My Latest Ultimate Man-Bag

As readers of this weblog know, I’m a “bag junkie”. Ever since junior high school, I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect “man bag” for me. I’ve been through CountyComm Bail-Out Bags, Maxpedition backpacks and bags, Timbuk2 messenger bags and backpacks, and then Crumpler backpacks.

Unfortunately on Wednesday the 18th of January, my car was broken into while it sat in my driveway overnight and the thief got away with not only my GPS, radar detector, and two older laptops I’d hidden in the back seat (that belonged to friends, I had them for repairs), he popped the trunk and got my Crumpler “Salary Sacrifice” backpack containing my Macbook Air, various accessories for it, my Clear 4G wifi hotspot, my Kindle Fire, and a Blu-Ray disc my girlfriend gave me for Christmas.

Thanks to the hard work of the Houston Police Department and serial number matching at pawn shops, the Macbook Air and its charger were returned to me a week later, but none of the other items have been recovered. My homeowner’s insurance deductible (not auto, since the car wasn’t damaged) makes it not worth the time to file a claim – but honestly, it’s all just “stuff”, doesn’t keep me from doing my job, no data was lost, and it can all be replaced in time.

Looking into a recommendation I’d been given by a friend on Google+ back when I was looking at the Crumpler bags in August, I took another look at Red Oxx. Their small Aviator Duffel bag is really affordable at $35, and I gave it a shot. When it arrived less than a week later, I was so impressed by the quality and construction (before I even filled it with clothes) that I decided my next every-day “man bag” was going to be from Red Oxx. Not only is the construction amazing, all of their products have a lifetime warranty and are made in Billings, Montana.

After an evening of debate and reading reviews, I decided on the CPA Briefcase. A friend had given rave reviews to the Air Boss, but it’s just a bit TOO big for my daily needs. I might pick up a Roadster Mini-Ruck in the future.

Anyway, the CPA Briefcase in “Mariner” blue arrived today. I’d wanted one in “Midnight” blue, but the “Mariner” blue ended up being a lot nicer than expected.

I’ve only had it for a day, but I’m glad I made the purchase and I think my shoulder will give out before the bag will.

The Continued Quest for the Perfect Man-Bag

You can consider this post a followup to The Quest For The Perfect Man-Bag that I made almost exactly three years ago. I’ve had a lot go on in my life since then, but one of the end results is that I have more of a budget and leeway in being able to buy what I want.

When we last checked in on the status of my bag and portage fetish, I was carrying a Maxpedition Typhoon single-strap bag. When my wife passed away in ’09, I used the Typhoon as my carry-on bag when I flew to Chattanooga, TN for her funeral. It worked okay for that purpose, but I ended up wishing for double straps of a normal width, as I’m a big guy and the Typhoon’s single strap was uncomfortable at times. In the fall of ’09, I ordered a Maxpedition Falcon II backpack (Royal Blue with “Foliage” straps and MOLLE web) as soon as they became available.

I sort of have a habit of buying a new backpack/bag when I get a new portable computer, so when I finally broke down and bought an iPad in the fall of 2010, I ordered a custom Timbuk2 “Swig” backpack to go along with it. This served as my pack for the iPad and gear until a few months ago when I was finally able to buy a semi-recent (2010) MacBook Pro. Continuing the tradition, I picked up a Timbuk2 “Shotwell” backpack in black, partly due to an amazing price through Amazon Warehouse Deals. Sold as “Used”, it was still sealed in its plastic bag.

While the Timbuk2 gear is plenty tough, I wanted something a little more rugged with slightly more padding. By this time I was a little tired of the tacti-cool miliary look of the Maxpedition gear, and started looking at other brands. I settled on Crumpler after days of review, and a couple of weeks later had both a Crumpler “Salary Sacrifice” backpack and a Crumpler “Sheep Scarer” backpack, having paid less than half of retail price for both of them.

In addition, through another Amazon Warehouse Deals sale, I picked up two Crumpler “Skivvy” large laptop messenger bags for $25 each! I didn’t have a use for them at the time, but was impressed with the quality of the other Crumpler products I’d seen and at that price they were a really good deal. Since then I’ve used one of them for a ThinkPad laptop I loaned out to a friend, and the other to carry my HP TouchPad tablet around in.

Anyway, the “Salary Sacrifice” is perfect for most things. It carries my 11″ MacBook Air just fine (in a Hard Candy EVA case). However, it’s advertised as being able to carry a 13″ MacBook Pro – and it can, if the MBP isn’t already in any sort of case or sleeve. I prefer to put all of my portables in some sort of case or sleeve before putting them in a bag or pack, and that makes the MBP just a tad too big to fit in the Salary Sacrifice bag properly. It will fit in the “Sheep Scarer”, but is still a bit too tight for my preferences.

So, tonight I finally bit the bullet and ordered the Crumpler “Beer Back” backpack in black. They advertise it as being able to fit a 17″ laptop, so it should hold everything I need with room to spare.

Now the question is – do I try to sell off some of my unused bags, or keep them around “just in case”?