Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's a Gear Bag, not a Man Purse.

Face it, sometimes you end up needing to carry extra shit with you but it's a nuisance to have full pockets loaded with necessities. Or, sometimes you wish you had something with you, or at least in proximity, but it's just not feasible or practical to carry it with you on your person.

Sometimes you simply have no pockets. Take the Scottish kilt, for example; they have no pockets traditionally and thus the Scots came up with the sporran. The sporran was eventually bastardized in the 80s to become the Fanny Pack. Fanny packs were never cool. Ever.

Stylin' and profilin'. Rockin' the kilt and a tasteful sporran to hold a few items.

How many layers of wrong do we see?
 The only acceptable use for a fanny pack these days is if you're jogging in a dodgy area and want to coneal-carry your handgun.

We'll make an exception for concealed carry.

I'm guilty of having once been the guy with too much stuff in his pockets. I'd have the wallet, pocket change, a couple pens, a small bottle of contact lens drops, a travel tube of Advil and Zantac, maybe a tube of Carmex, possibly a pocket knife. I even occasionally had a notepad or a small sleeve of business cards.

I travel about 50 miles each way to work and I wear contacts. Sometimes you just want to have either a spare set of contacts for an emergency or a pair of glasses to switch into and when you're an hour away from home that ain't an easy feat. What if you want to bring along an e-reader (I have a Kindle) or an iPad or an iPad Mini?

This is how the Man Bag came about. Some derisively call it a Man Purse or Murse. There's an even worse term which I'll get to in a minute. I've seen them called Satchel, Courier Bag, Messenger Bag, and the lamest of the lame, The European Carry-All. The Man Bag keeps all your necessities and/or extras handy, without the lost hiker look of carrying a backpack, without the first day of school look of carrying an LL Bean bookbag knapsack, and without the Gulf War look of carrying an old ALICE pack. I had an LL Bean pack even into college. but it was the University of Maine and it was socially acceptable to have Bean gear. My buddy Chris, a former Marine, carried all his gear in an ALICE pack without the frame.
Unless you live in Maine, this screams I'm still in high school.

After work I'm climbing K2. You wanna come?

An ALICE pack, like I had in the Army, without frame. ALICE is short for All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment. Gotta love all them military acronyms.
The frame stiffened the pack, like a civilian hiking pack, and gave you kidney pads, necessary on road marches but not for commuting. You're not the Unabomber.

I finally decided (with nudging from Mrs. Wingman) enough was enough, that I needed to carry less stuff on my person, especially if it was stuff I wasn't necessarily going to need immediately in the course of my normal duty day, because I was like one step away from needing a Batman utility belt. So last Christmas Mrs. Wingman got me my Man Bag. I don't actually carry it on my person all day; it gets tossed in the car at the start of the day, goes into work with me and gets placed in the locker room, and then comes home with me later. It's got my stuff if I need it, but not hanging on my side all day. Some of you, I'm sure, commute via train or subway or bus instead of car, and hoof it on foot to the office from the nearest stop. A man bag is perfect for carrying your necessities without looking like a doofus or a poof. Some guys, despite alleged machismo, royally screw up the Man Bag concept.

Who the hell still tight-rolls their pants? WTF is with those shoes? And does your mom know you stole her purse?

Man Bag Fail. That's a frikkin' Louis Vuitton purse.

Basketball hero Steve Nash failing HUGE with a purse, a pastel salmon sweater, and a bow tie. Pink can be cool if done right, and the tie can be cool if done right but not with a pink sweater that highlights how skinny you are. Mr. Rogers looks positively butch in comparison.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, sporting an ugly purse.

This is an acceptable man bag application. Not sissy, not huge, not flashy.

I guess a part of me had always wanted a bag for my spare gear. In the Army a lot of guys hooked
themselves up with the old olive-drab canvas map bags that the less politically correct and homophobic called Fag Bags. Many would customize them by sewing on one of their name tapes from their fatigues and sewing on the patches from units they'd served in. That raised the Macho Factor a lot. I got myself a bag but never got around to sewing my stuff on before I got out of the Army, and the bag got lost later on. Long story...
Prime example of a map bag, minus the musty canvas stink of Army gear.

Fast forward several years.

I personally have a Scout bag from Australian company STM. I wanted a moderately priced bag that resembled the military map bag and this one fit the bill perfectly. It has a padded internal compartment perfect for an iPad or e-reader, and it will hold my pistol in a pinch. I plan on adding my patches to it. Right now it's got a few pens, a notepad, my MP3 player and headphones, a pair of glasses, a contact lens case, pocket knife, eye drops, Carmex, and some Advil. That means my pants pockets contain my wallet, one pen, and a couple coins. Much simpler. The bag was only 30 bucks when we got it but it seems the price is higher now.

If you only have a few small items to carry without looking all purse-like, you might opt for the Rothco Venturer. It looks like a small camera case and is bargain priced.

Rothco Venturer

If you need a bigger bag to carry a laptop plus your pistol, the Dillon Conceal Carry Tote might work for you.It's a steal at $45.

Stylish and functional

If you have a few extra bucks and need a rugged, sizable pack with a multitude of uses, (and if I needed a different bag from what I currently have) it looks like you can't go wrong with the Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack. It's customizable in 16 color combinations, can be carried on the shoulder or the hip, and holds a variety of gear. A little more expensive at $99, but worth it.

Why do I suggest a subtle military-look bag? Because a prissy bag may not stand up to the rigors of daily use, and if you should find yourself in a dodgy area or situation where nefarious chaps up to no good could be looking for a crime of opportunity, a flashy expensive-looking leather bag says "MUG ME AND STEAL MY SHIT". And the bigger the bag the more attention it attracts and it may have lots of booty inside. A more rugged bag can hold up better if some douchebag tries to yank it off your shoulder. If it rains on you, leather can get ruined.

This begs to be stolen. If you have $300 bucks to blow on a man bag, you MUST have cool stuff in there.

While the guy on the left is climbing Kilimanjaro the guy on the right has stuff to steal, barely hanging on his shoulder from a thin strap.

One last bag before I go. The German company Koffski has a clever bag that looks and fits like a shoulder holster for a handgun. Keeps your stuff real handy. Find out more about it here, or at Koffski's website.
Who's got your back? I do.


  1. Dude, You didn't mention the Man-PACK. Check it out at
    It's the coolest man bag ever. And no.. It does NOT look like a purse!

  2. Contrary to Savvyguydes opin, women across the *far and wide* differ greatly in regards to what CR7 wears. They may say anything or nothing, either are acceptable.

    Personally, I did enjoy all the other packs you feature. Cool.

    N Wallace

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  7. omg this is so embarrassing to read


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