Affordable Duffel Bags
Following Jesse’s link to the story on affordable tote bags, I thought I’d share some finds I’ve come across for affordable duffels. Some time ago, I realized that I needed another bag to help bring things to the Post Office. Nothing fancy or expensive – just something that didn’t look terrible and would help me ship things I’ve sold on eBay.
The best in affordability and make is probably Beckel, which Jesse wrote about a while ago. These bags are constructed from a sturdy 20oz canvas and 2” cotton webbing, and then reinforced with leather. The green round-a-about bag Jesse bought for his brother-in-law looks especially nice. 
For something preppier, there are a number of small companies producing New England style bags that are similar to those sold by Wm J. Mills. Island Canvas and Port Canvas, for example, make customizable bags, where you can choose your own color combinations or pocket detailing, all for prices that start as low as $28. Island Canvas also confirmed for me that they could add piping to edges (which I thought would give some nice stylistic detailing) for just $15. This poster at Ask Andy has some photos of Island Canvas bags he bought a while ago.
Brand names such as J. Crew and LL Bean Signature seem a bit expensive when compared to the other options above, but on the upside, they often hold sales. I imagine you could get this West Branch duffle at 25% off and Rail & Wharf duffle at 50% off with some patience. American Apparel also has nylon duffels at prices as low as $24. I like the look of canvas better, personally, although nylon will be easier to clean.
In the end, I went with the cheapest option of all: a basic Army duffle bag made out of cotton canvas that runs for $17 on eBay.* I imagine if you’re carrying a load of bricks, you might need something sturdier, but for the kind of things my skinny arms can reasonably lift, this has been surprisingly good. At 9” x 19”, it’s a bit smaller than your average duffel, but I also find the smaller size more manageable. If you’re interested in getting something similar, but need a different size, check Sportsman’s Guide.    
* Addendum: Looks like the olive green just sold out. A different seller seems to have the same bag here. 

Affordable Duffel Bags

Following Jesse’s link to the story on affordable tote bags, I thought I’d share some finds I’ve come across for affordable duffels. Some time ago, I realized that I needed another bag to help bring things to the Post Office. Nothing fancy or expensive – just something that didn’t look terrible and would help me ship things I’ve sold on eBay.

The best in affordability and make is probably Beckel, which Jesse wrote about a while ago. These bags are constructed from a sturdy 20oz canvas and 2” cotton webbing, and then reinforced with leather. The green round-a-about bag Jesse bought for his brother-in-law looks especially nice. 

For something preppier, there are a number of small companies producing New England style bags that are similar to those sold by Wm J. Mills. Island Canvas and Port Canvas, for example, make customizable bags, where you can choose your own color combinations or pocket detailing, all for prices that start as low as $28. Island Canvas also confirmed for me that they could add piping to edges (which I thought would give some nice stylistic detailing) for just $15. This poster at Ask Andy has some photos of Island Canvas bags he bought a while ago.

Brand names such as J. Crew and LL Bean Signature seem a bit expensive when compared to the other options above, but on the upside, they often hold sales. I imagine you could get this West Branch duffle at 25% off and Rail & Wharf duffle at 50% off with some patience. American Apparel also has nylon duffels at prices as low as $24. I like the look of canvas better, personally, although nylon will be easier to clean.

In the end, I went with the cheapest option of all: a basic Army duffle bag made out of cotton canvas that runs for $17 on eBay.* I imagine if you’re carrying a load of bricks, you might need something sturdier, but for the kind of things my skinny arms can reasonably lift, this has been surprisingly good. At 9” x 19”, it’s a bit smaller than your average duffel, but I also find the smaller size more manageable. If you’re interested in getting something similar, but need a different size, check Sportsman’s Guide.    

* Addendum: Looks like the olive green just sold out. A different seller seems to have the same bag here

Sleevehead has a great roundup of responsibly-produced tote bags, from $25 on up.

It’s On Sale: Fjallraven on Vente Privee

If you’re looking for a casual bag, you could do a lot worse than the current Fjallraven sale on Vente Privee. Bags range from $25 to $59 depending on size, which is less than half price, and there’s a lot of inclement-weather outerwear as well.

As usual with these sites, if you don’t have an invitation, please use ours.

Ernest Hemingway’s Game Bag
Every once in a while, Jesse and I will list a fishing or game bag in our eBay roundups. Nice ones are made by companies such as Brady, Hardy, and Chapman, and we think they make for nice bags whether or not you go hunting. I have a fashion brand’s interpretation of a fishing bag, for example, and use it to carry my laptop, books, and papers when I go to campus. 
Above is Ernest Hemingway’s personal game bag, which was recently sold at auction through Bonhams. The description reads:

HEMINGWAY’S GAME BAG, inscribed under the flap in white ink “From Ernest and Mary Hemingway — Bag of Tricks, Best Always, Papa.” The photograph is also inscribed by Hemingway, “I wonder if my wife can tell / That I’ve been raising hell. / To an afternoon of Joy / With a good old boy,” and signed by the unidentified recipient (“Cano”?). A printed headline on the matte reads “Fernández, Canivell y Cia. Málaga,” and a crayon inscription “Ernest Hemingway’s game bag used in Europe 1944/59 - La Consula, Malaga.”
In 1959, Hemingway made his penultimate trip to Europe, in part to add an epilogue to Scribners’ new edition of Death in the Afternoon (first published in 1932), but also to research a series of bullfighting articles commissioned by Life magazine. He stayed at La Consula, the estate of an American, Nathan (Bill) Davis, who happened to be the brother-in-law of Cyril Connolly. Hemingway briefly returned to Spain in 1960, to be photographed for the cover of Life.

