Years of buying messenger bags, brief cases, shoulder bags, purses, and more finally rammed home a common thread: purpose → bag. Once I wrapped my head around that ever-present reality, my abandoned shelves grew lonely.
I gave away the old and mostly unused bags, then created a list of scenarios. The most frequently confronted situations, each requiring a bag of certain tools, gave me the features list for replacement bags.
1️⃣ EDC Bag for Writing Sessions at a Local Mom & Pop Coffee Shop
General rule: I don’t give a whiff of donkey dust about labels. The exception: a product proving its durability, literally, over decades. Exhibit A: bags by Wilson’s Leather. Back during the heyday of America’s malls, you’d likely find one of these fine shops in any enclosed mall. Today, courtesy of the Amazon factor, lotsa luck trying to locate a brick and mortar Wilson’s store. I’m lucky — we have a true outlet center in Smithfield, North Carolina, a smooth 1-hour drive from the Triangle area.
Hubs wanted to replenish his pants wardrobe, so I joined him on a recent trip. As usual, Wilson’s did not disappoint. Special note: the WilsonsLeather.com website gives new meaning to quickly fluctuating prices, THE reason I refuse to link it. A $250 bag yesterday may be $80 today, then $105 tomorrow. Your best bet = eBay, where WL also maintains a store. Prices there remain lower for longer time periods.
Between those two online shops, I’d been closely watching a certain bag: the Leather Vacqueta Single Lock Leather Tablet Bag. I hesitated to buy sight-unseen, because most of us have witnessed a severe decline in quality as regards the products of some beloved manufacturers. You’ll understand then, why I practically ran into the Wilsons Leather outlet store upon arrival. Folks, not only did they have “my” bag, it was rock-bottom priced, at $69.
I wanted the bag to hold my BigBoy iPad Pro and Dell 13 Chromebook. This bag fit the bill, beautifully. My bullet journal, wallet, and reading glasses also fit inside, with a few pens, but that’s it. Fortunately, that’s really all I require on my coffee-shop writing missions.
Another manufacturer earning my trust in this respect is Kenneth Cole. His leather products remain a joy, years after the purchasing fact. My messenger bag, and backpack, although purchased prior to my Wilson’s Leather visit, perfectly match that Vacqueta bag, paying homage to my color-coordination jones. 😃
2️⃣ Mini Photo Shoot + BrainStorming Bag, for Local Parks
After years of changing DSLR lenses in the field —and resulting missing shots— I reawakened my search for a worthy all-in-one camera. Because I favor bird photography, my primary dealbreaker features include GPS and an ultra-zoom.
Why GPS? Birds are creatures of habit. If I “just miss” a shot of a particular bird at 5:45p on a Thursday at xyz locale, good odds suggest a reappearance at the same locale/time the following week.
My last foray in zoom territory, a good five years earlier, inflicted bitter disappointment. Read: lousy image quality. But y’all know tech years!
The Nikon p900, with its 83x optical zoom, left me slack jawed. The detail mesmerizes, as does its battery life. A year following the Nikon purchase, I sold both dSLRs, including a full-frame. No regrets.
The Nikon’s overall friendliness does not extend to pocket carry. Nor does it require a full-blown dedicated camera bag. Hence, I rely on a small backpack, the Clelo Mini Backpack Purse, Canvas Sling Rucksack Small Backpack, Kahki. (While the Kahki version went BuhBye, comparable models grace the linked page, with an average price of $25.) The bag dislikes larger items, like the big iPad Pro and ChromeBook, but embraces standard-sized iPads. With pockets galore, I know precisely where to look for which item. Measuring roughly 13.5 x 8.5 x 2 inches, the canvas material remains sufficiently flexible to handle most things tossed in its direction.
The usual suspects join my camera: iPhone, bullet journal, pens, 0.5 Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil, reading glasses, wiping cloth, sunglasses, insulated water thermos, and a few other items. I appreciate this bag to such an extent that I’m tempted to make a repeat purchase, ensuring a backup. But I’ve dogged the Clelo for over 2 years, yet it looks as good today as on day one. No need for a dupe after all.
3️⃣ EDC Bag for Quick Errands
Changing circumstances coerce two sections, reflecting my 2017 bullet journal and its 2018 replacement.
3️⃣🅰️ The A5-Friendly Duluth Trading Shoulder Bag
I discovered the Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Field Bag back in 2009, courtesy of a review at The-Gadgeteer.com. Dimensions: 7″ wide, 5-1/2″ deep, 10-3/4″ high. Durable, water and stain resistant, its 3 main compartments play kitchen sink, permitting all manner of insane stuffing. Sadly, this canvas version eludes current purchase, per its $160 “lifetime all leather” replacement / twin.
During my 2017 A5 bullet journal days, the all-in-one package provided by an A5 Lihit Lab SmartFit Cover slid into the middle compartment while assorted doodads hung out in the other compartments. The bag seemed tailor made for such carries. (Visit JetPens.com to see additional Lihit Lab colors).
3️⃣🅱️ The Munchkin-y Vagabond Traveler Waist/Shoulder Bag
As 2018 approached, my altered definition of “light” travel included my (truly!) pocketable Sony HX90x (30x optical zoom) camera, now 4.5 years old. New to the party: a B6Slim Jibun Techo Biz Mini, roleplaying as bullet journal. I wanted a smaller bag, per the smaller load.
This new grab-&-go paakage begins with Amazon’s Creoly Large Genuine Tan Leather Pen Holder, a 7 x 2.5 inches wrap-around pen holder. The strap stretches without falling out of shape. Caveat: you must use a hardcover book. The Jibun is a softcover. My fix: I attacked the stiff back cover of a legal pad with a box cutter and ruler. The resulting 2 cardboard pieces sit in the front and rear cover flaps of the Biz. Now, the Jibun is a hardcover. Works a treat.
The 2018 Biz Mini replaced my Hobonichi Weeks, due to the Mini’s comparable sizing:
- Weeks: 3.75 x 7.4 inches
- Biz Mini: 4.72 x 7.48 inches
The one-inch increase in the Mini’s width translates into a genuinely useful standard month calendar, with vertical weeklies and monthly Gantt-style charts. I no longer fight with the space deficits incurred by the Weeks.
A same-sized Tomoe-River-paper blank grid booklet, tucked into the Mini’s rear cover, serves my Daily Logs needs. A similar booklet (front) houses my Collections.
Given the drastic size difference between my porky A5 2017 bullet journal system and the current iteration, I enjoy the luxury of having ALL essentials at my fingertips at ALL times, regardless of location.
My iPhone joins the Sony HX90v in fashioning my trusted trio.
The Biz Mini also doubles as my wallet, per the 3 credit card slots built into its inner front cover. Thus, my need for a larger purse now lives in the past
This little cutie now handles the lion’s share of EDC ventures. Wearable draped around the waist or shoulder, I’m firmly in the shoulder camp. Notably, this bag hails from another quality merchant: Vagabond Traveler. The precise model name: “9” Stylish Canvas Waist Fanny Pack C82. Purchased 3 years ago for $27.50, it now lists at $35.
Quick Shout-Out to BuJo Habit Trackers
If folks told me years would pass, withOUT my purchase of a new bag, I’d have politely asked for some of what they were smoking. Yet history proves the prediction true.
I owe that to my old no-spend habit tracker. The physical tracker is now dead, but the habit is not. No relpacement bag, because none needed. The tracker coerced me into keeping hawk eyes on my spending. I didn’t like what I saw. By paying attention, I saw the need for change. By tracking, I embedded the habit. Win. Win!