Big, strong and stylish – help me find a bag!

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I yearn to be more organised. I cart around an inordinate  amount of stuff around each day, as I travel to the gym, on to work, out to a meeting, to the shops to pick up some provisions, to my evening class, and then home. Mobile working is the name of the game these days. Currently I use a medium-sized rucksack, bought in a camping shop on the basis that it has good capacity, strong zips and can be carried, hands free, on my back . It is not stylish although it is red.

Large red rucksac
Red rucksack

I prefer the look of a traditional ladies hand bag, but find them uncomfortable when they are full and heavy. It takes up a hand, and it makes me lop sided. So although I have a few nice handbags I rarely use them.

I dislike the brief case, for the same reason –  that you need to sacrifice a hand. And they are intrinsically heavy. And ugly.

Traditional brief case
Traditional brief case

After years of never going anywhere without a child or two to hold on to I do value being able to have both hands free. If the brief case is ugly the trolley bag is preposterous. Even if you are cabin crew. Style is renounced as well as the hand.

orange roller bag
“pleather” roller bag option?


I would like a back pack bag big enough to contain everything I need, but also one that is strong, and elegant. In an ideal world I would like it made of leather, but that would be too heavy. I would like it not to be black. The Independent featured a range of Man Bags that are quite attractive, but I am not sure any of them have the required combination of comfort/size/strength/style.

I would prefer to buy a bag rather than make one but I might have to. It is often necessity that drives me to making things.  I am looking for suggestions and advice, so please let me know if you have found the holy grail of bags.

What is inside the bag?


  • Purse including cash, cards, receipts
  • iPhone
  • charger
  • paper diary
  • travel notes, meeting agendas and directions
  • house keys

Gym kit

  • trainers
  • gym socks
  • sports bra
  • shorts
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • moisturiser
  • make up bag
  • pain killers
  • dental floss/toothpicks
  • hair product
  • deo
  • perfume
  • padlock
  • earplugs
  • earphones
  • spec cleaner and cloth


  • Newspaper
  • Kindle
  • Notebook
  • pencil-case with pen, pencil, rubber, pencil sharpener, highlighter
  • sewing kit including tape measure, small scissors, needles and thread
  • work reports
  • plastic carrier bag for shopping overflow

Anything else?

Sometimes I have papers for a meeting which can be  bulky. We can have our papers electronically instead, but this means carting the iPad around instead. Plus the charging issue. And the internet can let you down and being stranded without papers in a vital meeting is not an option. Also I prefer writing things down on paper partly as this can be done on the tube, even when standing (there is no internet connection on the tube).

In addition I sometimes need

  • swimsuit, goggles and hat
  • extra jumper or scarf
  • umbrella
  • smaller handbag so I can take a pared down set of items to a meeting or lunch event, leaving the rucksack in my office.

It seems a lot when you write it down. It seems even more when you have been to M&S on your way home and bought a butternut squash, some cereal and a bottle of wine. I feel like a donkey.

butternut squash
butternut squash

Bag requirements

  • Big enough to take all the above
  • strong fabric inside and out
  • strong zips
  • nice colour
  • as light as possible
  • elegant for work (not too outdoor/weekend/hiking style)
  • sufficiently waterproof to cope with down pour
  • adjustable for good balance
  • the right number and size of compartments

Do you carry your life on your back or do you just have a iPhone, credit card and toothbrush in your pocket?







  1. Anne Bennett

    dunno if this email will get thru, but… after a dispiriting skim across the net I can see your pain!!! – did like the look of a canvas/leather-strapped soft coloured rucksack from Herchel Supply Co???? good luck and I’ll keep my eyes open xx

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