Papa's Gotta Get a Brand New Bag
January 10, 2011 11:57 AM   Subscribe

I need a better bag. Give me your suggestions.

I have a lot of travel coming up, and I need a new bag. I currently tote around a Jack Spade messenger bag, but find that it's not enough space, especially when I'm traveling with my iPad, a Nikon DSLR and the accouterments that come with a one-year-old son.

I'm thinking a backpack might be more suitable from a space perspective (though I typically think they look a bit sophomoric) - are there any suggestions for bags that would suitably carry the above gear, my son's stuff, plus a few miscellaneous items with some space?

Bonus points if it's not your Eastpak from high school, and can be purchased from Amazon (I have gift cards to burn).
posted by po822000 to Shopping (28 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked at Crumpler? I have the Complete Seed messenger bag, and it's enormous.

If you have to have a backpack, have you considered Think Tank bags? They're made for camera gear, so they'll carry your electronics nicely, and you can set aside compartments for your son's doodads.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:07 PM on January 10, 2011

Seconding Crumpler. I am a bit of a fiend for funky, bomb-proof bags, and they make THE most indestructible bag ever.

There is, of course, always Timbuk2... their "large" bags are VERY large, very customizable and also durable as hell.

What sort of style might pique your interest? I've spent WAY too many hours on eBags and might be able to steer you towards some other options.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:13 PM on January 10, 2011

They are expensive, but Swiss Army's backpacks are an indestructible godsend.

I am serious. They will last like nobody's business and become a prized possession. I have an older version of this one and would protect it with my life.
posted by eugenen at 12:19 PM on January 10, 2011

Not everybody likes the esthetic but I've been happy with Chrome.
posted by Cuspidx at 12:24 PM on January 10, 2011

Saddleback Leather make the most "diesel" leather bags on the planet. They are guaranteed for 100 years and the slogan is "they will fight over it when you are dead". This would be the one if you want to buy once for life.

For a bit less, Tumi makes a great rolling backpack. It lasted me through a 3 year Rock n' Roll tour that would kill lesser bags in 6 months. We traveled every 3 days or so and the bag still looks great 5 years later.

posted by StUdIoGeEk at 12:27 PM on January 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you're looking at going messenger, I would steer clear of timbuk2, and buy some American made lovely goodness from Bailey Works, it's by far the best bag i've ever had, super comfortable for a messenger and it's pockets are great for keeping some semblance of organization. My Bailey Works is seconded only by my trustly backpack-style Ortlieb, which is kind of the opposite in every way: it's a cavern. i only have a small organizer in that thing, and it at one time routinely held a computer, my camera gear school books and my motorcycle helmet. That thing is a black hole, but organization with it is sorta difficult.

I love bags.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:27 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can fit much more in my large Timbuk2 cargo tote than I can in my Dakine backpack, and I like that with the tote I have the option of carrying it in my hand, on my shoulder, or across my chest with the shoulder strap. The tote can easily hold my netbook or 13" Macbook, plus two or three novels, plus everything I would normally carry in my purse (wallet, umbrella, sunglasses, cosmetics, etc.), and it has survived several trips between Europe and the States, as well as a few days riding around strapped to the back rack of my bike.
posted by neushoorn at 12:29 PM on January 10, 2011

I got a Tom Bihn bag for Christmas and I love it - durable (so far), unique-looking without that overly bikey Timbuk2/Chrome style, and full of pockets and little hooks for things.

(Mine is the Medium Cafe bag, which is almost certainly too small for you, but they have lots of larger designs.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:36 PM on January 10, 2011

I got a to replace my 15-year-old Eastpac, and I'm ecstatic (to add my two cents).
posted by labberdasher at 12:39 PM on January 10, 2011

^ Let me second the Tom Bihn suggestion. I carry a Cafe bag daily, and it's indifferent to scuffs, scrapes, being dropped in a puddle, etc. It's also made in the USA.
posted by BostonTerrier at 12:53 PM on January 10, 2011

I currently have my eye on the new Cicada line from Eagle Creek. Thinking about getting the small messenger in black because it doesn't look like your standard messenger back and is acceptable on client visits. They have two back pack sizes also.
posted by lannanh at 12:55 PM on January 10, 2011

I have the Tom Bihn Synapse backpack, which is like Hermione's endless-capacity beaded bag. I especially like the water bottle pocket.
posted by theredpen at 12:56 PM on January 10, 2011

I have a saddleback leather briefcase. I am scared to carry it. Since I am not Indiana Jones I don't want it all beat up looking and I don't want to shell out cash for another. I am also worried it will get stolen, everyone comments on it being the nicest briefcase they have ever seen.

