August 13, 2015
Traveling can be a pain. When you’ve got to lug a set’s worth of vinyl and a laptop and drives, it doesn’t get any easier. For a while now, I’ve been able to survive carrying all that with the UDG creator bag. In the past couple years I’ve booked more gigs that require me to get on a plane and traveling with such a large backpack has grown to be a pain. Although it fits the airline’s sizes for carry-ons, I still had trouble getting through crowds at the airport plus a few zippers had worn out. I started looking for a new bag a little over a two years ago and came across the Tucker & Bloom North to South Bag. I decided to give it a shot.
Tucker & Bloom is a bag company that has operated out of Nashville for the past thirty year under the watch of father and son team, David and Case Bloom. The latter is also a working DJ. For the record, I’ve never been given anything from Tucker & Bloom and outside of a few FB messages with Case, I couldn’t say I know him very well. I say all this just to insure that this review is unbiased.
First of all, the North to South bears little in common with a lot of other DJ bags that seem to be going for a look that Marty McFly Jr. would love; Lots of mesh, 3M reflective bits, and neon yellow. It seems to be modeled after classic English bespoke game bags more so than contemporary messengers. Simple black ballistic nylon shell, leather trim, sturdy metal buckles. It’s something you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have on your shoulder if you ever find yourself in a job interview or a fox hunt at an English estate, which is great since we know that either of those things are equally likely to happen for a plenty of DJs.
This eye towards classic fashion runs across most of Tucker and Bloom’s bags. Everything has a clean, understated design. Any eyes it catches are earned honestly from good craftsmanship, not obnoxious colors or gimmicks. Their bags are a pair of Allen Edmonds in a sea of Ed Hardy sneakers.
I had my eye on it for a while, then a couple yeara ago I copped it while it was on sale for a day at the Tucker & Bloom site. A couple weeks later (each bag is made to order), I received it, and the next day I got on a plane for a nine day trip to California. First stop was San Francisco, which turned out to be the perfect testing ground. Every day I was there, I spent a good twelve hours on the MUNI or walking around town so I needed to carry everything I might possibly need while away from the hostel. In SF that included:
- Jacket or sweater
- Water bottle
- Leftover mission burrito
- Muni passes, SF maps
It held up well and never felt felt any discomfort even when it was weighed down by the aforementioned burrito. The leather and shearling shoulder strap broke in quickly to the shape of my shoulder, within a couple of days at most.
It’s become my go to bag for when I’m biking around town. Toss my u-lock in, my handytrax and I’m out for a quick record dig. The included bike cross-strap keeps the bag out of your way and it can be stowed against the side of the bag or removed when your off your bike.
I’ve had to put leftovers in it after biking around a couple times and as you might expect, there have been accidents. Turning it inside out and wiping down with a wet cloth was all it took to clean out all remnants of whatever juice comes out of a container of Mongolian beef. I’d still not recommend carrying food in your bag, I’m just letting you know it’s possible.
There’s one large compartment that is not padded for your laptop, records or larger items. This may be a concern for some but I keep my laptop in a separated padded sleeve regardless so it hasn’t been an issue for me. This is a bag small enough to be kept close to you at all times so I feel padding would be a little overkill anyway. For a larger bag that might get stowed away or handled by others, I can see the need for padding but not in this case.
Within the main compartment there is also a smaller, mesh zippered pocket. Good for pens, a phone, 45 adapters, small tools for fixing your electronics, business cards, etc.
If you’re someone that needs a thousand dedicated pockets for every single tool, this isn’t the perfect bag for you. You get about three pockets that are a pretty tight fit to hold your smaller items and a metal snap on the inside. I’m always afraid of something falling out or getting out of place if my bag tips or turns over but so far, that fear is unfounded. It gets tossed around a lot but things stay in place.
There is an unintended advantage to having the pockets be such a tight fit. Not having the dedicated pockets does require you to take a couple extra minutes and think about where you want things to go but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Being forced to think about your loadout really helps to pare down your gear by eliminating the things you never use. Once you find a packing strategy you’re happy with, you have little to worry about.
Everything is always in easy reach. This is huge when I’m traveling through the airport. It can just hang on my shoulder when I have to quickly unload getting through security. There’s also several places to put your documents that you can get to without ever opening the bag.
The Cosmo Baker edition, which is the one I went with, features two added inches of depth and about a half inch length. It also has a leather badge with Cosmo’s logo and a wolf. If you have qualms about another DJ’s name on your bag, I personally think it’s worth it for a little more room, especially if you’re the type that prefers at least a few extra 12″ records outside of your control vinyl and laptop. Also, a fuckin’ wolf bro. Honestly, you’d have to be quite the narcissist for a stamp sized logo to be enough to bruise your ego. I’ve found the leather badge to be very useful with the addition of a carabiner. Day to day, I attach my keys to it and for events, I attach my headphone case.
For a typical DJ gig, this is what I pack:
- Serato CV (main compartment)
- Laptop (main compartment)
- Charger (front panel)
- Shure needle case (front panel)
- Two hard drives (front panel)
- Deoxit pen (zippered mesh pocket in main compartment)
- Headphones (In a separate case that is usually attached to the leather logo badge with a carabiner)
- Anti-static brush (Front panel pocket)
- Vinyl solution and brush (front panel)
- Dicers (front panel)
- Phone, phone charger (Side pockets)
- Stanton Überstand (back panel)
Since I’ve purchased it a couple years ago, I’ve used it for numerous gigs, both local and around the country plus nearly every time I leave the house. Other than some natural fading on the leather, it looks as good as the day I bought it. It’s held up perfectly and better than any other DJ bag I’ve had. I don’t plan on getting another DJ bag anytime soon and if I do, it will probably be another Tucker and Bloom.
