Help me replace my backpack!
August 11, 2004 10:13 AM   Subscribe

My backpack is falling apart and I don't think I want another one, but I do need some kind of handy bag to carry around my sunglasses, phone, books, checkbook, snacks and so on. I don't think I can take myself seriously with a me-too bike messenger bag, though I'm not sure what my options are. Anyone have a cool bag they use for hiking around town?
posted by dhoyt to Shopping (21 answers total)
Ten years ago a friend of mine made me solemnly vow that if, for the rest of our lives, I ever encountered him wearing a fanny pack, I would beat the living crap out of him.

I think he has a point.
posted by mookieproof at 10:17 AM on August 11, 2004

look at backpacking packs...I have a pack from a compny called Osprey the Syncho series is good (but they are not making them now...but they are around)...and they have a new series of "urban" packs. they are a very cool company based in Colorado. Check them out.
posted by ShawnString at 10:23 AM on August 11, 2004

well, since you ask:
- a small "not polished" leather shoulder bag. almost square, slightly deeper than wide (say 8" x 10" and 1" thick) with a simple square flap and steel buckle that looks very cool and is good for papers, map, suncream etc.
- a larger satchel, made by the same person - this is very traditional looking, but in the same unpolished leather and with yellow stitching. it's good for a change of clothes too.
- a canvas shoulder bag from river island or gap or something. just the size of my laptop (an x31- about the same as a small ibook) and so usually carries my laptop.
- an old-school (orange, black strap) messenger bag (by vaude, but with a cool patch sewn over the logo to improve my cred ;o) that's big enough for laptop and a change of clothes.
- a very nice retro-looking orange 30l?-ish karimoor rucsac (that's no longer made) for a week's clothes.
a variety of sizes is important - nothing worse than a 3/4 empty bag flopping around. after visiting europe a few months ago i say avoid that messenger bag made from old lorry covers - can't remember the name but they are everywhere (just in case your resolve slips). that's why i went with the vaude... (one has to worry about these things).
posted by andrew cooke at 10:35 AM on August 11, 2004

I have the Colorful Messenger bag from Danier Leather in black which works great as an over the shoulder, roomy bag. It's narrow and wide and shapes to your hip and it has minimal pockets (one zippered) inside to hold your cell phone and car keys. I jam my shades, wallet, camera, snacks for work and other junk. It's 11" wide, 13" high and 2" deep with a 1 3/4" strap with a zipper on top. And it's made out of soft, soft leather.
posted by KathyK at 10:38 AM on August 11, 2004

I went through a backpack a year in high school, and decided to never let that happen again. So I went to the local military surplus store and picked up an ALICE pack, which is still going strong ten years later. It might be overkill for what you need, though.
posted by LionIndex at 10:44 AM on August 11, 2004

Yeah, go to your local military surplus store and pick out a bag that works for you. The larger stores generally have a pretty wide selection of sizes, styles and conditions, not just ALICE packs.
posted by cmonkey at 10:46 AM on August 11, 2004

I was given this bag as a gift, and it works really well for me; equally good on foot or biking around town, good pocket placement, not huge but I can stuff my laptop into it if I need to.
posted by COBRA! at 11:24 AM on August 11, 2004

My everyday bag is an old version of the Kensington SaddleBag. It has tuck-away backback straps, a clippable shoulder strap, and a big honkin handle. The so-called "larger image"* doesn't really do it justice.

You don't at all have to keep a laptop in it. In fact, I've lugged it often without any such hardware in there.

* Why do online stores use such dinky images for their "larger" version? I can barely even tell the difference between it and the thumbnail.
posted by majick at 11:24 AM on August 11, 2004

I use a lumbar pack similar to this one (looks like they don't make the model I have any more.)

But, then, I've always thought functional is pretty cool.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:50 AM on August 11, 2004

Just get another backpack. Could you really respect yourself while wearing a fanny-pack like Zed_Lopez or a man-purse like majick?

