Friday, May 20, 2016

Purse Evaluation Spreadsheet


I was recently traveling--a last-minute, quick, sad, stressful trip due to a family emergency--which, other than the personal stuff, had two relevant results:

1. I used up my backlog of articles. 

2. I realized that, although three purses can feel like too many for a person who often carries a backpack, I don't really have an appropriate carry-on, personal-item purse for plane travel. 

Actually, though I have a lot of affection for them in a number of ways, none of my purses are particularly functional for my everyday life. I got them because of what they were made of or how they were made (hemp, organic cotton, fair trade, etc.), not because of their actual usefulness to me.

Realizing this has made me think. I definitely support buying sustainable, fair trade versions of things you are going to buy anyway, but it's a little silly to get something that you don't need, or that's not useful to you, simple BECAUSE it is sustainable. I mean, it would be more sustainable to not buy things at all! 

I can imagine having just one perfect bag. It would probably be between my small and large hemp bags in size. It would have a variety of pockets. Then again, it might be better to have one bag optimized to one or two each of my use cases, rather than trying to find one that meets all my needs. I'm just not sure yet. 

It will take me some time to find The Perfect Bag, if one even exists, but in the meantime I came up with a spreadsheet of use cases and tests that I can use to evaluate bags that I consider. For now, I've evaluated the bags I currently own. Below the jump: a bunch of navel-gazing information about some purses you don't even own. (Did I mention I have no backlog?) 

More usefully, perhaps, you can think of this as an example. Maybe you can adapt this use case method when considering an upcoming purchase of your own. 

Purse Evaluation Spreadsheet

Basics
Brand/Maker/SellerSativaBetty BeltsFarmer's Market guy
ModelMedium Tank BagDonna Allrounder Bag
StyleMini messenger bagMessenger bagBucket tote
Strap Typecross-body adjustable, fully detachablecross-body adjustable, fully attachedcross-body adjustable, one side detachable
Approximate dimensions
(w x h x d)
5.5 x 8.5 x 215 x 22 x 312 x 13 x 8 (dia.)
Materialhemp canvashemp canvaswoven cotton lined with poly
Colorgraygraygreen with stripes
Best usesCasual errands, morning walk, light commuteCommute, errands, working at coffee shop etc.Work meetings, work lunch
Pros* Cool casual look
* Small size perfect for keeping it light
* Fits binoculars perfectly
* Magnetic snaps are easy to undo & redo
* Interior pocket is easy to use and fits phone & wallet
* Cool casual look
* Big enough to fit laptop, full-size notepad, folders, etc.
* Easy zip top
* Convenient open exterior pockets, big enough for upright water bottle or kindle
* Convenient small open interior pockets perfect for wallet, keys, phone
* Great color/pattern, nice look
* Simple & spacious
* Sits flat on the ground & carries 3-d objects due to wide bottom
* Easy zip top
* 2 internal zip pockets are convenient & hold phone or wallet
Cons* Quickly fills up
* Flap top a little less convenient than top zip
* An exterior pocket would be nice
* Still too lazy to do magnetic snaps even though they are easy
* Doesn't really fit water bottle
* Easy to overfill & not comfortable heavy
* Too big for most trips, lots of empty space creating more difficulty finding things and/or temptation to haul around unnecessary stuff
* Not deep enough for nonflat items
* Center divider is annoying
* Not enough organization, basically just a big open bag
* Strap is hard to adjust, uncomfortable, and slippy
* Big round bottom can be annoying if bag isn't totally full or full depth isn't needed/wanted
Contents Fit Tests
Commuting/errands: wallet, keys, phone, kindle, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle and/or travel mug, random small itemsFits everything except water bottle/mug. Not much room for anything else.Fits everything.Fits everything.
Travel: same as above plus passport, travel documents, puzzle book, snacks, folded up small sweater, hatFits the basics (w/k/p, kindle, folded paper, passport) & small size makes it all easy to find. Does not fit full size puzzle book or water bottle. Fits everything.Fits everything.
Morning walk: keys, phone, binoculars, sunscreen, sunglasses, small notebook & penFits the basics (w/k/p, binoculars, mini notebook, small sunscreen), but no extras (binocs + sunglasses a tight squeeze).Fits everything.Fits everything.
Work meetings: full-size pad of paper, pen/pencil, larger water bottleDoes not fit.Fits everything.Fits everything.
Work lunch/picnic: lunch foods, peshtemal towel, water bottleDoes not fit.Fits, but bulky, nonflat objects can be awkward in this flat bag.Fits everything.
Stress Tests
Commuting: Retrieve train pass quickly. Return it to its place quickly while jogging down stairs. Later, retrieve it again. Pretty good for this, not much room for things to get lost, plus handy wallet pocket. Digging in under the flap or pulling it back is slightly more of a pain, on the run, than a zipper or open pocket would be. Excellent access to essentials in exterior or interior open-top pockets.Can be hard to navigate smaller pockets, especially putting it back. If wallet gets into open area of bag, hard to find again.
Errands: Sling bag casually on shoulder while both hands are full (e.g. coffee & shopping bag). Does bag stay in place? How easy is it to retrieve wallet, keys, phone? Too long/slips down when used on one shoulder. If used cross-body, can easily carry while carrying things. Too long/slips down when used on one shoulder. If used cross-body, can easily carry while carrying things. Too long/slips down when used on one shoulder. If used cross-body, can easily carry while carrying things.
Travel: Wear bag along with backpack. Take both off and put them on again several times. Retrieve/replace passport and travel documents. Get away with as personal item!Cross-body use is not ideal with backpack. Easy to find things since there's not really any place for them to get lost, BUT not really big enough unless a very short, simple trip.Cross-body use is not ideal with backpack. Hard to find things in large compartment, though easy in smaller exterior pockets. Too big to really be considered a personal item, possibly.Cross-body use is not ideal with backpack. Can be hard to find things in the big, open area.
Morning walk: Wear bag along with binoculars around neck. Use binoculars. Does bag require adjusment or does it become invisible? Can binocs easily be taken out & put back?Perfectly carries binocs and "disppears" mentally when worn nearly empty cross-body while walking/birding. Would probably be fine for this although possibly just too "much"Would probably be fine for this although possibly just too "much"
Work: Does it look acceptable (dress up) with a professional outfit? No. No. Not really though does not call attention to itself with how wrong it is.
Heaviness test: Is it comfortable when completely full? It can't get too heavy because it's so small. Still, the strap is narrow so can dig in a bit if carrying heavyish load. As can strap adjustment thing. But strap is totally replacable!Easy to overfill and strap is not particularly comfortable or supportive. Metal adjuster thing. I have a Velcro pad on it but it doesn't really help. Strap not replaceable or removable (to add a sliding pad, e.g.)Easy to overfill and strap is not particularly comfortable or supportive. Narrow strap. Plastic adjuster thing. Hard to adjust.

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