December 20, 2013 1 Comment
What I Look For When Choosing Laptop Bags
Deciding upon which to choose, from a group of laptop bags can be quite a challenge, especially if one is picky about certain technical features. Choosing the wrong one will ensure a real pain, in more ways than one, when it is truly time to use it.
For me, there are only a few qualities that I look for when I look at totes. I chose a Tucker & Bloom, for these reasons. They may be few but these things are still very important to me and, if my backpacks are not just exactly perfect, I am very liable not to ever use them again.
It’s very important what material they are made of! Construction and materials are the first things I look at when choosing the right one. Is it made of nylon? Or, maybe leather? Does it include foam, in its construction?
The material they are made of will give an idea of whether they will hold up to repeated use and abuse. Strength and durability are qualities that laptop bags get from how they are made and what they are made from. I prefer mine to be made of heavy ballistic nylon, because I treat all my gadgets as if they are weapons in my arsenal.
Capacity- What Can This Bad Boy Really Handle?
The next quality I think of when choosing the right tote is what can this thing hold? The capacity is immensely important to me! All of my totes and tools must serve more than one purpose. My case should have multiple pockets; one for my computer, one for a cell phone, and one for a notepad and pens, one for change and tickets, passport, etc. It’s the 21st century, folks, get with it.
Access and Ease of Use
This one is so very big- I need to have the ability to grab items from my tote quickly, while I’m on the go. What’s the use in having a cell phone pocket, if the phone isn’t easily reachable?
A lot of this has to do with good design of the laptop bags, in the first place. Placing that cell phone pocket on the strap with a little padding, at just the right location, can make all the difference upon whether the end customer just “likes” or genuinely “loves” their backpacks.
Where and who made them?
I know it may be a little strange, and it goes for tons of other items I purchase, not just laptop bags, but where these items are made- as well as who made and designed them- really makes a huge difference upon whether or not I will purchase them, as well. Does a company, or designer, that I’ve heard of, make the item in America? I want to ensure that the totes that I buy are well constructed, in places that are close to home. Tucker & Bloom makes laptop cases that fit all of these qualifications.
December 20, 2013
Bicycle bags are very important to messengers in the city of Philadelphia and, without them, many crucial deliveries would not get made. They are typically well made of strong materials. Some bicycle totes can have different features that help the rider in their different daily tasks. The different colors and styles allow the user to express individuality.
The best are those that are hand-made of heavy ballistics-grade nylon. This material gives them high durability and strength, that helps the totes withstand heavy use and abuse. Many riders like bicycle backpacks that have leather trim and aluminum-alloy clips and buckles. Some kind of water resistance is also important, so that large rolls of drawings and plans do not get wet.
Another important feature of the best is multiple pockets, for holding all the essential items that a rider carries. A well-positioned cell phone pocket on the strap, or on the side, can make all the difference. More pocket space for an iPod, note pad, and headphones, as well as optional padded pockets, for laptops and such, are all very important choices to make when choosing a tote.
Some will look like classic messenger backpacks. Other styles are in different sizes, depending upon what the rider is going to use them for. Small, medium, and large size's even allow for different sized users. Different color choices for the internal and external fabrics offer the rider a chance to make own.
Hipsters love hand-made stuff, these days, and it is important to many of those people for the products that they buy to be made in America. Heavy nylon bicycle totes are in style, and many men carry them to work, to school, and then use them during recreation. Many people bike everywhere.
Tucker & Bloom are a company based in Nashville, TN. They make all sorts of different bags in various styles, including bicycle bags and messenger bags. They make and design all their bags in the USA, from quality materials, with old-European craftsmanship. Tucker & Bloom are a family business that makes high-end bicycle bags with style and great design.
One of the best things about Tucker & Bloom is that they make multi-use products. They make everything with cell phone pockets and built-in laptop cases. Laptop cases that also carry records. Theirs are totes that also carry laptops and cell phones. All products made by Tucker & Bloom are made from top-quality materials. All materials used must meet their high expectations for quality, durability, and aesthetics.
Lastly, all products should come with some kind of back up plan. What if you spend a bunch of money on it and it rips? Well, Tucker & Bloom have that all covered with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. Tucker & Bloom will replace or repair your tote if it gets damaged or falls apart. That’s a real comfort, knowing that your belongings are safe from defects in materials and workmanship.
December 20, 2013
If you are a DJ in today’s modern age, you end up carrying a lot more than just records in your DJ bags. It used to be that a square hard-case, or a one-compartment, nylon shoulder bag would suffice. A modern adult needs something that can be used just as easily for daily business, as they can for a gig at the local club.
Tucker & Bloom make messenger and DJ bags, laptop cases that are well designed and seriously tough. They are a family-based organization and have over 30 years in the bag business, so one can be certain that they have perfected the correct combination of style and substance. You can tell by looking at their products that they are not only cool, but they will also last forever.
Philadelphia DJ Rich Medina is a legend in the business. With 20+ years as a DJ and record collector, you never know what you’ll hear him spin; from hip-hop, to afro-beat, to house, to disco, to dance, he has it all.
Being a heavy traveler and jet-setting DJ, Rich knows what qualities are most important in DJ bags. For this reason, he has partnered with Tucker & Bloom to help create something for the DJ who plays 45’s and travels hard.
About the partnership, Rich says, ““After decades of touring with DJ cases that would eventually wear down and be replaced by the newest flavor of the month, this collaborative opportunity with Tucker & Bloom presented me with my first chance to help develop a product that is not only practical for the working class DJ who carries 45 RPM records, but further, almost any other working professional looking for a durable, high quality shoulder DJ bags to add to their tool kit or traveling luggage."
