A whole bunch of fannies – gpgmail


It’s finally Bag Week again! The most wonderful week of the year at gpgmail. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to…

The fanny pack. Or hip pack, waist bag, belt bag, sling, crossbody and sometimes bum bag, because where you’re from, a fanny means lady parts. Whatever it’s called, I’ve been searching for an all-around go-to alternative for purses. (I don’t care much for them since they don’t match my tee-shirt and holes-in-jeans aesthetic.)

For the past two months, I’ve been trying out fanny packs (and trying to shove various objects into them) for different daily routines.

I haven’t found one that gets the job done for everything, but here are a variety of great fannies.

Herschel Eighteen Hip Pack – $49.99

 

I own three Herschel backpacks, all of which have served me well for the past two years, so I was pretty stoked about this one. The only problem though, with my 5’4” wimpy frame, I should have opted for a smaller bag in their hip pack line. Although it’s smaller than Peak Design’s Everyday Sling, the side support makes it uncomfortable to wear across the chest and only works as a back sling or fanny pack.

Pros:

  • Solid construction
  • Huge main compartment large enough to hold a water bottle, book, camera and knick-knacks
  • Comfortable air mesh padding on the back

Cons:

  • Opening for the two front storage pockets is too small, which makes it cumbersome to put things in, pull things out
  • Missing inner pocket inside the main compartment for keys and wallet so there’s a lot of digging involved

Dimensions: 7″ (H) x 11″ (W) x 3″ (D)

More details and specs here.

 

Moment Fanny Sling – $69.99

The fine people at Moment, known for their mobile phone lenses, recently launched a series of bags and cases. Although this bag was designed with the intention of storing their lenses and gear, it has become my boyfriend’s everyday bag since I received it back in June. It withstood a grimy Budapest rainstorm, a grimy music festival and a grimy New York summer.

Pros:

  • Pockets for days (including one on the back that fits your wallet or phone)
  • Weatherproof shell and zippers
  • Comfortable for everyday use
  • Flexible, expandable — can be worn across the chest, as a traditional fanny pack or sling

Con:

  • The Velcro loop that keeps excess straps in place wore down after a month and tends to slip off

Dimensions: 5.1″ (H) x 8.25” (W) x 3.75” (D)

More details and specs here.

 

Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L – $99.95

This was my go-to photography bag for the summer. It’s been perfect for organizing all the essentials: DSLR, two lenses, SD cards, notebook (or iPad), batteries, etc. I love everything about this bag. That’s it. That’s the review. There’s nothing else I can say.

Pros:

  • Tons of pockets, dividers of sorts and padding for all of your accessories
  • Tuck-away system to hide excess straps and front zipper
  • Quick adjusting straps for when you need to grab your camera or to switch configurations
  • Weatherproof nylon canvas shell

Cons:

Dimensions: 7.48″ (H) x 12.2″ (W) x 4.33″ (D)

More details and specs here.

 

State Bags Crosby Fanny Pack – $150

From the smooth leather body to the gold foil embossed logo, this is the classiest one of the bunch, and has been my date night go-to for the past month. It’s casual enough to accessorize with jeans and tee-shirt, but stylish enough to make it look like you put in the effort.

The best part, though, is that there are good people behind the products. For every bag you purchase, they donate fully packed backpacks to kids throughout America.

Pros:

  • Mesh inside pocket to separate smaller items
  • Well-made and designed
  • Slip pocket on the back for quick access to iPhone X

Cons:

  • The straps started to pill a little after a month of use

Dimensions: 5.00″ (H) x 7.09″ (W) x 1.97″ (D)

More details and specs here.

Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack – $29.00

This is the fun-sized candy bar of fanny packs. It’s adorable, has an 80s throwback colorblock design and folds into its own pocket when not in use. It’s quite small and only holds the essentials (wallet, phones, keys, and in my case, an inhaler), but it’s ideal for running errands.

Pros:

  • Sturdy and small
  • Mesh back padding for comfort and breathability
  • Soft adjustable strap

Cons:

  • Nylon construction — it sometimes feels like a toiletries bag

Dimensions: 7” (W) x 4.5”(H) x 2” (D)

More details and specs here.

 

Timbuk2 Slacker Chest Pack – $49.00

This is the most basic, yet comfortable fanny pack. It was my everyday dog-walking bag. It held a water bottle, doggie treats and a collapsible dog bowl, while my wallet was tucked into the inside mesh pocket. There’s even an in-pocket strap to hold your keys.

Pros:

  • Air mesh back panel for breathability and comfort
  • Uncomplicated design

Cons:

  • The zipper doesn’t open the entire width of the bag
  • Straps won’t adjust small enough for skinny people with narrow hips — it’ll fall right off your booty

Dimensions: 3.94” (H) x 11.2” (W) x 2.48” (D)

More details and specs here.

