If you are looking for a good jacket or a good bag, you have the choice of materials: leather, heavy nylon, waterproof synthetic weaves like Gore-Tex … but for my money (and not a little of it either) the king of them is all in oilcloth. Folding but protective, wind and water resistant but breathable, it is beautiful at first, but it develops with a character of its own, strikes of oilcloth, for me, the perfect balance attributes. I drape myself in it, and in the case of the bags, I drape it myself.
The main caveat is that it's not cheap – of course you can get a bag for $ 30 or $ 40 on Amazon, but if you want something that will live for years and years improve with age, you will spend a little more than that.
The bags here are expensive, but as leather, craftsmanship and the quality of materials matter a lot, you end up with an object that regularly deteriorates or makes sense. Like so many things, you get what you pay for – up to a certain point, of course.
I've collected bags from various producers and have all tried them over the last few months for everyday use and during trips to the outside of the city. I focused on the format "suitable for a midsize laptop with room for a few books and a camera", but many of these manufacturers have a lot of choices.
Check the galleries under each bag for examples of anything that I consider pleasant or irritating. (The galleries are all very large because of a bug in our system.) Do not worry.)
ONA Union Street ($ 299) and Brixton ($ 289)
For: : Rigidity and padding, customizable dividers, beautiful pressures
Against : cheap interior, bulky, could be waxy
Ona bags at least these, are more geared towards the camera-computer combo than others, with additional padding and internal dividers for additional bodies and lenses .
I reviewed Union Street years ago and years ago from a previous bag week and I liked it so much that I decided to do it again. buy one. This is the larger of these two bags, with a 15-inch laptop and a digital SLR with an extra lens or two small ones.
Not only is the interior fully lined with padding, but the dividers are padded and the main flap itself has a sturdiness that has helped protect my equipment from falling and kicking. The bottom, although it is also padded and soft, has gone through years of scanning and placement on rough terrain.
I like spring-loaded self-locking snaps, but when I got the bag for the first time, I was convinced that they would be the first thing to fail . Seven years and thousands of snapshots later, they are still going strong, and when I was worried we were failing (that was not the case), Ona sent me a replacement.
It was my watch for a long time, and I still have it. It has aged well in some respects, not very well in others – its waxed front has survived years of stripes and slips on the floor and is wonderfully smooth and water resistant. I do not know how they did it. On the other hand, some areas have worn holes and the magnet that holds the back flap (an intelligent idea) eventually run away.
The newest one feels very slightly waxed, but I know it's there. That said, if you want a waxy look and feel, you could use a little more. It's really a matter of taste.
The interior is the weakest link. The fuzzy plush interior seems cheap to me (although it's undeniably protective), there are no internal pockets, and repeated gluing and detachment of Velcro separators carry the material down in the places. Although the ability to customize the interior space is priceless for photographers in particular, some strong decisions inside would make it a better versatile bag, in my opinion.
The Brixton is the smallest brother of Union Street, equipped with a 13-inch laptop and a little less camera. They share many qualities, including the price (only a difference of $ 10) and, ultimately, the decision is one of what you need rather than what is better.
For me, it's a problem. I like the open and separate pockets on the outside of the Brixton for things like filters and cables, but the Union Street zipper front pocket is better for pens, phones and more valuable items . Personally I like better the look of the Union, with its riveted straps and its unbroken oilcloth flap.
If I had to choose, I would go back to Union Street because it's not so much bigger than it gets bulky, but the extra space can make the difference between having to pack a second bag or not.
Filson 24 hour towel ($ 395)
For: : Versatile, well made and guaranteed, spacious
Against : Lighter material and wax, soft grips, nitpick storm flap
Filson has been in Seattle for more than a century, with his iconic oilcloth jackets that cover the bodies of the hip, the outdoors and tourists. Their most practical bag is this one, the 24-hour tin document holder, which, as its name indicates, is a bit more on the side of the travel bag.
