We last checked in with San-Francisco-based Astro Studios to cover their Minus 8 watches. Since then they've decided the clock is ticking on another commonplace object: The wallet, whose days may be numbered with the rise of digital payments and NFC technology.
"The last major modifications came with the invention of the tri-fold in response to credit card adoption, circa 1950," Astro writes. "The time is right for a reconsideration of the wallet."
Motivated by the recent energy around digital payment methods (Square, 'triangle' for paypal, surely 'circle' for mastercard is next) [we] decided to focus on the evolution of the wallet. The process, covering the better part of a year, resulted in a solution based in traditional materials and craft but with a fresh twist—an ultra textured and tangible contrast to the inevitably virtual future of our transactions.
We're impressed by the ambitious design of the Arkiv Field Pack, a modular bag system allowing "for easy customization of space and organization with the secure and simple attachment of independently weatherproof accessories utilizing unbreakable steel hardware."
Designed by San-Francisco-based Mission Workshop, the Arkiv system consists of a main rucksack-style bag offered in two sizes—a 20-liter-capacity Small and a 40-liter-capacity Large—and a series of satellite bags to choose from: A laptop case, a tool pouch, a cell phone holder, a folio for documents and writing materials, and a couple of add-on pockets meant to hold water bottles or random objects. There's even an optional additional shoulder strap, so you can turn any of the satellite bags into an independent one.
We wish that the following video offered a little less style and a little more explanation...
"How come travel wallets have always looked like man-bags that don't even fit in your pocket?" asks Australia-based Bellroy, the company dedicated to designing better ways to carry things. "These over-sized 'purses' force you to keep your passport and tickets in a bag, far from the most secure place when traveling."
Their solution is the purpose-designed Travel Wallet, sized to hold everything flat you'd need to get through the hell of JFK or the bliss of Incheon.
Your passport gets the separate compartment it deserves, there's space to hold four credit cards, and the extra-long lengthwise slot means you can stick your boarding pass in there without creasing the barcode, not to mention hold currency from those countries with the weird doormat-sized bills. There's even an included micro-pen that tucks into the spine, so you can fill out that form where you lie about the fact that you're smuggling infected livestock and genetically-enhanced seedlings while carrying more than US $10,000 in cash.
The Travel Wallet's done up in vegetable-tanned leather, in both a dark "midnight" color and a lighter cocoa, the latter of which will more quickly gather that Indiana-Jones-like patina.
After unpacking at the hotel, the Dry Red No. 5 laptop backpack I was testing out was emptied and refilled with slightly different goods. (And no, I didn't carry that plastic grid with me to the hotel; the photos I took there were poor due to the hotel room's lighting, so I re-shot these photos back at my apartment, post-trip.)
For the plane ride the bag needed to hold a few, mostly large items; for its next intended use, serving as a journalist's bag to cover an event, it would need to hold a variety of smaller items, some of which I'd need to access quickly.
Here we see I've got the laptop, my eyeglasses, a pen and pad, a business card holder, a thumb drive, assorted cables and chargers, a camera, an audio recorder, a backup camera battery, and backup SD cards.
For the review of Crumpler's Dry Red No. 5 laptop backpack, I'll be using it in two capacities: First as an airplane personal carry-on bag, where its job is to hold things I'll need during a seven-hour flight. Secondly I'll be using it on the ground as a sort of journalist's bag to cover a press event.
Packing for Travel
I keep my carry-on bag as light as possible, for reasons mentioned in the travel methodology post. I don't carry adapters, chargers and cables in there, as I'm rarely in an airplane seat with an outlet. Just the bare in-flight essentials.
For me that's (clockwise from center) a set of noise-canceling headphones, an inflatable travel pillow, a print book, an iPad, my laptop, eyeglasses, a writing pad, a business card holder and a pen.
While Crumpler's Dry Red No. 3 rolling carry-on wound up providing a surprising amount of space, now we turn to another bag you'd rightfully expect to provide generous cargo room: Their Spring Peeper with Wheels, a duffel bag perfectly sized to carry-on standards and featuring a retractable handle.
If we put the unladen bags side by side, they seem to occupy the same-sized footprint.
However, being a duffel bag the Spring Peeper doesn't have inherent structure on the sides, and this flexibility allows you to swell the bag up to its full 40-liter capacity (versus the 27 liters of the No. 3). The top and bottom panels are stiff and the retractable handle's frame provides stiffness on the bottom, which is what enables the bag to keep its shape.