Generic fanny pack – free

This is not a great fanny pack. I’m including this bottom of the barrel bag I received as Google schwag during CES earlier this year as a control. It’s made in China with visible threads, sloppily sewn together. Ugly, yet surprisingly comfortable. It gets the job done and you don’t have to worry about losing it. You can get a similar one on Amazon for eight bucks.


10 minutes mail – Also known by names like : 10minemail, 10minutemail, 10mins email, mail 10 minutes, 10 minute e-mail, 10min mail, 10minute email or 10 minute temporary email. 10 minute email address is a disposable temporary email that self-destructed after a 10 minutes. https://tempemail.co/– is most advanced throwaway email service that helps you avoid spam and stay safe. Try tempemail and you can view content, post comments or download something

Waxed canvas messengers from Trakke, Waterfield, and Mission Workshop are spacious and rugged – gpgmail


It’s nearing the end of Bag Week 2019, where we highlight the best receptacles for the tech we cover daily, and we’ve got a few more winners for you. Earlier this week I collected a few excellent waxed canvas laptop bags together, a sequel to last year’s round-up, but these messenger style bags stood out. So I’ve collected them here separately.

As I’ve written before, waxed canvas is a wonderful material. The natural fibers infused with wax provide water resistance, structure, protection and a great look that only gets better with time as you use it. It’s my favorite material and it should be yours too. Only trouble is, it can be expensive. But keep in mind that these bags are the kind that you take with you for a decade or two.

Waterfield Vitesse – $159

Pros:

  • Extremely handsome material and color
  • Great closure mechanism
  • Interior laptop sleeve is lovely

Cons:

  • Permanently attached nylon straps
  • Exterior pocket style not for everyone
  • Prominent badge

Store link

Waterfield’s canvas material was my favorite, with the possible exception, accounting for taste, of the heavy-duty Saddleback bag. While the latter is raw and rugged, this one is more refined and flexible. The canvas is much softer and more pliable than the other bags, but still thick and protective. It isn’t very stiff, though.

The Vitesse is a simple, useful bag. It has plenty of space inside for a day out or even an overnight if you’re careful. There are three simple pockets on the inside for stowing smaller items, and a large laptop compartment that closes with a velcro strap.

Waterfield recommends a sleeve for your laptop, and I support that, especially considering how nice their sleeves are. The padded waxed canvas sleeve that they sent along has a leather base and magnetic closure that made me feel quite confident in throwing the bag around. I also used it in other bags, like the Joshu+Vela one, which lacked their own padding. There are of course cheaper than thinner sleeves than this, but I felt this one deserved a shout-out.

On the outside under the flap is a single large pocket space that can be accessed through zippers on either side of the bag. These are weather sealed as well so if they’re exposed a bit they won’t leak. There’s a leather handle up top that feels well balanced and won’t get in your way. On the front of the flap is a (to me) over-prominent leather logo badge. Maybe I’m over-sensitive to this kind of thing.

The closure method is unique: studs that fit into holes in leather straps attached to the flap. I thought it was weird at first but it’s grown on me: it’s easy to undo in a hurry, and not hard to attach even with one hand.

My main issue is the strap. For a messenger bag the strap is really important, and the truth is Waterfield kind of blew it here. The Vitesse basically just has a plain nylon strap, sewn on at an angle to the corners of the bag. Unlike many laptop bags, the straps can’t swivel, so they’ll get twisted. And unlike the other messengers here, there’s no big obvious pad or quick-adjust capability.

I’m a little sad I can’t recommend the Vitesse more given its strengths, but this strap really is hard to get over.

Trakke Wee Lug (Mk2) – £225 (around $270)

waxed messengers 12

Pros:

  • Refined, well thought-out design and components
  • Comfortable strap setup
  • Low-key waxing and color

Cons:

  • Closure can take some getting used to
  • Switching strap side could be easier
  • Low-key waxing and color

Store link

This Scottish maker of waxed canvas items has a long history over there, and sources its cloth from one of the original purveyors of waxed canvas in the world. We’re talking 19th century here.

But the design and in fact the cloth itself are distinctly modern. A “dry wax” finish gives the Wee Lug very little of a waxy feel, but it’s definitely in there, you can tell. It’ll just take longer to develop the kind of wear marks you get in a hurry on the more wax-forward bags like the Vitesse above. It’s also a lighter, smoother color in person, compared with the caramel Rummy and more textured Vitesse.

The truth is this finish isn’t for everyone in that if you really want that old-fashioned waxed look, this isn’t it. But keep in mind that you can (and should) wax or rewax the material on this kind of bag, and you’re free to do so.

Whether the material is to your liking or not, the design is excellent. The exterior has two zip-access side pockets a bit like the Vitesse but larger and a bit easier to access. The interior has a zipping padded laptop area, smaller zipped pocket, two simple side pockets, and a large general-use space. It’s also a bright, citrusy not-quite-safety orange that complements the tan exterior well.

