Another handbag/ backpack question -- gear knowledge welcome

As I've mentioned on a few recent threads, the past few months have seen me devolve to carrying my Patagonia backpack all the time. 

Apart from rare forays to the grocery store and post office, when I go out, I am typically hiking in the woods and/or on suburban paths. I'm carrying keys, water bottle, jacket/ hoodie/ windbreaker, phone, mask, sanitizer, earphones, wallet, card case (sometimes alternating), sunglasses, sunscreen/ lipgloss etc, tissues. 

But then other times -- evening walks --  it's just phone, earphones, card case, keys. So the backpack really feels like too much then. 

A dressy purse -- even my leather backpack -- just feels like too much in these environs. (A few pics below). Leather's also heavy. 

The Patagonia is actually a bit too large for my needs but it is nylon and lightweight. 

So. I am thinking of what might work instead. 

I've considered a nylon Minkoff Julian and might get one if I could find in a colour I liked -- but right now the options at the Bay or Nordstrom's Canada don't make me smile. (I'd go for red or silver, but not black.)

But what I really think I need is, essentially, good looking gear. The kind of stuff that works like gear but won't completely clash with an outfit if we are ever released from our isolation and can move around out in the world a bit more. 

I could also very much use something that I can pop into my bicycle panniers easily that holds all my essentials!!! 

Two options I'm considering -- a Bellroy backpack and a Bellroy mini-sling. I own a few Bellroy products and LOVE them. I got them on Jenn's recommendation. 

I own a folio wallet (smallest sleekest wallet of this type I've ever owned and fits my phone if I want to put it inside...); mini-pocket (card pocket); a classic pouch, a pencil case (I use it as my makeup bag), a A4 tech folio (for my ipad mini and notebook). I truly love the product line -- they are brilliantly designed. 

Does anyone know anything about the backpack or mini-sling? Thoughts on something else that might work for me as well? Or better? 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • lisa p replied 8 months ago

    No, but you’ve just sent me on a dive into Bellroy products , which look great . I love classically designed accessories like this . I repped for Moleskine off and on for several years and accumulated a little stash of pieces like this - which I gave away when I moved last year . I can really see the efficiency and usefulness of both pieces you’ve shown . Are these walks/ hikes just for pleasure /exercise ? Or are you taking along things you need for a work project etc?

  • Sal replied 8 months ago

    I love the look of these.

    I think you are on the right path - especially with the new bike..... for me I wear a Lululemon backpack sometimes that suits these occasions.  Smart enough, practical, comfortable.  Mine is a few years old and not as nice as the ones linked above.

  • SarahD8 replied 8 months ago

    I own a nylon Tumi crossbody that I originally bought with travel in mind but I haven’t been able to find a bag I like for regular life/everyday wear so I have just been using it as my go-to bag for most of the year. Wears like iron, and I don’t think it looks out of place either on the trail or in town. (Also fits more than you’d think — I can jam a moleskin and water bottle in there, but nor does it look/feel odd with minimal items in it.)

    ETA: see pic 5 here:

  • Joy replied 8 months ago

    You might consider an Ameribag healthy back bag. I have two...the first a nylon version bought in a luggage store. I enjoy have special outside pockets for a water bottle and a key holder plus good inside pockets with and without zippers. It fits close to the body but distributes weight evenly and is rather casual, especially the nylon version. My black leather version was thrifted and bought because I thought I really wanted a leather version, but it is heavier, dressier and not as. Omfortable for all day excursions. They hold lots, including a nylon jacket or lots of snacks.

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    Joy, I don't know that brand -- off to check it out -- thank you!

    Sarah, yes --- Tumi make great products. That's a good thought. We actually have a real -life Tumi store which may in fact be open now. I know that Karen loves her Tumi bag. 

    Sal, I hadn't thought of Lulu Lemon. I will look there and also at Lole -- great idea!

    LIsa -- yes -- this stuff has the solid, nicely made feel of Moleskin. I really love these products. The little "card pocket" is my small travel wallet. Fits cash as well as cards (if we ever needed cash again). Bellroy can be pricey but I got all of my items on substantial sale. The wallet/ card case were a discontinued colour and the other stuff just happened to be on special when I ordered it. 

  • Jenn replied 8 months ago

    Yes! I love my Bellroy wallet. I don't have experience with any of their other products, but I've been idly shopping for backpacks as well, so I'll be following closely. You might want to check out Tom Bihn, too. I've only had their crossbody and messenger bags, but the quality is top-notch. Mine have still looked like new after years of hard wear.

  • Diana replied 8 months ago

    I've got one of the Tumi crossbodies as well and like it a lot for stuff like you're describing as well as traveling (which sadly isn't a consideration right now).  

    The mz wallace in finds is the crossbody I use most of all though.  It's good for everything from dressier to more casual, and is very comfy and extremely well-designed.  (I don't think this particular style is made any more but there are lots of similar ones they currently make).  It's maybe a little too maximalist for what I think of as your style, though.  They do also have more sporty styles, so you might want to check out their other bags.

  • elpgal replied 8 months ago

    I have an Osprey backpack that I adore. I am considering this sling bag. I supect it might be too gear-y for what you need.
    Osprey Daylite Shoulder Sling

  • suntiger replied 8 months ago

    What a beautiful area! Baggalini is nice too, and sounds like what you're looking for.

