Pad & Quill Field Bag: Review

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Pad & Quill is a Minneapolis based company specializing in leather and canvas goods. If you know them already, it’s likely because of their luxury iPad and iPhone cases or, more recently, their leather Apple Watch bands. While not exclusively vending Apple-tied goods, P&Q positions itself as a companion company to Apple. Basically, all of their bags are sized according to Apple laptops and iPads, and nearly all reviews of their products are done by technology, rather than EDC or bag-specific reviewers. This is all fine, but it means that what gets highlighted is often the pack’s compatibility with the newest gadget, rather than its ability to stand up over time, or handle the strain of a daily carry.

Regardless of technology ties, Pad & Quill prides itself on high quality materials and craftsmanship, and it comes at a price. Each bag includes a placard signed (in Sharpie) by the artisan who created it. Sound silly? It is, a little, but it does give your bag some authenticity and exclusivity. I’ve hardly ever seen a P&Q piece in the wild, even in Minnesota, but they are well-respected and well-reviewed online. 

Pad & Quill Field Bag Review logo

I recently purchased the Chocolate Brown and Charcoal Grey Field Bag from Pad & Quill. It’s a vertical messenger bag designed to carry up to a 15” MacBook Pro (and fit my 12” MacBook just fine). Besides the requisite signed nameplate from the artisan, every P&Q bag includes an orange felt-like lining to aid visibility, which gives the bag a distinct visual appearance when peeled open. As with all P&Q packs, the Field Bag includes a 25 year limited warranty.

Tech Specs

ImperialMetric
Height14″35.6cm
Length11″27.9cm
Depth2.3″5.84cm
Weight3lbs1.36kg
CapacityN/AN/A
Primary MaterialsBridle Leather; Waxed Canvas

Quality & Comfort 

The Field Bag has a single external bridle leather flap. I’m no leather expert, but bridle leather is noticeably stiffer (at least at first) than I’ve experienced on other high-end leather pieces, including chromexcel from Horween. In Pad and Quill’s promotional Youtube videos, they make a big deal out of the way the leather will break in over time. Undoubtedly this is true. It’s a defining and lovely feature of well-constructed leather pieces, but I was still a little put off by how cardboard-esque the leather felt, at least out of the box. The canvas, while not nearly as dense as that from Vermilyea Pelle or Filson’s heavy cloth, was supple enough, and had just enough wax to give the impression it would be sufficiently water resistant and durable. Aesthetically, the combination also looks great.

Pad & Quill Field Bag Review logo front of bag

The Field Bag carries with an included leather strap and affixed (but movable) shoulder pad. I had never tried a vertical messenger bag before, but I was pleasantly surprised with its versatility. It can be carried over the shoulder, cross-body, or even by the handle on the back of the leather flap. The strap isn’t unforgettable, but it’s plenty functional.

Pad & Quill Field Bag Review under flap

The interior is lined with Pad & Quill’s signature orange fabric, designed to help aid with visibility to the depth of the bag. We’ve all opened a black-lined backpack to realize we have no idea where that widget we need is, or had to resort to our iPhone’s flashlights to seek out that extra binder clip. In that regard, the orange is a big improvement over existing designs. But the material itself, almost a felt-like fabric, feels a little cheap and seems as if it would be easily stained. Simply doubling over with the charcoal grey canvas, while adding a little weight, would be a nice compromise between visibility and design, I think.

Pad & Quill Field Bag Review inside pockets

The weight distribution is the only other thing to note here, while carrying – it’s a messenger bag, so prepare for your shoulder to be sore – I thought the vertical style relived some of the uneven pressure on my laptop that I found with more traditional messengers (Mission Workshop Rummy or Defy Recon, for example). I never had any issues myself, but I know people who have damaged their laptop screen or construction simply by having it jammed in a bag with heavy, rigid objects (largely textbooks), and the vertical design should alleviate at least some of that concern.

Organization 

This is where the Field Bag absolutely shines. If you’re the kind of user who wants a pocket for everything (as I tend to be), you’ll be delighted by the Field Bag. P&Q packs in 3 front pockets, varying in size from (we’ll use their lingo here) – Airpod-sized, to iPhone-sized, to iPad mini-sized. Internally, the Field Bag has a terrific pocket for a laptop charging brick (closeable with a smooth leather fold-over flap), two pen pockets, and a small credit card / business card pocket. The Field Bag also has a back “magazine pocket” that is, in my opinion, an essential to any messenger bag. 

Pad & Quill Field Bag Review magazine sleeve

To test it out, I took the Field Bag to a patent drafting conference, where I needed the usual: pens, notebooks, a folder for handout papers, a laptop, charger, and Kindle for the commute. I left my usual bag of dongles (dongle bag?) at home. All of this fit perfectly, and everything had a pocket to fit in. But wait! I needed to ship something at the Post Office before the conference began. No problem, I thought, this is a messenger bag, so there’ll be plenty of space, right? Wrong. The Field Bag has so many pockets, so many differently-sized places to keep things, but the main opening of the bag is woefully small. It hardly expands wide enough to accept a folder and notebook and shoving in a small, 2” wide box was a legitimate challenge. The canvas simply doesn’t have the flexibility I needed to accommodate just one more item. 

Pad & Quill Field Bag Review bottom of bag

The layout of the Field Bag is perfect for those who carry the same thing every day – likely to an office or school setting, around which the pockets seem to be designed – and rarely deviate. If you’re the kind of carrier who brings a lunch one day, a hula hoop the next, and a 6-pack the following, this is absolutely the wrong bag for you.

What’s Perfect

  • A place for everything, and everything in its place – if your everything is Apple products
  • Impressive construction and built-to-last materials
  • Aesthetically impressive, if you like the Filson / Indiana Jones vibe

What’s Not

  • Leather, while presumably softening over time, was uncomfortably stiff
  • Interior compartment is small and inflexible
  • Extremely difficult pin-closure

Wrap Up

Pad & Quill Field Bag Review front of bag

I absolutely adore some elements of the Field Bag, and quite despise others. The design is clean, the materials solid, the pockets plenty. But, the leather is overly rigid, the pocket is woefully small, and it’s a burden to close once you’ve opened it. At the retail price of $329, it’s a tough sell unless you’re committed to your Apple-centric daily carry.

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