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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Documenting the Collection, um... Passion, um... Obsession

My mother is an avid shopper.  Deeply avid.  I know avid suggests that, but let's be clear that the woman shops.  And buys.

I have some of her tendencies in this area and own more shoes than I need.  I also own many many products of Apple.  Too many, probably.  I don't buy clothes much, though, for complicated reasons I'm not going to get into. 

I am impulsive when it comes to car purchases.  Of late, I've turned cars over every three years.  That's too often, really.  I like my current car a lot, though, so as I slide toward year three, I'm quite confident we'll make it to year five, at least.

Then, there's bikes. Towit:
  • Cannondale F400.  Sold to get Gunnar (see below).
  • Want road bike.  
  • Trek 1200.  No, too harsh, too small.  Sold.
  • Lemond Zurich.  Scared it would break. Sold.
  • Ibex Classic.  Bought for parents house.  Too small, terrible riding.  Sold.
  • Surly Cross-Check.  Too small.  Cross bike brakes don't work.  Sold.
  • Gunnar Rockhound.  Yep, still in garage.
  • Gary Fisher Kaitai.  Lives at my parents house.
  • Soma Smoothie ES.  Sold.  Didn't ride.
  • Kona Dew Deluxe.  Good, but harsh. Going to get Sold.
  • Surly Karate Monkey.  Getting the Kona's parts as we speak.  Anyone need a Kona frame?
So, I've turned over (in the last seven years or so) ten bikes.  I still have three, one of which lives 3000 miles away in may parents' basement.

See what I mean? 

I used to collect, well, collectibles.  But, I stopped.  Seemed wasteful, really.  You run out of storage.  And then they're just plastic.  Or ceramic.  Or whatever.  I still watch antique/collecting shows on tv. 

Of recent years, I must confess to a bit of a bag collection.  Passion.  Obsession.

I built a little wire container system to hold them.  I take some comfort in knowing I'm not the only one. 

There's the Bag Collector Blog.

Yeppers.  He's inspired me to document.  Ready?  (Since no one actually reads this anymore much, go with it.) 

Or not. 

Let me note, before I begin, that bags have come in and gone out without making the current collection/cut.  I bought some, didn't like them, and let them go.  They were mostly Timbuk2, some Chrome.  One or two Crumpler.  Some bought cheap, others full retail.  I wish them well in their current lives. 

In college I used an LL Bean backpack.  I then have a memory hole until I bought a Hartmann leather bag at their outlet mall in Camarillo.

I used the Hartmann for a number of years.  It's a nice bag.  Heavy, but good quality and I like it.  My one criticism is that it doesn't have a top handle, which makes it hard to move around.

I wanted a lighter, sportier alternative.  And thus did my fascination with Timbuk2 begin. 

I ordered a custom messenger to "match" the Trek 1200 (see above). 

This bag was made of a less shiny nylon than most of their bags are.  I worried and worried over the color panels.  Ultimately, they ended up sort of meh.

So, I tried again with Timbuk2.  They were doing a spate of special fabrics.  As documented here I wanted the Eames fabric one.  I bought (can't tell you why, really) this one instead.

(You can embiggen these pictures of course, should you want more detail).

It didn't hold up well, the special fabric.  Tore a little, got dirty from regular use.

Then Timbuk2 went brushed canvas, in a line they call Single Speed.  Happy sigh.

That's the relay.  Love that bag.  Got it in bigger, too.

That one, Honey and I call the "PIF bag" as I used it to carry my very large, very unwieldy Personal Information File (or PIF) for my tenure and promotion decisions.

I still use the Relay (smaller one) sometimes.  It's well worn, with some ink stains inside it. 

I like the idea of Timbuk2 custom bags a lot, though I'm not sure I've ever gotten then color choices right.  I bought and used a Eula for a while.  It's their "girl" bag.  Somewhat purse-like, and small.

Dark green and silver.  What was I thinking?