The zippers all have loops, a more practical alternative to ordinary pulls and in my opinion more attractive than leather thongs, which seem to me like they’re just a way to use up scraps. There’s a carry handle near the top of the back that feels very strong and despite sticking out a bit hasn’t bothered me while using the bag.

Closure is achieved by slipping a metal clip below through a gap in another metal clip above; it takes a little bit to get used to, but ultimately it’s both simple and robust, and very unlikely to wear out.

The shoulder strap is thick black canvas, with a generous (20-inch) shoulder pad. In the middle is a Cobra buckle for quick donning and removing. The Wee Lug is definitely intended to be worn high across the back, as the padded portion of the strap goes all the way to the edge of the bag. I should say the D-rings and hardware other than the buckle are the weakest parts of the whole bag — just ordinary plastic.

Those straps can be removed and reattached on the opposite sides so it goes from a right- to left-shouldered bag, but this process is a bit cumbersome. If it were too easy it might happen on accident, but slipping the thick canvas strap through the gap in its clip takes a lot of strength — something you might not have when you’re tired from riding and want to switch shoulders.

If I had to recommend one bag out of these three, I think the Trakke would be it.

Mission Workshop Monty – $255

 

waxed messengers 19

Pros:

  • Nice marky waxed finish
  • Truly waterproof
  • Very spacious

Cons:

  • Feels a little overengineered
  • No padded laptop space
  • No handle and strap again could be easier to switch

Store link

Mission Workshop puts together bags of obviously high quality, but they tend to have an aspect of cleverness to them that I don’t always find warranted. In the case of the Monty (and its big siblings the Rummy and Shed) they have a great basic setup that feels like there’s just a bit too much going on.

What they get right is the materials and feeling of ruggedness. If I was going into seriously inclement weather, the Monty is the bag I’d take, no question. Waxed canvas is naturally water resistant and it’ll keep your gear safe from spray or limited rain, but torrential downpour or immersion breaks the spell. If you’re going to be riding in the rain regularly and for long periods of time, you need a synthetic, waterproof layer if you don’t want anything getting damp.

That’s what’s inside the Monty: a strong tarp layer lining every pocket and space that pretty much guarantees your gear stays dry. The exterior is a lovely caramel-colored waxed canvas that was extremely eager to pick up marks and impressions (and, as is often the case with wet finishes, dirt and fuzz — Filson’s do this too).

The other thing they get right is the amount of structured and unstructured space. The Monty has a very large main compartment in the back, big enough it’s difficult to photograph (I tried… for some reason this thing is not photogenic, though it looks good in the life). Then there’s a zippered area with two sub-compartments in the front, and two open pockets that close with a single flap in front of that. There’s no shortage of places to put your things, but you’re never at a loss where something should go.

I personally think the front pocket closure is a little much, since you can hardly reach inside them without removing the main flap and undoing this huge velcro piece, but better too secure than not secure enough. And I would have liked a bit of padding around the larger zip pocket, or a padded sub-area where a laptop could go.

But the main issue I have with the Monty is that it tries to accommodate two styles when really there’s only one. You can close the bag in two ways: by folding the flap over and securing it with the company’s excellent Arkiv closures, or by rolling it down and velcroing it shut with a different flap.

Rolltop stuff is in MW’s DNA, but it simply doesn’t fit here. If you roll it up, the straps have nothing to do but hang onto the front of the pockets. Meanwhile if you fold it over, you have unused velcro all over the outside, and a flap on the inside doing nothing. You can’t roll it a little and then fold it over, since it would hide the closure rails.

I feel like MW could have made a strong decision one way or the other here and made the bag either rolltop or flap closure, but instead they did both, and whichever you choose, you still sort of run into the other. And the thing is it doesn’t matter which you choose, since your stuff will be protected fine either way and neither opens up or obscures any extra space.

So the Monty, despite being a very practical bag in some ways, feels like a weird hybrid in others. Whereas the Wee Lug knows exactly what it is and pursues that design exclusively.


These are all three great bags, but they serve very different purposes. The Waterfield is a great all-round casual bag, but the strap really makes it impractical for cycling or long wear. The Trakke is much more suited for athletic activities and has more room and organiztion, making it something of a perfect weekender or day bag. And the MW is sort of a prepper bag, ready for anything and a bit off-kilter.

If I had to buy a single one of these right now, I’d go with the Trakke — the attention to detail appeals to me. If on the other hand I knew I’d be facing lots of rain or the possibility of dropping my bag in the surf, I’d go MW. And if Waterfield gets its strap game together I’d find their bag easy to recommend as a flexible, unfussy hybrid. You can’t go wrong with any of them.


10 minutes mail – Also known by names like : 10minemail, 10minutemail, 10mins email, mail 10 minutes, 10 minute e-mail, 10min mail, 10minute email or 10 minute temporary email. 10 minute email address is a disposable temporary email that self-destructed after a 10 minutes. https://tempemail.co/– is most advanced throwaway email service that helps you avoid spam and stay safe. Try tempemail and you can view content, post comments or download something

Herschel’s Retreat brings classical simplicity to the laptop backpack – gpgmail


It’s finally Bag Week again! The most wonderful week of the year at gpgmail. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.