The Rich Medina 45 Bag is fully Made In The USA with a 1680 ballistic nylon exterior, unlike other DJ totes. Its external frame is covered with milled chrome tanned leather ABS with handle webbing detail trim, and it’s large, open main chamber is lined in velveteen flocked nylon fabric, backed with shock absorbing closed cell foam, which really helps to protect up to 150 of your favorite seven-inch records, DJ needles, headphones, etc. The 1.5” deep zippered pocket that can even hold your laptop, and an additional top one for keys and an iPod makes this the real king of DJ case.
Built strong and tough, the Rich Medina 45 Bag has solid cast metal hardware and parallel spring snaps on the handle webbing to keep the straps in place, when they are not in use. Another feature not found on other DJ bags is the detachable and adjustable shoulder strap with ergonomic shear-ling pad lining and leather shoulder pad. It even has a Velcro flap that securely attaches it to a rolling travel bag! With all zippers made of heavy duty #8 self-healing nylon, the bag seems as if it would be indestructible but, also unlike other DJ backpacks, the Rich Medina 45 comes with Tucker & Bloom’s lifetime warranty. There’s really nothing to lose here! The Rich Medina 45 really is the king of seven inch record bags!
December 19, 2013 1 Comment
Best Laptop Bags
In my opinion, Tucker & Bloom make the best organizational products around. They take the care and skill needed to create great products, and they put all of that into making bags that will stand up to anything you throw at them. Simply put, Tucker & Bloom make the best laptop bags I have seen.
Tucker & Bloom are a family business with over 30 years in the bag industry. Their main focus is on organizational products with clean design. Ever since they started, Tucker & Bloom has manufactured bags that emphasize organization and individuality through functional design. They sell their products exclusively through their website, and they believe in the importance of domestic manufacturing, which ensures that all products are made strong, and made right.
Tucker & Bloom produce several different styles of bags, with different features, so no matter what your style, you can be assured that you will get one of the best laptop bags on the market today. They utilize different materials in the production of their bags, so that the customer has a choice over works best for them.
The leather that they use is always a by-product of the food industry. It can vary in finishes; from highly finished to rougher, and more organic looking. Leather is very strong & durable, and also gives the finished product a classic style.
Tucker & Bloom also use different types of nylons in the construction of their totes. Outer surfaces are generally made from 1680 Denier ballistic waterproof nylon. It has a basket weave, with a distinctive textured appearance, and a toughness that is unmatched. Inner surfaces are sometimes done in Taslan nylon, which is soft and yet very strong.
Some are constructed of 100% cotton canvas. This is a great material that wears well, “ages gracefully” as they say, and is selected for its durability and variety of colors. Tucker & Bloom offer many great colors and styles, so you can be sure that you’ll purchase the best laptop bags and messenger bags.
In today’s multi-tasking world, it is imperative to use products that can be used easily, from one task to another, without having to change totes for different jobs. Tucker & Bloom make products that can be used for work just as well as they can be used for play. Carry your laptop to work, with a change of clothes for after, if you want, and have plenty of room for more! The best computer cases are ones that will replace, or be used in place of, all others.
Best of all, Tucker & Bloom back all of their products up with a Lifetime Warranty. Although unlikely, what if your bag rips? What if all the weight causes a strap to start separating itself from the bag? No problem at all, because Tucker & Bloom stand behind their products, and will repair or replace any that fail to please or function properly. Not only do they make the best laptop bags and messenger bags around, but Tucker & Bloom have the best warranty around.
December 19, 2013
Tucker & Bloom makes totes and laptop cases that are well designed and seriously tough. They are a family-based organization and have over 30 years in the bag business, so one can be certain that they have perfected the correct combination of style and substance. You can tell by looking at their bags that they are not only cool, but they will also last forever.
All products made by Tucker & Bloom are made from top-quality materials. All materials used must meet their high expectations for quality, durability, and aesthetics.
The leather that they use for their products is always a by-product of the food industry. It can vary in finishes; from highly finished to rougher, and more organic looking.
Tucker & Bloom also use different types of nylons in the construction of their stuff. Outer surfaces are generally made from 1680 Denier ballistic waterproof nylon. It has a basket weave, with a distinctive textured appearance, and a toughness that is unmatched. Inner surfaces are sometimes done in Taslan nylon, which is soft and strong.
Some cases are constructed of 100% cotton canvas. This is a great material that wears well, “ages gracefully” as they say, and is selected for its durability and variety of colors.
Whether a person likes backpacks, or messenger style totes, shoulder totes, handbags, laptop cases, or even combinations of these styles, Tucker & Bloom has the right organizational tool.
One of the coolest things about Tucker & Bloom is that they make multi-use products. They make them with cell phone pockets and built-in laptop section. Laptop cases that also carry records. Record totes that also carry laptops and cell phones. The combinations are endless.
If you are a modern human, then you need a case or something to travel with your computer from Tucker & Bloom. We all multitask, these days, and need something that can organize it all. Lots of folks take a computer case to work. Wouldn’t it be great if that computer tote could also hold the stuff we need to hit the gym, after work? What about the books and newspapers that we like to read on the train? There should be space for all of that, too, in our backpacks and netbook cases.
There is a big movement, these days, to buy local, and to buy American. All the stuff made by Tucker & Bloom is Made In The USA. They are based out of Nashville, Tennessee, and their products are constructed in America.
Lastly, all backpacks of any kind should come with some sort of back up plan. What if you spend a bunch of money on it and it rips? Well, Tucker & Bloom have that all covered with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. Tucker & Bloom will replace or repair your case or computer carrier if it gets damaged or falls apart. That’s a real comfort, knowing that your belongings are safe from defects in materials and workmanship.
December 19, 2013
Like any man-on-the-go these days, I’m finding myself with increasing amounts of- well- stuff that I need to transport with me whenever I leave the house. Gone are the days when all I needed was my repeated mantra of, “Keys, wallet, phone… Keys, wallet, phone.” which was always said while patting myself down, like some sort of self-policing action. No, these days, with so many gadgets and so much gear, I need a backpack to carry it all.
