In search of the perfect bag

It happens from time to time – I pick up my bag – man-purse, man-bag, murse, whatever you want to call it –  and I get evil thoughts. Is it really big enough? Would it be better with less/more/different pockets? Maybe I should get something different…

Anyone with a luggage addiction knows the feeling.

I’ve written about man-bags before – those smaller-than-a-briefcase but larger-than-a-wallet bags that more and more guys are starting to carry for a bunch of reasons. A briefcase is a great thing, but when you aren’t carrying a computer, and you don’t have stacks of files to carry, it’s a bit too much.

Anyway, I have been carrying an awesome bag – the now-unavailable (the new version is seriously sissified, even if it does say Ducati on it) Tumi Small Messenger bag. Great construction, great pocket layout, and it’s black and has the Tumi label which is as good a business passport as you could ask. The problem is that it’s a vertical format, and the interior is black. So looking for anything, particularly anything small and black, like a memory card, will have you digging for a while. The other problem is that it’s not really waterproof – I found that out while in Ireland. Waterproofness is one of those things you can ignore or do without 99% of the time. You’ll find cover, or you’ll avoid the weather altogether. But when I get caught it’s almost always while I’m traveling, and with a bag full of stuff that can’t get wet. Lastly, a good chunk of the available volume is tied up in a front pocket which is very secure, but hard to use.

For a while I tried the Tom Bihn medium Cafe Bag, but it’s not very sophisticated. Not a lot of pockets, and nothing to clip your keys to (although there are rings). But the real problem is that the way the thing is designed the flap leaves gaps at the ends, so even though the fabric is pretty weather resistant, there’s likely to be a lot of leakage. It doesn’t hold it’s shape very well – it’s based on a rather unforgiving rectangular box shape, so it tends to bunch and crumple when less than full. You can buy it with a light interior color, which makes it much easier to find stuff. The strap comes with one of those slidy pads that’s never in the right position.

The Cafe bag was $50, the Small Messenger went for $165 list, so you can see why there’s a difference.

So I had the Tumi in my hand and was trying like heck to figure out what to get next. I thought about smaller, and even ordered a small Cafe bag from Mr. Bihn.

By chance I stopped by Laacke & Joy’s looking for something else, and they had the Metro by Timbuk2 in black. The fabric is very stiff, and the bag is very small for a messenger bag, but it’s the right size for just day to day stuff. It’s actually about the size of the Tumi, but the space is more usable because of a light grey interior and the horizonal format. It doesn’t gap or leave holes when closed, and there are enough places to put things to stay organized and keep track of tiny items. It was $50, and I bought it on the spot. I’ve been carrying it since Sunday, and it’s a winner so far.

I’m even thinking about getting another one – in size small (a bit larger than the Metro) – and maybe not even in black.

I cancelled the order for the small Cafe bag. I may order their Imago or ID, but for now I’m going to see how the Timbuk2 goes.

2 thoughts on “In search of the perfect bag

  1. Caught your feed earlier, then caught this feed talking about another bag which reminded me of you post. I thought this timbuk2 might be up your alley. Timbuk2 Blogger Bag

    I like the timbuk2 bags, but I don’t own any myself. My wife has their medium cargo tote, which she uses as a large purse. I am trying to convince her to buy the smaller version because I think the medium one is very cool.

    They do soften up a bit over time.


  2. Hi, I’m Bagman and I’m a bagaholic.

    I know exactly what you mean about continuously searching high and low for a great bag. My favorite right now is the Lewis N. Clark Frontier Shoulder Bag. The material’s light and probably not very water resistant, but hey, it’s dirt cheap and it’s got more pockets than you can shake a stick at. If it were only made of heftier material and just a smidgen bigger to fit 8.5×11 papers, I’d be in heaven. In the meantime, I just picked up four of them on sale for $50, so I don’t really care if they wear out faster than a Tumi. I looked through the small Timbuk2 at an EMS. Nice material, but nowhere near enough pockets.


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