I’ve been meaning to check out a Herschel bag for a while now, just to see what all the fuss is about. The Vancouver-based company has really exploded on the scene here in New York City over the past few years. The packs seemed to go from virtually non-existent to every backpack over night.

With Bag Week rapidly approaching, I asked Herschel to send along whichever laptop backpack they recommended, and received the Retreat in the mail. I’ll be honest, the bag is a bit of a 180 from my usual. Doing what I do for a living, I’ve adopted a bit of a more is more approach when it comes to backpacks — more pockets, more slots. I’ve got something for all of them.

The Retreat presents a far more stripped-down approach. There’s the primary compartment with a slightly padded and fleece-lined laptop sleeve, and a medium-sized pocket on the outside with no zipper or snap. I appreciate the stripped-down approach — perhaps loosing some of my cables and gadgets could go a ways toward clearing my head. For now, however, it’s a bit too minimalistic for my day to day commuter backpack needs.

CMB 7972

I have, however, found a spot for it in my life as a handy gym bag. There’s not a ton of volume here, but it’s plenty sufficient for gym clothes and a pair of running shoes. It’s solid, too, for those days when you’re feeling liberated enough to leave the house with little more than your laptop. I need to get better than that, and reckon the Retreat could help.

The build is solid. Herschel completely eschews zippers here. Instead, the mountaineering-style pack has a top flap that closes with magnetic snaps at the end of long leather straps. There’s also a drawstring to better close the top compartment. That should keep things in, though I probably wouldn’t recommend getting caught in a downpour with a laptop inside.

CMB 7975

It’s nice to look at as well — the only drawback here being that you’re bound to see a lot of fellow travelers sporting the same model. Or heck, maybe that’s even more motivation to pick one up — you do you. The black and brown (though there are a full 38 color options from which to choose) is offset nicely by the red and white interior lining.

At $80 (and less, depending on where you buy), the price is also right for what amounts to a solid — if simple — bag.


10 minutes mail – Also known by names like : 10minemail, 10minutemail, 10mins email, mail 10 minutes, 10 minute e-mail, 10min mail, 10minute email or 10 minute temporary email. 10 minute email address is a disposable temporary email that self-destructed after a 10 minutes. https://tempemail.co/– is most advanced throwaway email service that helps you avoid spam and stay safe. Try tempemail and you can view content, post comments or download something

Timbuk2’s Parker is a commuter backpack made for the long haul – gpgmail


It’s finally Bag Week again! The most wonderful week of the year at gpgmail. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.

Honestly, I’d thought I’d have grown out of backpacks by this point in my life. I had a year or two flirtation with messengers, but all roads eventually led back to the over-the-shoulder satchel. As a subway commuter who carries around a laptop at all times, it just works for me.

Until recently, however, I never really had much allegiance to any bag companies. I’ve used JanSport and Crumpler and Herschel and have a closet full of promotional bags I’ve accumulated over the years, but any semblance of brand loyalty has been fleeting at best.

Last year, however, I fell pretty hard for Timbuk2’s Never Check (as hard as a man can fall for a travel backpack). The carry-on backpack joined me for two weeks in Asia, traveling to a handful of different gpgmail events. It addressed my travel needs better than any bag I’ve used, and when I returned to the States, I purchased the company’s Authority Pack for my day to day commute.

I like the bag just fine. It’s got a nice assortment of internal pockets, but lacks the kind of versatility I’d gotten used to with the Never Check. Hoping to split the difference, I asked the company to send its new Parker Commuter Backpack to take for a spin. So far, so good. The bag does a good job delivering much of the Never Check’s amenities on a scale that works for the nearly two or so hours a day I spend commuting in and out of Manhattan.

Waterproofing was key to the choice, as well. I’d recently lost use of a work MiFi in a freak torrential downpour. It was stowed away in a zipped-up pocked I thought was sufficiently insulated against the elements. Turns out, however, that a little water behind the display is a dangerous thing when it comes to a portable Wi-Fi device.

The Parker has that part covered with a wax canvas front, including a couple of external pockets with covered zippers. I was a bit surprised how much of the storage space was monopolized by the trio of out-facing pockets. It’s a 180 from the two slim ones on the Authority.

Here there are zippers on the top and bottom pouches, with the center and largest pocket snapping together with a magnet. It’s an interesting touch and one I’ve not seen much of in backpacks. It does seem to lack the relative security of a zipper, so you might want to skip storing valuables in there, but it makes for easy access, which is great for things like keys. I’ve also not had any issue with the three after getting caught in the rain a couple of times.

Timbuk2

On either side there’s a narrow, but expandable slot for an umbrella and/or water bottle. And like the Never Check, the primary zipper expands the bag for additional storage. That’s nice for overnights, or those days when you’re bringing groceries back to the apartment.

