(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!)
I love bags every bit as much as I love pens, but I'm way pickier when it comes to bags. I've mentioned before that one of my favorite hobbies is my quest for the perfect bag. And when this Nomadic NF-01 Tote arrived, I was immediately and genuinely worried. Was my quest over? The mixture of joy and dread was real.
Thank goodness--after a few months' use, I can say that it's not perfect. But it's close--close enough that it had me worried for a while. And certainly close enough that I can say that I love this bag.
This is not the bag for a minimalist and that's obvious immediately by the way it proudly wears its pockets on the outside. In fact, I'd say that's the main downside to the bag: It's odd-looking. Okay, maybe even a little ugly. But for me, pockets > pretty, so I have no problem with the way this bag flaunts its practicality.
Pockets are definitely the theme here. If you like keeping your things organized and in place, this bag does the trick. All told, there are 14 compartments. Bliss. On the front, there's a zip pouch large enough to hold an A5 notebook or two, and it in turn contains two neoprene padded pockets and two mesh pockets. On the front of that is a voluminous snap pouch, zipper pouch, and tall padded phone pouch with another slip pouch on the front of that. On one side of the bag as a slim slip pocket, and on the other is a TARDIS-like zippered water bottle pocket. On the top of the bag, a double-zipper leads to the main compartment that includes a padded slip pocket. Next to the main zipper is a small, shallow zipper pouch perfect for keys or cards.
With this bag, you always know where everything is. There's no fishing through cavernous pits of debris. Everything just fits. And because the pockets are built onto the outside of the bag, they don't take away from the space inside. I can fill those exterior pouches to capacity and still have the same volume available in the main compartment.
This volume availability is wonderful, but also another downside for me. It's great to have that capacity when I need it, but it's dangerous when I don't. I'll use whatever space a bag has (often filling it with books), and with a shoulder bag this size, that's a short trip to backache city. Especially because there's no padding on this shoulder strap. I know, "that sounds like a you-problem, Sarah, not a bag problem" and yes--that's true. But it's a problem I can solve with the right bag, and this bag is a total enabler. That being said, it's perfect for those times when I do need a bigger bag, like traveling or long day trips. It's just a bit too much to be my everyday bag.
However, if your everyday is a commute or day trip, this may be perfect. And it's certainly built to handle heavy use. The fabric is tough, water-resistant ripstop nylon with a reinforced bottom. Many of the pockets are padded. Everything is stitched well and the zippers are sturdy and smooth. The shoulder strap clips on and the fastening swivels to prevent twisting. I used this bag daily for over a month and took it on several trips. It's certainly looking a little rumpled, but it's otherwise unharmed.
The bag costs $87 at JetPens, which is very reasonable for what you're getting. I've seen similar bags cost twice as much. I've even used some of them, and I think this one is better than most. If you're looking for a high-capacity, highly organized commuter bag, and practicality is your number one priority, this bag is a total winner.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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