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VINE VOICEon May 16, 2009
I've just bought myself a new bag because the two that I've been using in heavy rotation for some years--the Eagle Creek Sidekick and another Eagle Creek bag whose make I haven't been able to identify--don't quite fit the bill. The Sidekick is too small for my purposes; the other bag is too large under many circumstances. My new bag, the Urban Explorer Canvas Shoulder Bag, which measures 12"x10"x4", is in between these two, size-wise.

It's a very nice bag, and I think it will suit my purposes well, but it's not perfect. I can't add pictures here, but I've added three to my account on Flickr and annotated them with on-screen notes. In particular, I point out where all the pockets are. The pictures are public, so if you search for "Urban Explorer Black Canvas Shoulder Bag" you should find them.

PROS

* I got the bag for about $20 delivered from Amazon, which you really can't beat.

* The bag is, to me at least, quite attractive.

* I haven't run it through any stress tests, of course, but it feels very sturdy.

* It's the perfect size for me. Large enough to carry a composition book and a couple of hardcovers at least, yet not so big that it feels empty or sags if you're not carrying any big items.

* It feels comfortable wearing it. This is presumably a function of its size and fabric, but also of its strap....

* The strap--which is adjustable but cannot be removed--is the perfect thickness for the bag. More importantly, it doesn't slip off your shoulder.

* The bag has a lanyard for keys, which is convenient.

* The bag has 12 pockets (for details of which, click through to the Flickr pics), but not all of these can be counted among the bag's pluses. The two side pockets, with velcro closures, are handy, however, and seem secure.

CONS

My various objections to the bag can be summed up by saying that the pockets, though numerous (12!), are neither as convenient (many of them) nor as secure (many of them) as one would like. To wit:

* The ID card holder (again, I refer you to the Flickr pictures) may be convenient for some, but I certainly have no need for it, so it's wasted space.

* There are no pen slots (but one of the three narrow, deep pockets can be used for the purpose).

* The two small velcro pockets on the front of the bag would be great for carrying something like a cell phone, but the velcro doesn't stay closed! So you can't trust the pockets for anything of value. They're essentially useless.

* The main interior pocket is not zippered. There is a zippered compartment within the main compartment, and another in the bag's flap, but neither's very convenient for grabbing a wallet from, for example. I'd want the main compartment to be zippered so that when, inevitably, the bag is tossed around or it falls from the bleachers at a softball game, everything won't fall out of it.

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

* Most importantly, add a zipper to the main interior pocket.

* Put snap closures on the small pockets instead of velcro. (Perhaps replace them with one larger but more secure pocket.)

* Get rid of the ID pocket and replace it with something more useful--perhaps another small pocket with snap closure.

-- Debra Hamel
1818 comments| 203 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 19, 2008
I'm a 6'5" 240 lb combat vet that carries my stuff in what the military might refer to as a 'rucksack'. I looked everywhere for something that didn't look or feel like a 'purse', and came across this bag in an Army-Navy store about 6 years ago. I wore it out, using it every day.
I tried several other bags, but they just didn't work. Then I found the exact duplicate; the same bag. It's strong canvas, has a tremendous number of pockets, is exteremly well built, wears like iron, and cleans easily. End pockets, interior pockets, a pocket in the cover flap, envelope slots, and compartments with a large main bag. I take it everywhere, all the time. Best 'Male' bag out there, bar none.
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on September 30, 2008
The bag is durable and comfortable to carry. I love all the pockets. My only complaint would be the width. The main compartment is just wide enough to carry documents, but because the bag does not have reinforcement, the documents bend. I put two pieces of cardboard inside to give some support to the main compartment--problem solved.
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on May 22, 2012
Product as described: well made, tough, masculine rather than elegant. A man's bag. Very fast delivery. I only wish the side pockets are bigger so they can hold a water bottle more securely. I ended up getting a smaller bottle to put in the pocket. (I will insert a photo of a standard-size water bottle in the side pocket if I can figure out how to insert a photo.) Another thing be beware of: the side pocket is not big enough to hold the newer, larger smart phones.
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on March 27, 2010
This bag was perfectly sized and pocketed for my travels. I'm still giving it 5 stars, even though the Velco frayed quickly and was obliterated by the end of my 2 week trip.

Here's a list of all the pockets, because that's what I was looking for when I bought it, and an example of what I put into each pocket.

1) Main compartment (Quick-release buckle) - My 10.5" x 7.5" netbook laptop fit here with some room to spare.
2) Pocket inside the main compartment (Zippered) - Passport and cash.
3) Pocket on flap (Zippered) - Important papers/tickets.
4) Large outside pocket (Velcro) - Perfect for quick access to maps and tour books and random fliers. I used it so much the small Velcro rectangle disintegrated in a week.
5) Side pocket (Velcro) - Camera.
6) Side pocket (Velcro) - Phone.
7) Tall sleeve - Laptop power adapter.
8) Tall sleeve - Umbrella.
9) 4/5ths tall sleeve - Pens, tissues.
10) Small pocket (Velcro) - Power converter.
11) Small pocket (Velcro) - Chap stick, gum, etc.
12) ID sleeve - Didn't use. It's a shiny way to ugly-up an otherwise great looking bag, though the flap covers it just fine.

