The first step towards this happened last month, when Luke from gearzap.com contacted me, asking if I would like to review a bag. Excitedly, I emailed back, politely enquiring if they fancied paying me by purchasing a rollercoaster, or log flume. They declined, but I still got a bag – the Cool Bananas 24Seven…
I’ll be honest, I was a bit hesitant choosing a bag like this. Compact, leather styling, shoulder strap: its a man bag. If you disagree with that statement, it’s probably because you own a similar looking bag and are in denial. That said, it does look pretty good, slung over one shoulder, as I casually stroll along the road, a Starbucks coffee in one hand, an iPhone in the other… kill me.
Joking aside, it’s a fairly sexy looking bag, from the material covering the majority of it to the faux leather. Internally as well, the 24Seven all seems very nicely put together, with nice chunky zips and little pockets for pens and the like. Taking stuff out, and putting things in, you know you are using an attractive piece of kit.
After a month of taking the bag around with me, I still don’t love it. A large part of that comes from my general preference for rucksacks over shoulder bags: when walking along rucksacks are anchored to your back with no freedom to put you off your stride – shoulder bags tend to bounce off one’s back occasionally, slightly jarring you. Sadly, the Cool Bananas bag does this more than most, likely due to the portrait placement of the laptop, making the straps closer together and thus even less anchored. Of the many bags I own, this would be my least favourite for any protracted period of walking.
The strap is also much too thin. Think cotton tshirt thin. This means the strap gets twisted really easily (see photo on right): as a cool metrosexual guy, I like to grab my bag and chuck it over my shoulder before heading to the indie bookstore: I don’t wanna be left behind by my friends as I try to rearrange the shoulder pad to face the right direction.
My normal modus operandi is a rucksack, with room for my laptop, charger, mouse, jumper, bottle of water, deoderant, magazine, sketch pad, headphones, spare ethernet cable, kitchen sink… Downsizing to a smaller beast meant I had to choose just the bare essentials. It is refreshingly focussed knowing “I only have stuff with me that I need”.
Whilst not having unnecessary items with you does make bags lighter, it does come with one important issue: you no longer have necessary items with you. I found myself limited to the point that I could just about fit my laptop, charger, mouse, sketchbook and wallet inside. And then it was overfull, making the lovely Cool Bananas logo a bit mishapen (see photo on right). And there is no more room. Want to pack a sandwich for lunch? Either eat it at breakfast, or carry it seperately. And I really don’t want to carry it seperately: that’s why I have a bag!
The 24Seven feels very heavy. I found it harder work for my spine than other shoulder bags, and it seemed heavier than my rucksack, even though it had about 1/3 of the contents. Due to it continually bouncing on your back, you also end up feeling a little bruised and uncomfortable.
Build quality disappointed me: after just a few uses the already negligible shoulder strap began to fray a little, reducing it to almost imperceptible (see photo on right). Unplanned fraying looks bad, which is very important to us trendy Apple store frequenting chaps: if I wanted to look bad, I could just buy old jeans, rather than these £100 distressed Levis that bring out the colour of my eyes.
I did enjoy trialling the 24Seven, but its unlikely to last me the 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that it promises – the strap would drive me mental, and I would feel irritated everytime I had to walk somewhere with it. There would also be no spare room for a toothbrush. Or a sleeping bag. Or a bed.
However, using it less often, I can see a real place for this bag. For taking a laptop to a coffee shop, or just chucking your wallet and magazine in it, I think it could be great. And frankly, just having it sitting on a chair unused will make all your NME reading friends respect you at least 15% more.
Review sponsored by GearZap.com
Gearzap kindly gave me this bag for review. Visit their site to check out their other laptop cases, rucksacks and bags.