Over the last few months, The Foxley Docket has explored the various bags in all shapes and sizes on offer from Cumbrian outdoor pursuit activists, Chapman Bags. This month, we take a slightly different path, and tell you five things you need to know about the “man bag.”
1. As it stands, no bag on the market can do it all. Whatever bag you choose, sadly you’re always going to fall short in an area, it’s an inevitable truth. This means that today’s adventurer and businessman may require up to three bags for whatever journeys and travels life throws at them. However, the kind folk at Chapman Bags have narrowed down your search, suggesting three bags to suit each pursuit.
The first of these is a handheld bag perfect for the office. Keeping up with the times, in the 21st century, briefcases slowly find themselves fading into the background in favour of a lighter, slimmer alternative. Whether it’s work or play, tote bags blend effortlessly into any suit or casual outfit, while offering a more stylish and more feasible approach to carrying around belongings.
The second is perfect for a long weekend away or a short holiday. Everybody needs luggage, but everybody needs practicality. The thought of pushing a plastic trolley through the airport, piled high with various bags – in the 21st century, cases on wheels are all the rage, where you can wander effortlessly at a leisurely stroll while pulling your case rolling along behind you. There’s no denying it’s quicker, smoother and considerably more cool. It’s perfect for making a good impression when meeting friends or colleague.
Last but by no means least, for a more leisure-orientated adventure, simply put, why not just sling a rucksack over your shoulder and be on your way? Or if you prefer, fit a day’s belongings into a touring bag –
quick, simple and stylish.
2. Let’s talk pockets – I fondly remember as a child, toys that had endless functions and features – it always seemed the more, the better. But in today’s business world, is a bag with 15 pockets really necessary?
Chapman Bags CEO Daniel Chamier would argue against endless pockets and features. He cites, “My general view is that most bags only need a handful of essential features.”
What do these ‘essential features’ consist of?
Daniel would suggest the first of these is an exterior pocket for keys and small change, anything that may be easily lost that would remain safe in the confines of a small pocket.
Next, an internal divider to keep papers straight – maybe slot a laptop in one side to work on the go and papers on the other – perfect for organising one’s belongings before a big business trip.
Finally, for that touch of much needed security, Daniel recommends a bag with a lockable zip to ensure your prized possessions remain in your custody, away from the clutches of the unwanted – the best kinds are those with interlocking metal circles.
3. One of the most honest aspects of retail is the notion that “you get what you pay for.”
All over the world, labour rates can vary enormously – but one aspect of production which constantly rings true is the cost of high quality materials and fittings, an essential part of a long term investment such as a bag from Chapman Bags. When it comes to bags, a long term investment is essential, as once the zip or fastening has broken, the bag is sadly rendered useless. Daniel warns shoppers to “beware especially cheap bags which look expensive. This can only be achieved by using second or third rate materials, and the bag may well fail you quite quickly!”
4. It’s a sad fact of life that, in most cases, nothing lasts forever.
However, with proper use and care, a high quality, well produced bag such as the bags offered by Chapman Bags often can. Speaking about the longevity of Chapman Bags products, Daniel summarises their lifespan in a simple equation – “Ly = 25/Dn.” Before you panic and brains are sent back to the old days of classrooms and blackboards, let’s break it down. L equals the useful life of the bag in years, while D equals the number of days in a working week. Imagine you’re working 5 days a week, as most people do – your bag would receive frequent use. Using a high quality work bag every day, hypothetically, it should last you 5 years, or 10 if you only work 2 and a half days a week. More sturdy luggage bags can last years too – in our attic, we have suitcases which have received annual use in my 26 years on planet earth, and they’re still as trustworthy as ever – their sparing use has allowed them to last a (my) lifetime. Your bags can last just as long if you invest in a quality product and look after them properly.
5. Due to the cost of raw materials, the most expensive bags are generally 100% leather.
If a ‘leather bag’ seems cheap compared to other products, it’s worth investing some time into to find out if it’s actual real leather. But how do you check?
Daniel states that “I would not recommend the flame test (fake leather melts like plastic, real leather doesn’t!” Instead, customers can identify real leather through smell, feel and saliva. Fake leather does not contain the traditional leather smell. Real leather wrinkles and “gives” when pressed upon, it also absorbs moisture – fake leather does not. The absence of natural variations is often obvious on man-made products, although this is not definitive; real leather can be plated with aesthetic designs such as mock crock. However, if real leather, it would still pass the smell, feel and saliva tests.
Leather fittings such as straps should be checked for being robust, quite stiff and at least 2 or 3 mm thick. Some leather fittings feature interior fillers to reduce cost – these should be avoided as they very often disintegrate. Leather bags with poor quality edge paint on the side of straps should also be avoided, especially the type of inflexible edge paint ‘filler’ – this will crack when bent.
Find out more about Chapman Bags at: