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Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Timbuk2 San Francisco: Timbuk2 makes bags for Northern California urbanites.  They build sleek, durable, and fad-proof, usually in muted colors that hide stains well.  Their backpacks are designed to carry the essentials of a day out in the City -- water, a laptop and charger, some books or notepads, a smart phone, a few pens, a hoodie, and a snack -- and to withstand the City's sticky-gritty abuses, like absorbing biker sweat, being stuffed under a BART seat, waiting on the beer-stained floor under a bar stool, and baking/soaking/abrading at Burningman.

Image result for zeyner backpackZeyner Baldwin Park-based Zeyner makes backpacks for rock stars.  These double-take-inducing, highly functional bags are constructed from chrome, motorcycle-jacket leather, and ballistic nylon, all triple stitched together by someone who wanted this bag to last forever under all circumstances.  I do not yet own a Zeyner backpack, but my Zeyner briefcase remains one of my most prized possessions.

Image result for aer fit pack gray 
Aer: San Francisco-based Aer fills a specific niche: they make unobtrusive backpacks for urban professionals, with multiple compartments designed to segregate and carry everything needed for work and gym.

North Face: Alameda-based North Face makes pretty much everything an outdoors-enthusiast could want.  They also make urban-commuter backpacks.  And – judging by everything I’ve bought from them so far – they probably make them really really well.  

ZAVATTI - Italian Leather Travel BackpackMarcopolini: Campbell-based Marcopolini imports high-quality, hand-made leather goods from Italy, including high-end streetwear backpacks.  I own a Marcopolini key wallet (which, for those who don’t know, is a keychain that stows your keys inside a coin-purse-like wallet, so your keys don’t punch holes in your pockets).  It is extremely well made, and its leather keeps looking better as it ages.

Chrome: When I lived in the real Bay Area (i.e., the Bay Area in which you can see the Golden Gate and/or Bay Bridge with minimal effort), Chrome was the most ubiquitous brand of messenger bags and backpacks.  I've never heard a Chrome owner complain about his or her bag.  Now, they've started doing custom work.

BakpakCydwoq: Burbank-based Cydwoq makes backpacks that remind me of driftwood -- sculptural, smooth, simple, and pleasing to the eye, in a craggy sort of way.  

Volcom: Orange County-based Volcom is a one-stop shop for skater/surfer/snowboarder fashion, from streetwear backpacks and totes to board shorts to two-piece suits.  Because they target skaters – who shred clothes quickly, no matter how high quality – I did not expect Volcom to put much effort into the second-thing-to-go elements of clothing construction.  After all, why double-stitch a garment that’s going to be rags within weeks regardless?  But I was pleasantly surprised.  A few years back, I bought a Volcom button-up. It was a good purchase.  The shirt had a clean silhouette, but with slightly skewed seams that bent people’s eyes just enough to prevent them from looking past me.  And – because I do not lead a tear-through-fabric lifestyle – it lasted for years.

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