Friday, April 1, 2011

100 Useful Tips for Car-Less Living: Find the Perfect Everyday Bag

Some at TCC's headquarters call me bag man.  I am happy to say I've earned this title with pride.  It is true, I have a lot of different bags that I often switch around over zealously, but there is a reason for that, good bags are crucial to living car-less or car-free happily.

As a car-free transit dude I know the importance of good bags, and their importance cannot be overstated.  I  grew up in car-oriented America and like many people across the county I practically lived out of my car.  In high school I could pile overnight clothes, hiking gear, soccer cleats, a guitar, and a even a blow up mattress into my car at all times.  Having all of that crap on hand at a moments notice is a huge advantage of personal automobiles. Being able to carry what you need even for a day can be a challenge for us transit dudes and dudets, but good bags can help mitigate the problem, and maybe down the road even help free us from being attached to so much stuff!

Here is review of everyday bags, enjoy and let me know if you have any feedback, trips, or ideas.

Everyday bags:

Option 1-The Hand Held or Shoulder Briefcase.

Advantages: Stylish, urban, sleek, people won't look at your weird when you get to meetings, great option for holding a small amount of things.

Disadvantages: Want to carry an extra pair of shoes or clothes for the gym after work? Sorry, you are out of luck.  You better not pack much at all if this is your bag of choice.  Also some models might not hold up well in Pacific Northwest weather for non-car commuters.

Option 2- The Omnipresent Bike Messenger Bag

Advantages: Stylish, hip, holds more than a briefcase, easy to access quickly (why they were designed in the first place for bike messengers).

Disadvantages: Potential to look like a hipster, people might think you are from Portland and support the worst team in the MLS (they are the worst, not kidding), and you are still limited in capacity.  Worst of all, I've found if you over stuff messenger bags they can lead to painful shoulders and backs especially if you are carrying books/computers etc.

Option 3- The Good Old Fashioned Backpack

Advantages: Most good backpacks can hold a ton of stuff (extra pair of shoes, gym clothes, overnight change of clothes, toiletries, computer, and work stuff all no problem) and simultaneously not hurt you back at all (unlike messenger bags).  Also they are great for sprinting to buses because you can tighten them to your back and they don't bounce around, also are good for biking for this reason.

Disadvantages: Take 5 seconds longer to access than a messenger bag, they are not stylish, not cool, and you show up to meetings and everyone things you are a college or graduate student intern.

Option 4- The One-Day Roller

Advantages: Umm.... ummm... Ok, I will admit, you can fit a lot of stuff into these bags and it will never hurt your back.

Disadvantages: This list could be long but I'll just name a few: people will assume you are an older woman regardless of your age and gender, if you are forced to walk in place with anything but perfect sidewalks you will not have a good day, climbing hills is difficult (little problem in Washington), biking and running to the bus are both impossible, and lets be honest your friends are going to make fun of you a lot.

The winner for my everyday bag Review? The basic backpack!  My backpack is from an awesome local company based out of Bellingham called Brenthaven, but I know that Jansport, REI, and others also have some good daily use urban styled backpacks.

Need to pack shoes, change of clothes, computer, and books or a kindle for your commute? No Problem!

I'll post at a later date about grocery bag and travel bag options, stay tuned! Happy Friday, enjoy the rain.


  1. I'm terribly sorry Andrew, I have to disagree. The ultimate bag is the Ortlieb Messenger Pro Bag.

    Plenty of room (& sizable to be less bulky), structured back & strong waistband to prevent a tired back, waterproof, slip to protect & easy access to a laptop, and a clear back to show-off a poster advertising your support for a campaign (mine is currently "Fast Trains are Cool"). Perfect for a bike-commute, airplane carry-on, hiking, or sledding/glissading down Mt St Helens (see this video: Also, made in the good ol' USA.

    Less professional for business meetings, but hey, this is casual PNW & we'll adapt.

    To learn more about the genius of the Ortlieb Messenger Pro, visit

  2. When I said "Made in the USA", I meant Auburn, Washington, as in, for most of us, supporting not only a U.S. business, not only a Washington business, but a King County business. Doesn't get much better than that. But when I said "Made in" -- well, I have no idea where they're actually made.

  3. Brock, where did you live the majority of the last two years and which MLS team do you support?

  4. Ah, yes, I'm a Sounders fan. But I have to say, Timbers fans are even more hard core, and there's more Timbers fans per capita in Portland than Seattle.

    Also, your statement about capacity issues with Messenger bags doesn't apply to my bag. So, I don't take personal offense at your comments.

  5. Plus, I don't want to "put a bird on it and call it art."

  6. I think that is right bout that. Nice info and thanks. Need to get in google feed.

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