Also, like the Never Check, there’s a nearly hidden zipper on the side rear for slipping a 15-inch laptop in and out. Interestingly, that panel can also be accessed through the main compartment. I’m not in love with that part. I do like the way the Never Check keeps the laptop hidden.

Timbuk2

There’s plenty of space inside — more than I generally need day to day. There’s plenty of space for my camera, gym shoes and all of the other crap I lug around, day to day. I could, however, have done with additional pockets inside — spots devoted to things like pens. That’s a point for the Authority, which also incorporates a mesh net for loose objects.

The Airmesh back panel is a nice touch, keeping the wearer’s back a bit cooler, especially during this brutal East Coast August. There are plenty of security straps, as well, for cyclists, though those thankfully remove easily for day to day usage.

At $219, the Parker is considerably pricier than the Authority ($129), but it’s got more than enough space and is built to last.


10 minutes mail – Also known by names like : 10minemail, 10minutemail, 10mins email, mail 10 minutes, 10 minute e-mail, 10min mail, 10minute email or 10 minute temporary email. 10 minute email address is a disposable temporary email that self-destructed after a 10 minutes. https://tempemail.co/– is most advanced throwaway email service that helps you avoid spam and stay safe. Try tempemail and you can view content, post comments or download something

Waxed canvas bags from Waterfield, Manhattan Portage, Saddleback and more – gpgmail


It’s finally Bag Week again! the most wonderful week of the year at gpgmail. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.

This year, like last year, I decided to focus on a specific niche in the bag community: waxed canvas. Last year I reviewed a handful of bags from Ona, Filson, and other purveyors of fine waxed goods. But there are many more to choose from, so I’ve collected a second handful and used them all for long enough to get a sense of their strengths and weaknesses.

Waxed canvas is a wonderful material. The natural fibers infused with wax provide water resistance, structure, protection, and a great look that only gets better with time as you use it. It’s my favorite material and it should be yours too. Only trouble is it can be expensive. But keep in mind that these bags are the kind that you take with you for a decade or two.

For this post I focused on laptop bags, but later in the festivities I’ll have a couple more waxed bags more in the “messenger” style, so keep your eyes peeled.

Waterfield Bolt – $269

Pros:

  • Solid medium-weight material and construction
  • Good padding and leather protective layer
  • Surprising amount of space and pockets

Cons:

  • Somehow lacks panache
  • Leather thongs instead of metal zipper pulls not for everyone

Store link

Of all the bags I’ve looked at for this roundup, this one is perhaps the most straightforward, in that it isn’t convertible, super-heavy, super-light, blue, or anything like that. It’s just a solid all-purpose laptop bag made of waxed canvas and leather, and as such makes for a sort of baseline with which to compare everything else.

The Bolt’s canvas isn’t as thick as that on other Waterfield bags, since it’s lined and padded on the inside. It still has a nice finish, though, and the leather base and trim are similarly high-quality. The strap is, like the other bags from the company, nylon, where I would prefer canvas, but the grippy leather shoulder pad included is among the most practical and comfortable I’ve used.

Where the Bolt excels is not in sheer space, since it’s rather a compact bag (you can choose a larger size if you prefer), but in feeling that space is used well. There are snap pockets in the front and a larger zip one as well for quick access, all protected by a small flap but still easy to get at. On the back is a flap pocket and luggage strap so it can sit safely atop your roller bag.

And opening up the main compartment through its weather-proof zipper, the bag accordions open pleasantly to reveal laptop, tablet, notebook, and other slots all easily accessible. I even like the color in there!

I only wish it inspired a little more love. It’s not a bad-looking bag by any means, but it feels very pedestrian — few stylistic choices seem to have been made. It’s practical but not individual. To some that won’t matter — this is a solid bag. But it lacks a certain je ne sais quois that the company has to spare in its other bags.

Waterfield Outback Solo – $159

Pros:

  • Great material and construction
  • Compact but not microscopic

Cons:

  • Awkward to carry without strap
  • Not a lot of room in there (by design, but still)

Store link

Sometimes you’re just going out with a tablet or laptop and book, and don’t feel like taking a whole messenger style bag or briefcase. This little guy is sort of halfway between a laptop sleeve and a bag, and if you don’t mind its purselike nature it’s a perfect companion for those more minimal trips.

The laptop compartment is snug and well-padded. The outside has a slip pocket with some nooks for pens and the like, big enough to fit a 8.5×11″ notebook or not-too-thick book. Just don’t try putting groceries or anything in there.

Closure is a magnetic snap that feels secure enough but I’d just as soon have something a little more physical. I’d like to mention that the closure strap looks a little sloppy in the photos above, but it’s really not like that in general use and will wear in nicely. And although it feels great to carry this light little guy with the shoulder strap (which stows away decently well), carrying it like a sleeve or clutch isn’t so hot — a small handle or strap would make this much better.

