vaja-messenger-bag.jpg Messenger bags.

I see them everywhere I go, on the backs of trendy boys and men who are all trying to look smart. But in trying to look smart, they accomplish a great deal – even to the extent that they fool people into thinking that they are actually smart.1656-resist-ele-full.jpg

I took a little survey among women, and asked them if they thought that one of my friends (a messenger-bag-type) looked smart. They all said yes, except one. There were 10 women. So apparently, 9 out of 10 times, women think that men look smart with their messenger bags. Reason enough to get one? I think so.

But let?s look at the benefits of having a bag with you at all times, much like a woman has her purse.

Men usually just carry around 4 things, maximum. They have their wallet, their keys, a cell phone, and maybe something to take notes with or some kind of address book, like a moleskine. (You can read more about moleskines and why they are such a useful thing to have in my next blog post.) The absolute most that they can accomplish with these things is relatively a relatively small list: They can open their car, drive the car, get things out of the car, make a call, jot down a number, and spend money on more things to put in their car or maybe a new phone or a new moleskine to write down more things to buy in.

But really, is this all that more useful than having something to keep extremely useful items that are too big to just fit into pockets? Comparing productivity vs. convenience is hard to do. Some people don?t want the option to carry around useful things with them, because they like the sacrifice of having only a few items on them at all times, making them more mobile, giving them less to carry, and giving them less responsibility or loss.

However, for those who do have a messenger bag, or are wanting to get one, there are some real payoffs as you can well imagine. When you are in a jam, you can just dig around in your pack and find your solution (if you?re MacGyver.) Unfortunately, for most of us, we aren?t MacGyvermacgyver.jpg, and when we go to dig in our messenger bags, we usually come up with items that aren?t really all that useful at all. Oh, look a book to fix that loose screw. A camera to draw on. Etc. The truth is, most people that have messenger bags aren?t utilizing them to the full extent that they could be, simply by not having the right contents.

How do i know? I started asking men who carry them around what they had inside. Most of the time, they had things like iPod chargers or maybe a laptop. But everyone knows that you need to carry about power in case you run out, and that messenger bags might as well just be called laptop bags anyway, since that?s what most young hipsters keep in them anyway. So what can you really keep in your bag that is going to make you as a person more productive, smart, and useful?

Here is a list.

    • Duct tapeduct-tape.jpg

    Duct tape is some of the most versatile stuff on earth. It can be doubled over on itself to attach two items together, wrapped around just about anything, and can save your ass if you are in a jam (which requires some kind of bonding.) I remember one time in particular that I got into a small fender bender on the road, and both the front lights of my car were damaged. Oh yeah, and it was at night. I was far away from home, didn?t have other way to get back, and needed those lights to keep driving, even though I had just been in an accident. Conveniently located in my passenger seat was my messenger bag, and conveniently located in the messenger bag was a roll of duct tape. A few quick strips, and my lights stayed on all the way home – and into the next month. I saved myself some quick money until I could afford to get them fixed. I know, I know, you could always keep the duct tape in your car, but how useful would that be? When some damsel in need of love finds you and takes you into the nearest bathroom, are you going to go to your car first to make that experience more meaningful with some hand-tying duct tape? I think not. It?s going to be in your messenger bag, and she probably will have picked you out for the bathroom rendezvous due to your smart chic just by having your bag on you in the first place. Which brings me to our next item.

    • Cameracamera1.jpg

    Keeping a camera on your person at all times can be kind of an arduous task. You have to wear it around your neck, or risk breaking the lens or shutter closure by keeping it in your pocket. Cameras are fairly expensive investments, if you are into memento keeping with photography, and usually people want to keep them nice. What a better place to have them than your messenger bag? Anywhere you are, you can have a nice camera (think of keeping a d-slr and some lenses in your bag, oh yeah) with you at all times, always ready to capture the moment, whether that be in your car, out to the mall, in the bathroom with a lady friend, or anywhere else that you are. Maybe you can get some use out of that flickr account at last, and get some of your hard earned photographs placed somewhere nice on the internet for everyone to see since you have so much talent taking pictures.