Can't go wrong with something like this or this.
posted by ChasFile at 12:01 PM on August 11, 2004

You could go with a man purse.
posted by the fire you left me at 12:09 PM on August 11, 2004

I've got a Camelbak "Hawg", which is a smallish, very narrow backpack designed for cyclists. Holds enough for some grocery errands, doesn't really get in my way. It's got 3 small pockets, a mesh outside pocket, a main compartment, and a hydration-bladder compartment (which usually gets stuffed with reading material, in my case). It could probably contain a small laptop in a pinch, though I haven't tried.
posted by adamrice at 12:25 PM on August 11, 2004

Oh my god - now I REALLY want one of these (from the earlier laptop thread.) Who wants to buy me one?
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:25 PM on August 11, 2004

I've been using a good sturdy shoulder bag (something like this) for around 15 years now, and am very happy with it. I keep my glasses in the front compartment, books and papers (and lunch as needed) in the main compartment, and collapsible umbrella in the back.
posted by languagehat at 12:31 PM on August 11, 2004

I have a Knog Bello, and it's a brilliantly useful piece of kit. It's big enough, and smart enough to carry to my suited job.
posted by viama at 12:37 PM on August 11, 2004

I always recomend Vortex Backpacks. They come with a life time unlimited warranty. I mean you can buy one at a yard sale and they will fix it for you. Your girlfriend/boyfriend can cut it up with a knife and they will fix it for you, regardless for life. I've had a 2200 for about 8 years that has basically been every where that I have been in that amount of time. And I'm hard on packs. During the summer it hauls climbing gear 3 or 4 days a week. During the winter it's on my back lugging camera gear and a snowboard to the top of 11,000 foot mountains. I also have a really sweet 4500 that is great for backpacking and has been everywhere from Europe to Southern Utah to the Uintas. It might be a little more than you need, but, it could last you the rest of your life.
posted by trbrts at 1:23 PM on August 11, 2004

Wow, which bag thread to reply to? I myself have benefited from several of these AskMe bag questions, and after a ton of searching I've settled on the rugged twill brief from Filson. See also their very well-made, manly looking rucksack, laptop briefs, and leather field satchel. For days when I commute by bike, I have a Patagonia Critical Mass messenger bag. I've sold the rest of my bags on eBay.

As a guy, I decied that I was never going to carry a man purse around ever again. The Filson briefcase holds everything I need, looks great (much better, really, than in the pictures), is impeccably constructed, very sturdy, and definitely made for manly men, not girly men. I can carry it no matter what I'm wearing -- even when I'm dressed up. And I got it super cheap from Hilton's Tent City in downtown Boston.

Duluth Pack also makes nice briefcases of all stripes.
posted by josh at 3:32 PM on August 11, 2004

that Colorful Messenger looks sweet.

As a guy, I decied that I was never going to carry a man purse around ever again
psst. your dick size is showing. ;->
(and this is from someone interested in poetry of the avant-garde? ignore the sniggering masses! (seriously, moving away from uptight anglo-saxon culture really helps in the bag department - even if it's kill-homosexuals-on-sight (or at least shuffle round nervously) latino macho-land, they still don't laugh at my bags...))

posted by andrew cooke at 4:10 PM on August 11, 2004

Andrew Cooke: no go on that reverse-snicker, 'i-snicker-at-your-choice-not-to-carry-a-man-purse,-because-it-shows-that-you-snicker-at-everyone-who-carries-one-and-are-an-uptight-homophobe' maneuver! I am, in fact, a long-time veteran / victim of the man-purse phenomenon. Proudly have I carried mine in the past! Go, um, man-purses!

It's just that after a fair number of flashy, stylish bags, I ended up feeling that 'me-too' feeling that dhoyt perhaps is having preemptively. Everyone has one nowadays, especially in the academic context where I work. Plus I think they look kinda lame, mostly because they are all in the messenger style, which is, IMO, not very elegant. I just think that men, on the whole, look better sans big messenger strap.
posted by josh at 5:00 PM on August 11, 2004

rats. i've been out snickered. ;o)
posted by andrew cooke at 6:04 AM on August 12, 2004

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