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:
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:
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.
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