13 March 2018

First impressions: etchr art satchel

A couple months ago I backed Etchr Lab's Etchr Art Satchel and Field Case crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Between my work laptop bag, my everyday backpack, and my camera bag, I was thinking it was time to invest in an artist travel bag (preferably a backpack). It would be great if I could have a dedicated bag full of on-the-go tools, and not have to take everything out to use it for something else. I wanted a bag that had a lot of pockets, comfortable, and could fit my laptop or tablet.

The Etchr Art Satchel campaign came across my feed one day, and after checking out videos and reviews, I decided to pledge. It was hard not to, considering how well-developed and well-thought out all of its components were already. Etchr Lab's Nomad Art Satchel ran its successful campaign back in 2014, and has since evolved into the current Etchr Art Satchel after much user feedback and further QA testing.
I received my backer rewards (the art satchel + field case combo) in early February. The estimated delivery date was originally around Christmas, but due to manufacturing delays late backers were expected to have their rewards sometime in January/February.

The first thing I noticed about the satchel was the weight. On its own, it's 5.3 lbs (as listed in their FAQ). Pulling it out of the box and lifting it up, its starting weight is heavier than any of my other bags. Considering all that it does, though, it's sturdy and weighted in the areas that need it to be, and it feels reliable. There has to be some compromise to sturdiness and reliability, which is something I will keep in mind (or maybe I should just work out :p). Because of its base weight, I might stick to Backpack Mode (versus Messenger Mode) to mitigate shoulder strain once I fill this up with supplies. I'm curious to see how Easel Mode feels.

After seeing the satchel in person, I'm really glad that they made the switch from the brown accents to a sleek black. The Toughtek non-slip in black compliments the dark grey polyester shell so well, and also gives a more timeless, versatile look. This is a purely cosmetic note, but having a bag that looks good with most of my wardrobe is a huge plus.
These E hook clasps on the front are really cool. It's sturdy, secure, won't catch my skin like regular buckles (though this bag does have a few of those), and it's sleek. I've always been a fan of orange, so the pops of color here and there are a nice touch as well.
Moving onto the inner components! There's a lot of potential in customization, which is apparent right when you lift the flap. 
The etchr art satchel is MOLLE-compatible, featuring webbing that allows different ways to store or attach art supplies (or anything, really). The bigger straps are especially handy for attaching my tripod or other odd-shaped items.
The hex pattern print on the lining is so pleasing to the eye when the light hits it, too. 
The zipper placement here makes it much easier to access this space in particular. No cautious digging around as you give your hand up to the void and pray you didn't leave something sharp in there. Now I can safely store my x-acto knife without stabbing my fingers (I hope).
The fabric is a thick and soft heather grey and it feels great.
Lots of pocket types for different tools, notebooks, etc. 
Out of the box, the design and placement of everything is inspiring alone. Stitched gridlines allow for tidy organization, rather than having a blank space and using trial-and-error to line everything up. Lots of thought put into the smallest details, and visually satisfying.
There's a good amount of cushion around the tripod mount so that its hard surface isn't flush against your back.
 The main straps unbuckle for when you want to switch between Backpack, Easel or Messenger Mode.
The bottom of the straps. Will definitely post more photos of the customization when I take it out more!
This was a pretty cool attention to detail on the main straps. At first I thought it was just temporarily wrapped up, but when I unraveled the straps to try on the bag I realized it had an extra feature.
Velcro wings allow you to roll the straps back up when you've adjusted to a comfortable length. I personally love leaving straps long but this is great for people who prefer otherwise. I can imagine this would keep the ends of the straps from fraying while you're out in the field.
 The bag has the same feature on the front straps, too.
All in all I'm really excited to take this bag for a run. I'm planning to put my main copics, watercolors, and other paints and see how everything fits. My friends and I used to have sketch dates at cafes, so I'm hoping to start that up again. Or who knows, would love to check out Urban Sketchers Seattle meetups for once. :) I'll post another review once I've used it enough to make a final call.

Etchr Art Satchel specs
13" x 16" x 3.9"
Can fit my 15" macbook pro
A4 size paper
Tablet friendly
Available for purchase here.

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