As an adult student, for many years I had been carrying a backpack to school, loaded with books during the day. Then, if I were going to be DJ’ing somewhere at night, or staying out overnight, I’d use a big, bulky, old school nylon record bag to carry records, laptop, a change of clothes, perhaps, etc. Then, there was another tote, a courier bag, which I’d use for my day job that I ride a bike to…
The problem I had was that I was using a different bag, for different situations, ON TOP of my daily-use backpack. I needed one that looks classy, one that has multiple pockets and compartments; a tote that is as tough as it is functional. I wanted it to be constructed well and made in America, and I also didn’t want to ever have to buy another messenger bag, or have to switch bags.
Enter the Tucker & Bloom North To South.
I must admit, even though I’m pretty hip on quality, American-made companies, I had never heard of Tucker & Bloom. They’re a family-run company, based out of Nashville, who has over 30 years in the bag business, and they design and make mostly high-end, messenger bags. Lately, Tucker & Bloom have been working closely with a few different jet-setting DJ’s, designing record and messenger bags that cater to the modern, fashion- and function-conscious person, who does more than just DJ.
This is how I discovered the North To South, by Tucker & Bloom. I was searching the ‘net for DJ-friendly totes when I found Tucker & Bloom’s site, and lo and behold there are two familiar DJ’s on the front page: Philly’s own Big Rich Medina & Brooklyn’s Cosmo Baker. Both are holding awesomely stylish messenger bags, too!
Some Useful Features of the North To South Messenger Bag.
- It’s big! Dimensions are 12.5” Long X 13.5” High X 4.5” Deep.
- It’s Made in the USA by expert craftspeople who really know their products!
- It’s tough! Shell material is 1680 back ballistic nylon, with 4-ply Taslan Nylon as shell material. Polished aluminum buckles, leather trim, and double-ring sliders make it almost indestructible.
- Tons of pockets! Many more than most. Padded side pocket for cell phone, front pockets, back slip-pocket for books or newspapers, huge inner pocket for laptop & records!
- Removable shoulder strap, optional shearling strap, and optional cross-strap for biking, make this convertible for all needs!
I love that this is designed with today’s on the go person in mind. It has plenty of room enough for a big stack of vinyl, a laptop and books, along with all the rest of my stuff. It’s a great choice for today’s renaissance man; one who DJ’s, studies, and works, all in one day.
New Customer Review
Breakdown of the Canvas Simple Messenger Bag
Because I have been using the same one for almost 15 years now, I hadn’t really given any consideration to what I would look for in a brand-new bag. The thought had never occurred to me that my tried, tested, and true would end up giving out on me – but that’s exactly what happened.
This left me in a bit of a sticky situation. I use mine on a daily basis – literally, every single day of my life I use my tote – and I needed to find a quality replacement as soon as humanly possible. I searched high and low, asked friends for recommendations, and combed the web until I finally ended up stumbling upon the Canvas Simple Messenger bag.
Boy was I hooked from the minute that I laid eyes on it.
Ridiculously simple, but amazingly flexible
The one thing that I will say about my old tote – which I thought I would miss terribly, but ended up missing not all that much – was that it was ridiculously flexible for just about any application I could imagine. Not only was it able to hold my laptop and everything else I need for work,but it could also be quickly converted to a simple “backpack” that I could use on weekend getaways or even longer trips.
This specific Canvas Simple line is exactly the same kind of super flexible powerhouse I was looking for, it is even more simple and straightforward than the bag I used to own.
With just a large compartment in the middle, I can fit almost anything and everything I need to in the messenger bag without sacrificing any utility whatsoever. I’d love it if there were a couple of “insider pockets” or even some dividers, but it’s not really that big of a deal – and certainly not a dealbreaker in any way, shape, or form.
I also love how the straps just buckling to one another, providing for a simple fastening system. My old bag used buckles that you would find on a belt, and it could really become a headache and hassle to try and fasten and then unfasten it when you needed to put something in or take something out.
Amazing construction throughout
The next real thing that impressed me about the Canvas Simple line was how amazingly durable the construction felt throughout the entire bag.
Granted, I haven’t had this bad for all that long quite yet – but it seems to be built to last at least the 15 years I got out of my old bag. I’m sure that time will tell, but the 100% duck cotton canvas (the same kind of material used in Carhart pants and other quality durable work clothing) seems to be more than up for the task at hand.
I also appreciated how the attention to detail seem to shine through throughout the bag, as there are picture-perfect stitches throughout the messenger bag, including on the waterproof lining that encircles the entire interior.
The metal features that are on the outside of the bag are also nice touches, and the shoulder strap is secure but at the same time comfortable. I feel absolutely no worries whatsoever when I am wearing the bag around town, even when I’m on my bicycle. I just know that the whole thing is built to stay put together – something that I truly appreciate.
If you are in the market for a courier tote today – or find yourself in the market for one in the future – I would definitely recommend the Canvas Simple.
December 18, 2013
Messenger Bags For Men
So, I’ve been looking all over for messenger bags for men. I’ve checked out all the usual places; the outdoor stores, sporting goods stores, and specialist stores, both online and offline. Sure, there are some decent totes out there, but most are imported. I wanted to find some for men that are Made in the USA and, most importantly, made well.
When I plugged my search criteria for into the search engine, a few different places came up. After looking at a few different places, I came across a company called Tucker & Bloom, based out of Nashville, Tennessee.
Apparently, I found out, Tucker & Bloom is a family business that has more than 30 years in the bag business. They make all of their products in the good ol’ US-of-A, and they focus on quality, well-built organizational products, with a flare for style and sophistication and, best of all, made for WORK. All of Tucker & Blooms designs are made for people with a need to look professional, but provide an alternative to the norm. Each of their product line is made in small batches with an eye towards traditional European-style craftsmanship.
