JPLC Aviator: A Bag for all Seasons

DSC 05472 JPLC Aviator: A Bag for all Seasons

J. Panther Luggage Company makes really cool bags. We have reviewed several of their pieces, including the Courier Ruc, which is essentially the company’s flagship bag. What makes JPLC bags so special is the combination of innovative design, tough-as-nails construction, and use of exceptionally fine materials.

JPLC bags can easily hold their own against better known brands costing thousands more. Construction is impeccable and attention to detail is near obsessive. Testament to this fixation on quality is the fact that Japan is a big market for JPLC, where detail is scrutinized to an exacting degree.

The Aviator is a unique bag because it defies easy description. It’s a day bag, but also a type of document case. It looks purpose-built but also has a flexible functionality to its design that makes the Aviator a companion carry-all for your day-to-day necessities. Our bag came in a highly engineered, lightly-waxed 21 ounce sand canvas with tan leather trim. The Aviator is also offered in a beautiful all-leather version.

It has two removable straps; one a multifunctional wrist strap and the other, a military grade web cross-body strap. the Aviator also comes equipped with a beautifully crafted removable leather passport envelope pocket.

We have found the bag to be well-suited as an everyday companion that can pair well with a business bag when needed. As with all JPLC bags, it is designed to be carried in a variety of modes. Another signature JPLC touch is that the bag’s well-designed pockets actually work no matter the carry configurations.

This review project is particularly exciting for us as it is a long-term commitment to document the breaking-in of this superb bag. We’ll be updating you over the coming months and even years, showing you how the Aviator ages and gains a world traveled patina of life.

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JPLC Aviator Outside JPLC Aviator: A Bag for all Seasons

JPLC Aviator Chair JPLC Aviator: A Bag for all Seasons

 

 

Triple Aught Design’s FAST Pack Litespeed

2014 09 13 13.26.48 Triple Aught Designs FAST Pack Litespeed

We love a good bag, and we are always on the lookout for a great backpack. Backpacks are versatile, practical, convenient, and leave your hands free to do other stuff. However, in the rarefied air of men’s fashion discourse, “backpack” can be a fightin’ word.

To be sure, OTC is a men’s style and lifestyle resource that focuses on bring together classic style and modern life. And, while it is undeniably classic in form and function, the backpack debate can quickly lead to heated sartorial words. So, to head that imbroglio off at the proverbial pass, let’s clarify a few points.

Backpacks are a fact of modern life, especially for those who commute by public transit on a daily basis. They are also a tool for those among us who need to regularly port more than a wallet and smart phone. They are perfectly designed for casual use; hiking, strolling, shopping, trekking, and dragging around your child’s many supplies.

All that being said, don’t wear a backpack with a suit. Just don’t.

Indeed, there are many sharp, expensive, and finely crafted backpacks that nicely bridge the divide between practical and formal, but that’s besides the point. As a category, they are inherently informal and wearing one with dress or business clothing with cause you to look like a little kid trying to be a grown-up, or a grown-up with little understanding of style and personal presentation.

A backpack will not only ruin the lines and look of a suit coat or blazer, it can ruin them literally as well.  Again, just don’t do it. Messenger bags are a better option on a case-by-case basis, totes and briefcases are fine.

With those caveats out of the way, we present the FAST Pack Litespeed from Triple Aught design. To be sure, no one is going to confuse it with a business bag, which is just fine.  Regardless, this backpack can handle pretty much handle anything you toss its way and look darn cool doing it.

The Litespeed is an everyday backpack for those who like the idea of a one-stop-shop and that looks simultaneously tough and modern. While rugged, it actually has a very low profile and is easy to carry. It’s obvious tactical design and special operator credentials encompass a sensible and well thought out collection of pockets and dividers that make sorting your stuff easy and convenient.

Since it is military-inspired, the Litespeed can be configured and added to so that you can create a truly customized carry design that works best for you. We have tested this bag in a variety of environments, including day hikes, road trips, city excursions, and even Disney World. In each scenario, it met or exceeded our needs.

In terms of construction, the Litespeed is made of MIL-SPEC 1000 Denier Invista Cordura fabric and tough webbing that’s nearly impossible to rip or tear. Hypalon, the same material found on Zodiac boats, is used to reinforce stress points, including the handle and shoulder strap connections.

The pack is also laced with Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) webbing and it’s also compatible with Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) pouches so that you can customize the layout of your gear to suit your changing needs.

The upshot is that this is one handy, cool, functional, and durable backpack for both everyday use and urban or (let’s be honest here) suburban, adventures.

One last but exciting note; Triple Aught just redesigned the Litespeed in several important areas to make it even better. So, take a look and check it out for yourself.

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TAD Fast Pack Lightspeed Harness Black Triple Aught Designs FAST Pack Litespeed

 

 

The J. Panther RollTote

 

jplc rolltote all 1024x1024 The J. Panther RollToteJ. Panther Luggage Company is a maker of classically modern American crafted bags. We have been fans of this brand for some time and still consider the original Courier Ruc to be one of the most innovative business bags to hit the boardroom.

The company’s portfolio is deliberately small and thoughtful. the collection represents a true balance among form and function, design and purpose, practicality and aesthetic. It is also a brand that successfully blends hipster cool with heritage sensibility.  It is one of the few bag makers that creates products which are forward-thinking while at the same time beholden to a craftsman’s hand. New but sort of vintage; modern but also timeless. Regardless of the stylistic lens through which you view J. Panther bags, that all built to take excessive abuse and in doing so, get better and better.