This bag has a large main compartment with a padded laptop area that will easily hold a 15 inch, and some pockets inside to insulate toothbrushes and pens and the like. On the outside is a pair of large zipped pockets that open wide to allow access from the top or the side; inside these are organizer bands and subpockets for pens and so on.
It's certainly the best generalist among the bags I've tried – it's also at home as a daily driver or at the airport. Essentially, it's the perfect "personal item" hand luggage. When I leave for a trip, I invariably take this bag because it is so adaptable. Although it seems a little bulky, it flattens well when it is not full, but it does not look weird when it is well packaged .
A bonus with Filson is that if he ever tears or fails – and I mean never – you can take it and they will repair or patch for free. I did it with my jackets and it's 100% awesome. Scars where tears were made for even more character.
On the other hand, unlike many Filson products, this one only feels slightly waxed. If you want more protection from the rain, you'll want to add wax, not something everyone wants to do. You will end up re-waxing one of these bags, but this one just seemed to need it right off the bat. The material is a little lighter than some of the other bags, but it could be a plus or minus. It would not bother me if it was a little heavier, like their "sturdy twill".
The handles are nicely made and thick, but tend to shift when they are not needed. And the storm flap that covers the top zipper, though it's welcome, gives the impression of having the click on the wrong side – it makes it possible to tie it or to detach it with both hands. When it's not full, the bag can be a bit shapeless – it's not really ready for the conference room. For that you want Croots or Ernest Alexander below.
Ernest Alexander Walker and Hudson – $ 385
For: : Superb texture and color, nice style, low profile.
Against : Practical closure on Hudson, Walker has limited space, seems a little to compromise the utility
Note: I have tried two bags from this manufacturer and unfortunately both have been sold. I asked when they will come back to the market, but for now, you can consider this review as a general indicator of the quality of the EN bags.
The one I took from the beginning is the Walker; it has a pleasantly elegant and minimal look on the outside, the material a beautiful chocolate color that started to wear well. But open the flap and you have this beautiful fine blue canvas inside (there is a reverse scheme as well). For me, it was the most refined of all the bags of this roundup. I like that there are no snaps, clips, or anything visible on the outside – just a large expanse of this beautiful material.
This is a thin but not so restrictive bag; If what you need to take away is not embarrassing or cumbersome, there is room for a good amount. Books, a mirrorless one with a crepe lens, laptop – of course. But you certainly will not be equipping yourself with a set of change of clothes or groceries.
The small zippered outer pocket is ideal for a phone or cables, while the deep inner and outer pockets are easily accessible and relatively spacious. If you control your cargo, there is plenty of room here.
Unfortunately, if you do not control it, the bag easily deforms. Because the top flap attaches to the bottom center, if it becomes too full, the whole thing inflates awkwardly and the spikes are flipped over. And the transport belt, alas, tends to pull the flap in a way that pulls its sides up and away from the staple. And do not even try to pick it up with the loose flap.
Placing the clip under the flap is also a tedious procedure – you have to lift one side to get there, and because the loop flips when it's not in use, it becomes a two-handed operation to put the two pieces together. A more robust and fixed loop would make this easier. But everything is in the name of style, and the stylish exterior can offset these difficult aspects.
The shoulder strap has a lot of extra material but I've turned it into a nice little knot. I think it works pretty well, actually.
The biggest Hudson messenger that I was willing to love but that I finally can not recommend. Theoretically, it's fantastic, with magnetic pocket closures, tons of space, and a cross between the simplicity of the Walker and the versatility of the Filson bag. But the closing system is too complicated.
These are two straps in a simple belt style, which are a huge pain to do over and over again if you open and close the bag frequently. Compared to Ona closures, which combine speed with the flexibility of belt adjustment, it takes just an eternity to access the Hudson. If they make a revised version of this bag that deals with this, it will have my cordial recommendation.