Tucker & Bloom offer several different styles and sizes of courier totes for men on their website. Different size folks, with different size uses, call for different size totes. Accordingly, each of the available totes for men are also available in a wide array of colors and fabrics so, no matter what a person’s style may be, Tucker & Bloom have the best selection for men.
The Simple courier tote has one main compartment and is for the purist who wants a stylish yet indestructible workbag. It is Tucker & Bloom’s fresh twist on the look of classic courier backpack for men; suitable for the daily grind, yet ready for the weekend, too.
Then there’s the East To West line, which is based on the classic bike courier shape, but has a few more pockets and details that make it better for business. Its removable cross-strap makes it a great choice amongst couriers who want to ride when they want to.
Among my very favorite of Tucker & Bloom’s messenger bags for men is their North To South. It’s truly designed for the person on the go, with room to haul anything from a stack of vinyl & a laptop, to books and headphones, plus more. Whether you’re a DJ, a business professional, a student, or any combination of these, this bag is a real looker.
For my money, though, The Cosmo Baker version of the North To South is the way to go! It’s a bigger version of the original, that has adjustable pull-straps on the side that help keep you looking stylish no matter how much you’re carrying. Big enough for a DJ gig, and a change of clothes, plus more!
Things I looked for when deciding between the different totes for men available
Before I dive headfirst into my own personal experience searching for the very best bag for men available, I want to make something completely and totally clear.
I’m probably not your average everyday courier bag user. Unlike most of the hipsters out there that seem to want to use this bag ironically (whatever that means) and the metrosexual men that want to use a tote as a beefed-up “man purse”, I actually use them for the reason it was created in the first place – I’m a bicycle courier in the city.
As such, my specific selection criteria (the things I look for when deciding between the different messenger bags for men available) may or may not be the same kind of criteria you’ll want to use moving forward. At the same time, they might help you out more than other selection criteria would – simply because I need my bag to be perfect, and you may not.
Let’s dive right in!
I needed one that was roomy but not bulky
Believe it or not, there is a very fine line between messenger totes for men that have been crafted to offer amazing storage capacity and those that have been crafted to be as large as humanly possible – and the difference isn’t even a media apparent on the surface.
However, anyone that has strapped a bag to their chest and rode a bicycle through the busy streets of this city would know that there is a very real difference between the two – and you always want to look for a bag that offers the right amount of space without being overloaded or two bulky.
Different totes here fit the profile as far as size was concerned, though you’ll definitely want to read more reviews to see how “functional” all that space is. I go through probably two or three backpacks a decade (and always have a couple of backups on hand), and I can tell you that manufacturers are getting better at releasing courier bags built for functionality – and not just style.
Construction material and attention to detail is critical
The other thing that you’re really going to want to pay attention to is whether or not real attention to detail has been spent on the construction of a messenger bag – and what type of construction materials the manufacturer decided to use in the creation of their messenger totes for men.
Different brands have been playing around with different materials, but I can tell you from experience that canvas, leather, and a handful of other materials are definitely the best of the best – and that you should shy away from anything that feels or appears to be cheaply manufactured.
You just can’t afford to have your tote rip open and “spill its guts” in the middle of daily use, and that’s almost always something that ends up happening when you decide to move forward with cheaper totes that skimp on the attention to detail and construction materials used.
Last but not least, find them for men that actually look good
Though I could go on and on about how important it is to choose a tote for functionality over form, the reality of the situation is manufacturers and bag producers have gotten better and better at releasing fantastic functioning totes that look great as well.
You’ll almost always be able to find a bag that fits your style and personality right down to the T, and should be able to avoid any major issues in this department with just a bit of research.
December 17, 2013
In a city like Philadelphia, lots of people have opted to not own cars. Most people travel via public transportation, on foot, or on bicycles. One thing that most, if not all, of these folks have in common is their use of messenger backpacks to carry their belongings with them.
Being on the go, in this day and age, can require us to carry a lot of gadgets and stuff from home with us when we leave home. This is especially true for those living in the city. Everywhere you look you can see people carrying courier totes under their arm, or slung across their shoulder.
Bike messengers are still quite visible in Philadelphia; riding around precariously on fixed-gear bikes, weaving in and out of traffic. They are still very important when businesses want to get plans and contracts from one location to another, very quickly. All of these riders still use courier totes to carry those time-sensitive goods.
People travelling around on foot use these types of bags, too. When slung across one’s shoulders, they free up both hands for carrying other things, such as a phone or cup of coffee. These totes keep all of your belongings ready to grab, at all times, but safely stowed on your back.
When riding the subway or the El, a backpack keeps a person’s stuff out of sight, and safe. The adjustable straps can help to tighten the bag, so it is form fitting in tight, crowded spaces. You can hold on to the overhead handle, yet no have to worry about the bag sliding down your arm, because it is held tight across your shoulders. A good bag will keep a laptop stowed so that, when you can sit down, it is easily accessible and can be pulled out onto your lap.
Stylistically, the most well designed messenger backpacks come in every color of the rainbow. People may carry similar bags, but individuality can easily be expressed through color choice, as well as offering a variety of sizes of each bag. Not everyone is the same size, nor do they all want to carry the same amount of gear. Some people want a square bag, and others may want a shorter, wider one.
Totes for the urban traveler need to be constructed of super durable materials, to ensure the user does not have a “blow-out" on the street. It’s sad, but we’ve all seen someone’s bag break in a crowded place, belongings getting dropped and trampled. Materials like ballistic-grade Taslan nylon, waterproof duck canvas, and tanned top grain leathers give messenger backpacks the strength to go everywhere the user goes.
