards along with our cell phones, ID and work badge, credit cards and cash for lunch. I think any lady could find some sort of wrist bag or clutch that suited their personal aesthetics from handmade Etsy designs to high-fashion designer styles.

The key is to find one large enough to hold your absolute essentials but not so large that it becomes a purse. I use my wristlet as my wallet and dump it into my purse/tote/backpack/bag at the end of the day. The wristlet is also handy for quick errands and shopping trips when I don’t want to haul around the whole mess that is my bag.

If your job or daily life requires more hands-free mobility, you might want to consider a small crosssbody bag instead. Its a similar idea to the wristlet but with a strap long enough to position the bag comfortably at your hip. No fanny packs or bumbags, okay? That is not a solution. With crossbody bags, there are as many looks, styles and materials to choose from as you could want from high brow to budget priced. On Etsy, there were over 14K search results for “crossbody bag” so there’s definitely something for everyone.

crossbody bags

I picked two to show the range, one from Kate Spade (over $200) and one from Mochi Things (about $20).

And what are the best pocket notebooks to carry in your new-found wristlet or bag? The same awesome notebooks the boys carry: Field Notes, Word.notebooks and Doane Paper Utility Notebooks, of course.

Out of Print Library Card Pouch

Library Card Pouch

The Out of Print Yellow Library Card Pouch was a little gem I spied on Amazon for $14.99. I stuck it on my wishlist as a reminder to order it later. Well, my darling husband spied it there and bought it for me.

It’s about 6×9″ in size, perfect as a carryall for pens, pencils, and related tools. Its made of bright yellow canvas, printed with blue library card lines and has a matching blue zipper.

Library Card Pouch filled

I tossed all my regular “daily carry” tools into with plenty of room to spare for some washi tape, glue stick and other items I might add for letter writing on the road. The canvas isn’t lined or heavyweight so its not as sturdy as my usual LWA member pouch. I love the look and the bright color but it isn’t sturdy enough to usurp the LWA pouch as my EDC. I might use the Library Card Pouch when traveling or to carry my knitting tools. Either way, I might pull out my embroidery tools and embellish it with some embroidered text. What book might it be and who else checked it out?

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Messenger Bag (Bonus: Bag Dump)

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

Last week was my birthday and my darling husband found the perfect gift for me: the limited edition Chicago version of the Timbuk2 messenger bag. This was a version limited to just ten bags for the grand opening of Timbuk2’s Chicago store. It would never have occurred to me to call the store and see if there were any left following the grand opening at the end of May. I would have just assumed that they sold out of these gems in a day or so. I also had no idea just how limited they were. Only TEN were made and when he called last week, they still had two left. Can you believe it?

So, the staff at the Chicago store kindly sent him one. And voila! The ex-pat Chicagoan can proudly carry a Timbuk2 bag inspired by the flag of her hometown — a city so grand its flag is emblazoned on shirts and bodies and just about anything else you can think of.

What makes this design unique from the build-a-bag option on the Timbuk2 website? First, the sky blue cordura nylon is not a color currently offered through Timbuk2. This might not be an issue for anyone else since Timbuk2’s build-a-bag offers dozens of solid cordura fabrics as well as prints, waxed canvas and more but for they put the idea of a Chicago flag themed bag in my head and nothing less would do for me.

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

I haven’t bought a new Timbuk2 bag in a long time and there are some new features and some things have been upgraded, moved or modified. A lot of the changes seemed like really smart improvements too while keeping the elements that make a Timbuk2 bag so durable.

The new things include:

  • A padded grab handle to make it easier to pick up the bag like a briefcase
  • Clips to close the bag are now under the flap to create a more streamlined front panel
  • Clips are connected to straps under the bag that can be used to hold a jacket, an umbrella, a poster tube or yoga mat or used as compression straps to keep contents from flopping around
  • The pocket under the panel now has a side zip pocket for wallet, phone or other items that need to be handy but kept secure
  • The key leash is now attached inside the front pocket (it used to be inside the inner pocket)
  • A stiff piece of plastic has been added to the top edge of the large inside slashpocket to keep it from being flimsy. Earlier versions had a slash pocket plus a pocket with velcro which never got opened because the velcro was too sticky
  • Speaking of velcro, previous versions of the messenger bag had two vertical slashes of velcro on the inside flap. Now there is a horizontal swath of velcro on the inside flap guaranteeing that the bag will stay closed no matter how the flap is aligned and without the added security of the clips. The velcro is super sticky too.
  • There are also water bottle sleeves inside on both the right and left sides, one is mesh and the other is solid (this is an upgrade feature on the build-a-bag)
  • The shoulder strap is softer, more flexible webbing material which is less likely to rub skin raw or gouge a groove in your shoulder. However, I still recommend investing in the velcro strap pad cover. I’ve been using the same one for over 15 years — I just switch it from bag to bag as needed. Best $15 I ever spent.
  • There are reflector tabs at the end of the compression straps for late night biking and the small horizontal loop on the center strip is designed to hold a blinky bike light.