In short, if you have unlimited money and want to look like it get a saddleback leather bag.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:10 PM on January 10, 2011

I love my Overland backpack to death. It can be messenger style too and it's so comfortable even with a heavy load.
posted by Duffington at 1:21 PM on January 10, 2011

Lots of great options above, but if you don't particularly like any of them, you might also want to check out etsy. If they don't already have any messenger bags on the site that you're interested in, you can post a request for someone to custom-make one for you. I did that, and got a nice canvas messenger bag for about $80 that I've been using for three years now.
posted by thelatermonths at 1:21 PM on January 10, 2011

I recently travelled in Kenya with a Kata 3N1-30, it was absolutely perfect for all my DSLR gear. I think their 3N1-22 would probably be the one you would want though. The reason I like it is the multitude of ways you can use it. It can be a sling pack, a double sling pack, a backpack or a plain old shoulder bag.
posted by gergtreble at 1:25 PM on January 10, 2011

@julthumbscrew: I've seen the Timbuk2 bags and really like them. Currently I have a Jack Spade messenger like this one. I love the styling, and love the way it's held up over the last six years or so (still looks fairly new).

Thanks to all the suggestions so far - definitely keep the Amazon links coming - gotta spend those gift cards.
posted by po822000 at 1:36 PM on January 10, 2011

Seconding Tom Bihn, though you won't find them on Amazon, sadly. An Ego or SuperEgo would probably suit your needs well. My Ego is my everyday bag and it holds:

Canon dSLR + extra lens in padded pouch
13" laptop + power cable
Cowon J3 mp3 player
Moleskine notebook
Makeup kit
First aid kit
Hairbrush, pens, various odds and ends

There's a bit of room to spare with all that, but I don't know if it's enough for kid-related accessories, so the SuperEgo (same style, larger capacity) might be more suitable. If you get either bag, I advise you to upgrade to the Absolute Shoulder Strap, which makes carrying all my stuff around everyday a lot more comfortable.
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:53 PM on January 10, 2011

Another vote for Tom Bihn. They're incredibly sturdy and can hold a lot.
posted by Constant Reader at 2:47 PM on January 10, 2011

I struggled with uncomfortable messenger bags and oversized tote bags since high school. This summer I finally gave in and bought a really nice North Face backpack, and I haven't regretted it for a minute. They look a little sleeker/more grown-up than most backpacks, and come in a lovely selection of sophisticated colors. Mine is a smaller, women's model and I can still fit a macbook, a Nikon DSLR, a water bottle, and all my small daily items without too much trouble. Sure, it may not be the most wildly stylish option, but sometime you've gotta be at least a little practical.

Crumpler bags are also pretty great, I hear, and they have some very nice camera bags.
posted by faeuboulanger at 3:14 PM on January 10, 2011

If you like messenger bags, you really can't do better than a Pac Designs bag. They're pricey alright, but I've had the same one for 7 years now and it still looks brand-new. I've used it for everything from straight-up messenger bag to field science bag to art supply bag to overnight bag to computer bag to motorcycle bag to music gear bag, and it has held up like a champ. They're big bags (I can fit my dog in mine), and they are comfy and durable. I like the fact that they are hand-made, too, and you can speak directly to the person who's going to make your bag (Pat, in fact) and tell her exactly what you want (she's very accommodating).

Really, I can't recommend these bags highly enough.
posted by Pecinpah at 3:45 PM on January 10, 2011

I got some good suggestions from a similar question last year.
posted by tenaciousd at 3:58 PM on January 10, 2011

posted by Jon-o at 6:17 PM on January 10, 2011

FYI - avoid Chrome bags now. They are not as well made as they used to be. There is a noticeable difference between the one I have and ones that are now in production.

Nth-ing the Crumpler, or Bailey Works. Timbuk 2 bags are not bad, and they have a big sale on the site now.
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:40 PM on January 10, 2011

I've been using the Crumpler Dreadful Embarrassment for just over a year, and it's really served me well. I do a lot of traveling for work, and I also live in NYC, so I'm on the subway nearly everyday, so this bag has taken a good beating. After a year of going everywhere with me, the bag still looks practically brand new. It fits enough gear for up to a weekend away, and the laptop sleeve and various other pouches are well thought out and useful. The strap is wide, and well padded so it's easy to carry. It isn't exactly cheap, but from the way it has held up so far, I expect it to last many, many more years.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 7:29 PM on January 10, 2011

I use the Ortlieb Flight 22. It's quite pricey but I love it. It is very comfortable, with a small rigid frame and a mesh back so you don't get a sweaty back in the summer. It's surprisingly roomy. For me at least, it has enough space for all my things for a weekend, or even a week, away. What is more, it is 100% waterproof. This has taken the place of my old Crumpler messenger bag, which was hurting my back when loaded up.
posted by jonesor at 2:56 AM on January 11, 2011

I second Bailey Works ever so emphatically! They are virtually indestructible--and when I popped a seam on one of my bellows pockets last year, they repaired it for me, gratis. I've had the 253 Courier since...1999 I think (and an earlier, non-waterproof model before that), used it daily for about six years and now use it a couple times a month for hiking/biking. Do get the waterproof lining on any model you choose, it's never failed. The only thing I'd change is I'd get the key clip, which they weren't offering at the time. Sublime!
posted by Fui Non Sum at 10:47 AM on January 11, 2011

Timbuk2 won...and what an awesome decision. Huge capacity, easy to carry.
posted by po822000 at 3:59 PM on January 25, 2011

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