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Of Bags & Men

Sep 13 2021

Many people I know have a love affair with whatever it is they tote stuff around in. Obviously the connection between a woman and her purse can be nearly sacred, but guys too have there bag obsessions.

The bag is an interesting piece of fashion, both functional and ripe with social identifiers.

I remember as a school kid being really picky with my chosen backpack. Growing up as a industrial punk, spike modified military packs were all the rage and the goths all toted their lunchboxes and little black leather handbags just big enough to carry lipstick, white face powder, cigs, and a bit of brimstone.

Gadget, check. Wallet, check. Gadget #2, check. Phone, check. Gadget #3 check.

Choosing the right bag has gotten to be even more of important in the past decade due to the rise in gadget n’ laptop culture. It’s quite fascinating to see what people keep in their bags these days. In fact, there’s even a flickr group dedicated to this called What’s in your bag?

Nowadays it’s hipster messenger bags replacing the uncouth backpack (not the most back-friendly fashion shift) — though backpacks are still cooler than those rolly packs. Also on the way out are briefcases, which have been replaced by the ubiquitous laptop bag. Oh and there’s also the nascent man-purse (aka murse) trend, which is slowly expanding beyond the it’s core metro-sexual set — “no really it’s not a man-purse it’s a gadget bag!” (I admit I’m looking for one — they’re useful)

As a great example of this generation’s romancing the bag, Scott Beale, of Laughing Squid, just posted about his new Timbuk2 Hacker Bag. It’s a well designed back and seems a perfect fit for his photographer/blogger lifestyle. One commenter accused him of timbuk2 product placement — missing completely the real reason behind the post: bag-o-philia.

Confessing my own love for fashionable lugging equipment

Arkel BugArkel  Bug shown on bike I admit I’ve got a strong streak of bag-o-philia myself. And that love combined with what’s left of my punk-roots often leads towards rather beat up bags. I lean towards backpacks rather than messenger bags, and in the past few years I’ve burned through a couple. However the one bag that has lasted for me is my Arkel Bug combination pannier and backpack.

I know most bicyclists go for a messenger bag, but I gotta say unless you need instant access it’s way better not having anything weighing you down or making you back sweat. And the Bug is a fabulous design. Like all their panniers, it’s extremely well made, tough and water resistant, with plenty of sensible storage, and it comes with a lifetime guarantee.

I love my Bug and like Scott Beale’s post this is not a paid product placement just an blatant admission of my passion for a good bag.


My Arkel Bug is still going strong. In fact it’s lasting longer then my bike. I still really recommend it — as do friends of mine who also picked up bugs recently. However, I thought I should update this post with a couple other options for people who are looking for backpack panniers:

Nashbar makes a Action Pack-n Pannier. Tout-terrain makes a seat post attachable backpack called the Sherpa (go the bottom of the page). Ortlieb makes a weird carry system, which is basically are stow away backpack straps that you can attach to any of their bike panniers into a backpack — neat idea but it probably takes a little bit to set up rather then the pleasurable instant on-off of the Arkel. Also, Knog makes a nice looking over the shoulder laptop bag that has a pannier attachment and backpack attachment (not sure how good they work though).

If you want to got the DIY route, this guy came up with a pvc attachment method for his normal backpack: see pics here and here. You could also go overboard DIY and make your entire rack yourself out of wood like this guy

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