I like to carry a bag and I can't for the life of me find one I really like.
But let's back up. When I was a kid, my Dad carried a briefcase. He wasn't a businessman or a lawyer, but rather a teacher, but he still carried a briefcase. It was this kind of thing:
Back then (the mid-Sixties) there were hard briefcases...
And softer, more expandable briefcases...
Off the Appalachian trail, you never saw a grown man with a knapsack (at least not in NYC). I don't remember carrying a knapsack myself until high school. In elementary school I think I used one of those wide rubber band things you tied around your books -- what were those called? -- straight out of "Leave It To Beaver." (In those days most kids didn't carry much more than a lunchbox and maybe a few notebooks.)
I think knapsacks became popular with non-hikers during the Seventies and obviously they're popular to this day. I'll carry one if I go hiking or on a short trip, but to carry in the city every day, it's too casual for me.
Then there are all those messenger bags. As I recall these became popular in the Nineties, along with other types of status men's (and women's) bags. But I'm not the Prada-Gucci type.
A few years ago at the Salvation Army, I found a brand new black canvas Jack Spade messenger bag. It's basically fine but I hate the huge velcro strips that make the bag very challenging (and loud) to open and close. A latch would have been much better.
I also own this cheap Levi's denim bag, but it's too small and flimsy looking.
Another Salvation Army find is this L.L. Bean tote emblazoned with the words "AOL 5.0" which gives you an idea of its age. I use it as a pool bag since it's always open, which works well for anything damp left in the bag like a swim cap or goggles.
I actually sewed a pocket inside so I wouldn't have to always dig for my gym lock. It's starting to fray and look grimy (you can't really launder them) but I'm finding myself resistant to purchasing a replacement for some reason.
I found this little Patagonia bag in the trash; it had some company name embroidered on it which I removed with a seam ripper. It's functional but I'm not a fan of Cordura nylon. I know -- fussy.
I found this huge L.L. Bean leather tote at the flea market. It's good for weekend trips but too big for every day, plus it has no compartments and you can't sling it over your shoulder or wear it across your chest.
The bag I carry most often was a gift from BurdaStyle a few years ago. If I were to copy a bag, this would probably be it, perhaps in a sturdier canvas. I prefer a deep vertical bag to those wide messenger bag shapes. Plus the bag has both a strap and handles.
Up there in the running for Worst Purchase of 2013 (so far) is this Filson bag I bought on eBay. In theory it's great: made in the USA, sturdy waxed canvas, heavy duty construction, a key hook (to latch your key ring onto), and outer pockets. In reality it sucks: the bottom hangs too low for my height, so it drags on the ground if I carry it by the handles. Over the shoulder, the wide, stiff nylon straps cut into my hands and don't sit comfortably, so I have to hold it on with my other hand. I once wore it with my white linen pants and the wax canvas became covered with linen fuzz that not even a sticky roller will remove completely. Oh, and a bit of the black dye rubbed off on my pocket edges; thankfully it came out in the wash. I need to sell this bag.
Filson makes other bags, but they're hundreds of dollars. I checked out the canvas bag below in a store and it weighs a ton without anything in it. Not for me.
I like this Mood bag better than the black Filson. But ultimately it's a shopping bag.
Perhaps by now you're thinking: Sew your own bag! I have looked at patterns:
The closest I've ever come to sewing a bag was a sewing machine cover, which when you think about it is pretty similar. But I did that with great reluctance (and no joy) merely to protect my Bernina.
In conclusion, friends, if you're a man or have a man in your life, what do you -- or he -- carry stuff around in? Are you (or is he) the type who'd be satisfied with a disposable plastic grocery bag provided it did the job, or fussy like me (or maybe fussy in a different way)?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!