J. Panther’s new RollTote is a perfect example of this philosophy.

The signature three-way carry RollTote brings modern functionality, and a touch of refinement, to the classic, utilitarian roll-top backpack. To the standard Ruc Tote mode they have added two additional, flexible carry options.  Removable, adjustable leather shoulder straps attach via an ‘O’ ring for ruc (backpack)carry. Re-attach one of these straps across the top of the bag for tote-style use. A leather side handle offers the third option of hand carry.

J. Panther’s signature 21 ounce lightly waxed, water-resistant canvas works with the RollTote’s design to handle even the heaviest downpour. This heavy cotton canvas ages beautifully and the sturdy leather trim ads a functionally elegant finish to the bag.

Fully rolled down, the twin external pockets are protected from the elements, be it a rain storm or snow flurry.  Within, a single deep pocket neatly separates a laptop or documents from the roomy main compartment.

jplc rolltote illust rain 1024x1024 The J. Panther RollTote jplc rolltote olive tan 02 1024x1024 The J. Panther RollTote

 

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jplc rolltote internal instruction label The J. Panther RollTote

 

 

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Go Take A (Day) Hike

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Now that the endless winter weather that has gripped much of the Northern hemisphere appears finally to be receding, it’s time to head outside for some much needed sunlight and fresh air.  One of the great pleasures of outdoor activities, apart from actually being active, is acquiring new equipment and gear designed for your back-to-nature inspired endeavors.

Purpose-built bags, clothing, and accessories help to orient your thinking and get you in the mood for day hikes, longer runs, or just an urban adventure to the cool section of town.

We have had the pleasure of recently checking out a few pieces from three great performance-driven brands; Granite Gear, Vasque, and Timex.  While they do possess a certain color-coordinated outdoor performance look, it was pure – if inspired – coincidence.  And, although each has great technical eye appeal, what ultimately matters is how the products perform.

DSC 0607 Go Take A (Day) HikeWe have actually been testing out the Timex Expedition Shock Chrono Alarm ($58) for about two months and find it to be a fantastic timepiece for everyday informal and active wear, be it working out, running, hiking, or any other activity where the possibility of deliberate or accidental watch abuse exists.

The moderately-sized watch is very lightweight but also sturdy and extremely comfortable on the wrist.  Its soft rubber strap is flexible, unlike the G-Shock’s, and gently hugs your wrist, keeping the watch in place without bulk.  A pleasingly functional case, clear and easy-to-read negative display, and one-touch Indiglo illumination, all make this a true favorite.

The Granite Gear Athabasca 24 day pack ($129.95) is another item that combines technical capability with functionally cool style.  First and foremost, this company makes gear for use in the actual great outdoors.

Athabasca 24 Go Take A (Day) HikeEvery strap, tab, zipper, pocket, and loop on this bag is there for a reason and built to withstand the abuse of serious backwoods tracking.  At the same time, their days packs are infused with features that work in a more urban, less mountainous environment.

The sturdy hip belt, perfect for supporting a fully loaded back for an afternoon on the trail, is also removable for everyday commuter use.  There is a sleeve designed for a hydration insert that doubles a secure slot for a small laptop, and an easily accessible outer pocket is equipped with key lanyard and assorted pockets.

A good pair of sturdy shoes is vital to a comfortable and safe trek, whether on a trail or down the block.  These Vasque Grand Traverse kicks ($129.95) are a nice hybrid multi-sport shoe designed to handle true back country trails and daily errands with ease.  It’s the performance of a hiking boot wrapped in the comfort of an athletic shoe.

The dual-density EVA footbed and molded EVA midsole provide superior support over rough terrain while the Vibram® Ibex sole gives you stability and grip, even on wet pavement.  It’s even a comfortable choice for going sockless and walking the dog on a warm evening – we’ve tried it.

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Watch pack detail Go Take A (Day) Hike

 

Spring Style: Out and About

OTC in DC Spring Style: Out and About

As warmer Spring weather finally begins to settle in, it’s time to head out into the city, take in the cherry blossoms and take care of a few errands.  Here, along Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street, NW, you will find some outstanding furniture, decorating, and accessories stores as well as a growing selection of exciting gastropubs, restaurants, and gelaterias.

For this day’s excursion, we opted for a casually simple and comfortable outfit that worked with the unexpectedly warm, breezy weather.  Remember, every day doesn’t have to be an exercise in Ivy League interpretation.  Sometimes, you just want throw on an easy outfit and head out the door.

Here, the vintage cotton J. Crew button down allows for freedom of movement and long sleeves for when the sun goes down.  The shorts are from Ecoths and while classically neutral in cut and color, they also have some nice urban touches, like a handy smart phone pocket. The ECCO BIOM Walk shoes are incredibly comfortable and lightweight – perfect for extended city roaming.

Athabasca 24 Spring Style: Out and AboutWe also took the opportunity to test out the Athabasca 24 day pack from Granite Gear, a maker of serious outdoor equipment.  Designed for use by both everyday consumers and avid hikers, this bag was just right for hauling purchases, snacks, and personal necessities.

Backpacks are best suited for casual outfits and practical needs.  Regardless of intent, a backpack – certainly a outdoorsy one –  never looks right with a coat and tie.  And, we are daily commuters, so we understand why people opt for them.  Remember to match your bag to your wardrobe and the level of formality, or informality, you are projecting that day.

Luckily, this day’s outfit was decidedly casual and the Athabasca was the right bag for the job.  It sat comfortably on the back and also stayed in place when slung over one shoulder, even filled-up.  The pack actually comes with an integrated hip belt for long day hikes, but we left it at home, opting for a slimmer, urban profile.