Posts filed under Backpack

Maruman Sketch Bag Review

Maruman Sketch Bag Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter. And check out her first novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, now available where books are sold!)

My recent trip to New Orleans was the first time my husband and I have ever traveled without our kids. To celebrate not having to carry diapers and car seats through airport connections, we decided to pack as lightly as possible. Our five-day trip would include everything from riding pontoon boats through swamps, to 5-star, jacket-required dining. With that kind of wardrobe variety, minimalist packing can be a bit tricky, but we were determined--no checked bag, no suitcase, no wheelie-that-won't wheel--nothing for the overhead bin that just gets checked anyway because (surprise!) your flight is oversold. Just a backpack each. A challenge, yes, but it can totally be done, if you have a good backpack.

Maruman Sketch Bag Front

The Maruman Sketch Bag is a good backpack. It was the perfect travel bag, and it is now my official journey bag. I have four more trips planned over the next three months, and I know I won't need anything but this backpack for all of them.

The first thing I noticed about the bag is that it is extremely light. The fabric is a PU-coated nylon that's so thin it almost feels like tissue paper. The structure of the bag is created with thin, light foam. It feels fragile, but it's not. I did not go easy on this bag--I was actually curious to see if it would tear, so I put it through plenty of abuse, but it doesn't even show a scratch. My return flights from New Orleans were not nearly as minimalistic as my flights there (heh), and I can tell you that you can cram this bag full of cans of chicory coffee and books and drag it out from under airplane seats, and (somehow) it holds up just fine. The only downside to that ultra-light fabric? Sometimes it gets caught in the zipper. It doesn't happen if you're careful, and it's a small price to pay for a bag that's light enough that you can fill it full of books and still lift it.

Maruman Sketch Bag Inside

This backpack has an excellent balance of small and large pockets. There's one main large compartment that's great for clothes (or books). Inside that main compartment is one large pocket and two small mesh pockets. Behind that is another large compartment, this one with some foam padding for a computer. The specs say it will fit a 15" laptop, but you could totally fit a desktop computer in there if you wanted to. It's roomy. Or, you know, more books. On the front of the bag is another large zipper compartment with two small pockets inside and one pen pocket. And on the front of that is another small zipper pouch, great for fast-access items. On each side of the bag is a drawstring pouch, fit for an umbrella and water bottle. And on on the side facing your back is yet another padded, medium zipper pouch, perfect for valuables and small electronics. I did use a Lihit Lab bag-in-bag and a few NockCo cases for some extra small-item organization, but I do that even in my everyday purse.

Maruman Sketch Bag Straps

The straps are well padded with foam and very comfortable. There is a sternum strap with a buckle, as well, to help support the weight of all those books. It can be adjusted by width AND height, for which I am very grateful. I'm quite short, so I often can't use a sternum strap. It was very nice to be able to make use of this one.

The only time I had any difficulty with the bag at all was trying to get it out from under the seat on the smaller plane on the way home. When stuffed totally full, it barely fits under the seat in front of you, and I may have had to remove the floatation cushion on my seat to get it out. This is, of course, a fault of the ridiculously small seating space of the airplane and not a fault of the bag--but a travel issue nonetheless. It's possibly also the fault of whoever decided to buy that many books on vacation, but whatever.

Maruman Sketch Bag Side

I'm very happy to have what I feel is the perfect travel bag. And I'm already planning what to pack for my next trip--to the Chicago Pen Show! I hope to see you there! And speaking of packing books, I'll have copies of my novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, with me to sign and sell at the show. Hit me up if you're interested! And feel free to find out how many will fit in your backpack. If you've got a Maruman Sketch Bag, you could have them all and then some--just remember that your seat cushion can be removed in case of water landing or book overload.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes. This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.)


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Maruman Sketch Bag Bottom
Posted on April 11, 2019 and filed under Maruman, Backpack, Bag Review.

Stationery Packing List for a Writer's Conference

Writer's Conference

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

If you're going to a writer's conference, you're probably planning on writing. Or maybe not--maybe you're taking a break from writing to socialize. But you might write... What if ideas start filling your head? Best to be prepared either way. Use this list to pack for your next writer's conference! Note: to use this list for a pen show, double the numbers.

1 large satchel. No, larger. Worried it might be too unwieldly? Perfect. Make sure it has a ridiculous number of pockets, then add a bag-in-bag for yet more pockets. Partition everything for ease of locating tools in its depths.

Satchel

In the satchel, pack the following.

Paper:

X number of pocket notebooks where X = Z + 5 and Z = the number of friends you're trying to win over to the analog life.