Almost everyone in Philadelphia carries a bag or backpack of some kind. It’s a modern age, when people are using more gadgets and multitasking, so it is very important to have hands-free messenger backpacks, so to speak. Tighten the strap across the chest, carry a cell phone with one hand, and a latte in the other.
What to look for in the best messenger backpacks
While the “super popularity” of the traditional messenger bag has probably faded a bit from its high point in 2005/2007 (when even Jack Bauer was using a messenger bag or “man purse”), Courier Totes have continued to stay popular over the last few years thanks to their incredible form and functionality.
Really a great hybrid between all of the benefits that a traditional bag offers as well as the stylistic benefits that a messenger bag brings to the table, finding the right one can be a little bit of a headache and hassle – if you don’t know exactly what you should be looking for.
I should know. I spent literally 18 months trying to replace what I thought was the perfect choice (it ended up ripping in the bottom and spilling my brand-new MacBook on the floor – but that’s another story altogether), and have probably investigated all of the different options that are out there right now.
Here are just a handful of the things that I thought were important when trying to find the very best backpacks to purchase.
Price wasn’t everything, but it was definitely important – just not in the way I thought originally
I know that you’re going to see a ton of different prices out there as far as courier bags are concerned. At the same time, most manufacturers of messenger backpacks are in a “flight to the bottom” of the market, so to speak – more interested in offering rock-bottom rates then innovating their products and making sure they are constructed out of high quality materials.
This would be a mistake. Obviously, you’re going to go into this purchasing decision with a very specific budget – and you should do everything you can to stick to it – but you’re also going to want to decide just how important this messenger backpack is in your day to day life.
If, like me, you’re using courier bags every single day (whether at school, work, or just on trips around town), it’s well worth spending a little bit more money than you would have otherwise to get your hands on something fantastic – something that’s going to last.
If you’re not going to be using backpacks on a daily basis and are just trying to kind of add something to your wardrobe, then you’re still probably going to want to look at something a little bit more on the expensive side – nobody wants to get caught with cheap looking things when they’re trying to look their best.
Construction material and attention to detail makes all the difference in the world
One of the biggest mistakes you can make – and a mistake that I made twice (yes, TWICE) – was not paying attention to the quality of construction materials used in the attention to detail paid during the construction process.
Two of the backpacks that I ended up purchasing – and then instantly demanding a refund on – were built out of cheap nylon like materials that promised amazing waterproof properties but never really backed up their big talk. Combine that with weak, ugly, and erratic stitching, and I had a real recipe for disaster on my hands.
At the same time, I ended up purchasing a high quality bag from Tucker and Bloom and couldn’t be happier with the purchase that I made. Not only are the construction materials used throughout high quality and high caliber, but you can see in all of the little details that this is a company that cares about the products they produce.
December 17, 2013
Bicycle Messenger Bags
Here in Philly, Tucker & Bloom have really helped with local bike deliveries. They are innovative and fashionable, and very well constructed. They are offered in different styles and colors, because every carrier is different. A few local DJ’s have even signed on to help create their signature bags.
Tucker & Bloom make great bags because of their attention to detail. These are not traits that they got overnight. They are a family business and have over 30 years combined in the bag industry. Their focus is on organizational products that emphasize individuality coupled with clean design. Tucker & Bloom make awesome products for people with a need to look professional, but who want an alternative to the norm. All of their products are domestically made, in small batches, using traditional European craftsman techniques, to ensure quality from start to finish.
One reason Tucker & Bloom’s bicycle messenger bags have been so popular in Philly is because of their tough construction. These things are SO well made! The Simple courier bag is made from 100% Duck Cotton Canvas, with a waterproof lining, which ensures that contents are protected and dry. Other styles are made of tough ballistic nylon, with a textured weave, and have a lining of soft Taslan nylon. All of the bags from Tucker & Bloom also feature polished metal alloy buckles and clips.
Since every bike rider is different, Tucker & Bloom offer bicycle courier bags in several different sizes, shapes, and colors. Their North To South Messenger Bag is square, in shape, which makes it the perfect size for carrying vinyl records. The East To West bag has a more rectangular shape, sort of like an upside down trapezoidal shape, that makes it perfect for those who want a traditional shape to their bicycle bags, but need more storage pockets. Then there is the Simple Canvas Bag, which is wide with one huge pocket, just like old school style.
The one thing that all new bicycle bags have in common is that Tucker & Bloom offer each in different colors. They even allow their customers the choice of what color lining they would like, to give it the ultimate personal touch.
As previously mentioned, Tucker & Bloom has been working alongside a few local DJ’s to make their own signature bags. For example, jet-setting DJ Cosmo Baker helped them to design the Cosmo Baker North To South Messenger Bag, which is an updated version of the regular North To South. The attention to detail in this product makes it a great choice for DJ’s, or for folks who just want to carry a lot of stuff.
Tucker & Bloom have helped to change the organizational fashion landscape, here in Philadelphia. They have done this by simply offering colorful, roomy, and well-made bicycle products. Whether used by actual messengers, commuters, or by world-famous, jet-setting DJ’s, Tucker & Bloom’s bags look great & will hold up to whatever is thrown at them.
How I found the best of the best bicycle messenger bag – and how you can, too
As a bicycle courier myself, my bicycle totes Re: key part of my business, my career, my livelihood – and I need to be able to count on that these bags day in and day out no matter what.
Unfortunately, there has been a pretty sad trend in the courier bag world over the last few years, a trend that has moved towards cheap construction materials, really terrible craftsmanship, and a focus on reducing seemingly unlimited amounts of awful bicycle messenger bags that just can’t live up to expectations.
I should know – I went through literally 10 or 15 absolutely awful brands in the last five years alone, and I know a lot of other bicycle couriers that have had similar experiences.
However, I was turned onto the Tucker and Bloom bicycle messenger bags by a messenger that I really respected – a courier that has used one single tote for the last three years and it still looks absolutely brand-new.