    • Post-itswarroom09.jpg        

    Don?t want to keep ripping out pages from your moleskine to write someone a note, give them your phone number, or just leave someone anything written in general? What about leaving notes on someone?s door or perhaps on their coffee cup if you are out to a cafe? Leaving your number directly on someone?s cup can be a little cheesy, so why not make the experience all the more interesting by putting it on a post it! I can?t even begin to think of all the fun things that you can do with post it?s, but I guarantee you once you have them in your possession, you will begin running out faster than you can write, because putting little yellow pieces of paper on things is just a whole lot of fun. Leaving trails along walls and making little mini-graffiti that is easily removed or taken home with people is just something I did recently by having post it notes with me in my messenger bag. It might seem silly, but I?m leaving it high on this list just due to the fun factor.

    • Sketch Padbxp28324.jpg

    Don?t want to take up a page in your moleskine with a full page drawing, or can?t find a piece of paper to illustrate to someone what something looks like, or draw a map for someone who asks for directions? Carry around sketch pad, not the expensive kind, but just some blank white paper so that you can draw, write, tear out, and have nice large pieces of paper on you at all times for whatever you can think of using them for. Take a bite out of boredom, and instead of watching movie on your iPod, take some time to draw your surroundings or something that crosses your path. Being artistic has been proven to regulate mood and memory, and it certainly won?t take away from that smart guy chic i mentioned earlier just because you have that messenger bag you carry that sketchpad in.

    • Lock-pick setc-801.jpg

    These are surprisingly easy to acquire. Usually you can ask a locksmith to order you one out of the blue if you fork over the cash right away, since they have nothing better to do and are usually in need of a quick buck. (You can?t just buy them yourself, usually, because you have to have a licensee to even own something of that quality.) Having a lock-pick set and learning to use it takes only a few hours on google, and having that portable access to most anywhere you need (or don?t need) to be is really exciting. How cool is it to be able to open doors anywhere you go just because you can, because you keep a lock-pick kit on you and no one else thought to bring one? You can go some seriously nice places with one of these babies, let me tell you. Locked gates? No problem. Drive up onto that river levy and take all the pictures you want, because you just picked the gate lock and got your car where all those unartistic government workers tried to keep you out of. Just don?t do anything too illegal.

    • Portable hard drivedrive-in-palm.jpeg

    There are some pretty rugged hard drives these days, and personally I think that they are more useful to keep on you than even a computer itself. Usually, people you run into will have laptop computers already on them, and if they do, that usually means that they have at least wi-fi, if not a broadband connection out of thin air. You can usually ask them for directions, etc if you need to, and they will be happy to oblige you so that they can show off their shiny new laptop their parents bought for them once they got into junior college. However, if you have an external hard drive on you right then and there, you can walk away with some neat stuff if you just politely ask for it (movies, music, applications). You can even keep your own bootable operating system on there, and just plug into any old computer (library) and use the things you need to use on it anywhere you need to go.

    • Grooming kit conk-218-4-piece-mens-beard-grooming-kit.jpg

    I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, but having a grooming kit on you is something that I actually consider essential if you want to be taken seriously anywhere you go. Think about it; you go somewhere and get extremely dirty or rained on in some circumstance right before an important event or somewhere where you are going to be seen a lot. You certainly wouldn?t want to be known as ?the unmaintained man,? and seeing as you aren?t, you can do yourself a lot of good by carrying around a simple grooming kit. Razor, clippers, maybe a small container of hair product and a comb, some moisturizer… trust me, being a pretty boy can be a very pleasant experience. People just pay more attention to you and take you more seriously if you look fresh. And how much more fresh could just get than just a visit to the bathroom with your messenger bag and that little grooming kit?

    • Books        books.jpg

    Carry around a book with you, or maybe even a couple of good books to keep yourself educated and free from boredom wherever you go. I?ve gotten through 5 books in the past couple months just on my lunch breaks at work from bringing them in my messenger bag. Why waste your time with television or people watching when you could be furthering yourself with literature and learning? Plus, women and men alike both tend to respect anyone who reads and makes it known. How cool can you look reading a book at the mall on a bench? Pretty damn cool, that?s how cool.

            Worthy mentions: A scarf, some kind of deodorant body spray, a change of underwear and socks, a gun.
    You might not want to actually keep a gun with you, but it?s a cool Jack Bauer look if you really want to go for it.
    So there you have it, men, this is why you should keep a messenger bag on you at all times and what you should carry in it, definitely, at all times. I?ll let your imaginations roam with dreams of grandeur at what you could accomplish with these simple items, and what kind of social status you will hold being ?that smart guy with the messenger bag and all his neat tricks.?
    Or, for a more retro-business approach, you could always get one of these:


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