Monday, November 8, 2010

Personal struggle: backpack or messenger bag?

Today I posted a Buzz about the items I carry on a daily basis. I always find it interesting to see what my friends consider essential or how little they can carry.

Personally, I carry a lot of stuff. I feel as though I am stuck in an eternal quest to find the best way to transport it all. For the past several months I have been using a Timbuk2 messenger bag that was given to me as Google schwag. I am not sure what model but it appears to be an earlier (1.0?) version of the commute 2.0. The only noticeable difference is the lack of TSA compliance which would be very useful.

There are very few things that I dislike about the Timbuk2:

  • The side bottle holder fails to hold my water bottles (Nalgene or Camelbak, 650ml+)
  • There are very few (only 2) zipper compartments for organizing items.
  • There are zero external access pockets for storing quick access items (such as my camera)
  • My bag is customized to read "Google Atlanta" which is simply asking to be stolen.

Before the Timbuk2 I carried a Swissgear Synergy backpack. This is easily the best backpack I have owned. There is plenty of storage, great organization, and it's comfortable to carry. Mine is over 4 years old and just starting to fray.

Every few weeks I find myself switching between the Timbuk2 and Synergy backpack. Why?

  • I love the design, size, and feel of the Timbuk2. It feels more refined and stylish.
  • The Timbuk2 stays close to your body and is easier to carry in crowded, or cramped, environments.
  • It is more difficult for anyone to take an item from the Timbuk2 unnoticed.
  • The Timbuk2 is easier to travel with due to it's size and luggage support.
  • I am more comfortable putting my DSLR in the timbuk2.
  • The Synergy feels more organized.
  • The Synergy is capable of carrying more (at the compromise of size and weight).
  • The Synergy is more comfortable to carry for extended periods of time.
  • I can quickly grab items from the Synergy by slinging it over one arm and unzipping the appropriate compartment.
  • I feel awkward carrying a backpack in public places (slightly more comfortable with a messenger bag).

So which bag is right? Both feel like a compromise in at least one aspect. For now I plan to stick with the Timbuk2 but I'm constantly searching for the bag which fits me best.

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