I was absolutely blown away by their customer reviews
Digging a little bit deeper, I tried to do just as much research as humanly possible about all of the different courier totes available out there on the market right now, and kept running into the same comments.
“Tucker and Bloom are the best!”
“I don’t think that I’ll buy another bag that isn’t made by Tucker and Bloom ever again!”
“ I was thinking about getting out of the bicycle courier business for good, but then I bought a Tucker and Bloom – I’m hooked back in until this bag gives out (which shouldn’t be until another 20 years or more down the road)”
Obviously, this kind of attention you just can’t ignore – so I ordered up my own bicycle messenger bag.
Boy am I glad that I did.
There’s nothing else on the market close to this kind of quality
Yes, there are definitely cheaper ones available on the market right now – and there also a ton of more expensive available as well.
Yes, there are other brands that have dedicated followings and fanatics. Yes, some people swear by the same messenger bag that they’ve been using for 20 years or longer.
But I have to tell you that after going through tons and tons of totes in the past, nothing – NOTHING – can come close to the quality that Tucker and Bloom bags bring to the table.
We’re talking about amazing construction materials used throughout each and every one of the totes that I purchased (ranging from highly durable duck cotton canvas – the same kind of material used on Carhart pants – to waterproof nylon solutions and everything in between), and amazing attention to detail that you just don’t find anymore.
Before I pulled the trigger on my purchase, I did a bit of looking into the history and biography of this specific compass and was impressed to find that they make each and every one of their bags in the same style that European craftsman have been making bags for centuries – and that they only released their bags in small batches so that they can craft the perfect solution for your needs.
Obviously, I’m starting to sound a little bit like a fan boy here – but really, you will be blown away by the attention to detail and elite level craftsmanship that is spent on every single one of these bags. If you’re a professional bicycle messenger – or just are looking for the very best bag on the market today – don’t ignore the bicycle totes that Tucker and Bloom bring to the table.
December 17, 2013
Manhattan Messenger Bag
This is the bag style that just about everyone is familiar with. It’s the one that just about all bicycle courier, no matter what city they work in, carry slung across their backs or at their sides.
Originally they were conceived for bike couriers in New York City, guys that regularly carried legal documents and architectural plans; large envelopes and long, awkward tubes, too big for most backpacks & baskets. These were based on utility lineman bags that were designed in the 1950’s. They originally allowed lineman to carry necessary tools within easy reach while climbing utility poles. Generally, the Manhattan style is very wide, usually wide enough to be slung diagonally, from one shoulder to the opposite hip.
The riders that these were made for rode stripped-down bikes that had modified, very thin handlebars for weaving between buses and cars. Therefore, the Manhattan messenger bag needed straps that could be slung across the chest, and then be easily released in a split second. Or, the same strap could be worn on a shoulder, with the bag under the opposite arm. The point was so that the courier could slide it around for easy access.
Also for easy access, the designers coupled the convertible straps with a large flap closure. Sometimes the flap also had clips, so the rider could keep it secure, but between stops the flap could stay down, covering the main compartment.
Materials were very important to the users of the original design. Originally they were made from sailcloth, or thick cotton “duck” canvas, which was durable, and could withstand stresses. Over the years, though, different designers, and the wants and needs of the users, began using other materials, and even lining the bags.
Heavy ballistic nylon, with its characteristic basket weave, was an even tougher alternative that also offered a degree of water resistance. Using leather at edges and stress points gave a great look, but an even stronger wear. Some really forward-thinking designers even began using waterproof PVC, rubber, or nylon liner materials, for an even greater degree of protection on Manhattan messenger bags. Wet deliveries are not acceptable to the clients of messengers.
Over the years, the Manhattan messenger bag has become a fashion accessory, albeit a very functional one. Hipsters of every gender, profession, and style carry them, and many different companies design and produce them. They are offered in every color of the rainbow, with different sizes and shapes, as well, giving the user another way to express his or her individuality.
Many high school and college students carry messenger totes, today, especially ones that ride bicycles. When compared to a backpack, it is much easier to remove textbooks and notebooks, as well as laptops, from a Manhattan bag. It can be easily shifted, to lie on the side of the body, granting the wearer greater accessibility.
Over the years, Manhattan messenger bags have gone from a simple, functional tool for bike delivery riders, to colorful hipster fashion accessory.
How I fell in love with these all over again
Before we go into my specific experience with my brand-new Tucker & Bloom bag, it’s important that I give you a little bit of background history so that you understand why I have always loved traditional messenger bags and why I have literally searched high and low for the very best possible option offered in the United States.
The search begins
Way back in (what seems like lifetimes ago) the early 1980s, I myself was a Manhattan messenger. Flying around on my trusty fixed speed bicycle, I zoomed in and out of traffic up and down those modern-day canyons delivering all kinds of packages, parcels, and more than a few deliveries that seemed suspect at the time to offices throughout New York City.
And every single day, right after lacing up my Redwing boots, I grab the exact same one that I had been issued – the same kind of Manhattan messenger bag I have been searching for ever since.
That bag was ridiculously simple and straightforward, which I’m sure was on purpose because my boss was more than a little bit “cheap” to put it friendly. He was probably looking for a fantastic deal on pieces of work equipment that he wouldn’t have to replace on an annual basis, but he definitely wasn’t looking to outfit us with some sort of expensive designer one – if they even existed in those days.
No, he was looking to provide us with a piece of equipment that would allow us to be better at our jobs – not only making our clients and customers happy, but guaranteeing that his business got as few complaints because of damaged or lost packages as possible.
It was absolutely everything I’ve ever wanted in a tote and though I’m certain that some of those feelings are due to nostalgia and my memory creeping up on me I’ve always searched for a Manhattan messenger bag that could compete with my first one.