I’d recommend this to anyone who has a larger bag for trips but doesn’t want to pack and unpack it every time they want to step out to the coffee shop. This would work well as a sub-bag or laptop sleeve if you have lots of room in the big one.

Joshu+Vela Zip Briefcase – $198

Pros:

  • Excellent lighter material that will age well
  • Straightforward style and solid straps
  • Great giant brass zippers

Cons:

  • Which side’s the front?
  • Unstructured interior can make stowage and retrieval annoying

Store link

Coming from a shop more known for totes and lightweight, fashionable gear for everyday urban living, this one is heavy duty for them but light compared with some others in this roundup. Its style is subtle and straightforward, but high quality.

The material is a lighter weight and color canvas with a crispy feel that will very quickly show patterns of use as, for example, one front pocket is habitually used for a book or keys. Empty it is possibly the lightest waxed bag I’ve used, which of course makes it good for anyone trying to stay minimal. The simple leather straps are sturdy and comfortable, though their springy, upright nature does mean they occasionally interfere with access.

I love the huge brass zipper and pulls, though I could do without the leather bits (you can remove them). I didn’t like the plain natural canvas strap at first but it, like other aspects of the bag, has grown on me.

The simplicity of the design is good, but it also leads to some problems. Unless you look closely it can be hard to tell which side is the front — only the zipper flap and small label hint at it. Something to secure or differentiate the front or rear pockets, even as simple as removing the divider in the back, would be welcome.

Inside has three divisions, but the billowing, unstructured canvas plus the limited zip-top entrance can make stowage and retrieval a little awkward, more so than a flap-top bag anyway. A tighter compartment for a laptop or tablet would be great in here rather than having it swim in a big undifferentiated section. There’s also no padding, so I’d recommend keeping your device in its own case (this also helps it fill out the space).

Manhattan Portage Cortelyou – $365

Pros:

  • Classy messenger/briefcase crossover style
  • Lovely blue color
  • Great handle, closure, and straps

Cons:

  • Not particularly waxy or robust
  • Steel and brass? Sacrilege
  • Interior material not for everyone (also has a tacky watermark)

Store link

Waxed canvas is normally tan or brown, but that’s just tradition. I like the forest green of the Croots bag from last year or the Saddleback one below, but the rich navy blue of this Manhattan Portage Token bag is also excellent. The material is very light, with a fine weave and barely any wax. That means it probably won’t show the characteristic scuffs and patterns that give this type of bag its personality. (You can always wax it yourself.)

This bag, with its half-flap and top handle, straddles the line between laptop bag and briefcase. It’s not particularly thick but has lots of room for big documents, laptops, and other long items. Its structure means it’ll stay relatively svelte even when full — this won’t get lumpy.

The leather straps and trim are a nice chocolate color and complement the blue well. It’s not heavy or stiff, and the shoulder strap in particular is very pliable — though so long I had to knot it to keep the extra out of the way (fortunately it looks cool that way). The snap closure can be a little tricky to get right by feel, but attaches solidly. The handle, which folds flat but pops up when you need it, is genius — probably the best handle of all the bags in this roundup, though not quite as robust as the Saddleback (but what is?).

The interior isn’t as to my liking. The red nylon watermarked with a branded pattern seems sort of gauche compared to the refined outside, and at the same time it feels like this choice of material should have allowed for more small pockets. It should help keep things dry, though, which is good considering the thinness of the waxed canvas layer.

Manhattan Portage Saratoga

Pros:

  • Convertible style makes it a good companion for conventions, business trips, etc
  • Plenty of handles and exterior pockets

Cons:

  • Not the best of both worlds (but not the worst either)
  • Straps make it feel bulky and lumpy if not stowed carefully

When I’m at CES or some other big show where I do a lot of walking but need to carry my basic loadout everywhere, I often wish I could transform my laptop bag into a backpack or vice versa. The Saratoga accomplishes this, and while it ends up compromising both forms as a result, it also fundamentally scratches an important itch.

The material is a soft-feeling canvas that doesn’t feel very rugged but is showing a nice wear pattern already. The weather-sealed zippers are good news for anyone who wants to take this out in the rain, but there are just too many of them. Six on the exterior, five visible on the front side! This thing jingles like a festive little elf.

The back of the bag is a large pocket in which the pack straps sit, providing extra padding while they’re in there.  You pull them out and clip them onto some unobtrusive little D-rings, and boom, it’s a backpack. Doing the reverse is a little harder, as you need to make sure the straps don’t bunch up in their pouch.

I would have much preferred a more elegant pocket solution, not least because some of the pockets don’t make much sense while in one or the other configuration. And the leather bottom, while great in briefcase mode, makes it seem a little lopsided in backpack mode. Obviously these are drawbacks inherent to the switchable design, which brings its own benefits, but they’re worth considering. I might have liked a single big pocket on the front that can be opened from the side or top, and sub-pockets within.

The interior, while it’s the same watermarked red nylon as the one above, is populated with tons of little pockets and useful stashes that helpfully all close independently, meaning there’s no need to re-pack when you’re going from one mode to the other.

