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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
207 helpful votes
208 helpful votes
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on March 10, 2017
UPDATE:
Thought I would provide additional photos of my bag as I've had it for over 2 years now and it's still going strong. My Sibley and Peterson guides fit great in the two front pockets, and my binos in the main compartment. If I need a water bottle, I can make it work in there as well (but the side pockets aren't the best for bottles). Overall though, just a fantastic bag.

This bag has been great for general outdoor walks and birding for me. It can fit my binoculars, gloves, two small guide books, small pad of paper and pencil, water bottle, and various other knick-knacks across all the pockets. I've had it for quite a while now and it's still as durable as it was when I bought it.
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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.
6 helpful votes
7 helpful votes
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on March 18, 2014
I read all of the positive and negative reviews, and I would say that almost all are accurate. It is important to know and understand what you will use this bag for, and what you want to be able to carry. For my purposes it is perfect. Solid canvas and the right size to carry my iPad plus other misc. items. Larger canvas bags can become 'floppy' so I wanted something smaller to prevent this, but wanted something large enough that I could carry other items such as a charger, small notebook, book, glasses, etc. The 4 velcro pockets (two in front, and one on each side) are perfect for holding smaller items for quick and convenient access. However... as noted on a number of the negative reviews, they are NOT good for holding very small items such as spare change, for example. The enclosure does not completely 'seal' the contents, and smaller items could spill out. I knew that I would not be carrying these items in this bag so this was not an issue for me. There are two zippered pouches - one on the outside flap and one on the inside, that can be used to securely hold items as needed, and there is a large pocket on the back, with a velcro closure that is perfect to hold a book, notepad, maps, etc. Really give some thought to the storage sections and make sure they will carry/contain the items you plan to carry. If they will, then this bag is fantastic - you will appreciate the smaller (yet more than adequate to carry a netbook or tablet), lightweight, and durable canvas.
2 helpful votes
3 helpful votes
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on January 15, 2016
While this probably isn't large enough for a student who carries books, it is certainly large enough for somebody who carries a tablet and other school supplies. There are a multitude of compartments, and the quality of this bag is top notch. It's made with heavy canvas, and it is quite sturdy. My initial instinct was to give 4/5 stars for a size on the small size for a student, but the dimensions are clearly stated in the description. If I really wanted a bigger bag, I could have purchased a bigger bag. As it is, this was a gift for my teenage niece, so it should be more than enough to hold the numerous boy band and Harry Potter badges I've gotten for her. I am not worried one bit that she'll tear this messenger bag up at all.

There are velcro-closed pouches (roughly 5.5"H x 3.5"W, tapered at the bottom) on either end of the bag, two small pouches on the front left (3"L x 2"H x 1"D, beneath the overflap), ID card slot on the right front (also beneath the overflap), a 5.5"W x 6"H flat slot behind the ID card slot, a 7.25"H x 5.25"W flat slot on both sides of the front, beneath the overflap, a plastic buckle to fasten the overflap. The overflap, itself, is a large zippered compartment (approx. 10.5"W" x 6"H), and inside of the bag is a zippered currency pocket (5.25"H x 7"W, as found in most purses). There is an internal plastic 1.25" snaphook on which to tether a keyring. The entire external body side of the bag is a velcro-closed flat pouch (10.75"W x 8"H) with curved corners at the bottom to match the shape of the bag.
1 helpful vote
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on August 31, 2014
When my wife and I retired we planned on seeing the world. I needed something to care my camera, kindle, other electronics, earplugs, things to keep me busy during air flights and so on. I wanted something that didn't look like something my wife would carry as a purse. I liked the old British musette bag used by the allies during WWII. I found this bag on Amazon, it seemed like just the ticket and I ordered it. It has a ton of pockets to keep my stuff separated and the pockets on the ends can carry bottled water (so important when you're hiking the Great Wall and it's hot). So far I've used it on three trips (two to Europe and one to China), it's taken a beating and has come through it like a champ. I routinely pack it with from ten to twenty pounds of stuff and I could not be happier with it. It shows no sign of any failure. Reading over the Amazon reviews there was one which complained that the stitching holding the male and female parts of the clasp had come apart so, as a precaution, even though it did not appear to need it, I reinforced those with normal needle and thread. If anything happens to this bag I will gladly get another.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on March 7, 2013
Seriously, I'm pretty secure with masculinity, but most of the bags I've seen for my intended purpose look like purses. This bag however, does not. When I first pulled it out of the box my kids said, Ha, dad bought a murse! Upon further inspection my daughter said that's cool and my son said that's not a purse it's a satchel. LMAO!

