Monday, August 29, 2011

Bag Review: Namaste Cali Laguna

Laguna bag in action on Caltrain.

NB: This review is completely independent; I have no affiliation with Namaste. This review is unsolicited and I did not receive any consideration for it. I just love the bag. A lot.

I own several knitting bags; they hold yarn beautifully in my home, but seldom get taken out on the town. It is the usual Goldilocksian list of reasons: too big, too small, handles are too short or too long, it has too many pockets or too few pockets. Though they are all attractive and useful in their ways, none of them were work appropriate, or able to hold both commute stuff and knitting. In the end, if I wanted to take knitting with me, I put it into my GoKnit Pouch or a plastic bag, and put it in my commute bag, with the result that I either had knitting with me and didn't knit, or when I needed desperately to knit, I hadn't put any in my commute bag.

This might be a good time to confess that I am, in fact, a bag ho, and not just knitting ones; bike bags and regular purses of every description feature in my collection. Both my general obsession and my hyper-specific commute needs led to the purchase of my Laguna.

I bike to work. Anything heavy, big, oddly sized can go in my panniers. My bag of choice needed to be able to accommodate the usual purse stuff, ipod, book, plus 1-2 small knitting projects, a KnitKit, my Plymouth interchangeable needle set, and occasional other bits and bobs. Coffee and lunch go into the panniers regardless, as they do not play nice with knitting. Because of the bike thing, it also needed to be worn cross-body for the ride, and I wanted to have handles for toting it around the town.

As if all of that wasn't specific enough, I wanted a bag that was stylish/nice enough for a professional office environment (especially workday to networking mixers and the like), not too heavy, and easy to rootle around in. My regular handbag was a cross-body with handle, but heavy and honestly way too nice and spendy to be slung around by a cyclist on the go. It also wasn't particularly conducive to knitting due to a zipper and the shape of the bag.

My Laguna (in the Eggplant color) arrived last week, and I have taken it on my commute for several days. It has performed beautifully: it holds all I need it to hold, and is much lighter than my regular handbag -- even with extra stuff in it. I can carry it cross-body without a problem, and the handles are comfortable. My only note on the handles is, they don't work well for sliding on to the forearm (which I have a habit of doing); you will want to hold these in the hands.

Aesthetically, the bag is very attractive and well made. It is just slouchy enough for my more casual style, but still polished for work. The Laguna transitions easily from bike, to office, lunch, shopping/errands, and after-work activities. It worked great for me at the weekend as well; I took it to a meeting (where I did not knit -- but it doubled as a briefcase for the agendas and whatnot) and then light shopping and lunch after.

A note on the pockets: I have not found knitting bags with loads of pockets that helpful, especially those with pockets/sleeves for straight needles, as I tend to knit with circulars. For me, the Laguna has the perfect pocket system -- the outside ones are great for the phone, clipper card, keys and anything I need to get to right away. There is one interior pocket that the KnitKit fits into perfectly (I don't carry any other tools besides this and my Plymouth interchangeable needles; hence no need for a multitude of tiny and/or specialized pockets); the inside zip pockets (one big one divides the bag in half; the other is on a side) hold general purse stuff. By the way, dividing the bag in half is a great feature -- I keep all the knitting stuff on one side, and my wallet, sunglasses, etc. on the other.

In sum, this was a smart purchase for me, and I plan to carry the Laguna most days.

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