(I can’t seem to find this for sale any more – but keep your eyes open if you like it.)

Manhattan Portage Hewes – $265

Pros:

  • Pockets! So many pockets!!

Cons:

Store link

I’ll just say right off the bat that this one isn’t for me — I prefer a plainer exterior, and this thing does not have that. On the other hand, for the organized gadget fiend, this might be a fantastic match.

The front side is just pocket after pocket. There are two big enough for a small phone, another good for a notebook, pens, or a power adapter, an a third with a removable divider that could hold all manner of things small and large. Nothing too bulky will fit in them, but any number of audio recorders, lens filters, earbuds, and so on will go in there.

Then there are two totally separate full-size compartments, one with more organizing space inside and both with plenty of padding. The simple strap is easy to release and stashes inside nicely.

Saddleback Leather Co Canvas Messenger – $439

Devin Coldewey / gpgmail

Pros:

  • Built like a waxed tank
  • Seriously, this thing is a beast
  • Spacious and handsome

Cons:

  • Also heavy as a tank
  • Very basic pockets and interior
  • Price reflects its “for life” nature

Store link

This bag came with a label on it sporting the company’s motto: “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” And I’m inclined to believe it. This is definitely by far the heaviest-duty waxed canvas bag I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, which may or may not make it to your taste.

The olive-colored canvas is very thick and stiff, and waxed all the way through, not just in a layer on the outside. The stitching is industrial-grade and probably uses half a mile of thread. Quarter-inch-thick leather plates stiff as a board protect the back and bottom of the bag, and another serves to connect with the handle. The strap is a kind of folded-over canvas that feels even tougher than the leather. On top is a unique and practical thick leather handle that folds flat if necessary but feels very robust.

The muscular materials and construction, however, preclude the inclusion of fine details like small pockets and pen sheaths. Instead there are two major exterior pockets that simply fold over themselves to close up, being held shut by the flap; there’s also room between them and the main compartment. Smaller side pockets under the massy strap hardware are good spots for flashlights but pens may disappear to the bottom.

This thing is also heavy as hell. Empty, it weighs as much as another bag with a light load. For some that weight will be reassuring but for others it’s just too much.

Inside the main compartment is plenty of room but little organization; there’s a single flap that will hold a laptop in place (my 13-inch MacBook Pro fits perfectly), and beyond that it’s just a big empty space. This is the only briefcase-style bag that rivals Filson’s (in my last roundup) for overnight capability. This one is definitely going to get your stuff waxy for the first few trips, though.

That’s all for today, but keep an eye out for more waxed canvas bags later in Bag Week as well!


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RYU’s line of backpacks offer style and function for exploring the city or weekends away – gpgmail


Yes, it’s Bag Week, where we celebrate all the best bags of the year here at gpgmail. And there is little more satisfying than finding a basic black one that’s functional, stylish and unique. Luckily, Canadian urban athletic apparel maker RYU makes three such bags, and while each one has its own particular appeal depending on what you’re looking for in a backpack, they’re also all winners that elevate the basic black backpack to new heights.

Quick Pack Lux 18L ($185)

RYU’s “just right” offering for me is the Quick Pack Lux 18L capacity bag that’s pretty much perfect as a general-use day pack in terms of cargo space, and that can also serve well for a one or two-night trip, depending on how lightly you pack.

The RYU’s signature feature, and what makes it my favorite day pack in terms of everyday use around the city, is its profile — a silhouette that is made all the better because RYU uses an internal molded shell to ensure that it never flattens down or loses its shape, regardless of how full or empty the bag actually is. This is actually a huge selling point for me, and one that makes the RYU Quick Pack Lux 18L almost certain to become my go-to daily bag. Inside, there are a few pockets, including a laptop sleeve that can fit up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro — another rarity in a day pack this low-profile.

In addition to the integrated frame, the Quick Pack Lux is kitted out with premium materials, like the leather accent patch on the top flap, leather shoulder straps, an outer layer of poly-cotton blend that covers a wax-treated canvas and nylon interior for water resistance and durability. The materials definitely feel premium, though the outermost layer resembles kind of a yoga pant material, and in my house definitely attracts and picks up my dog’s easily shed white hairs with reckless abandon. I’m more than happy to get out the lint roller once and a while as a trade-off for just how good looking the bag is, however.

It wears slightly long, but tight to the back (for reference when sizing up the photos above, I’m 6’2″ and quite a bit of that is torso). The removable chest strap helps keeps the profile pretty seamless, and there’s a handle on top for easy carrying when not on the back.

Another unique feature of the Quick Pack Lux is that it opens from the front, with the flap at the top unbuckling to reveal two zippers that run the length of the bag. Undo these, and you get basically a duffel-style cargo loading method, which is great for arranging your stuff without having to layer or dig down as you would in a top-loading pack.