Vintage Canvas Laptop Croots England – $ 500
For: : Beautiful, well-padded, excellent craftsmanship and materials
Against : Flappy Handles, Uneven Wear, Laptop Compartment, Expensive
Having met a bag of Croots in the wild once, I knew I had to include this long-time oilcloth player in the roundup. Oilcloth with croots is less oily than Filson or ONA, more like a heavy sailcloth. He feels very strong and holds his form well. It is however at the higher end of the spectrum.
That said, because of its stiffness, the Vintage Canvas Laptop Bag seems to want to wear prematurely in areas that protrude a little, such as corners or folds near seams. The process of wear moves the material from the smooth, almost ballistic nylon texture to a rough, rough fabric that I am not so sure about. Aging from a few weeks of use already has a small worried but it is also a very thick canvas.
The design is a little more loaded than the Ernest Alexander bags, but very beautiful and especially practical. I like the olive color, which contrasts wonderfully with the red back for the zippers. It does not look like Christmas at all, do not worry.
Straps are a standout feature. The thick leather handles are attached under the zipper and the back pocket to the D-rings, which in turn attach to separate leather straps that go under the entire bag. This means that the handles fold down easily because the D-rings turn in their loops. The riveted construction also means that there are no seams to be feared throughout the webbing. And the bottoms of the buckles make a little basic protection of the canvas there.
It also means that when you walk, the outside handle tends to fall rather unsightly on the side; Inside, up or down, will rub against your side or back. You can however store them in the side pockets with a little effort, which is a thoughtful touch.
The interior is a beautiful shade of red, with several large loose pockets and some rigid leather pockets for notebooks and so on. Unfortunately, the pocket of the laptop is poorly proportioned: it is very roomy, enough to accommodate three or four laptops, but the button to snap it is so low that I can not fix it on a 13-inch MacBook Pro. The idea that it could hold a 15 inch is ridiculous.
There is a lot of padding, so I do not worry about anything. There is also the option for a separate camera insert, although large SLR users will probably want to do that.
There is not much room in there but it is certainly meant to be a daily briefcase of the driver and not a travel bag – a "personal item" in the room. maybe plane but I would take the Filson or ONA on it for reasons of space. However, as a takeaway at work, coffee, or bookstore, it's a great option and a striking one. The Flight Bag is a slightly more expansive and unique option.
S-Zone – $ 30
For : Prices, Magnetic Closures, Leather Edges Details
Against : cheap interior and leather, small padding for a laptop
To balance the certainly expensive bags in this review, I decided to take a cheap one off the Amazon as well. As I was expecting it, it's not up to the standard of quality of others, but for $ 30 it's a good deal. If you want to experience how the oilcloth is changing and using, an inexpensive bag like this is a great way to try it.
The fabric of the S-Zone is a little thin but solid, rather stiff at first, but it's fine – it'll relax when using the bag. The interior is a cheap synthetic, however, it will work, but you will not feel like kings.
There are leather details everywhere and in some places it looks solid, such as shoulder strap and corner fasteners, where there are large spots that will scratch well. But the handle looks like trouble waiting to happen.
Instead of a D-ring to allow the ring to fold down, the leather itself was loosened so that it was a little more flexible just-in-time. above where it attaches itself. When it is out of order, the thin rope around which the leather of the handle is wrapped is exposed; I can just see it get soaked, bent, soaked again, bent, and getting weaker and weaker.
The front pockets are a little tight, but I love the small magnetic snaps – they make it easier to open and close without looking. Just be careful not to over-encroach or the pressures will not hold the pressure. There is plenty of room inside, more than the Croots or Ernest Alexander, but less than ONA or Filson.
But there is also the curious choice of putting padding in the divider that defines the section of the laptop rather than the outside. And the leather corner pieces stop right next to it! This means that the only thing between the corner of your laptop and the floor is nylon and canvas – and they do not make for a lot of cushioning. Although the other bags do not all have dedicated padding in this area, they all seem to be better off, and the S-Zone bag puts your laptop in the greatest danger of touching the ground.
I hope that the high prices of most of these items will not turn