Okay, guys: I’m going to talk you into carrying a small bag. Or try to.
“No way,” you may be thinking. But hear me out: a small bag is practical, and once you try it, you’ll probably like it.
First, some historical perspective. Women carry bags—purses, handbags, totes. Why? Because dresses and other close-fitting clothes that women tend to wear don’t have usable pockets.
But being every bit as practical as men, women carry bags for their stuff. This is a happy turn of events because women can indulge both their practical side and their aesthetic side and in the process, buy lots of bags. Tens of thousands of people worldwide work in the multi-billion dollar industry of satisfying women’s needs and wants relating to their bags.
Men, on the other hand, carry one bag—either a briefcase or a backpack, or sometimes a messenger bag. And—here’s the crucial difference—we carry our bags only when we’re working.
But what about on weekends, or evenings, or when we’re on vacation and there are things we want to carry? Things like a camera, notebook, book, sunglasses, foldable hat, parts to the kitchen sink we broke while trying to fix it and now have to replace at the hardware store?
Men do have a few options.
If we’re wearing a jacket, we can often make do with its pockets. But, of course, we’re not always wearing jackets.
Or we might be wearing cargo pants. That can work. But most of us wear jeans more often than cargo pants.
Another intriguing possibility—at least to me—is photographer vests. I have two of them in my closet. After wearing them around town and on trips, I found that photo vests did, indeed, let me carry stuff, but they were kind of floppy and ungainly, especially when sitting down or driving. After a while, I concluded that photo vests were probably really useful if you were an actual photographer, but kind of awkward if you weren’t.
So where does that leave us?
Holding a bag
Men in Europe and Asia have carried small bags for at least as long as I’ve been traveling to those parts—some 30 years. Yet American men view such small bags as feminine. An Italian film director can carry one, but not a regular guy.
But hey, aren’t we supposed to be practical? Aren’t we supposed to care more about function than fashion? Shouldn’t we be able to say, “I don’t give a damn what it looks like, it works so I’m carrying it”?
Well, yes, we should be able to say that, but I understand your hesitation. It’s my hesitation, too. For one thing, a small bag would really have to look like it’s a man’s product—if that’s possible.
Turns out, it is.
The first small bag for a man I saw that I actually liked and wouldn’t be embarrassed to carry was one in England. It was made by our leather casemaker there for the British market. You carry it over either shoulder on a single strap.
After trying it out, I fell for its easy practicality.
There was some skepticism at Levenger when we first considered selling the bag. We modified the bag, making it more useful inside with pockets and pen holders, and dubbed it the Saddlebag Sling. It does, after all, look like a saddlebag and it slings over your shoulder. We tried it in catalog and stores, and I’m happy to report that we’ve sold thousands of them over the last few years.
Read the reviews on our product page and you’ll see that the Bomber Jacket Messenger is a hit with lots of our guy customers. Women are buying it as well, liking the masculine look and practicality. (I guess they wear our shirts sometimes, too.)
More recently we’ve added another guy bag based on a centuries old angler’s bag design. It’s called the Livingstone Gear Pack.
Via Appia comes to Main Street
It used to be that scooters were what people rode in Europe (think Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday). Now gas-sipping Vespas and their lightweight cousins are commonplace in American cities, and for good reason. They’re practical.
So are small bags for men. And, once we get over our prejudice against them, this is good news indeed for American guys.
And if you already deploy some of our Guy Gear, send us a picture—better yet, a video—of your practical self using our Saddlebag Sling or Bomber Jacket Messenger. You can upload them as part of your product review on our Web pages.