I grew up sailing 420s on Long Island Sound and still have a real love of the water. Sailing, as with many physically challenging sports, makes you appreciate the quality and construction of your equipment and accessories.
For example, Sperry topsiders are beloved by sailors because they actually work well and last. They look pretty good too, especially after being waterlogged a couple of dozen times.
Storage is another big issue, and a good bag is worth its weight in waterproof sailcloth. There are several companies that manufacture tote and duffel bags out of recycled sailcloth – my wife has a cool one with the original number “4” stitched on the side.
But only one company, True Wind, is manufacturing its bags out of brand new Dacron sailcloth, the same stuff that is normally turned into the sails that power some of the world’s top racing boats. From the ground up, True Wind’s bags are uniquely designed and built like tanks. They were kind enough to send me a Port Laptop bag for testing and review some time ago and after months of use, it’s holding up incredibly well. What goes into the bag is what makes it so durable.
Their sailcloth is custom woven in Ireland by Hood Sailmakers, the world’s oldest Dacron sailcloth manufacturer, and the only sailmaker in the world that weaves its own cloth.
Hood’s legacy goes back to its founder, the legendary yachtsman Ted Hood, and was the first company in the world to use man-made fiber (Dacron) in sailmaking. Almost from the beginning, Hood sailcloth has been the cloth of choice for some of the largest and most prestigious cruising, classic, and racing yachts in the world.
For True Wind, using custom woven sailcloth gives them total control over the cloth’s color, hand and finish. In production terms, that means the cloth is of consistent high-quality from one bag to the next. Speaking of production, each bag is made individually by hand, and completely made in America.
The price point for True Wind bags is higher than some other sail cloth bags, but as owner Meredith Marquis pointed out to me, you really get what you pay for. Premium materials and attentive domestic production make these bags legitimate heirlooms. And True Wind is a genuine family business; Meredith and her brother Roger who grew up sailing of the coast of Long Island, founded and still run the company.
Everything that goes into Marquis’ bags is well thought out. The solid brass hardware even comes from the same manufacturer that produces for Coach. All of the other materials, right down to the thread, is marine-grade and of the highest quality.
From a design perspective, True Wind’s bags are genuinely unique. The distinctive stripe pattern takes its inspiration from maritime signal flags; “Y” to be exact. Most of the recycled bag brands all use the same design of numbers and draft stripes, which are the thin strips of color that go across a sail to help the sailor see the shape of the sail. While this random element of “found design” can be appealing, sometimes those bags can take on too-rustic a look.
Lastly, since True Wind’s sailcloth material is brand new and its bags purpose-built, I feel that I could beat the heck out of one and not worry about it. Bags made out of recycled sailcloth are, to me, more of a fashion item – perfect for a cool tote bag, but perhaps not for a duffel bag headed towards an airline baggage handler.
To learn more about True Wind bags, check out the company’s website. By the way, their bags make a great holiday gift and can be monogrammed.