According to Field & Stream, the inscription was made to one of Hemingway’s closest friends, Charles Thompson, “the owner of a marine hardware store in Key West and the inspiration for the character ‘Old Carl’ in The Green Hills of Africa.”
Ending price for the bag? $12,500.
(via Bench & Loom)

Ernest Hemingway’s Game Bag

Every once in a while, Jesse and I will list a fishing or game bag in our eBay roundups. Nice ones are made by companies such as Brady, Hardy, and Chapman, and we think they make for nice bags whether or not you go hunting. I have a fashion brand’s interpretation of a fishing bag, for example, and use it to carry my laptop, books, and papers when I go to campus. 

Above is Ernest Hemingway’s personal game bag, which was recently sold at auction through Bonhams. The description reads:

HEMINGWAY’S GAME BAG, inscribed under the flap in white ink “From Ernest and Mary Hemingway — Bag of Tricks, Best Always, Papa.” The photograph is also inscribed by Hemingway, “I wonder if my wife can tell / That I’ve been raising hell. / To an afternoon of Joy / With a good old boy,” and signed by the unidentified recipient (“Cano”?). A printed headline on the matte reads “Fernández, Canivell y Cia. Málaga,” and a crayon inscription “Ernest Hemingway’s game bag used in Europe 1944/59 - La Consula, Malaga.”

In 1959, Hemingway made his penultimate trip to Europe, in part to add an epilogue to Scribners’ new edition of Death in the Afternoon (first published in 1932), but also to research a series of bullfighting articles commissioned by Life magazine. He stayed at La Consula, the estate of an American, Nathan (Bill) Davis, who happened to be the brother-in-law of Cyril Connolly. Hemingway briefly returned to Spain in 1960, to be photographed for the cover of Life.

According to Field & Stream, the inscription was made to one of Hemingway’s closest friends, Charles Thompson, “the owner of a marine hardware store in Key West and the inspiration for the character ‘Old Carl’ in The Green Hills of Africa.”

Ending price for the bag? $12,500.

(via Bench & Loom)

Byrd & Belle Tech Sleeves
A reader just emailed us, looking for a recommendation - he wanted to buy a sleeve for his iPad, but wasn’t sure where to turn.
I bought my first-ever Fancy Laptop a year or so ago, a Lenovo ultrabook, and I didn’t want to throw it unprotected into my unpadded shoulder bag. I spent hours combing the web and Etsy, looking for something simple and reasonably priced. I ended up at Byrd & Belle, a Minneapolis-based Etsy storefront. I emailed a question to the owner, Angie, and she replied with a question of her own: was I the guy from Put This On?
I ended up trading a few pocket squares for a sleeve, which Angie made to the specifications of my computer (she’s happy to do this, by the way). I’ve been using it for about a year, and I couldn’t be happier. I was a little worried about the light color, but it still looks and works as well as the day I got it in the mail.
Byrd & Belle’s prices range from about $30 for phone wallets to about $75 for computer sleeves. I think that if you’re looking for a sleeve, they’re a great choice.

Byrd & Belle Tech Sleeves

A reader just emailed us, looking for a recommendation - he wanted to buy a sleeve for his iPad, but wasn’t sure where to turn.

I bought my first-ever Fancy Laptop a year or so ago, a Lenovo ultrabook, and I didn’t want to throw it unprotected into my unpadded shoulder bag. I spent hours combing the web and Etsy, looking for something simple and reasonably priced. I ended up at Byrd & Belle, a Minneapolis-based Etsy storefront. I emailed a question to the owner, Angie, and she replied with a question of her own: was I the guy from Put This On?

I ended up trading a few pocket squares for a sleeve, which Angie made to the specifications of my computer (she’s happy to do this, by the way). I’ve been using it for about a year, and I couldn’t be happier. I was a little worried about the light color, but it still looks and works as well as the day I got it in the mail.

Byrd & Belle’s prices range from about $30 for phone wallets to about $75 for computer sleeves. I think that if you’re looking for a sleeve, they’re a great choice.

It’s On Sale: Kelty Vintage Backpacks
Huckberry is having another sale on Kelty Vintage backpacks. These aren’t real vintage backpacks, they’re new designs inspired by vintage pieces in Kelty’s archives. Still, I think some of them look really nice. I especially like the Mockingbird model you see above, which is on sale for $89 right now. You can read my review of it here. 
If you’re not a member of Huckberry, you can use my invite. New members also get a $5 discount off their first order, which brings this to $84. 

