|My everyday Rickshaw bag nested inside the new "medium" travel bag.|
Greg always says that finding the ideal bag is my Holy
Grail. I’ve accepted this as my life’s purpose.
Before I became a sketcher, my default travel carry-on bag
was always a conventional backpack. I would shove my purse in there, along with
a book or two, a water bottle, snacks, ear plugs, a sweater for overly
air-conditioned airplanes and other travel essentials. It served its purpose
But after I became a sketcher, everything changed. My everyday (and now famous) Rickshaw Bagworks Zero Messenger Bag wouldn’t fit in the
backpack unless I turned it sideways, which made the bag’s flap and contents
nearly inaccessible. So for a couple of domestic trips, I used a Nomadic Wise-Walker messenger bag, which has a gazillion compartments and a
multitude of zippered or Velcroed pockets. At first this bag seemed like a good
idea, because all those segregated spaces meant that I could organize my art
supplies to the hilt. Of course, this pleased me visually – everything tucked
away beautifully. But in the real sketching world, I kept forgetting which
pockets held which items, so I was constantly unzipping and rummaging around.
For one trip I left the Rickshaw behind and simply moved all
my supplies to the backpack’s pockets, but it meant I had to carry the backpack
everywhere as my purse. It also pointed out the key reason why I don’t like
backpacks generally: Everything is in back,
inaccessible to me while I’m carrying it.
When planning for the symposium, I kept hearing that backpacks
were a bad idea in Barcelona, the pickpocket capital of the world, because the
outer pockets in back were so easily accessible to thieves. So I decided to try
the Nomadic Wise-Walker again. It seemed to work out fine during my dry run.
That turned out to be the biggest equipment failure of the trip: On the crowded
sidewalks of Barcelona, I kept bumping into people with its bulk. And one of
the primary recommendations for avoiding pickpockets is to blend in with the
crowd. While this type of urban bag is popular in the U.S., I looked around me
in Barcelona and didn’t see any. TOURIST was written across my forehead. I ended up using a flimsy tote bag as my sketch bag for the rest of the trip.
Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about a replacement
carry-on bag ever since. The answer came in the form of a special e-mail offer
from Rickshaw Bagworks: All Zero Messenger Bags were half price for a
very limited time! My trusty purple Rickshaw bag is the “small” size. The “medium” size is significantly larger, but the dimensions still seemed
reasonable for me to carry easily. But here’s the beauty of it: All Zero
Messenger Bags have the same shape, so I knew my smaller one would nest
perfectly inside a larger one, with additional space for all the other things I
have to carry when I travel. I also knew that the empty bag is lightweight –
much lighter than either my backpack or the Wise-Walker – so even a larger one
wouldn’t add much weight of its own. I ordered a medium size in black (to hide
travel dirt better) with a bright green lining (to make it easier to see things
inside and to look sharp against the purple bag).
|The inner sketch bag's contents are fully accessible while still |
nested inside the larger bag.
On my trip to the Twin Cities last week, I gave it a first
whirl. As I had hoped, my small Rickshaw bag fits perfectly inside, and its
contents are fully accessible from the larger bag because both flaps open the
same way. I had plenty of space for all my other stuff (room to spare, in fact,
but I didn’t want to add to its weight by filling it up). I wore the strap
cross-body, and when walking, I swung the bag to my back out of the way. When I
needed to get into it, I swung it to one side. Once we reached our hotel room,
I pulled my smaller bag out and used it as I do at home – everything still in
their familiar places, no new compartments or pockets to figure out and rummage
The only downside – and it might be significant – is that
carrying the weight of both nested bags on one shoulder instead of distributed
on my back and both shoulders as in a backpack started to get heavy quickly. It
means I’m going to have to pare things down – both in my everyday bag as well
as the outer travel bag – if I’m going to continue using this combo. (Yes, I know my bag did lose weight before the European trip, but as we all know,
weight always has a way of creeping back on.) But when traveling, less (to
carry) is always more, so paring down is a good idea in any case. I’m on it.
Will my Rickshaw bag’s big sister work out long-term? Finding
out is part of my life’s purpose. Stay tuned. (I sure love the way the two sisters
|My Rickshaw bag and her big sister.|