Now, as I noted, I like me  some products du Apple.  And they need to be carried.  So, I tried out some Timbuk2 products designed to carry computers and an tablets and other things Cupertino.

Above you have The Blogger, a 333 line laptop bag, and the Freestyle.  That last one kind of broke me from Timbuk2.  They've moved a lot of their manufacturing overseas (the custom ones are still made in San Francisco).  I still like them, but the straps have gotten shorter and shorter (I like a LONG strap).  I used the Freestyle some, but, with the exception of the Relay, none of these bags do much for me anymore.  I tried to sell the 333.  My love affair with Timbuk2 is over.  I appreciate them, but don't heart them any more.  Basically, those last three bags are available to someone, if they'd promise to use them. 

The intersection of bike stuff and these bags is pretty clear.  They're all meant for carrying on your back while you ride a bike.  I realized from reading online that Chrome seemed to have a lot of credibility with bike folks.  So I tried a regular Chrome, with the seat belt buckle.  Did not like.  When they came out with their "lifestyle" bags, I haunted ebay and managed to get a Vega.

I've used it a fair amount and it's still in light circulation.

Honey bought me this Keen for Christmas in 09.  It's a great bag.  In medium circulation.

My disillusionment with Timbuk2 laptop bags led me on a search for an alternative.  Steepandcheap to the rescue!  (Don't know about steepandcheap?  It's like woot for outdoor gear, except for one item a day, it's one item after another.)

This is an Osprey Astro.  It's my go-to when I want good padding for the laptop or the iPad.

Bonus points for the Osprey: it's made of recycled plastic.  Nice long strap, too.  It's a little voluminous for non-electronic everyday use.  Plus, I'm much more likely to have the iPad than the laptop. 


My current favorite bag company. 

By a lot. 


They're (to me) what Timbuk2 was once.  San Francisco made.  Committed to sustainability.  When I was up in San Francisco in January, I stopped by their "store," which is the front part of their factory.  They gave me a tour.  Told me about what they do.  They have bike parking, a sofa to relax on, and seem a great company.  Their core bag is called the Zero messenger.  No fabric is wasted making it (thus the "zero" part, zero waste).  It's mailed to you (all their products do) in a "round trip shipper" (a canvas envelope) which you send back to them to use again.  Their prices are really reasonable.  I have an iPad sleeve and have managed (in a very short time) to acquire four Zero messengers.

My first one was a small.  Orange and brown.  Not a bad color selection (given that it was me doing the selecting).

When I went up there, I ordered a medium zero, made from a fabric made of old soda bottles.  They rushed the order and I picked it up on the way out of town.  (They made it for me with a longer strap!)

I love this bag so much that I have trouble keeping others in circulation.

It's brother (bought on ebay) hasn't even been out for a spin yet.

Not that I'm a champion anything.  (Those stripes indicate that the wearer is a world champion in some bicycle endeavour).

My latest Rickshaw is a purse.  The call it the Zero mini.  It's a purse.  I am actually occasionally using it as such.

My latest bag (in violation, I must admit of my agreement with Honey to take a "one-in, one-out" approach to bags was acquired with a birthday gift card.  It's already loaded to be next week's bag.  Seems a good size and I like the design.

Crumpler soupandsalad.  I like Crumplers, but they cost too much.  This one was on sale at REI.

There are lots of other makers out there I'm interested in.  Honey sighs as I write, though she doesn't know why.  Some of the more respected companies don't do much for me design-wise.  I know people really like REload and Baileyworks.  Maybe someone could tell me why.  The former seems too busy, the latter too plain.  A lot of the American made bags seem really spendy, too.  I'd say that was a function of what it costs to make stuff here, but then I remember how much Rickshaw charges.

Oh, and just to be completest.  My trusty Canon Rebel xsi, with which the above pictures were taken lives in a camera-specific bag, called the Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home. 

Anyway, Crumpler aside, I'll go back to one-in, one-out now.  So, someone please please take one of the Timbuk2s so I can look for a new bag.  I'm thinking Seagull or Black Rose