Essential Gear For The Urban Dweller: The Bags

Living in the city can be a daunting endeavour where everything is so fast-paced, it is hard to keep up with everything. The checklist of things to do never seems to end. Being out and about is a normal state for a typical city dweller so it’s natural to have their everyday essentials with them at all times so matter where they go, they are prepared to get work done.

The essentials are subjective. It varies from person to person and it depends on specific use cases and needs but let us try cover as much ground as we can as there are a lot of it. This 3-part series will be divided into three categories, namely; bags, accessories, and gadgets.

The Pack Mule

First, let us talk bags. All that gear is useless if we don’t have a proper place to store and carry them. There are different types of bags and choosing the right one will depend on what you need it for so let’s try to cover a few of them.


The bag of choice for most people. It’s sturdy, versatile, and depending on the brand, it can go with your wardrobe.

Jansport "Superbreak" backpack
Jansport Superbreak backpack

Jansport Superbreak – a classic. Simple, sturdy, and available in multiple designs and colours to match your preference and starting at $30, it’s a good starting backpack. With one large compartment and a front pocket, it’s an ideal bag for everyday commute or school use.

The North Face "Vault" backpack
The North Face “Vault” backpack

The North Face Vault backpack features a simple and minimalist design with good padding for the shoulder straps. It supports laptops up to 15 inches, a secondary compartment on the front and two mesh water bottle pockets on both sides. Starting at $50 for the black model with multiple colors available to choose from.

The Herschel "Retreat" backpack
The Herschel “Retreat” backpack

The Herschel Retreat backpack. Another minimalist and stylish multi-purpose bag. It features a padded, fleece lined sleeve for 15 inch laptops, adjustable buckle-type flap closure, and a second compartment for other accessories. It even has a dedicated smartphone/media pocket with a headphone port to route out your cable. At $80, it is a little on the mid-to-high-end but the styling and build quality is worth its asking price.


Messenger/Laptop Bags

Messenger bags feature one single compartment for storage. It was ideal for carrying important files and documents without having them accidentally fold up and crumple during transport. Laptop bags have sturdy outer shells and padded linings on the sleeve to protect laptops and other accessories from scratches, bumps, or falls. Over time, messenger bags came out with added functions and better utility such as more compartments for better organization and served as both a laptop bag and storage for other gadgets and accessories.

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Rothco "Classic canvas" messenger bag
Rothco “Classic canvas” messenger bag

Originally a supplier of equipment for the military, Rothco also offers their products to the public ranging from the outdoor survivalist to frequent campers. For under $28, their classic canvas messenger bag offers a big and spacious single main compartment with two front pockets and two on the side to store water bottles. This is a good starting bag for those who want something big and sturdy but also affordable.

Timbuk2's "Classic" messenger bag
Timbuk2’s “Classic” messenger bag

Arguably, the best messenger bag on the market right now. Starting at just $67 for the base black model and available in XS,S,M,L sizes and a wide selection of color combinations and even a few material choices, this classic messenger is probably the most customizable bag available right now. It has gone through multiple revision since its release, with no major redesign but all the thoughtful improvements to utility and aesthetics are gladly welcomed.

The front flap is lined with TPU for some waterproofing, the back has a handle for quick easy handling and a compression strap underneath to adjust the thickness of the bag for when you don’t carry too many things and a cam buckle and cross body buckle for when you are on your bike. Open the flap and you have a small outer pocket for your keys and change and a quick access napoleon pocket for your wallet or smartphone. The main compartment features stretch pockets for water bottles on both sides, a flash compartment on the back and organizational pockets on the front. Whew. Yeah, just go get one.

Samsonite's "Colombian" leather messenger bag
Samsonite’s “Columbian” leather messenger bag

If you want the function and utility of a modern messenger but want it in classic leather styling, the Columbian messenger by Samsonite will fit the bill. A bag that is still great for commuting but wont feel out of place in the workplace setting. Starting at $90 for the brown model, it is also nicely priced considering it’s made out of leather.

It features a buckle style strap for the front flap with a single large front pocket and a handle up top. It has two compartments; one for laptops up to 15 inches and a rear compartment suited for carrying files and documents. It only comes in one size but it is large enough to fit most of what you need to bring with you.

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All-in-ones/Multi-purpose Bags

It is not unusual to have more than just your work on your daily agenda. Fitness and the awareness of proper health is on the rise and for good reason. Spending 8-9 hour shifts at the office, sitting all day, is not good for our health. We all need to put in the time for daily exercise whether before or after work. Lugging 2-3 bags at the same time is cumbersome so lets see what bags are available that can fit both gym wear and work gear.

Aidonger's canvas travel bag
Aidonger’s canvas travel bag

This will be a shortlist. Out of all the choices on offer, this canvas travel bag by Aidonger wins out in terms of price and function between a tote bag and a duffel bag. Starting at only $35 and available in 6 colors, it’s good enough for most of your needs and even looks nice enough to bring with you at the office.

It has a top handle so you can tote it or use the included padded shoulder strap and carry it like a duffel bag. It feature a large main compartment for your gym clothes, shoes and other things along with large front and side pockets to carry other essential gear with you. It even has expansion zippers on both side that can extend the length of the bag for another 10cm.

Note: All the products and pricing featured in this article came from Amazon and reflects so as of this writing. Please check links for any changes to pricing and availability.

Disclaimer: This list does not serve as a definitive guide but is more meant to give you an idea or sense as to what are some good options and where to start. This is not a paid sponsorship. This is the personal opinion of the writer from extensive research and curation and in no way does it reflect the views and opinions of the site/staff as a whole.


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