I'd be testing a selection of Crumpler bags out on a multi-day trip to the west coast. As per my travel methodology I honed in on the two-wheeled carry-ons in Crumpler's vast product line-up, and two models came to the forefront: The Dry Red No. 3 carry-on and the Spring Peeper with Wheels. (Crumpler's nomenclature is quirky, to say the least.)
The Dry Red No. 3 was the closest thing I could find to a standard box-shaped rolling carry-on with a retractable handle, though its tapered shape suggested it was sacrificing a bit of carrying space for style. I wasn't sure it would efficiently max out my carry-on allowance for the longer trips I mentioned in the "How I Travel" post. (Thankfully I was proven wrong.)
The Spring Peeper with Wheels, in contrast, is a duffel bag, albeit a wheeled one with a retractable handle; while it is still within the constraints of a carry-on size, its 40-liter capacity (versus the No. 3's 27-liter storage space) promised to swallow anything I'd need to bring.
As a reviewer I had the luxury of borrowing whatever bags I wanted, rather than agonizing over which to select. I chose them both for a side-by-side comparison, though I would only be bringing one on the actual trip.
I'll start with the Dry Red No. 3 and some of its design features. First off, the top handle is integrated into the design of the bag itself, not a discrete piece:
Air travel is a wondrous miracle that's led to experiences I'll treasure forever. It's because of the Wright Brothers that I've been able to bask in a Hawaiian sunrise, travel by dog sled through a neverending Arctic sunset, quaff Scotch in the Highlands, down mojitos in Havana. The list of things all of us are able to see, experience and accomplish by getting on an airplane is incalculably valuable.
That being said, I still hate it.
Modern air travel's long list of minor annoyances adds up into one royal pain in the ass. What's most frustrating is that so many of the inconveniences are out of our control: Officious staffers, mechanical problems, overpriced sustenance, logistical inefficiencies that have you spending hours in the wrong location. To say nothing of the unpleasantness of today's overcrowded flights.
While traveling there's only a couple of things you can control: The luggage you select, and the things you put into that luggage. While those seemingly minor choices won't ensure your plane is on time, they can go a long way towards making you more comfortable.
We've got a Crumpler bag and luggage review coming up, and before getting to it and explaining the bags we opted to borrow, I need to explain how your reviewer typically travels. All of us have developed our own traveling methodologies, and my idiosyncratic needs will surely overlap with yours at points and diverge wildly at others.
How I Travel: Two Types of Bags, No Checked Luggage
Crumpler has an absolutely bewildering array of product that we'd need to narrow down to two or three bags. Which begs the question, how do you select what types of bags to travel with?
Whether traveling for business or pleasure, a short trip or long, if it involves a plane, a train and/or pavement I always travel with two specific types of bags: A laptop backpack and a rolling carry-on with two wheels rather than four. (I also carry a smaller third bag of my own design, a sort of day bag that folds up into one of the two other bags, but it will not be relevant to these reviews.)
Dror Benshetrit brings his quirky brand of innovation to a product area that sorely needs it: luggage. The new Dror for Tumi line, which has "TransForm Follows Function" as its tagline, consists of eight different pieces that cover every travel need you could possibly have. But as the tagline suggests, it's not the diversity of the line that's most impressive: It's the diversity within the bags themselves, which transform into different sizes and configurations. Check it out (the backpack in particular looks pretty awesome):
Well, it's almost a first: an industrial designer is poised to redefine product design by using a crowdfunding platform to launch his killer timepiece-inspired accessory for an iPod Nano.
The twist? It doesn't go on your wrist—it goes in your pocket. Obsolescence aside, the wrist is (or was) just one of at least two appropriate locations for a personal chronometer, and Melbourne-based designer Edwin Conan prefers the nostalgic appeal of the original place: in the pocket.
I have been wearing this very pocket watch everyday. Every time I pull it out to check time, it feels like I've actually traveled back in time and the world become black and white. It feels, special.
The iPocketWatch is a time instrument; it is also a time machine. And here I am, sincerely inviting you to share this unique feeling with me. With your support, not only can we make this iPW a reality, but we may also, and this is just a hope, bring the idea of the pocket watch back to life.