3 large notebooks, ideally each in a separate case. One for the project you're currently working on, one for the project you wish you were working on, and one for the project you're supposed be working on. Add additional notebooks in the last category as necessary.

3 (or more) notebooks for planning and organizing the above projects.

1 planner for organizing everything else.

1 small notebook for writing down all the brilliant, intrusive ideas that don't fit into the above categories.

1 small notebook for taking conference-related notes on panels, speeches, workshops, etc.

Notebooks

Pens:

3 pens for everyday writing. One with high ink capacity for text, one in a contrasting color for notes within the text, and one with a fine point and bright ink for proof marks.

X number of additional pens where X = Y + 3 and Y = however many fit in your case(s).

2 (or more) pen cases, one for bulk storage and one more portable for just the essentials. Fill to capacity.

A handful of Stranger Danger crappy pens to hand to people who ask you for a pen, which will happen approximately every 30 minutes. More can be obtained from around the hotel, or from bystanders who no doubt have dozens of dubious pens marinating in granola dust at the bottom of their bags. These pens can also be used for bar and coffee receipts.

Spare ink refills--cartridges and sample vials--in case you manage to write enough to run out.

Pens

Other essentials:

As few electronic devices as possible and their chargers.

Headphones

At least one pencil.

A fidget, if that helps keep you in your chair writing.

Water

Something to read that isn't your own writing for when you get sick of your own writing.

Directions to the nearest stationery store. For emergencies. Or for the fun of it.

If your satchel does not fit these essentials, obtain a different satchel. Optional: a small pack animal, such as an alpaca, for portage. Enjoy your conference knowing you are prepared for any writing scenario.


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

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In the bag
Posted on May 31, 2018 and filed under Pen Shows, Backpack, Bag Review.

Doughnut Macaroon Backpack Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

Be still my bag-loving heart, but I do love a good backpack. And the Doughnut Macaroon is a good backpack!

It's made from Korean twill fabric--nicely sturdy with a smooth texture. I like the feel of it more than Cordura, and it has stood up well to some serious abuse. It stayed water resistant when I carried it in a light rain, with the water beading on the surface. Nothing inside got wet at all, and the water was easy to wipe away. The seams appear very durable, and the brass buckles and leather straps give it a practical and attractive ruggedness. All the fun colors make me want more than one backpack, and I've got my fingers crossed that JetPens will consider carrying some of their other products (don't look at the Doughnut website unless your willpower is strong).

Both the padded shoulder straps and the front pocket bands are adjustable. The bands have functional buckles, but the pocket actually operates with two snap closures located at the top of the straps. Please don't ask me how many times I unbuckled the pocket to open it before I discovered the snaps. But I was delighted to find them, because nobody has time for actual buckles. There is also a snap-closure loop around the top handles, so they can be joined to make a nice top-carry handle. The shoulder straps stay comfortable even when the bag is stuffed to capacity with books.

The front pouch is roomy. It fits plenty of fast-access essentials, though it is just one compartment--so I have lost some time fishing for items in there. The side pockets are designed to fit narrow items like umbrellas, cords, or a small water bottle (wider bottles will likely not fit).

The main compartment is accessed by unzipping the front panel of the backpack. The flap that covers the zipper is a little obstructive. It's stiff and very deep, so folding it back to access the zipper is an extra step to opening, and almost requires both hands. The zipper itself is sturdy and the leather pull tabs are really nice.

Inside the main compartment is a padded laptop/tablet sleeve that will fit an item up to 13". Along the front panel of the pack are smaller pockets and pouches, some with zipper closures, and one with Velcro. Because this front panel folds down when the pack is fully opened, you have to be a bit careful that items don't fall out of these pockets, especially as the weight of the items will pull the top of the panel down. I started leaving one side of the panel zipped to keep this from happening. I think these pockets could have been better placed to avoid spillage. I think they'd have been particularly useful if placed in a separate zipper pocket on the front of the bag, so they could be accessed quickly without diving into the main compartment. That intermediate pocket is, I think, the main thing that this bag is missing.

The main compartment is quite large. I'm currently using the backpack as a diaper bag/kid kit, and I can fit everything I and my toddler need for a day out--and a spare of everything. And on top of all the baby gear, I can still fit my big planner in its over-stuffed case, my Traveler's Notebook, a pack of pens, and my knitting.

The pack is spacious enough to serve as an overnight bag or travel carry-on, and would make an excellent commuter bag. It's great for getting items from point A to point B. I don't think it's ideal for an everyday bag--it needs that additional medium front pocket and better access to smaller items for that. But it's definitely the bag I'll grab for travel, or trips to the library, zoo, or anywhere I know I'm going to need everything (and a spare).

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on March 30, 2017 and filed under Doughnut, Backpack, Bag Review.