This is just the right bag to take my netbook with me on a day trip to The City.
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on September 8, 2011
I bought this bag to use during DragonCon. I will NEVER go to another convention without it. It was absolutely perfect & well worth the modest price. Carried my Olympus SP-590UZ camera w/ extra batteries, waterbottle, cell phone w/ extra batteries, snackpack, first aid kit, pens, pencils & notepad, Kindle, and still had a little room for programs, etc. Was the perfect size for 5X8 docs & notebooks, etc. Wasnt as big and obvious as a messenger bag, (wider tho) and the black canvas didnt look like a camera bag either..
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on March 17, 2015
It is sturdy and has several pockets. There is a big pocket on the flap, pockets on the front, side, inside the bag and one big pocket on the back.
It's a really great bag.
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on July 5, 2008
I've been using this bag a lot as a camera bag. It doesn't have padding but everything fits in it so well and it is very comfortable. There are lots of little pockets and even the top flap can hold a tabletop tripod.

The main problem with this bag is that the front velcro pockets don't stay closed and I've lost some stuff. The side pockets seem fine though.
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on December 5, 2012
Not too big, but not too small either. Fits my tablet and its charger, sunglasses, ear-buds, cell phone and spare charger, and other misc junk I might want to cary around.

Very sturdy as well. I've had it for about 3.5 years, use it every day, and it shows very little wear considering the amount of abuse it puts up with. The only sign of age is that the "trim" around the edges has started to fade a bit.
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on September 1, 2012
If you have lots of small things to carry, and crave organization, this is the bag for you. Slightly larger than a camera bag, slightly smaller than a messenger bag, this fits a particular niche - but it happens to be my niche, so yay.

I'll walk around it from the outside in. To start: the material is heavy canvas, washable, and sturdy. It is as waterproof as untreated canvas is, meaning that it will keep out a little rain for a little while, but a heavy rain or long exposure will wet it just as any other fabric (and anything you have inside).

The strap is adjustable, narrow but firm, and attached to the sides of the bag with a sewn-but-sturdy x-pattern. If you really really yanked on it you might damage it, but the strap won't need reinforcing; no matter how full I've stuffed it, I've never felt worried about the strap breaking. I've bought, separately, a strap pad, and that has corrected the only complaint I've had about the bag, which is the narrowness of the strap and its tendency to wander off my shoulder. (Wearing it across the chest is another solution, but I usually hate carrying the bag that way.)

One of the pleasurable things about this bag is the number of pockets. To start: there's a pocket on the back of the bag, on the side closest to you as you wear it. Basically, it's just an open pocket the length and depth of the bag, secured by a single velcro strip in the top middle. This pocket is thin but deep - great for carrying a small notebook, maps, a smaller magazine, and so on. It's not quite long enough for a larger magazine or file folder to slip in sideways, but can fit them if you turn them and allow then to stick up over the bag (although then you can't close the velcro.)

On both sides are two deep pockets, closed with a flap and velcro. These pockets are good sized for a phone or iPod, headphone cords or chargers, etc., but are too small to fit a water bottle. A pen or a pencil will stick out over the top. The velcro sticks securely, but the pockets pooch out a little at the sides when full, so don't store very small, loose items in them.

The flap that covers the front of the bag also has a pocket in it, right in front, with a zipper closure at the top, so you can access this pocket even when the flap is closed. This front pocket is a good size for a wallet, a checkbook, small notebook, and so on.

The flap itself closes with a plastic clip on an adjustible strap, which you can expand as you fill the bag. Unclasping and lifting the front flap, you'll see two other small pockets sewn onto the front, and a clear plastic card holder pocket. The two small pockets are closed with a velcro flap, too, but are very small - we're talking dental floss, gum, Tic Tacs, etc. A pack of cards would maybe fit in each (just to give you some scale), but maybe not. The clear plastic card holder will hold some business cards, a dozen or so. Just above and slightly behind the plastic card holder is another pocket, flapless but deep. I fit a sunglasses case and my phone there.

Then, if you think of the front of the bag as having two panels (one with the very small pockets, and the other with the plastic card holder and its flapless pocket), in the back of the panels are two more flapless pockets, running as deep as the entire bag. These could fit an e-reader (if you're not using a cover), small papaerback book, chargers or cords, etc.

So that's all before even getting to the inside of the bag. Inside is a deep, open area. I fit my camera, Kindle Fire (in its cover), and a modest hardback book, and still have room for small sundries. It's just a little too narrow for a file folder, binder, or laptop (although I expect it would accommodate an iPad or netbook just great), and that may be a drawback for some: you can't use this bag to replace your briefcase. If that's what you're looking for, try another, bigger bag.

In the back of the bag's center is another zippered pocket, thin but very secure, being both zippered and inside the main compartment. This is good for a passport, wallet, important papers, etc. There is also a hanging clip on one side, attached to the top side of the bag - clip a keychain to it, and you can tuck the keys in the bag, but have quick access to them without even opening the front flap.

Let me summarize, again, the tremendous number of pockets you get in this small bag: two zippered pockets, three unclosed pockets, 5 pockets with velcro closures, and the bag's interior itself: 11 total storage areas, plus the "business card holder." It's an organizer's dream. You can't carry large books, files, binders, or bigger laptops in this bag, but if you have tablets or e-readers/netbooks and a lot of little stuff that you'd love to have put in its place and not just loose in the bottom of some larger bag, this is the one you want.
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