Q: I am looking for a cool weekender bag with good organization. I found the perfect one in the J. Fold Trooper bag, but unfortunately it
appears to have been discontinued as I can't find it anywhere. Do you
know of anything comparable I should consider? —Eric
A: We are sad to hear the Trooper bag no longer appears to be in production — we continue to use ours often and four years down the line it is holding up well.
The Trooper had a fairly distinct profile that was based on standard-issue Soviet military bags from the 1960s and 1970s. Alas, in a quick survey of our favorite bag manufacturers, we were unable to find any offerings that closely approximate the Trooper's doctor's bag-like shape in weekender-style dimensions and materials.
Of what we did see, we were most intrigued by this Scout Series Navy Duffle from Wheelmen & Co., which strikes us as a nice combination of durability and modestly understated style. The overall shape is more conventional than the Trooper, but the volume is essentially the same and we suspect the Scout is easy to pack. Silver hardware is always our first choice over the far more ubiquitous brass, and while there are no photos of the bag's interior, we like the sound of it. Multiple pockets (including one zippered) and orange lining (presumably bright) to make it easier to ID small loose items in dim conditions.
So until Putin annexes the U.S. and commands J. Fold to start making Troopers again, we encourage you to consider the Scout. And if you do go ahead and purchase it, let us know what you think.
Q: First off - thanks a lot for all the tips!! Great stuff!!
I am out hunting for a great laptop bag in the under-$500 region. I really like the looks of the Billykirk schoolboy satchel, but it doesn't serve my purpose since I fly a lot for work, and the lack of any zippers and additional pockets makes it painful. Could you provide me with a few MB recommendations for a laptop (13 inch laptop and an iPad) bag which is also utility focused (a couple of zippered pockets, no belt buckles - takes too long at the airport, has a strap to attach to a stroller handle). Also I would like it to be sleek (I don't care for laptop padding - don't like the bulk) and would prefer it not being made with nylon. I wear open collar suits to work and am 26, so I would prefer it not being too college like but also not something my dad would use.
I know its a lot of requirements. Is there anything out there? —TJ
A: If there's one domain where a senseless lack of utility loses a little bit of its gravitational pull on our hearts, it's airports. Translation: Sure, we get that you need fewer buckles and more pockets than the Schoolboy has to offer when, say, you're trying to make a connection at O'Hare.
For business travel luggage, we like Mandarina Duck. Much of its product incorporates nylon and other synthetics — but note that we're talking Italian synthetics here, and "avant-garde" synthetics at that.
For your purposes, we're going to point you toward the Sistema Workbag. A mix of leather, cotton, and polyurethane, it's as functional as it is sleek — lightweight, compact, but spacious enough for your electronics, with a suitably sub-divided main compartment and an exterior pocket as well.
Taking its aesthetic cues from 80s-era post-modern design, it has nary a whiff of the Ivy League or Dad's study about it. But it will continue to deliver timeless on-the-go style in today's airports, tomorrow's airports, and probably in whatever the 22nd century's architects dream up too.
At only $219, it's well under your price range — but that just mean you'll have more to spend on drinks and car service on your next trip.
Q: Sorry for the short notice, but I need help. I'm traveling to Italy this Friday and my girlfriend, who has already been there for a few weeks, emailed me to warn that I should "bring your MB best." I prefer to travel very light, but am going to be there for two weeks. What are some bastardly standards I should consider when packing? Specifically, essentials I should have that will travel well, how many of what items, and what/how many shoes? Thanks, and keep up the exceptional work. --Harith
A: Certainly the objective is to get everything to fit into a 21" roller and a shoulder bag, and if that means going commando for a while, it beats checking luggage. With that in mind, here are the ingredients you need:
Pair of shoes. 1 leather sandal or loafer, 1 Puma sport fashion, 1 pair of flip-flops (for the beach and pool).
Knit shirts and t-shirts. No logos, and for Pete's sake, no legibility.
Pair of jeans. 2 blue, one white.
Pair of shorts. But be sure not to wear these while strolling during passeggiata. That's a pants deal.
Long-sleeve or short-sleeve woven shirts. Keep it casual.
Pair of your most killer socks. (However, most of the time you can go sockless.)
Summer-weight, fine-gauge cashmere sweater.
For the flight
Wear your most comfortable pair of jeans and the blazer (and the sweater too if the bags are full).
Something else to remember
You are in the global center of fashion and apparel. Forget the recession for a couple of weeks and buy! Even the smallest towns have some of the best menswear on the planet.
I am looking for the quintessential Dopp kit for my world travels. Is the answer leather or nylon? Love the site. --J. Leisure
A: Mr. Leisure, if you're checking bags you should go with the quintesential Dopp kit: a real Dopp kit (top, $60). It's leather, so it satisfies the organic materials principle, and will easily fit into your steamer trunk, with room to spare for your hat box.
If you're carrying on then space is at a premium, and while it's unfortunately not from a cow's hide, we're really, really liking this "kailua" case (bottom, $45) from Malcolm Fontier. Just enough room for the essentials, and thanks to Richard Reid, you can't put your lotion and shaving cream in there anyhow.
Q: A male friend of mine has been looking for a weekend/overnight bag for a while with no luck. To quote him exactly, "I need a quality overnight bag/case, for planes and the car, sort of fashionable and available online? Is there something I should be looking at?" Naturally I am concerned for him, since he needs to be as magnificent as possible, but nothing I've found so far seems to suit him. Are you up to the task? --Liz
A: Let's hope he's spending a bit more time in automobiles and trains than planes, because finding affordable, stylish wheeled cabin luggage is a full-time job and should be part of Obama's stimulus package. Based on the size of his wallet, here are some suggestions:
Top:F1 Spacepak Weekend. $62.50 (on sale). Flight 001's house brand is high quality, functional, affordable, and looks cool. Can you tell we're fans? For short jaunts this bag (1/2 price!) will not disappoint.
Q: I have to go to Japan on business... What would a Magnificent Bastard spend my expense account on? --Eric
A: Given current exchange rates, you could splurge and get a bowl of miso soup.
If you're feeling really flush, head to the nearest Muji and pick up, well, anything. From their "about us" page, here's a philosophy with MB written all over it: "Our goal of offering products that excel in quality at lower prices has been achieved by avoiding the waste typical of much product-manufacturing and distribution - in the form of unnecessary functionality, an excess of decoration, and needless packaging."
3 shots rye whiskey (or to taste)
1 sugar cube
quarter shot of Absinthe
Soak the sugar cube with the bitters and place in the bottom of a highball glass. Mash with the back of a spoon (or muddler, which we hope has not been used to make a Mojito), add the rye whiskey and fill the glass with ice. Stir for about 30 seconds and then strain into another lowball glass that has been rinsed with Absinthe and filled about halfway with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.