In the Lab: Machir Casual Collection Baggage Set (Gear Review)
When traveling, I usually prefer backpacks over any other type of baggage. My back is quite strong and backpacks allow me to travel without tiring myself out, while navigating crowds smoothly. I do not have a favorite bag yet, but currently alternate between two basic packs that my laptop barely fits in -- both paired with just one front pocket. When I am not using those bags I use a multi-day backpack, wheeling carry-on, or duffle.
When Machir contacted me to try one of their collections, I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to analyze what is important to me when shopping for a bag -- and of course, maybe even fall in love with one. After taking each bag on either a road trip, meeting, or hike, here are my thoughts about Machir's full navy set in the casual collection.
Machir Casual Backpack (Navy)
I was most interested in this Machir backpack because it had more than one external pocket, a dedicated laptop sleeve, and stylish design. After traveling on a bus and in a car, exploring new cities and towns, and hiking with it, are my thoughts:
Durability: The backpack is made with high quality cow leather and cotton canvas, offering a sturdy feel. The Navy color gets dirty way too quickly though, and my two weeks of heavy usage saw the rich navy blue fade away. (It might be hiding under dirt though, who knows.) Like most of my previous backpacks, the Machir casual backpack's simple stitching didn't necessary indicate strength to withstand longterm travel but it might prove me wrong -- only time will tell. The canvas material, however, is a bit more promising.
Functionality: What I love the most about this backpack is the pocket placement. I have yet to find the ideal backpack with perfect pocket design (according to my tech needs) that will still be longterm travel-friendly, but this was a fair attempt. With two side pockets, a somewhat hidden high front pocket, and a low compartment perfect for writing utensils, this bag would be ideal for someone in school or working freelance.
Comfort: This backpack is just mediocre when it comes to comfort. Let me be clear: initially, it is amazing. But once you pass the first few hours wearing it, your back is kind of over it. I don't think its intention is to be worn for long periods of time. The material is comfortable, but can get sweaty.
Design: Machir calls it "rugged sophistication" and I'd pretty much agree. Next to the pockets, the design might be my favorite. It is too bad that the pen pocket has a front facing snap-magnet. Easy access (for pickpocketing) is not what I want in a travel-friendly bag.
Overall Impression: 8/10 -- At the end of the day it is a backpack and not a travel pack. It doesn't mold to your body and after a while of hiking with it, became a little uncomfortable. The canvas gets dirty but it still looks fashionable. My laptop and paperwork fit comfortably, though space is limited (the bag doesn't expand). Think of this bag as an ideal pack for students, freelancers, and young professionals. It is trendy, comfortable for short term wear, and has more pockets than the average pack.
Machir Casual Briefcase (Navy)
I've never been a fan of briefcases but this one had a casual enough feel to make me want to try it out. This might've been the most surprising results because I actually found it professional-looking, stylish, AND comfortable. Check out my thoughts:
Durability: Since I didn't take the briefcase with me everywhere (only to meetings) I found that the navy color remained a bit more rich than the backpack -- understandably so. The briefcase comes with an adjustable shoulder strap that can be removed, allowing one to alternate between the strap and handles while prolonging inevitable wear and tear.
Functionality: This briefcase mimics the casual backpack's pocket design. I love the cohesiveness there, as I can easily transfer items from one bag to the other without stressing out about reorganizing anything. That is key.
Comfort: The strap has a basic, but stylish leather shoulder pad that offers standard comfort (as long as the weight of the bag remains reasonable). At 5'9 though, I love the length of the strap. The bag sits extremely comfortably and is sleek enough to not feel bulky at all.
Design: Again, I wish there wasn't a snap pocket. While it is easy to access for me, it makes it more difficult to feel comfortable traveling longterm with this bag (safety-wise).
Overall Impression: 8/10 -- I liked the briefcase as much as the backpack, which I did not expect. While I can only see myself going to meetings and working freelance at coffee shops and such, it is perfect for just that (probably as intended). Since I am still mistaken for a young student, the briefcase helps add a bit of authority to my game.
Machir Casual Duffel (Navy)
The briefcase might've been a pleasant surprise, but the duffle was a slight disappointment. Wait! Hear me out. This bag is CUTE. Perfect for a mini vacation... ultra mini. See my review about this trendy duffle bag below:
Durability: Like the previous two bags, the Machir duffle is made up of sturdy cotton canvas. While I feel confident about this material (despite the possibility of getting dirty easily), only time will tell against the test of baggage handlers.
Functionality: This bag is straightforward... like, extremely. It comes with a personal pocket in and outside of the main compartment, and a shoe compartment. I was the most stoked about the shoe compartment because I found it to be so innovative. Here's the problem: unless you put small, sleek shoes in, your footwear takes a considerable amount of space (sorry, Burks). This compartment is more for convenience than space saving, as it still shares the same main pocket. Oh and don't pack your shoes last, you'll have a hard time getting them in.
Comfort: Like the briefcase, this bag sits extremely comfortably at the hip and is sleek enough to not feel bulky at all.
Design: This duffel has few pockets and is pretty straightforward. It shares the same style of strap as the briefcase, and has leather hand straps. I love that there is an interior pocket but overall feel that paired with a shoe pocket, there isn't much space in this stylish bag. It feels more like an overnighter (if you're going to need nicer, bulkier clothing and shoes). This design would be a winner in warmer months, though.
Overall Impression: 7/10 -- I was the most excited for this bag but the least impressed. The pockets were minimal, and my long awaited shoe pocket took up more space than expected. Perfect weekend bag or overnighter (or maybe even a few days) if you like to pack light. But if you need to bring this stylish bag for a special occasion, space might be a struggle.
UPDATE (7 months later):
After using this bag for a while and taking it on more professional tips (and to nicer hotels), I must say it is actually better than I thought it'd be. It still isn't an adventurer's bag but I walked into the Warwick hotel, for instance, and immediately noticed how I was treated differently based on my blazer, heels, and Machir duffle. This blog is growing, so having a professional bag like this for my city and luxe sponsored partnerships / press trips might be a great idea. Now I just need to test some adventure-friendly ones for my other style of trips.
Your Turn:What do you look for in a bag? If you've tried the Machir line or are looking for a new bag, comment below and share what are must-have features in your book.
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