Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The man-bag - to carry or not?

I've been looking into bags recently. Not going up to someone carrying one and looking directly into it, you understand, just looking into the concept of a man-bag.

People have advised me against this. It's still not as acceptable for a bloke to be carrying a bag as it is for a woman unless it's a briefcase, I'm told. Sports bags are also acceptable but that's about it.

Only the rules are changing. They must be, because the amount of things a bloke beyond 35 has to carry around are growing. Picture this: it's summer, so it's probably too hot to be wearing a jacket with enough pockets. You're middle-aged like me so you probably need reading glasses, or even if you have varifocals or something as I do there's the glasses case, the smartphone, probably a laptop computer, book or magazine to read, pens, notebook. Maybe a bottle of water if you're organised.
Grays Savile Row City Bag

That's when you can start to find the thing gets a bit heavy so something with a strap rather than a formal briefcase (although there are plenty of those around which can be shoulder-borne) is better. I also prefer something that doesn't scream "HE'S CARRYING A LAPTOP, SOMEONE MUG HIM!" - so dedicated laptop bags, efficient though they may be, are out when I'm using public transport.

One reasonably attractive option is the forthcoming range from Grays, which is opening a shop on Abbey Road in October. There's a series of models, pictured is the distinctive Savile Row City Bag. The bad news is that this one costs £450; no doubt there's a market and it certainly has a good look, but it's not something I'd care to take on public transport a lot (although it does at least zip up - I once won a laptop bag from a well-known manufacturer which had magnetic fastenings. Guys, that's not a fastening at all, a thief can just lift it up!)

be.ez Le Rush En Ville
If you've succumbed to the iPad craze, and millions have, then French company be.ez has a possible answer with its Le Rush En Ville range, from which you'll have change from £40. Specifically designed around the latest magic box from Apple it has a padded compartment for the iPad plus compartments for wallets, smartphones and anything wallet or smartphone shaped. I prefer something with compartments which will keep my pens upright too, but there are plenty of spaces for organising other stuff.

The other slight drawback with this one is that it's designed to be compact, which is great, but it means if you have a bulky paperback or hardback book it's not going to be a comfortable fit. No doubt the theory is that you don't have to carry anything at all if you already have the precious iPad. And it does look significantly cheaper than the Grays, which is probably something to do with it being a tenth of the price.

The one I use "in anger" is a Victorinox Swiss Army backpack. It has a padded compartment for the laptop without being an obvious laptop bag, and of course a backpack has two straps so is more secure than anything else on the shoulder. It has a number of compartments and pockets for pens, CDs and a media player and a rubber hole for earphones. You can carry just about as much as your back allows you in one of these - I went to CostCo and had change from £30 (expect to pay around double that from, say, Amazon) so there are bargains around.

Happy hunting...


  1. One word - Rucksack.

    Nothing else is acceptable. And you don't have to look like a hiker: if you want posh/stylish you can get nice leather ones from places like Dunhill.

  2. I'm with Paul, except I'm also a cyclist, and it's not good to cycle wearing a rucksack of any weight. Now at last I've got a pannier that converts into a rucksack.

  3. Rucksack - waterproof if possible. I have this one, in black:

    I also like:

    Have to say though that on my bicycle I use panniers - waterproof again.

  4. I've got a Reiss leather 'satchel' that has served me well for around 4 years.

    I've never felt like a tit, but nor do I consider myself even remotely 'cool' or 'hip'.

    Quite simply, if I want to carry a book, some lunch, water bottle, keys, etc, I prefer to use a bag that looks a little bit stylish.

  5. Plenty of manbags in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. I've seen males of all ages carry them.


I've now opened comments up to 'everybody' - but I'll be moderating, purely to avoid spam and blatantly commercial responses. Comment away - I'll look forward to hearing what you have to say!