Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tech Column: Bag Envy

Photo by Richard Masoner

by Bill Adler

I have bag envy.

I want to preface that by saying that while I like my messenger bag, whenever I'm out I'm on the lookout for other bags to carry my iPad in. There's always better, right?

After many weeks of online shopping agony I chose the Crumpler Skivvy small in gunmetal/black, http://bit.ly/JARDSz ($110.) I knew that when Crumpler called the bag's color "gunmetal" I wouldn't be shy about carrying it.

My Crumpler bag is great, but I thought that the bag I had before was terrific, too. My messenger bag has a padded compartment for my iPad (it also works for other tablet computers), plenty of pockets, is waterproof (tablet computers and rain don't mix), has a quick-access exterior pocket, opens without an attention-grabbing velcro rip sound, has multiple interior pockets, and, most important of all, doesn't look like a purse.

If you've never owned a Crumpler bag, www.crumpler.com, let me add that I've purchased a number of camera and other bags from them and have always been very pleased. The bags are sturdy, have practical compartments, use a shoulder strap that doesn't make you feel like you need a shoulder transplant after an hour, and look good.

The Crumpler Skivvy wasn't my iPad's first transportation system. It may not be the last either. Not because Crumpler doesn't make great bags -- they do. But because I have bag envy. Is that bag I see on someone else's shoulder on the Metro better than mine?

Before my Crumpler bag, I used a Tom Bihn messenger bag, www.tombihn.com. It's also superbly constructed with interior pocket padding for tablet computers. I had --still have-- the Tom Bihn Ristretto, http://bit.ly/JwZaCT ($125) in olive/cayenne color. Before buying it, I only agonized for a week over which of the six possible color combinations to get. Tom Bihn bags also let you customize the shoulder strap.

Enter the Targus CityGear Mini, http://amzn.to/L1tkey ($25), a bag that I took on a recent trip to New York City. The Targus is a considerably smaller and noticeably lighter than either the Crumpler or Tom Bihn (and costs a lot less, too.) Despite being relatively lilliputian, the CityGear Mini carried my iPad, iPhone, pen, flashlight, and portable iPhone battery charger without looking like an overstuffed pinata.

But the CityGear Mini isn't for me. Sure, it's inexpensive, practical, protects my iPad with padded compartment, is lightweight, and carries everything I need. But it's not everything I want so my CityGear Mini will be spending its remaining days living in a sad, dark corner of my closet.

Before I pressed the "buy" button on Crumpler's website for the Skivvy, I almost bought a messenger bag from Timbuk2, www.timbuk2.com. Whenever I'm out I see people using Timbuk2 bags and I've always wanted one. Timbuk2's bags are infinitely customizable through multiple colors and fabrics (you can even make your Timbuk2 bag's three panels each a different color), and have brilliant interior layout. Timbuk2s are the bags that you see real bike messengers using.

I also was tempted by one of SF Bag's enviable messenger bags, www.sfbags.com. As with Timbuk2 -- almost. It was a close call, and I could easily have been that guy with the Timbuk2 or SF bag that you're envying, rather than the guy with the Crumpler messenger bag. Meanwhile, I am that guy who's checking out your messenger bag on the Metro.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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