I've been carrying my Small Shop Bag for two days now, and here's my review of it as a daily carry tote. With pictures!
My husband, who doesn't organize his possessions unless I threaten him with dire consequences, has observed that I like to put bags inside bags inside bags. While initially meant as a humorous comment on my obsessions, I did cipher on it for a while and in the end, I agree. That's what I do. I group like things together, put them in their own container, and then grab the containers I need for that day and put them in a larger container to carry with me.
I was a big fan of backpacks before my pregnancy when the husband and I frequently walked to work. Lately I've been carrying a tote bag instead, though, because the weather has been unpredictable, I don't have the same range of pregnancy-friendly outerwear that I do for my pre-bulbous state, and my energy level just really hasn't been up to a mile-long hike twice a day.
Enter the Small Shop Bag. Mine is in Ultraviolet Dyneema. Ultraviolet is an excellent color for an unlined bag; it's light enough that you can find things at the bottom, but it's dark enough to be discreet. Light does shine through the Dyneema, which helps to illuminate the interior. Dyneema also has a pleasant feel: lightweight and flexible, but very strong.
The shape of the Small Shop bag is a winner. The proportions allow you to carry a wide range of items comfortably, and the bag looks compact when carried on your shoulder. As you can see from the photo below, it easily stands on its own when filled about 60-65% full. In fact, it will stand upright on its own when empty, but I've found it to be more stable with a few things in the bottom.
The picture above shows how full I packed my Small Shop Bag today. There's still plenty of room for extra stuff. I sometimes end up holding a few things for my husband, so I try not to pack my back 100% full before leaving the house.
Another nice feature of the Small Shop Bag is that you can encourage the bag to stand open or shut by simply arranging the straps to either fall to the side or cross in the middle. Here's my bag, open and full of today's loot:
Here's another picture of what was inside my bag when I left the house this morning:
Starting at about 12 and going clockwise around the photo, there's the Small Shop Bag and three things clipped with key straps to its o-rings: a medium Organizer Pouch in Iberian Dyneema, my car keys, and a small Organizer Pouch in Iberian Dyneema. Then there are three Vera Bradley accessories: a kisslock coin pouch, a e-reader case, and a wristlet. At 3 o'clock is a water bottle and two Luna bars. At 6 o'clock is my floppy hat, which I carry when it is sunny outside. Then there's a small notebook and finally, 3 Baggu Bags and 1 Baby Baggu for carrying home items I buy when I shop.
The e-reader case houses my Kindle. The wristlet is my wallet, and it contains my cards and cell phone. The kisslock coin pouch carries my wee bit of cash. I like carrying a wallet that also holds my phone, especially one with a two-position wrist strap, so that I can leave my tote behind and run into a store with a Baggu in one hand and my wallet in the other.
The water bottle and snacks fit in one side pocket. The Baggus fit in the other side pocket.
The Medium Organizer Pouch is my toiletry bag. It contains lip balm, hand lotion, antibacterial hand wipes and gel, chewing gum, Tums, and a small mirror in addition to a few other bulkier items. Some women prefer keeping their toiletry items in a zippered compartment in their purse, but I prefer the separate bag approach. That way I can just grab my toiletry bag when I head to the restroom instead of lugging my whole purse with me. This is especially handy at work.
I used to keep my toiletries in a Vera Bradley case, but the extra padding from the quilted fabric is unnecessary bulk. The medium size pouch is plenty roomy for everything I bring with me, and it makes for a slender package that tucks nicely into a tote bag.
The Small Organizer Pouch contains the gift cards that I received at my baby showers. I keep them separate from my wallet so that I can just hand the pouch to my husband if he felt the urge to shop for the kids (so far, he hasn't).
One thing I didn't carry today was my camera. I have a small point-and-shoot that I like to bring with me. The camera on my phone suffices for most spontaneous photos, though.
Another thing I didn't bring was my pen case. I am in pen heck right now. The case I like to carry gets too full over time as I tend to stuff it with things I don't really need. I believe a Pen/Pencil Clear Organizer Pouch is in my future.
All in all, I'm very pleased with how the Small Shop Bag handles my daily carry items. I love the size and shape and fabric of the bag. The features are minimal: enough without being overwhelming. It carries everything I need and has room left over. My only complaint would be that Ultraviolet and Iberian don't match my Vera Bradley items very well, but I think I can live with that (for now :).