I don't think many men think much about accessories. Belts, bags, wallets…who cares really, right? They just need to get the job done and look "good enough." That's why I was a bit shocked when I needed to replace my messenger bag recently.
After years of service the black Tumi bag my wife had given to me as an anniversary gift had torn too much to keep using. I take my messenger bag to work everyday, throw it into cars I'm testing and on work trips. It gets well used and this guy had just given out.
When it came time to replace it I thought I'd get something nice as a treat to myself. My first stop was at Nordstrom's anniversary sale and I saw a few there I liked including a Jack Spade number. The sales person actually told me it was cheaper to buy online so I did and it arrived a few days later.
It was nice, stylish, high-quality and cost little under $200. But I noticed when filling it up it just seemed to have one big pocket for everything except the laptop. Kind of like…a purse.
I took it to work for the first time and my female coworker immediately said something along the lines of, "Is that bag new? It kind of looks like a purse." On the outside the bag had a wide bottom that tapered at the top, giving the aesthetic shape of a purse. I hadn't really noticed that.
I returned it to Nordstrom the next weekend. Also, it is awesome to be able to return things you buy online to a physical store.
So, it was back to online shopping. After days, yes days, I decided on a black leather Ecco bag. This was the right size, right shape, super nice leather and also right around $200 with tax. I put it over my shoulder and it still didn't seem quite right. My wife looked at it and didn't necessarily laugh but said it too looked like a purse, more precisely, her purse since it had a visible zipper on the front. It also had a rather cheap feeling strap for such an expensive bag.
Back it went to the Ecco store at the mall. Another brand with an in-store return policy.
Then it was on to Amazon. I figured if leather looked too much like a purse once I better go the more rugged route and skip on leather for the next try. I found a Timbuk2 bag that looked like the right mix of rugged and sophisticated, the Alchemist. Now, it had two sizes, a Small that fit 13-inch laptops and a Medium that fit 15-inch. I have a 13-inch Macbook air but figured it might be good to have a little extra room. Cost was $120.
The Medium arrived and it was giant. It could have swallowed a 20-inch laptop. But I liked the looks of it, the materials and all the clever pockets. I returned it to Amazon and ordered the Small. They didn't have the two-tone color I liked so I ordered solid black. That dropped the price way down to $70 with free Prime shipping and the return of the other one was free as well.
When the fourth bag finally arrived I immediately ripped the box open to see if it finally fit all my requirements. I stuffed my gear into all the proper-sized pockets and checked it out with more scrutiny this time around than with the Medium.
It is one cool bag.
My favorite part is the pocket for the computer. It is lined with felt to help prevent scratching which is cool and is very snug so you're not going to put anything else in that pocket that might rub against the case and scratch it.
Then there are two rather large pockets on either side of it, which if I stuffed could probably handle a lot of things I personally don't travel with much like files and folders or an extra shirt or hat. The smaller pockets inside fit a phone, pens and business cards really nicely, which I use all the time.
The most innovative feature though is a zipper on the backside of the bag that opens up to the entire inside so you can pull your laptop out easily at the airport. That's good because the flap on the front has strong Velcro and two metal hooks that keep it tightly secured. Great thinking.
There are also two large pockets on the outside and one hidden one (above).
So that's it. It only took four tries over about six weeks to replace my beloved messenger bag. And at $70 I won't feel quite as bad if this one doesn't last as long, although it seems pretty darn rugged to me.