New Pack

I have always had this odd fixation on daypacks and bags. I like the illusion of freedom and mobility – I like feeling of being able to flit about the city with my office on my back, able to write, draw, or take photographs as the opportunities present themselves. I like to think I’m self-sufficient, carrying my own water and food. I like to think of grabbing transport as it may come, walking, riding my bike, or hopping the train, and being good to go whenever and wherever.

All a load of crap, of course. I’m more likely to be sitting on the couch eating a ham sandwich and watching reruns of Intervention as I am to be scribbling in my Moleskine in a funky coffeeshop with my bicycle chained up out front… but I can dream, can’t I?

I have a nice, sturdy daypack – a MountainSmith that I bought on clearance at REI well over a decade ago and it is still serving me well. I have an LA Fitness gym bag and a blue nylon shoulder bag (this I take to the library) that I bought at Goodwill a long time ago. These serve their purposes too.


You can see my blue shoulder bag at my favorite table at the Richardson Library.

The bag I carry the most is my Not-A-Purse. It’s a Canvas Map Case Military Shoulder bag that I bought on Amazon a few years back. It’s a nice writing bag – It will hold my Kindle, some Moleskines, notebooks, a handful of fountain pens, and sometimes my Alphasmart Neo. It has a nice hard back (it was designed as a map case) that can function as a writing surface in a pinch. It goes with me pretty much everywhere – sometimes I stuff it inside the larger daypacks.

Map Bag

My Not-A-Purse. What is strange is that I found this image floating around on the internet - I don't know where it originally came from. But if you look, there is an Alphasmart Neo sticking up in the bag. I can't believe other people out there have Neos in their bags, exactly like mine.

When it arrived from Amazon, Candy looked at it and said, “Oh, you bought a purse.”

“No it is not,” I said, “it’s a Canvas Map Case Military Shoulder Bag.”

“If it looks like a purse, it is a purse.”

“No, it’s not a purse.”

This discussion/argument has been going on for years. I hold my ground stubbornly. It is not-a-purse.

The other day some of Nick and Lee’s friends were over. My Canvas Map Case Military Shoulder Bag was sitting on the coffee table in the living room. One of the girls saw it and said, “Oh, Mrs. Chance, that is new, that is such a nice purse. Where did you get it?”

Teenagers today don’t know anything.

We took a load of old crap, three big black plastic trash bags full, to the Goodwill today and I decided to take a look at what bargains I couldn’t live without. Despite the cheapness of the used and donated goods and the poverty and desperation of most of the customers the Goodwill tries to be as organized and attractive as possible. They had big crude displays set up with back-to-school supplies. At the front were donated binders and organizers, and in the center aisle were huge cardboard totes full of bookbags and backpacks.

I dug around and found a nice Kelty Boomerang daypack. It looked unused. It was a nice size, not too big, and had good quality padded hip and shoulder straps, plus the rugged Kelty zippers and heavy fabric. The Boomerang is a discontinued model, but Kelty daypacks start at around sixty dollars – and this wasn’t one of the cheapest models. It did have a (small) logo for a dogfood company stitched into the fabric – so it must have been a giveaway at a convention or something (that’s why it looked unused).

I don’t need another pack, but I liked it. At first I wondered how much it was, but as I was looking at the thing, I found a three dollar sticker in a pocket.

I can live with three dollars. At the front counter we found that all back-to-school items were 50 percent off so the bag actually cost a dollar fifty.

The thing is, stuff from Goodwill, the downside… isn’t the cost in money. It’s the cost in space… in increased clutter. I don’t want to be the guy on Hoarders with a house full of daypacks. So, I buy a new one, I get rid of two old ones. So a couple of smaller bags go into the plastic trash bags for the next trip to Goodwill. The eternal cycle of life.

What’s nice about the bag is that it has a pocket for a hydration bladder in it. I’ve been riding my bike with my hydration pack, but it doesn’t have any pockets for other stuff. I can move the bladder from that pack into the Kelty and have a nice urban explorer kit – with water, food, writing equipment… everything I need.

Kelty Bag

My new Kelty bag and the hydration bladder that fits in it.

Yeah, if I can only get off of this couch.