a post about a bag

Just so you know, I'm writing this wearing a clown nose, and I purposely didn't title this with the SEO grabbing headline "Topo Designs Mountain Bag review", but that's what it is. If that sounds terribly boring, please feel free to skip to the end, where there's a nice picture of Sophie, and also some leaves still on a tree in early December. Those of you that know me know that I am hard on my personal effects. I need durability in everything, and that goes double for what I put my things in. It's led to something of an obsession with the right bag. What goes in it is usually pretty mundane, but I care about the bag I carry. So, I've been known to put down some signifigant coin down on them, or to mark occasions with new bags. For xmas, Sophie's mom gave me a nice gift card, which I decided would be well spent on a bag I'd been lusting after for a while, the Topo Designs Mountain Bag. First the good: It certainly looks good, all strappy and with oversized, durable zippers. 1000d cordura and lined with some plasticy stuff that seems pretty warterproof, and all the inner seams are at least covered with bias tape of some sort. When I got it, I was pretty happy, as the capacity is just what I was after (officially 1200 cu. in, although probably only 1000 in the main compartment), it's ambidexterous, and has just the right ammout of organization for me. It comes in a good variety of colors, and is fairly good looking, at least to my eye. Unfortuantely, that's all the good. It's like no one field tested the bag at all. The top flap pocket is easy to lose stuff out of: if you put anything small and heavy in there, like a multi tool or a set of allens for your bike, and then flip the flap up, the stuff gets stuck in the little space above the zipper, and will fall out the next time you open it. Luckily, I was still in my living room when this happened to me. Then there's the shoulder strap. The little tabs at the end for tightening it aren't long enough, especially if you have gloves on. Then there's the way the strap hardware is attached, sewn to the bag with a single seam at each end, just a line of heavy stitching. This is not how to secure a strap and have it hold. There are two good ways to do it that I've seen: the approach favored by seatbelt makers and the makers of Rucksack, ReLoad, and a host of other bags: to "make a box":http://www.carryology.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/RELoad-Bags-2.jpg on top of the strap where it meets the pack, and then sew an X over the box, or the approach that Domke takes: "sew strap around the entire bag":http://www.wexphotographic.com/webcontent/product_images/large/66/1013942.jpg, so that the pack cloth isn't holding all the weight. Also, the bottom of the bag is a piece all by itself, just a rectangle on the bottom. It's two extra seams at the sides taking weight, and two more places for water to leak in, if you should happen to set the bag down somewhere damp. The right way to do this is of course to have one piece that makes a big u: starting from one side at the top, going continuously around to the other. Like "this one my friend Sarah makes":http://martineusa.com/products/oakland-messenger. All that to say that I'm still carrying the bag. Day to day it's not bad at all. I'm doing my best not to overload it, and to keep it out of the wet. I just don't expect it to last. (ed. note: Sophia says after heraing me bitch about this stuff for a couple minutes last night: 'Why don't you just design your own bags?', and you know, I just might.)

Posted by Matt on 2014-01-28 22:24:45 -0800