Bags, Bags, Bags

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Posted 27 Aug 2009 in Soulville

So you are in need of a new bag (or 2 or 3) for the year? There are so many different options – backpacks, messenger bags, sling bags, etc etc. You may know a style that you like already. Stick with it.

If you’re looking for ideas, here you go:

Creative Commons License photo credit: betsystreeter

Backpack – Classic back to school item. Backpacks have 2 straps (and should always be used with both straps). Typically the best bag to use if you have a LOT to carry or if you have shoulders that easily get sore with messengers, or if you’re always on the move. Can be professional (don’t get the loud colors though) and laid back at the same time.

One of the all time classic backpacks is the Jansport Superbreak. Simple and can carry a few books. I have another classic bag, the LL Bean Turbo Transit. You want to look for a durable material. Always make sure to match the bag to yourself, not just look at whether it’s cool looking or not. If it doesn’t fit the purpose or the amount you need to carry, don’t get it.

John shows the new bag
Creative Commons License photo credit: ndanger

Messenger Bags – Popularized by bike messengers (hence the name), messenger bags are great for carrying items around. Timbuk2 is a popular company for messengers (and other gear) and they make the bags to last a long time. I really trust their products (my current Timbuk2 is the medium laptop messenger…itching to get the Commuter 2.0!). You can get a variety of features on a messenger, such as a laptop sleeve, pockets to hold your goodies, dividers for different uses, padded straps, key hooks, etc. They are available in a variety of sizes from tiny (almost purse size) to extra extra large (for real messengers that have to carry packages).

Some tips on selecting a messenger bag:

  • Get a bag with a good strap and one that is durable.
  • If you ride a bike, get one that has a space to clip on lights or hook your helmet when you’re not on the bike. I
  • f you’re really into recyclable products, another company to check out besides Timbuk2 is Osprey – the Osprey ReSource line is really nice.
  • If you carry tons of heavy books, test out a messenger if you can before buying because they can dig into your shoulders and make your back hurt if too heavy.
  • If you don’t like Velcro on the flap, put some colored duct tape over the Velcro and voila you have no annoying noise!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Russell Crosswy

Sling bags – These are really popular, but usually do not hold as much as a messenger or a backpack. If you have shoulder and back issues beware. Great bags if you’re carrying just a few items (notebook, maybe small laptop and a book) or running errands. It is very easy to bring to the front and get your items out of while keeping on your body. At least for me, I have difficulty biking with this on and keeping it from sliding around but when walking, it is great. Have  a brother that swears by his Jansport sling backpack and uses it frequently for work, school and play. Has plenty of pocket options and a variety of colors.

While I only presented three types of bags here there are so many more options. Check out eBags (the main place I buy bags from) or local stores. Don’t forget a lunch bag to save some dough and a toiletry bag for when you are on the go! Try on as many bags as you can, especially if you don’t buy bags often and if you’re working in a set of must have parameters. Just as when you buy shoes, if a bag feels uncomfortable in the beginning, chances are it’s going to be uncomfortable down the line.

If you have a set price range, stick with it. Or if say your max that you want to spend is $75 and a bag that is known to last for years and is exactly what you want is $85 or even just a little more (up to $100 but not $150!), find a way to pay that little bit now so you aren’t selling it and buying the bag you really wanted later on. It may feel bad to eat tuna for a week so you can pinch it, but you’ll be happier in the end and not be wearing an uncomfortable bag.

What kind of bag do you use? Any suggestions on great styles or brand names?

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