Seems like there's always a new entry in the pool of men's portage, but rare is the bag that manages to hold all your gear, keep a slim profile, and stand up to a bruising in the overhead compartment all without resorting some some garish shoulder strap or six shades of ballistic nylon. Enter the commuter's dream, Want Les Essentiels de la Vie's Heathrow bag. As the name suggests, this is an ideal carry-on, and for the last months I've put it to the test. Here's my take.
After lugging this bag on planes, trains, and automobiles, as well as the handful of blocks from my house to BART to the Dwell office, I'm a fan of the Heathrow commuter bag. I've got a few qualified reservations, but in the main it's a very handsome bag that, while certainly indulging in the manly handbag trend of late, never verges too far into man purse territory.
The organic cotton is sturdy, the hardware hardy, and though I've given the thing a fairly good battering, the leather has lost none of its luster. All this should go without saying considering the pricetag ($395), but suffice it to say that after five months of indelicate treatment (who on earth needs an overly precious bag?) the Heathrow has stood up admirably.
That should come as little surprise as Want co-founder Dexter Peart told me that, "We wanted to make a serious piece that will last a lifetime and still look good."
"The Heathrow speaks to a customer who is more mobile, professional, intelligent, and environmentally-conscious (but that doesn't define them) and wants to invest in a product, not consume it," Peart said.
At first I was dubious that the very slim profile of the bag couldn't stand up to my penchant for lugging around a lot of stuff, and thus Peart's claim about its usefulness. At the time I was waist deep in War and Peace, and though the 1200-page tome fit inside the bag, I was sure that my lunch and/or laptop wouldn't be able to join it. I was wrong.
When schlepping lots of weight I did wish the shoulder strap could be adjusted to go shorter to ride on my back as opposed to at my waist, though. This also keeps the Heathrow from being a great bag for biking (unless you don't mind it dangling a bit) so I've resolved mostly to carry it by the handles.
As for the aesthetics, I quite like the subtle sophistication of the Heathrow, a winning antidote to the hordes of messenger bags out there. "I wanted to hearken back to a time when travel was a little more luxurious," said Peart, "and though the bag is new, current, and very designy, it's got a sense of classicism."
Agreed. And though I'll stop just short of calling it an essentiel de ma vie, it's one hell of a nice bag.