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?

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16 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I am a fan of Lug bags for a variety of my needs. They make a variety of styles, but all of them have a plethora of pockets and thoughtful details, and they are extremely sturdy and come in a selection of colors from bright to black and brown and grey. I looked and looked for a camera bag that would suit me and ended up using Lug bags with drop in padded organizers. I’m a top access, zipper closure, shoulder bag kind of person vs. the flap over, cross body, courier bag kind of person, but Lug has a variety of styles. You might find something you like! www dot luglife dot com

  2. This struggle was over for me a long time ago when I noticed the inverse correlation of style and functionality. I just gave up – now I use bag-in-bag organizers, instead of succumbing to the nylon-and-foam garbage available in my budget range.

  3. I go between wanting something with enough room to serve as a small shopping bag or to hold a small knitting project and a small bag that hold just the essentials. What I really wanted was a small messenger bag but the big compartment is just too big and unstructured. About a month ago I got a cosmetic/purse organizer and it’s perfect. I have it in a small messenger-type bag that doesn’t have many pockets and it’d be perfect if it wasn’t leopard print. Sometimes I don’t want leopard print. But most of the time it’s okay. The other drawback is that it’s uncomfortable to carry with another bag when I want to carry more stuff.

    The Moleskine bags look wonderful but I think they’re too big for me. Or at least that’s what I’m going to tell myself.

  4. I really enjoyed this post! Bags (of the more-or-less utilitarian kind) were my first obsession, I think. I love Tom Bihn. I mostly use my Synapse backpack (the smaller one). The way the pockets are arranged is so convenient that it is hard to use anything else. But it is a backpack. For shorter jaunts with less stuff I use a Tom Bihn medium cafe bag, or a Freitag Hawaii 5-0 (small messenger bag). I also have now a cute tote from Fjallraven which has a reasonable number of pockets and can easily be carried backpack style also. I have purses too, but they don’t hold enough, except for one Swiss semi-tote that I don’t think you can buy in the US.

  5. I can’t really help as being in a tech workplace, many woman, including the director of our department carry backpacks. I alternate between a Timbuk2 and a Swiss Army backpack. I have been eyeballing a few options on Kickstarter, but still debating.

    I have lots to carry, laptop, ipad mini, phone, cords for all of those, planner, notebook, nock case, a few other pen/marker cases, workout gear and whatever else catches my fancy at the time.

  6. If you want something to last a lifetime (their bags are guaranteed for life), you might consider investing in a Saddleback Leather bag. There aren’t as many pockets as some other bags, but like someone posted earlier, I too have given up on the less-well-constructed bags and opted for a bag organizer. The satchel and the messenger bag have a flap closure, a shoulder strap and a handle on the top. The leather and construction is of amazing quality and the smell is heavenly!

  7. I ride a bike.. with the motor kind. So I just use a small backpack that can fit an A4 clipboard, my 12inch latitude/chromebook and a bundle of loose writing paper and a couple of B5 notebooks. Other knick knacks includes two pencil cases, powerbank for phone and few little things that I seldom see or use…. so far it has stood my abuse without any failed stiches of fabric tear. And my stuff remain dry when i have to ride in tropical rain too which is a bonus.

  8. I have a Tom Bihn Small Cafe bag and I love it! Mine has an Avocado exterior-Wasabi interior (2 of my favorite colors). It’s surprisingly roomy, tough, water-resistant and has all the pockets I need. I bought it a couple of years ago straight from their shop/factory in Seattle and it still looks like new. I had a couple of other bags but found that I always went back to my Cafe bag for everyday as it’s best suited to my lifestyle and personality. I finally got rid of the other bags! Am considering getting the medium size when I go back to Seattle next year but am undecided at to whether I really need it.

  9. Another Tom Bihn bag fan here. My current favorite is their Pilot – similar to the Co-Pilot Mr. Bemis reviewed so well, but larger. I can squeeze a letter sized Levenger Circa in it, when needed, and I’ve managed to squeeze in my 15″ laptop once or twice, but I don’t recommend doing it. The Pilot is nice mix of separation and large enough pockets to fit in other bags and pouches. Before I became enamored with the Pilot, I was using their Synapse backpack, which was also great – especially while I was on crutches.

  10. I’m a bloke… and I’m in the same boat as you, looking for the perfect bag!

    I don’t use pockets on my clothes to carry things. I hate the extra bulk in my pockets, it makes a jacket or trousers feel uncomfortable. So I use a variety of bags, like you I’m on the constant look for ‘the perfect bag’ I have 4 or 5 different bags ranging in size and shape. The most expensive and cherished one is my Filofax Courier leather messenger bag. I don’t use it often, but it really is a lovely bag to carry.

    You will find some photos of it here: http://bagsey.blogspot.fr/2013/10/filofax-architect-portrait-courier-bag.html

    Other bags I use tend to be adapted camera bags, they are great because the interiors are always softly lined so they won’t damage leather organisers, and the dividers are always moveable. They also tend to be fairly waterproof too.

  11. Total bag addict here. I must have 5 custom Rickshaw Zeroes and about 20 other bags I never use. LOL I have been using a Tom Bihn Synapse forever and it’s great for small loads but it’s surprisingly limited for use when I load it a bit more for travel. If you’re using it like a student with flat bookish things, then it’s great.

  12. When I worked a in a traditional office, the Tom Bihn co-pilot (in black, with the absolute strap) was my daily companion for my train-based commute. The center pouch can hold a water bottle, an umbrella, or a small knitting project (such as socks). And if you purchase all of those in just the right size, you can fit all three in there. Now I only run in for meetings on occasion, so I’m more likely to just use my EDC, a TB little swift (now discontinued, sniff). If I need to transport presentation materials I have a vintage leather portfolio case I carry them in. If I need my laptop then the co-pilot makes an appearance and still (over 5 years on) looks as good as the day it arrived (and it commuted in NYC!). All the other bags I’d trialed over the years? Sold or donated. These are the only ones I use!

  13. I’d recommend the Lo & Sons OMG bag. It is meant to be an overnight bag, but it is spacious and portable to carry to work. The bag and can be carry as a tote or a cross body, AND it comes in very nice colors.

    1. Well chosen, my friend. Those bags are beautiful. And they are even having a pre-Thanksgiving sale. I am quite tempted!

  14. Old thread, but I carry a Swift exactly like the one in the photo! I used to carry a medium Cafe bag. I have one of every size now. And I have a purple Cordura Swift. But the olive parapack Swift is perfect. I think the trick is to use org pouches for most of your organization and try not to use the two top pockets as much. I have a 3-D org pouch that helps too. I like how I can carry a knitting or spinning project along. And I have enough room for all that paper my husband wants me to carry!

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