A Small Bag Question, Or a Question About A Small Bag
August 3, 2017 6:40 PM   Subscribe

I need a new bag for everyday use. There are a bunch of threads about bag purchases. They all seem to recommend larger bags than i need. Halp!

I'm a big guy (6'1 and broad-shouldered) and I'm currently using this bag for everything I need when I don't need to cart my laptop or tablet anywhere. It looks kind of ridiculous on me, though it has been "the right size to carry my stuff" enough that i've gone through two of 'em.

What I'm looking for is a small (that bag is 10.5w x 13h x 4.5d, and I'd be happy to go slightly bigger but not much) bag (can be backpack, can be sling bag, can be messenger, not a briefcase or tote) to generally carry the following items:

- Kindle Paperwhite
- Keys/Wallet
- Glasses case
- Cellphone and battery (can have a separate pocket, but not necessary)
- Possibly a water bottle (hence the need for it to be slightly larger and/or have some kind of waterproofing, or a mesh side pocket)
- Random bits and bobs (pens, notepad, folding umbrella, etc)

Bonus points for
- Interior pockets
- Zippers (not required though)
- Water bottle pocket outside the bag
- Flat bottom so it can be put on a table on occasion

I don't need it to be fancy leather, I'm a relatively casual guy. Preferably under $100.
posted by softlord to Shopping (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I recently got this small backpack, which I completely love. As a bonus, they donate a backpack to a child in need with every purchase. Caveat: I'm a small lady, so I can't comment on whether it would look too small. But it holds plenty and it's well organized.
posted by pinochiette at 7:08 PM on August 3, 2017

Llbean jr backpack is about that size. We just got one for a kid and beyond the smaller than average backpack size it doesn't betray itself as a kid's version.
posted by sulaine at 7:34 PM on August 3, 2017

I have one of these from Moop made in Pittsburgh. It doesn't meet your price requirement, but it's made in waxed canvas, in the USA, so it's a pretty hard to get such a thing domestically made at the price limit you've set. I've had it for a few years now.

It appears that the small Timbuk2 bag also meets your size requirements. I've carried one of these around for 10 years, and it refuses to die. It has been an every day bike commuting bag and camera bag, and a personal item on countless flights. You can customize your colours and some options as well.
posted by thenormshow at 7:38 PM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Tom Bihn's Large Cafe Bag might suit your needs, though it looks like they don't have a ton of colors available just now. Alternatively, you might like the Co-Pilot, which has a separate water bottle slot with an eyelet to keep drips from puddling up.
posted by praemunire at 8:17 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Patagonia's Black Hole Mini Messenger 12L is 16x11x5. It comes in a bunch of colors, including some that are awful but also some that are quite reasonable.
posted by slidell at 9:30 PM on August 3, 2017

I use a North Face Electra Backpack for pretty much the same purpose. It's 12 litres (approximately 10w x 16.5h x 6d) and it fits all the things you mention with a bit of space left over. (I'm considering upgrading to the Isabella because it's sometimes a challenge to get my lunch in there.) It doesn't have a flat bottom, which is sometimes a pain, and there's no external water bottle pocket, but it does have a fleecy sleeve for my kindle and ipad mini, and the stretchy outside pocket is much more convenient than I could've guessed.

They highlight its 'women-specific fit' but I'm honestly not sure what the difference is. I'm pretty broad shouldered (but 5'8, and a woman) and it fits me fine.
posted by escapepod at 9:46 PM on August 3, 2017

I'm a woman, so again YMMV, but I have a small all-black Classic Timbuk2 messenger bag (which I sang the praises of and enumerated all the stuff I cram in it in the EDC MetaTalktail thread a couple weeks ago). I feel like they've ironed out all the design flaws in this iteration and it's just the right size to fit everything I need for the day without feeling bulky when full, or weird when it's nearly empty. Plus if you're somewhere with an REI, you can get it there and make use of their crazily good return policy if you're not totally sold on it.
posted by tapir-whorf at 10:44 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you wanna go classy and indestructible, I love the Duluth Pack Haversack.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:56 AM on August 4, 2017

I got this one by Leaper a few months ago and it's great, it's listed at 10.2"x13.6"x4.4".
posted by buildmyworld at 12:02 PM on August 4, 2017

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