I bought the bag to use while traversing the floor of a 3 day trade show and I was so pleased with the utility of the bag that I now use it everyday and have for several moths now. It's light weight (a good thing) and made of very durable canvas. It the past I've Maxpedition messenger bag that I really like, but it's too heavy for day of carry and the strap is not very comfortable. There is no shoulder fatigue with this canvas bag strap. I don't know how practical this bag is for ladies compared to a purse, but it's great for There are a couple of cons: The front ID holder is great for a couple of business cards, but you'll want to be careful with what you put in the other two Velcro pockets located on the front of the bag. You really need to press hard on the Velcro closure to ensure it stays closed. I use the front pockets for eye drops and other things of no real value so this is not a big deal. With that said, I haven't had anything fall out of the pockets so far.

The size - For me it's perfect, but if you plan on putting anything with the outer dimension greater than a standard file folder then you'll probably want to go a different route. I keep my iPad, product literature, and a few other items in the main compartment and pens, cards and tons of other smaller items in the front and internal sipper pockets, There's also a large Velcro packet on the back of the bag that's large enough for a medium frame handgun if you happen to a license to carry.

The bottom line: The bag is less than $18 so let's be real. It is what it says it is and there is nothing misleading in the product description. For you guys, let the length of the strap all the way out and carry it cross shouldered with the bag hanging on your backside It's 2013, no one is going to laugh at you...unless you're wearing a fanny pack. DOH!

UPDATE - I just ordered another one of these bags to put back in case I lose the first.
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on August 11, 2017
I've been looking for a work bag that's big enough to carry a coffee cup, a lunch container, wallet, headphones, charger cables, cell phone, first-aid kit, medications, house keys, car keys, office keys, magnetic card, all those things you have to have, even though you don't use them every day. This bag is perfect, except for the Velcro! Velcro snags on your clothes and ruins your clothes! So I spent three hours carefully ripping out the Velcro and installing snaps on all the pockets, and I have a perfect work bag! Gonna use this thing till I retire!
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on July 19, 2013
I ordered this shoulder bag as a purse. I had a coach messenger bag and it made it just under two years before the straps shredded away. I am quite rough on my purses and found this one. I have not had it very long, but am so far very pleased with the quality of workmanship. There are pockets everywhere of all sizes, almost all seal with velcro or a zipper, which is great. the canvas and stitching feel really high quality. Although it is much lighter than I expected (which I like).

So, the true test will be to see how long it can handle my abuse. But I figure, even if it doesn't make it more than a year, at this price it would be hard to beat.
1 helpful vote
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on December 22, 2014
I did a lot of searching/researching before choosing this bag. My nephew is 11 and has diabetes and I am always on the hunt for him a decent looking, non-medical-ish, pre-teen, nice bag. If I get a small one, all he can fit is his diabetes supplies (like a lunch box size) but if he wants to bring his electronic tablet or a water bottle, he has to carry another bag. This bag fits it all and with all the pockets, it works great! Also I love the canvas material that is sturdy. This is a perfect bag and is a perfect price. I will buy this again when he wears out this one. He has had it for 2 months now with daily use and no signs of wear yet, and it is washable and I do not feel like it will fall apart when I do (unlike some other options I have tried). I am very pleased. I think even older guys would carry this bag with no worries.
1 helpful vote
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