Stumbling upon Tucker and Bloom
I’ve been discussing exactly this kind of dilemma with my nephew (now a Manhattan bicycle messenger himself), and asking him to keep an eye out on different websites to see if he could spot one that offered the same kind of “magic” that my old bag did.
Obviously, I never really expected that he’d be able to deliver the goods (part the pun – but I had to sneak that one in there), but was pleasantly surprised when he told me that he had in fact track down a manufacturer that seemed to fit the bill.
You directed me to the Tucker and Bloom website, and from the moment that I longed in until I had my brand-new Tucker and Bloom bag in my hands I knew I had struck gold.
Not only are these bags designed right here in the good old United States of America, they also are crafted in a classical style – with form and functionality perfectly blended together. Real craftsman focus on each and every single bag, and produce them in such small batches as to be laughable by most modern manufacturing standards – but that’s exactly what I was looking for.
I cannot tell you how overjoyed I am with my new courier bag, and how much it has meant to me to have a bag of this caliber in quality back in my life. I refuse to carry a briefcase into the office ever again, and I’ve also purchased another Tucker and Bloom bag to give to my nephew as a thank you for tracking this down.
December 17, 2013
Waterproof Messenger Bag
When choosing a waterproof bag, of course it is important to pick one that has enough space for all one needs to carry. For my money, though, choosing a bag for how it protects one’s belongings is of even higher importance. The bag should be practically indestructible; made from materials that will hold up to whatever use (and abuse) the user will put it through.
Also, what if it rains? All of that hearty material is useless at protecting your possessions if it just soaks thru with water. For this reason, it is also of high importance to choose one that is waterproof.
Tucker & Bloom, a small company based out of Nashville, Tennessee, makes high-end organizational products with forward-thinking designs, but using old European craftsman techniques. Their aim is to organize people with a need to look professional, while providing an alternative to the norm. With thirty years combined in the bag business, they know how to make bags right, and they make them well. All of their products are produced domestically, from materials that meet their high expectations for quality, durability, and aesthetics.
Every waterproof product made by Tucker & Bloom is made in small batches. They start with an outer material that is very strong and durable. They use leathers that are byproducts of the food industry. Leather can provide a whole range of design elements, from highly finished to more organic in appearance, and has a timeless look and a natural durability. Another outer material that is used frequently is ballistic nylon, which features a basket weave. This weave makes it very tough and allows it to withstand impacts and punctures. Lastly, the customer can choose between several colors of 100% cotton duck canvas. Cotton canvas is soft and ages gracefully, but is also very durable.
The thing that I like most about Tucker & Bloom’s waterproof messenger bags is that they are all made with water proof material. This is what makes their bags differ from other brands. Other brands will make you rely on just the outer layer for water protection. While the outer layer may be water resistant, it is not water proof. Tucker & Bloom goes a step farther than all of those other companies by adding a layer of Taslan nylon, which is truly waterproof, to the inside of the bag. So, even if the rain does pour, this inner lining will prevent your valuables- all of your possessions even- very dry!
Tucker & Bloom has truly broken the mold with their products. Offering clients a choice between colors, sizes, and fabrics allows for individuality yet ensures that they can make a choice to protect their belongings. Making a real waterproof product is a great feat. Even if water does soak through the outer layer, the added Taslan layer will keep it off important papers and gadgets. When someone needs to get items of importance from one place to another, a waterproof tote is what they need on their back to carry them.
How I found out my old bag wasn’t waterproof – and how I know that my new one definitely is
As a professional bicycle courier, the bag that I use on a day to day basis is far more than some sort of fashion statement.
Not only does it have to look good to present a professional image to the clients and customers I deliver goods to on a routine basis, but it also has to be amazingly functional as well. This is not the kind of business that you can count on style points to win you extra business – you need to be able to deliver products, parcels, and paperwork quickly and efficiently – and most of all in the same kind of condition it was sent in.
Not all waterproof bags are waterproof – ask me how I know
I’ve also gone through 10 or 15 types in the past – all of them promising to be 100% waterproof, and only a fraction of them actually living up to that promise. My last bag allowed in so much water in a single rainstorm that I ended up sinking it right into the Hudson River, never to be seen or heard from again.
They say that’s where the mob used to dispose of their “messy business”, and I hope that – if it’s true – my bag sleeps with the fishes.
Regardless, after discovering that dozens and dozens of parcels in my care were soaked right through – some of them beginning to peel open because of the moisture – I knew that I needed to find a brand-new bag that actually was 100% waterproof. A bag I could rely on in any weather condition, a bag that I could trust to help me better perform my daily duties.
That’s when I discovered the Tucker & Bloom
A friend and mentor turns me on to Tucker and Bloom
I had been sharing this recent experience with a friend and mentor that really got me established in the bicycle delivery business, and he was telling the how he had had a number of those same kinds of problems in the past. They also told me how he had remedied the situation completely – and also helped 10 or 12 other couriers illuminate the problem forever – just by switching to Tucker and Bloom bags.
I had never heard of the brand before, but was eager to take my friend up on this recommendation – and begin to check out the different waterproof messenger bags this company offered.
So many to choose from – but so many of them offering exactly what I was looking for
The first thing that I noticed about the Tucker and Bloom website was that they had so many different options I could choose from. Obviously, this got me excited right off the bat, but once I discovered just how amazingly attractive and well-built each and every one of these bags were things get even better from there.
I knew I was sucked right into these kinds of bags forever – and that I would really struggle not coming away with one of their handcrafted bags mad in America . I ended up going with the North and South limited edition and I am proud to tell you that it hasn’t let me down at any point regardless of the weather that I’ve pushed it through.
This one’s never going to end up in the Hudson – but probably up on my mantle somewhere in 30 or 40 years so that I can reminisce fondly to my grandchildren about how well this bag performed.