It’s On Sale: Kelty Vintage Backpacks

Huckberry is having another sale on Kelty Vintage backpacks. These aren’t real vintage backpacks, they’re new designs inspired by vintage pieces in Kelty’s archives. Still, I think some of them look really nice. I especially like the Mockingbird model you see above, which is on sale for $89 right now. You can read my review of it here

If you’re not a member of Huckberry, you can use my invite. New members also get a $5 discount off their first order, which brings this to $84. 

It’s On Sale: Kelty Vintage Mockingbird Backpacks
Sport Chalet has the Kelty Mockingbird backpack on sale for $74.96, plus free shipping. Tax is charged, however, depending on where you live. You can read my review of the Kelty Mockingbird here. 
If you want it in black, or if the Sport Chalet inventory ends up selling out, you can also get it from Huckberry for $75, though they charge $9 for shipping. Their offer ends in three days. 

It’s On Sale: Kelty Vintage Mockingbird Backpacks

Sport Chalet has the Kelty Mockingbird backpack on sale for $74.96, plus free shipping. Tax is charged, however, depending on where you live. You can read my review of the Kelty Mockingbird here

If you want it in black, or if the Sport Chalet inventory ends up selling out, you can also get it from Huckberry for $75, though they charge $9 for shipping. Their offer ends in three days. 

A Laptop Case Roundup

I’ve been looking for a good laptop case for the last few months. My two briefcases, a Filson 257 and Lotuff English brief, don’t have any cushioning on the bottom, so I need something to protect my computer when I set my bag down. Unfortunately, most cases are made from neoprene or ballistic nylon, and I prefer more natural materials.

Luckily, there are still plenty of good options. On the expensive end, there’s Vaja and Want Les Essentiels. Both companies make exceptionally good products and their cases strike me as a bit smarter designed than most. Unfortunately, they’re also very pricey, and you might end up with something that won’t work with your next laptop purchase. Still, if money were no object for me, I would probably start here.

For slightly more affordable options, I really like Calabrese, Carga, and Ally Capellino. Calabrese is an Italian manufacturer of high-end bags with refined and sophisticated designs. Their laptop sleeve comes in a very beautiful tan leather, as well as dark and light canvas materials. Likewise, Carga has a very nice, simple option made from a single piece of vegetable tanned leather, and Ally Capellino’s is made from (what seems to be) a tumble-washed canvas. If you’re a student, you can take a 12% discount at Ally Capellino, which makes theirs a bit more affordable still. 

There are also some really nice contemporary designs by Scandinavian companies such as Mismo, c.dellstrand, P.A.P. Accessories, and wood wood. For something that has more of a traditional sensibility, consider Saddleback Leathers and Restoration Hardware. Saddleback Leathers is known for making very high-quality leather goods, but I suspect Restoration Hardware is using cheaper materials (though, to be fair, I haven’t had a chance to handle it). I also like WM J Mills and La Portegna. Their sleeves have handles, which may be convenient if you plan to carry them on their own.

For non-leather materials, consider Hard Graft and Pack & Smooch. They have some felted wool models that don’t look too shabby. Additionally, there are coated canvas sleeves from Incase and McManus, as well as a denim sleeve that came out of an Incase and APC collaboration. Perhaps most affordable of all is Wrappers, where you can buy a basic, no frills linen sleeve for about $30.

Finally, should none of these excited you, try searching Etsy. You have to get through a bit of chaff, but if you put in the work, you can find some decent looking designs. Check out Harlex and Byrd & Belle, for example. 

As for me, I’m hoping that Calabrese will make something for 13” laptops soon. I’m pretty set on that tan leather model

My father-in-law has worked at hardware stores all of his adult life, and in my wife’s family, they’ve always carried tool bags as luggage on short trips. They’re beautiful, reasonably priced and built for durability. Last year, I spotted a mason’s bag like the one above at a boutique in Silver Lake, and thought it might be a nice holiday gift for my wife. Of course, the boutique had marked the bags up nearly 200% from their regular retail, so I went online to grab one. You can generally grab the CLC 304X (pictured above) for about fifty bucks shipped. The leatherless version is barely $25. If you don’t mind a big tool logo on the side, Klein Tools offers an even wider variety, including some small bags that would make nice dopp kits (though they’re unlined).

My father-in-law has worked at hardware stores all of his adult life, and in my wife’s family, they’ve always carried tool bags as luggage on short trips. They’re beautiful, reasonably priced and built for durability. Last year, I spotted a mason’s bag like the one above at a boutique in Silver Lake, and thought it might be a nice holiday gift for my wife. Of course, the boutique had marked the bags up nearly 200% from their regular retail, so I went online to grab one. You can generally grab the CLC 304X (pictured above) for about fifty bucks shipped. The leatherless version is barely $25. If you don’t mind a big tool logo on the side, Klein Tools offers an even wider variety, including some small bags that would make nice dopp kits (though they’re unlined).