I’ve been looking forward to writing a follow-up to “Defending a Man’s Bag,” one of the most popular articles I’ve written. Well, here it is.
It’s taken me a while to pull this together because I wanted to have a reason for doing an update and not just rehashing the whole, “I like this bag because it’s cool…” thing. I also have a pretty good reason to explore this issue again: my wife and I are expecting our first child, due sometime this summer.
As a result, my interest in bags has taken on a new dimension. Not only will I be carrying around my own stuff, soon the blackberry will be rubbing shoulders with spare diapers and bottles of formula.
As I also commute on a daily basis, this got me to thinking about what bags are best suited to a commuting father. When I speak of commuting here, I’m excluding those of you who travel by car. Your needs are a little different.
In this case, I talking about those guys (me included) who must tote their worldly possessions slung over a shoulder day after day. The amount of stuff in our bags typically expands relative to how far away from home base we are. And while my average day is not quite as dramatic as Jack Bauer’s (above), anyone who travels by public transportation can tell you that the value of your bag can quickly be measured by how easy it is to organize, store and find what you need.
Personally, I tend to rotate among several bags depending on where work takes me and whatever mood I’m in. At the moment, I carry two bags; an olive drab Jack Spade Day Bag for my day-to-day stuff and another small bag for my laptop. I love the Jack Spade bag – it is a definite favorite. It’s basically a small messenger bag, perfect for a book, wallet, agenda, mobile phone, Blackberry, etc. It’s simple and neutral – fine for business related travels. The problem is that I can’t add the laptop in there too, the bag is too small.
So, I carry two bags when really, I want to carry one. I had been trying out a very cool helmet bag from Flyboys.com, a supplier of armed forces pilot gear. It’s light and has a great practical military feel to it. As it’s designed to hold a fighter pilot’s helmet and related cockpit essentials, the bag is also cavernous. It was quite inexpensive and met many of my needs for an informal commuter bag. Namely, it carries a lot without being bulky, has several well placed pockets and is very durable. All key points for a good commuter bag.
I have since moved on to a compact laptop sleeve with handles. This is temporary while I search for a good single bag solution. The Flyboys bag is great, but after testing it under commuter conditions, I think it is better suited as a general travel bag that goes into the car or under a airline seat. It was designed to be functional, which it most certainly is, but not necessarily comfortably mobile.
The Commuter & Dad Bag Test
Out of practical necessity, I’ll have to pare down to only one bag in a few months so it better be a good one. It needs to act as a classic “man bag” and hold all the stuff I need every day as well as a business bag that can handle a laptop, files and other work materials. When loaded up, there should be not be any physical discomfort; no shoulder strains or aching back. I should also have some good, classic styling that can take me from running errands to business meetings.
How hard can that be?
Actually, I’ll be able to let you know in some detail, because over the next month or so I will be testing several potential commuter/dad bags and will report back on my findings. After some preliminary scouting, a few have come to my attention. Once I get the sample group lined up I’ll let you know which bags I’ll be testing out.
Whether you are looking for a basic everyday man bag, a commuter bag, or a dad bag, the same rules really do apply for all. It should meet your functional needs, be sturdy, have enough interior pockets to keep things organized and have a distinctly masculine look to it.
I’ll update you on my testing, and if you have any suggestions of your own please let me know. I’ll also be reporting on this test in my regular column for Men’sFlair.com.