 

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

Stuff that stayed the same:

  • The red key leash is still there and one of my favorite features even though the placement changed its still super useful. I added an extra leash to the leash so I can clip my keys and then throw the whole thing into the depths of the bag rather than trying to squeeze my giant car key/alarm doodad into the small front pocket.
  • The lining is still waterproof and now there is an extra bit of fabric at the flap fold to eliminate potential water from getting in on the sides. Did I ever tell you about the soaking one of my Timbuk2 bags got a few years ago? I got caught on my scooter in a torrential downpour with no place to pull over and get shelter. When I got home, I was drenched from head to toe — so much so that I took my shoes off and literally poured water out of them like a cartoon. The whole time, all I could think was that everything I owned of value was in the TImbuk2 bag on my back and the exterior Cordura was drenched. I worried that my phone, camera, and all the other paper goods in my bag would be drenched. When I opened the bag though, the only thing that was even damp was the corner of a magazine that had been sticking out of the exposed corner of the bag. So, no more exposed corners with the new design so get out there and ride without fear of anything being damaged in a monsoon.
  • There is still an inside pocket with slashes on the outside of it that hold pens, business cards and other sundries. The pocket itself is a bit smaller than previous models but perfect to stash earbuds and the like.
  • A crossbody strap is included for additional support when carrying the bag on a bike
  • The build quality is still excellent. Ends are nicely folded and finished. Everything feels well constructed and durable.

The crap that went into the Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

Pictured above  is all the stuff I dumped out of my previous bag and need to fit into the medium Timbuk2 messenger:

Timbuk2 Chicago Edition Medium Messenger Bag

It all packed into the Timbuk2 neatly with plenty of room to spare for other things that pop up like a book to return to the library, my mail reply kit, a sack lunch, etc. There’s also more than enough room to use this bag to carry my 13″ laptop should the need arise. The top photo is actually the bag fully packed.

Timbuk2 messenger bags start at $109. If you have an old bag you’d like to replace, Timbuk2 does offer an option to recycle an older bag called LifeCycle. You can recycle an old bag by sending it to Timbuk2. If you recycle a bag, you’ll receive a 20% off coupon for your next bag purchase. If you love your Timbuk2 bag but its seen its better days, Timbuk2 can help you get it repaired.

Have you ever used a Timbuk2 bag? Do you like it?

Timbuk2 Terracycle Mail Bag Messenger Bag

Timbuk2 Terracycle Mail Messenger

Ever wanted a bag made form old USPS mail bags? Well, now’s your chance. Timbuk2 has introduced the Terracycle messenger bag made from old canvas mail bags. Each bag is unique and this option will only be available for a limited time. They are available in small ($99) or the medium ($109) and in original white canvas or in an overdyed brown (seems more UPS than USPS, but who am I to judge?).

I REALLLLLLLLYYYYY want one.

Timbuk2 Terracycle Mail Messenger in brown

Bag Lust: Po Campo’s Midway Weekend

Po Campo Midway Weekender

 

Po Campo is a bag company out of Chicago specializing in stylish bags for the active urban dweller and bike-centric woman. Their latest creation is the Midway Weekender. It’s designed to comfortably hold a change of clothes and miscellaneous personal  items. On the bottom portion is a zipper compartment for shoes or sweaty gym clothes. The straps on the side will accommodate a towel or rolled yoga mat. Can be carried by the handles or by the shoulder strap included.

I think its a great looking bag, good looking but truly functional. The bag starts shipping February 17th. A bit late for my travel needs but I’ll definitely be considering one of these in the future.

The bag measures 16″ wide x  13″ tall x  7.5″ deep. Large enough to tote a laptop as well as all those items needed on a trip or just going back and forth to the office. It’s available in black, brown and a blue-and-white stripe. Vegan materials. $99.

(via Po Campo)