Laziness Minus Apathy, CourieWare Small Courier Bag

courierware messenger bag review

The Bag

28 JAN
I have many pursuits: two businesses, school, and the family. After years of finding myself always having left “it” at home, I’ve learned to rely on a well packed shoulder bag (and car, to some extent) to ensure I’m not left hanging. It’s worked out pretty well, so I figure I’d share my results here: I’ll start with the bag (I use three):
  • Kenneth Cole New York leather shoulder bag. I bought this at Franklin Covey (primarily because the one they carried was neither black nor tan, but instead an atypical dark brown. It helps that it doesn’t look like every other bag out there, but in truth there is nothing special about its structure of contents. I use this bag for day to day to the office and back trips, or for times when I can travel with minimal stuff.
    • Pros:
      • Looks great, wears well.
      • Excellent shoulder strap design (the strap is “sided” so that it actually hangs on to your shoulder.
      • Should strap mounts don’t squeak and spin freely.
    • Cons
      • Minimal organizational features
      • Rigid and non-stretchable (which means, for example, I can’t stuff my SLR in there.
      • Zipper inside the back pocket scratches my laptop
      • Slightly heavy since it’s thick leather.
  • Tom Bihn “Empire Builder” Bag. I loved this bag when I saw it, and I used it daily for about six months. The problem is that it is very large, and I found myself violating my “travel light, travel right” plans when using it daily. It remains, though, my preferred bag as a combination brief/overnight case or for trips where I must carry supplemental stuff (like a printer, handouts, etc.)
    • Pros:
      • LOTS of organizational features — truly a wonder in this regard
      • Massive
      • Waterproof and indestructible (military grade zippers, for example)
      • Can open main compartment without opening flap
      • Unique. I bet you won’t see anyone else with one, unless you spend all your time in Seattle.
    • Cons:
      • It’s made for people who carry a bag on their left side (which I do not)
      • Shoulder strap crosses the main opening, which means it often covers the main opening.
      • Heavy, at 3 lbs. empty. (And since it’s so big, it fills up with every little thing and suddenly you’re carrying 25 lbs.)
      • I hate the shoulder strap (which they tout as a huge design triumph). The strap has a neoprene (e.g. rubbery) pad for your shoulder which, while comfortable, causes the bag to literally bounce up and down as you carry it. The bouncing is gentler (TB would say it’s “shock absorbing”) but it has the effect of slowly working the bag off your shoulder AND slowly pulling the sides of your coat/jacket upward. If you wear a suit or overcoat regularly and walk a bit, you’ll find this incredibly annoying. That said, it’s a small price to pay for the bags other features.
  • CourierWare Small Courier Bag. I’ve had this bag for years, and it remains a favorite even though I rarely use it. CW bags are highly unstructured, but are both indestructible and really comfortable to carry. Don’t let their simple design fool you — if you are interested in a comfortable bag for carrying widely varying sizes/shapes of things, you can’t go wrong with this company.
    • Pros:
      • The best possible bag if your needs are unknown/unexpected.
      • Highly unstructured and very light. (You can add structure by buying some of their inserts, if you like).
      • Indestructible and totally waterproof.
      • Lots of large pockets for the quick division of items.
      • Expands to WAY BEYOND its stated capacity through the ingenious setup of its straps. Seriously, you could carry a bale of hay with this bag if you needed to since it allows itself to be sorted of attached as a handle to virtually any object. I’ve carried lighting equipment, large moving boxes, and assorted camping gear all in this manner.
      • I often carry this bag INSIDE my other bags to use for excursions, as a camera bag, or for doing things like shopping at public markets. It’s an ideal companion for those uses and it rolls up small and tight. EXCELLENT as an excursion bag for international travel.
    • Cons:
      • If you have the same needs every day, you’ll want something more structured and which has more specific organizational features.
      • When you put it on the floor, it basically looks like a lump!
      • It makes you wish your lifestyle required you to use this bag more.

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