Sack of Trouble

Posted: 03/11/2012 in Ramblings

This is NOT a review.

About a month ago, I started looking around for a new messenger bag for school and my monthly trips to NY. I have had this great canvas satchel that I purchased from a military surplus store near my parent’s house when I was a senior in high school. I’ve had the trooper ever since and he’s still in great condition. Even with the lint in the Velcro and the occasional pen-mark in the pockets. I love that bag. I’d still use it, but there is a problem. It simply isn’t big enough for the books and my teeny 13″ MacBook Pro. It is also lacking in the organization department. I’d kill for a pen holder. 

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This is pretty much it, only manlier and a bit more weathered. 

Now, I was looking at one of the great bags that the people over at Chrome make. They look good, and most importantly, they are rugged as hell and are backed by a lifetime warranty. I searched around and I read nothing but good things about the bags, so I purchased the Citizen Messenger (double black). I was comfortable with spending $140 on a bag that would last me a lifetime (excluding normal wear and tear, but if anything went wrong? Send it back to Chrome and they will “make it right.”). The military bag I have has lasted me almost a decade and I have taken that bad boy EVERYWHERE. Hawai’i, Oklahoma, Chicago, NYC, Boston, NH, FL, MA, CT, up and down I-95 multiple times, PA, NJ, CA, basically every trip I’ve gone on over the past decade and also school. It has been my travel companion and school companion. Though, never has it been my “man purse.” So, I was excited and confident that if I could get the same amount of time out of the Chrome bag as I did a $20 surplus bag, I’d be happy. I also added a little “accessory pouch” to my order. It is a little add-on for the shoulder strap so that you can keep your phone/Mp3 player/ pens/moleskin within reach without having to open the bag. It was listed as $25, but they gave it to e for $10 because I was purchasing it with the bag. 

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Isn’t she gorgeous?

After a week of waiting, it arrived. I was super-excited to have a new bag. I opened it up and came face-to-face with the one downside of purchasing the bag. You see, I am into a satchel-style messenger bag. Not the traditional/official/literal messenger bag style. I was worried about this when I was originally looking at the bag, but I though, screw it. I opened it up and fell in love.

I put all of my books and my MacBook into it and strapped it on. I hate the way it sits on my shoulder. It is awkward and uncomfortable. I walked around the house for about an hour and a half with it on. I took it off when I sat, and when I got up to do ANYTHING, it went right back on my shoulder. I couldn’t get used to the feel of it. Which is a shame because it is a phenomenal bag. Everything I have read about it was true. The stitching was great, the materials were high quality, the buckle was a great addition, the secret pockets and front organizer was awesome. Everything was perfect, and most importantly -durable as hell. It pains me that I just don’t mesh well with the bag. It is totally “me” and everything should fit into place, but it doesn’t. It can’t. The bag isn’t perfect for me and it is because of the way it sits/hangs from my body. I’ve adjusted it and tried everything. I filled out the form and I have returned it. I’m just waiting for my $150, minus the $8 shipping cost, to go back into my bank account. 

That entire fiasco is bittersweet. Even though I loved that bag and wished that it would have ‘clicked’ with me, I still found a great company that makes fantastic products that are durable and good-looking. Even though it didn’t work out, their customer service was excellent and I will recommend them to anyone who looks for a bag. The problem is that I am still in a bind because I still need a bag. I went back to the list I made and started looking into the products and doing the research. There weren’t many bags on my list, and I’m going to share it below, but I think I have settled on the one. I’m more of a black/gray/blue color scheme guy, but I can deal with the bag I’m going to purchase. First, the runners up.

Thinkgeek.com’s Bag of Holding. It is a cute little bag (yes, I said that). I’m not a D&D guy at all, so the die and the name of the product doesn’t do anything for me, but as you can see from the link, the bastard holds a ton of crap. In the end, though, the thing that killed it for me was the lack of organization and the worry that they straps would break under stress. 

Thinkgeek.com  also advertises another bag that I considered. Their “Theft-proof, Slash-proof” messenger/laptop bag is a nice looking bag. The colors are a bit clunky in their layout, but it is a nice bag. Practical and durable (if can take a KNIFE SLASH), the color scheme is a deal breaker. It looks too Power Ranger-ish for my liking. 

One last thing that I saw on Think Geek’s website was an amazing Portal 2 Aperture Laboratories Messenger Bag. I would snatch it up in a heartbeat. The freaking colors are great, it’s clean and crisp looking, it has plenty of storage and organization, and the thing has so much gamer cred. The only problem, if you actually looked at it and stopped drooling over its level of awesome, is the fact that it is a traditional messenger bag. Yep, the same problem I had with Chrome would happen with that. Which is a shame because it is practically a third of the price of the Chrome bag. I would LOVE it. 

Getting back on track with bags I really considered, there is the Thule Crossover 12L ‘shoulder bag’. I was looking at this because I already own the Thule Gauntlet for my MacBook and despite it’s $50 price tag, it is amazing. Durable, stylish and the perfect size to protect while still staying slim. I love it. The bag I linked is all of those things. The problem I have is that it has a briefcase handle and the lack of organization. I also dislike the lack of pockets. Those were ultimately the failing point. It was down to this bag and the one I ultimately chose. I wanted to love this bag so much, I just couldn’t get the next one out of my mind. There is only a ten dollar difference between the two as well. 

The bag I have ultimately decided on is the Booq’s Taipan Shadow XL -Black and Red. 

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Just look at that bag! Isn’t she beautiful?


No, it isn’t one of those crappy “roller bags” that lazy people use for school. It has a zipper in the back that allows you to slide it onto your luggage while you’re in transit so that you don’t have to carry it. Nice thought and feature, I don’t think I’ll ever use it. As you can see from the photo, the bag has quite a few pockets. Including one IN THE FLAP. Nice, right? It also has the organization that I was looking for, which is a great little perk. The best part, though? It fits up to a 17″ laptop, so my MacBook Pro 13″ will definitely fit while it is inside of it’s Thule case. Sure, I would love it to be black and blue, but that isn’t possible. Apparently, they had a charcoal and blue version, but it was either discontinued, or just for the small bags.

I am incredibly happy with the way this bag looks and I have read nothing but good reviews about it. I hope it is a durable as people say. When I purchase it Monday, I’ll update this entry with a small review. I hope it lives up to my expectations. Otherwise, I’ll have to return it and buy ANOTHER bag. It looks like Thule will be the winner. If not, then I’m just going to stick with the $20 military bags. I might just buy this to just get something. You know? 

Yes, this was an early blog entry, but I wanted to get these thoughts out and share it. If you’re looking for a great bag, I can’t recommend Chrome enough. That is, if you can be comfortable with a “real” messenger bag. If you like satchel style? The ones I have listed are the best that I could find if you’re looking for a laptop/school bag. If you’re just looking for a laptop bag? Alyssa bought one from BUILTNY. It is a great, single-use laptop bag. Personally, if I just needed a bag for paperwork, like I will when I start teaching, I’d just go with a leather satchel. Classy, refined, stylish and manly -perfect. It worked for Doctor Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones, Jr. why can’t it work for a history teacher like myself?

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