  • Runcarla replied 8 months ago

    Here’s a link to elpgal’s Osprey bag at Sail (Canadian supplier).  It comes in a few colours.  DS#2 was provided with a one shouldered sling as part of his kit when he volunteered at the Commonwealth Games when they were held in Toronto.  It’s a nifty thing.  Very balanced and about half the size of a regular backpack.

    You could also look at a fanny pack.  Didn’t they make a resurgence on the trend lists - worn as a sling with the bag part across the front?  

    FWIW - I found my old nylon fanny pack while riffling through some storage cupboards this weekend, and moved it into my closet for consideration!  DH never stopped using his :-)

  • LaPed replied 8 months ago

    I bought a 1L Patagonia hip pack last winter and use it All. The. Time. The size is just right for holding phone/keys/wallet, and it's easy to toss into a larger bag. I almost always use it crossbody/bandolier style, which is great on a bicycle.

    I love the look of the Bellroy sling bag, just make sure that the size is right for what you want to carry. According to the specs it's 4 litres in volume, which is perfect if you plan on putting a water bottle/thermos and/or a hard sunglasses case in it (those are the two things I can't fit into my 1L bag). 

  • delurked replied 8 months ago

    Like suntiger, I’ve used baggallini and liked them a lot. I originally got this as a travel bag, but it’s turned out to be a super useful size. It rests flat to my body, which I like. When I try to go into a tinier bag, I invariably wish I could add something that doesn’t fit. It’s lightweight and has a place for everything without being too much. I especially like the interior color. I hate bags that are dark inside, as it makes it so hard to see everything. I have a black and gray patterned one in personalized find. Similar to this link and sold many places.;TZ=EST

    I don’t own a tumi bag, but think I’d be a fan of their good quality.

  • kate replied 8 months ago

    Another vote for Baggallini.  I have the purse size and also the backpack, which lies nice and flat and comes in a smallish size.  I was looking for grey and/or black for travel when I bought it but there was only a brown with muted "leopard spot" it!

  • SarahD8 replied 8 months ago

    Also now I’m obsessed with Bellroy too! (I actually need a new wallet, and that little owl absolutely slays me.)

  • JAileen replied 8 months ago

    I have a small lightweight nylon REI backpack.  On several trips I’ve used it in lieu of a handbag.  It’s definitely gear, but useful and minimal. 

  • Glory replied 8 months ago

    I have a waist bag from Lululemon which works for biking and walking. It comes in various sizes and colours. I also have a cross body bag from Sherpani which I’ve had for many years - lightweight and very functional. I originally purchased it for travel and have been really happy with it. Mec sometimes has a small selection of Sherpani. I almost forgot I have a third bag from Mec - a sling. It is much more fear looking in my opinion but very useful and comfortable- and is red.

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    These are fabulous suggestions, everyone, thank you! I am off to take a look at all these options and will return! 

  • lisa p replied 8 months ago

    I used to rep for Baggallini too (what haven't I sold?) and can vouch for their quality and attention to detail. After all , it is a company started by two former female flight attendants!  It is McNally Robinson Booksellers' best-selling bag and they sell a TON to women of a certain age.  As to the bum bag issue - I had to laugh at myself: I picked one up last year from TopShop to use as a trend-piece (as Carla described above ) and the other day got it out to stash some stuff I needed for a long bike ride. Well, the stupid thing was too shallow for a water bottle, and made me feel like the biggest fashion victim ever. I used it anyways ;)  

  • Angie replied 8 months ago

    A fun looking gear backpack is a great Idea, Suz. The bellroy backpack looks quite big though - no? 

    This looks like a good size:;sz=ONE

  • UmmLila replied 8 months ago

    I like Angie's suggestion. I carried the hell of my MZ Wallace backpack this year -- mine is gray with gold chain trims, which make it look less gear-ish. I am taking a break with it at the moment because it's a bit dark for summer.

  • Sterling replied 8 months ago

    How did I miss this thread?

    My first choice would be the Rebecca Minkoff nylon Julian backpack in a color that makes you happy.  I have pink and adore it.  Did you know that the Julian backpack comes in small, medium, and large sizes?  Both of mine are large size.  That size meets my needs, but I feel the large size is too much for the activities you describe.  

    If we are not going the backpack route, my second choice is the mini-sling or the Patagonia hip pack.  The mini-sling looks more stylish to my eye. I also think it would be really fun.  You might have to consider size, bulkiness, ease of entry.  My hip pack is great, but I find it too bulky for the activities you mention.  I think something that lies closer to the body would be a much more stylish option.  The mini-sling compresses against the body which is a really nice feature.  

    My third choice is the type of flat cross body bag that Delurked mentions.  Just big enough to contain everything you need.  Zippers.  Easy and secure entry.  Flat against the body.   

    So there you have it.  Many choices.  That is why I love bags so much.  I can't say I wouldn't want all three options.  

    Wow.  This is the first time I have been excited about shopping since March.   

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    Haha, Sterling -- thank you!! You deserve your avatar! Sterling advice!!! 

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