Help me find the perfect bag for 2012
January 3, 2012 6:54 AM   Subscribe

I desire a new bag. Something sturdy to carry my laptop* and books in. Something I can easily kart around on my bicycle (on my back, shoulder, or otherwise a flexible paneer). I'm based in London, UK. Budget floating around £100ish. Give me inspiration people!

I've toyed with TimBuk2 and Crumpler bags, and although they seem perfect, the designs just don't do it for me. I like the build quality, but the colours and material are often a bit over the top.

I like some messenger bags, some backpacks, some paneers.

* I have a new 13" ultrabook laptop (Lenovo U300s) I want to keep safe, but because of its slimness it doesn't require a lot of room.

Should I increase my budget a little and enter a whole new world of bag joy?
posted by 0bvious to Shopping (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I was researching messenger bags on threads here, Tom Bihn Bags came up a few times. I went with Timbuk2, FWIW.
posted by jquinby at 7:05 AM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: TimBuk2 don't have much UK presence. Part of my problem is a lot of online choices are US based
posted by 0bvious at 7:07 AM on January 3, 2012

Have you checked out stuff by Basil?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:13 AM on January 3, 2012

Basil has a few messenger type bags that can also function as a pannier.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:14 AM on January 3, 2012

I use a laptop case popped into a leather backpack - Hidesign - the first lasted from 1982 till the mid90s and used to carry T squares and whatnot on a moped, the second purchased in late 90s, I am still using (with a craftsman repair once). The website implies they ship to the UK. HiDesign also has a global shop with a shop locator showing a UK presence as well in as a number of local retail outlets including John Lewis.

For rough use in inclement weather, for finish and craftsmanship, they have been the best investment I've ever made and it looks nicer than the artificial fabric stuff to have genuine leather.
posted by infini at 7:14 AM on January 3, 2012

Sorry for another US-centric answer, but online it's worth a look. I am not sure about the total cost of obtaining them in the UK (shipping, currency exchange, and customs may make this more work than it's worth) but your budget seems ok for a bag by Chrome (of San Francisco). They are beyond doubt the most durable messenger bags out there. I got one for my oldest about five years ago and it looks new today. And that kid does not treat his belongings with respect ;)
posted by zomg at 7:27 AM on January 3, 2012

I have Arkel's briefcase pannier, which works quite well for me. It's not the loveliest bag but it's sturdy and well thought out. A little higher than your target price, but not by much. Arkel's Switchback backpack pannier is another possibility. They're a Canadian company but they have a UK website (to which I linked) and some UK stockists too.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:01 AM on January 3, 2012

I love Tom Bihn, but my best bike panniers are Ortlieb. They are a German company, and make a huge range of products that would fit your needs. Here is the international website.
posted by bearwife at 9:37 AM on January 3, 2012

For some classical British style and absolute durability, I'd go for something from Carradice. This looks very handy, subtle, and nicely distinctive.
posted by ambrosen at 10:38 AM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: Some great links here, thanks. Will try and track some of these down in the flesh (I'd like to see before I buy)
posted by 0bvious at 11:25 AM on January 3, 2012

Would be really appreciative if you did come back and share what you finally chose.
posted by infini at 11:53 AM on January 3, 2012

I have a Freitag bag which I absolutely love. The company is Swiss, but there are shops in London that have them. Their website is down at the moment so I can't check for sure, but it looks like the London Graphic Centre in Covent Garden has a selection. (When you order online though, you get to use a really neat tool to indicate exactly which bits of tarp you want to be what on your bag, so if you like the design but don't fall in love with a specific bag, do that.)
posted by naturalog at 2:00 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: I hate shopping. This is going to take me a looong time. But I will get back if I find a good solution. Thanks again. More ideas welcome!
posted by 0bvious at 3:15 PM on January 3, 2012

ReLoad ships internationally and everyone I know who has one loves it. My one bike-obsessed friend also highly recommends Laplander bags, made by some friends of hers.
posted by sepviva at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2012

I don't know if Patagonia has a presence in the UK or ships to the UK, but my boyfriend gave me this Patagonia "Critical Mass" bag in black for my birthday and I love it. It has a laptop sleeve and plenty of room for books and whatnot. It's also waterproof, which I've found to be pretty useful on days I forget to bring an umbrella!

Patagonia also makes a slightly smaller version called "Half Mass."
posted by hypotheticole at 9:30 PM on January 3, 2012

How about the Nomadic Wise-Walker?. I'm still consistently surprised on the amount of stuff I can cram into that thing. There's certainly enough room for a 13" laptop in there (I could fit my 15" one but it presses agains the zippers. The bottom compartment sits atop the main pocket (viewed laying flat), so even with headphones and chargers in there, the back and bottom of the bag never felt lumpy. Here's the review that sold me.
posted by duomo at 9:53 AM on January 19, 2012

Best answer: I said I'd come back and show you the bag I bought. So, here it is... TADA:


They also do a pretty sweet messenger bag.

posted by 0bvious at 4:26 PM on January 26, 2012

Looks pretty good. Congratulations on a good choice.
posted by ambrosen at 5:45 AM on January 28, 2012

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