If there's anything I love as much as my pens and notebooks, it's the bags I carry them in. I'm always looking for the perfect bag, and always hoping I never find it--because then I wouldn't have an excuse to try more bags. When I first saw the Doughnut Denver Messenger Bag, I got a little concerned. Is it The One? Is the search over already? It sure looked promising. Fortunately, great as it is, I have a few nitpicks that allow me to say no--this is not the one perfect bag. It came close. But I'm free to keep looking. (Thank goodness.)
This messenger bag solves so many problems that it creates new ones. I now understand what the kids at my work mean when they say something is "extra". I suspect what it really is is overdesigned. I love so many of the features individually, but together they become overwhelming.
This bag has a lot of pockets. Twelve of them! I've joked before that you can never have too many pockets--but, hey, you totally can. There is the main large pocket, which is very high capacity. It can hold up to B4 size paper. Inside that pocket is a mesh zipper pouch, a Velcro compartment, and two side compartments for water bottles/umbrellas/cables, etc. This compartment has a volume of extra fabric at the top zipper so taller items can fit inside. I did use that feature once or twice, but mostly all that extra fabric got in the way. I was constantly pushing it aside to get to things in the main compartment.
Behind the main compartment, there is a padded laptop/tablet pocket that can be accessed from the main opening, or through a waterproof zipper at the back of the bag. It can hold items up to 13". I used this back zipper more often than the main one, to avoid having to get past the jellyfish of fabric. I could reach most of what I needed through that back zipper, though it was difficult to see items toward the front of the bag.
Below the main top zipper, there's an A5-sized zip pocket. It has a Velcro pocket and two smaller pockets inside. On the front of that pocket are two horizontal zipper pockets for fast-access items. Though these are all mostly covered by the flap, the vertical zips allowed access to these pockets from the side. They were very handy--though I found that if the bag was very full, not much would fit in these pockets.
The flap folds down over the whole front and secures both with Velcro and with a slide buckle at each strap for extra security. I rarely used the buckles. They were just another thing between me and what I needed. But when the bag was stuffed, they kept the flap from springing open, so they were handy at times. There are also two leather snap straps for securing things to the front of the flap.
The strap is a soft seatbelt-like woven band. It does not swivel, which was often irritating. It is a bit too flimsy for this bag, I think. It kept folding and twisting so that it was uncomfortable to wear but annoying to constantly straighten. I think this strap was my main complaint about the bag. Every other nitpick still had its good points, but I think this bag really needs a more substantial strap.
Part of the reason it needs a hefty strap is because it is a BIG bag. It doesn't look it, but it feels massive and carries a boatload of gear. It's 17.7 x 11 x 5.3 inches. When filled, it gets quite heavy. When not filled, it is difficult to find things in its multitude of cavernous compartments.
For everyday use, this is too much space and too many features for me. I think for travel it would be great. I could also see it making a good bag for a commuter who needs a bag to hold their whole day's worth of stuff. But I don't think it's ideal even for day outings, as it gets heavy and the strap doesn't support its weight comfortably. It did make a pretty good purse/diaper bag combo--and the compartments allowed me to keep the kiddo's gear separate from mine. That was probably the best use I found for all its features--but the strap was still a bother.
Ultimately this is a fairly ingenious bag, where the designers thought a lot about what people might need, and then managed to fit it all on one (large) bag. Honestly, I think if it had backpack straps, or just a better strap system in general, my bag quest would have been in serious peril. I like what Doughnut is doing and I hope I'll get to nitpick more of their bags in the future.
(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, for which I am very grateful.
Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!