Bag and shipping options

 In 2004, I was required to visit some of the Chinese electronic component manufacturers that supplied components to our company.  The trip to China changed my life. I was fortunate to have a Chinese friend arrange the trip.  We visited 11 cities on that trip. It was my first trip outside of the U.S. other than short visits to Vancouver and Winnipeg.  The trip to China was long enough that I became accustomed to the "foreignness" of the country and began to see the things we have in common with the Chinese.  Business has required additional trips to Asia and to many cities in the U.S. since that time.

Being in love with technology, I have always carried a lot of electronics with me to make life more pleasant as I travel.  16 to 20 hour travel times are not much fun.  A year and a half ago, I bought my first netbook.  It is the perfect device to have when you travel, small and lightweight.  It is half the size of my old laptop.  The 1.6 GHz Atom processor is fast enough to run the simulation and drawing software that I use in my profession as an engineer.  It is great for traveling and really just a convenient size for many things.  I find myself using it more all of the time.  I also use it to charge the smaller electronics on the road.

After purchasing the netbook, I was disappointed with the selection of bags available for the netbook.  At that time, there were only sleeves and one nylon bag with a purple stripe that no self-respecting man would lug around the airport.  Since that time, other bags have become available – almost all of them are nylon and none of them had sufficient storage for all of the things you want to have with you.  I could not understand why there was not a quality leather bag with planned storage made for a netbook.  I am an engineer - this looked like a problem to be solved.

After giving the design of the bag some thought for a while, I started by having my daughter make a few sketches of the bag I described to her.  I wanted a compartment that was big enough to take the netbook and a couple of paperback books or a small note pad or Kindle / iPad.  The bag needed a separate compartment for a phone or two, a camera, MP3 player, USB drives, business cards, pens, cables, headphones.  A place to keep the charger and cord would be nice too.  It also needed to include a couple of things I have found convenient on other bags – a snap on a leash for keys and a strong strap on the back to attach the bag to the handle of a suitcase.  Another thing that I wanted – the size of the netbook meant that the bag would be small – it needed to have a look that could not be confused with a man purse.

I put together a list of the netbooks and their dimensions to come up with dimensions for the main compartment in the bag.  Some netbooks with 6 cell batteries may be a little snug at the top of the bag, depending on how the battery is configured.  In the zippered compartment for the other devices, I set up pocket dimensions for most common electronics and added a easy to access space at the bottom for cables and earphones.  USB drives and accessories go into separate small pockets.  To eliminate the man purse look, I decided the bag would mainly be made of very thick leather.  The hardware would have a heavy / strong look and the strap would be wide and made of the same thick leather as the bag.  To get a better idea of how thick most of the leather in the bag is, take a look at the picture on the very far right of the pictures page.  This view of the bag shows the edge of the leather used in the main compartment.  This is the actual edge of the leather, not a trim piece sewn over the edge.  The edges of the leather were intentionally unfinished to show the quality of the leather.  The thick leather gives the bag a very nice feel.
When in Asia, I found that the leather is purchased on pallets from the United States and Europe in a preserved condition, really just preserved and the fur removed.  The actual tanning process is done in China and will vary depending on the tannery.  Some tanneries use a chromium based tanning process to cure the hides quickly.  Chrome tanned leather would be too soft to be used to make this bag.  Vegetable tanned leather is a more expensive leather because of the time required for the tanning process - about 5 days are required to vegetable tan a hide.  Vegetable tanned leather is more stiff and will hold it’s shape well.  Through dyed leather was chosen because it will take marks easily, but not with great contrast – more like just a change in shade of color where the mark is.  The leather used is made specifically for this bag.  Vegetable tanning leaves the pores of the leather open – allowing the surface to oxidize and absorb hand oils to take on a “patina”.  Along with scuffs and scratches from everyday wear, the bag will develop more character with time.  It will become unique - your bag.

The first sample was great, almost exactly what I wanted.  I took some pictures of the bag, noted the changes I wanted and sent them back.  The next sample bags were even better.  I have been using one of these bags every day now for the last 8 months and found it to be very convenient to use.  The last trip I made using the bag was 1 ½ weeks in
Asia to finish the final details on the bag and to visit the tannery.  Having this bag made the trip better than previous trips because the smaller size made it significantly easier to carry and use.  Everything that was not the way I wanted it to be has been taken care of for the production bags – just small things like reinforcing the stitching for the pockets and changing the lining and pocket material from nylon to a warmer feeling canvas material.

My problem was both traveling on a plane for trips to
Asia and the day to day needs of toting stuff to work.  I use the netbook every day at work.  I use to run electronic circuit simulations, email, internet, charge my iPhone and MP3 player, use the hard drive to store my music.  I keep a charger for the netbook at work, another at home, and carry the small charger that came from Acer in the bag.  I use a notebook size wireless mouse. The netbook bag easily holds these things.  The unbagging pictures show what I carry to work on an average day.  There was room in the bag for quite a bit more stuff.  If I was traveling to
Asia, there would be a cell phone, an iPhone, another charging cable, a Ziploc bag with foreign money, and a paperback book.  Once I got to the airport, I also put in my keys and wallet.  The external 2 ½ inch drive would not go – I would have all of the files I want on the netbook internal 500G drive.

The bag has been very convenient when I travel.  All of the small things stay in the zippered compartment where they will not be lost.  The netbook is very easy to get to – just open the flap and take it out for TSA.  The things at the bottom of the main compartment stay put under the leather flap at the bottom of the bag and the things in the zippered compartment stay where the were put too.  I have found it easier to go through airport security with the netbook bag vs. my old full size laptop bag.  There are no zippers to get through to get to the netbook and I can open the bag and remove the netbook with just one hand.  

Contents not included