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Courier Bags: A Style Or A Lifestyle?

R Sky Kagachi - Click to Enlarge


R Sky Kogachi

Sr. Writer, Contemporary Styles

Trendy, fashionable, and stylish - everyone seems to have a courier bag now. If you don't know what I am talking about, imagine a soft briefcase with a cross torso shoulder strap and you'll know what I mean. But this isn't a brief case (first pun) of fashion fad that will go the way of the pet rock, the courier bag is the physical manifestation of a new way of living. It is the on-the-go, always-connected, information-at-your-fingertips urban survival prosthetic of the new millennium. Take this to the ultimate extreme, and you have the crème de la crème of courier bags - Cargo by WaterField Designs. I recently discovered just how much I had been missing when I took one as my day bag on a five-day Atlanta trip.

Cargo is a rare cross between beauty and function, both inseparable in this case (pun intended again). It comes in three sizes - small, medium and large. The shell is made of Ballistic nylon. This rugged and abrasion-resistant fabric, first invented by Dupont for bulletproof vests and now commonly found in better lines of luggage and bags, makes it practically indestructible. The unfortunate characteristic of Ballistic is it's limited dark color range. Leave it to Gary Waterfield, Boston courier turn San Francisco industrial designer, to jazz it up with Indium, a colorable and colorfast industrial wall covering material, for a checkered colored flap that doesn't sacrifice durability. Five accent colors (dare I say flavors) are offered Blueball/blue, Celeste/green, Peppercorn/silver, Taxi/yellow and Zebra/white.

The most distinctive feature other than the color is the aluminum airplane seatbelt buckle used to close the flap. More than just being cool, I discovered how easy it was to open the flap and access the zippered pouch and the two open pockets beneath - yet still keep contents secure from prying hands. I kept my matching wallet in the zippered part and could still easily get to my credit cards, MARTA (subway) pass, and money when I needed to. Within that zippered pouch is a hanging pocket which I used for extra business cards, receipts, and miscellaneous cards. The open pockets fit my hardcase for my sunglasses comfortably.

There are a host of other pockets and compartments in this bag, so hold on to your seat while I fly through them. The flap has a storage compartment accessed with a diagonal zipper that makes it easy to open with the arc of your right arm. I kept my matching gear pouch in there. There is a full size pocket at the back of the bag closed with a strip of velcro - the perfect place for my Atlanta travel guide.

The main compartment has a zippered top between the black leather wrapped Ballistic handles. A full sized pouch, large enough for letter-sized folders in the small, and even a laptop in the medium and large, with an added SleeveCase for extra protection. Hanging in the main compartment are four pockets. I used it for holding my digital camera and Altoids, but they are also good for PDA, business cards, calculator, note pad, and any other small items that you want to keep separate and organized. Most of the bag is lined in bright yellow to keep the contents visibleŠ like a low tech refrigerator light. Of course, the courier bag would not be complete without the small side pocket that screams for a cell phone.

Then there are the accessories that customize the bag for you while still keeping you in style. An absolute must is the shoulder pad, simply called Pad. It is a Ballistic with Velcro tri-fold that wraps around the shoulder strap. I have a very bony shoulder, but the vinyl nitril foam with an elastomeric nylon cover (much, much softer than it sounds) made even a heavy load comfortable. It conveniently lets the strap move through it, so the Pad stays on your shoulder even when you swing the bag from your front (access mode) to your side (posing mode) to your back (walking mode).

The SleeveCase is a high grade 1/4" neoprene wrapped in a Ballistic shell with a two-inch webbing that latches across the top of the Cargo. It is available in four sizes that will fit every laptop including the extra large clam shell iBook. The Gear Pouch is a rectangle of Ballistic with Indium trim; a zipper across the top and the front keep the contents secure. Good for holding anything from airline tickets and passports to small toiletries to cables and a mouse.

The Indium and Leather Wallets are two different wallets, one complete in the checkerboard Indium, and the other leather with Indium trim. They are soft rectangular pouches with a zippered opening running two sides. The leather version has pockets inside while the Indium does not. I found the leather wallet great for organizing my cards, money, and my business card holder.

I wouldn't have believed a bag could make my trip to Atlanta easier or better, but it did both. I am thoroughly convinced that anyone with a run-around, hectic lifestyle will have Cargo attached to them like another limb. It can keep you organized like no other bag I've used. Function and style is the new mantra for the new techno hip generation, and it's all captured in Cargo at



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Email: R Sky Kogachi

R Sky Kogachi understands contemporary styles. He holds degrees in Architecture, East Asian Languages and Culture, and Industrial Design from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Waseda University in Tokyo, Cambridge University in England, and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Besides practicing architecture, interior, furniture and graphic design, he also writes food, wine and travel articles, as well as poetry and short fiction. Sky draws the large picture from the small details, through hawk eyes, heavy research, and active contemplation. His professional core is balanced with his personal passions - swimming, rock climbing, snow skiing, cooking, nutrition and protecting the environment. Sky walks the earth; this is his home.

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