Locker Pack Lux 24L ($215)

RYU bags 2 Locker Pack 24L 1The Locker Pack Lux 24L is the more spacious version of the Quick Pack Lux, with 6L extra volume for packing your gear. It’s designed more for those overnights or two-day trips, and yet it doesn’t really add that much in the way of bulk if you’re looking for something that can serve flexibly as both day pack and weekender.

The Locker Pack Lux has the same materials combination as the Quick Pack, but is a bit longer and so is probably better suited for taller people. It still offers a very slim profile, and has the same internal structural components, which means it’ll keep its shape, but it has a bit more leeway for expansion, too, letting you pack in a surprising amount of stuff via the front-loading, double zipper stowage and packing flap.

Unlike the Quick Pack Lux, you also get external access to the laptop compartment in the Locker Pack, which gives you an easy way to get at up to a 15-inch notebook. The leather-accented top flap closes down over this compartment, too, to give you some protection against the elements in the case of light showers (RYU also sells a dedicated rain hood separately).

Express Pack 15L ($90)

RYU bags 4 Express Pack 15L

The Express Pack is the smallest of these RYU backpacks in terms of packing volume, but it’s also probably the best option when it comes to an all-around city day pack that will fit you regardless of height and frame. The extremely minimal aesthetic is great for the city, especially with the polyurethane outer coating that wraps a middle canvas layer for the bag’s body.

This is a very lightweight bag, but the internal pocket can actually fit a lot of stuff when needed, and there’s a single woven pocket on one side of the exterior for stowing a water bottle. This adds an asymmetrical look, which is also pretty cool looking. Inside, there’s a zippered mesh block and a fully zippered front pocket for separating your sweaty gym gear, plus a laptop compartment that can fit a full, 15-inch MacBook Pro without issue.

The bag is comfortable to wear, but doesn’t have the internal structure of the other two, so if it’s empty it’ll hug a lot closer to the body. If there’s one thing I’d change about it, it’s the RYU branding — but it does actually recede to being barely visible in less direct lighting, and is more subtle overall than it looks here.

Overall, RYU’s bag lineup is impressive, and offers something for everyone. The Vancouver-based company has done a great job of delivering highly functional designs that also offer great style with pretty much universal appeal. The company also offers non-Lux versions of both the Quick Pack and the Locker Pack, which drop the leather accents and embedded waxed canvas, but which also offer some decent discounts if the prices above strike you as too high.


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WP Standard’s Weekender leather duffel is built for life – gpgmail


Have you heard? It’s Bag Week! It’s the most wonderful week of the year at gpgmail. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.

WP Standard makes exceptional leather goods, and the company’s new leather duffel is no different. It’s fantastic and my go-to travel bag. There are downsides — it’s heavy and the shoulder strap slips on my boney shoulders — but the good outweighs the bad.

I travel a lot. Airplanes, bikes, cars and pretty much everything but trains — because I live in the Midwest and not because I don’t like trains. A few years back I got a lovely, low-cost leather duffel from Amazon and started using it instead of a roller bag. It’s fun and forces me to pack smarter. Besides, the duffel always fits in overhead spaces, in taxi cabs and is easier to handle on a busy subway.

But you don’t care about my life. You’re here for this bag.

WP Standard built the Weekender duffel for people like me. It’s a great size and I have no issue packing away a bunch of shirts, a few pairs of pants and an extra pair of shoes. This isn’t a bag built to hold suits, but rather a weekend’s worth of clothes — hence the name.

The full-grain leather is thick and tough and has so far held up nicely to the rigors of travel. There are scratches and scuffs, but those are souvenirs and badges of honor. It has ridden in the back of my pickup in downpours and down dusty lanes. It has survived several transatlantic flights and still looks like it has decades of life to give.

In the end, this isn’t a Patagonia or The North Face duffel constructed out of space-age fabric designed to survive the tallest peaks or the deepest valleys. WP Standard doesn’t play that game. This company makes goods out of full-grain leather that are naturally tough and will age gracefully.

The bag is constructed in a way to give the leather the best chance at survival. The hand straps wrap the bag to give it extra strength. The bottom is constructed out of two layers of stiff leather. The zipper is beefy. The shoulder strap is tough and hasn’t shown any sign of stretching.

A few years ago I reviewed WP Standard’s messenger bag. The Weekender duffel is just as lovely, but these two bags share the same downside: The shoulder strap’s pad is too slippery. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing a t-shirt, jacket or parka, the shoulder strap doesn’t stay in place. To compensate, I often forgo using the pad and use the strap itself, which is thinner and can be uncomfortable after several minutes. To me, this isn’t a deal killer, but you, dear reader, should know about this downside.

The WP Standard Weekender costs $375. It’s a great price considering the thickness of the leather and quality of construction. Similar bags can be had from Wills, Shinola or Saddleback, but for nearly twice the price. Pad & Quill makes quality leather goods and sells a leather duffel that’s similar to the Weekend for $545; it’s also worth a consideration.


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