10 February 2010

Product Review: ChicoBag

ChicoBag is another one of the companies I came across at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market show.

To give a little history of the company, ChicoBag was started in early 2004 when Andy Keller, president of ChicoBag, visited his local landfill. The dominant article of the landfill was single-use grocery bags. They were everywhere! On the way home, he noticed bags stuck in trees, collecting along the bottoms of fences, in puddles, and blowing along the streets.

Andy decided that what was needed was a reusable bag that people would actually use. With a used sewing machine, he created lightweight, reusable grocery bag that stuffs into it's own little integrated pouch.
The Bag Monster. Made up of 500 single-use grocery bags (the average number of bags one shopper uses in a year).

Since that time, ChicoBag's line has evolved from the original bag into a whole line of bags in several sizes and colors, including a sling bag, their rePETe line of bags made out of recycled PET bottles, and recently a messenger bag and daypack.

I talked to the people at ChicoBag at their booth at the Outdoor Retailer Show in January, and they gave me one of their messenger12 bags from the rePETe line to try out.

Like all of the bags that ChicoBag makes, the messenger stuffs down into it's own small integrated pouch, and comes in a couple of different colors. All of the rePETe bags are made out of at least 80% recycled materials, from the bag to the harware. In fact, on outside of the stuff pouch, and on the inside of the main flap, there is a listing of exactly what percent of the bag is recycled (mine says 85%), and what recycled materials the bag is made from.

I have been using my bag for a couple of weeks now, taking it to work and back as my lunch bag. I throw my lunch (a sandwich, bag of sun chips, and a couple pieces of fruit), my moeben buff, a couple of magazines, and a diet coke in it and I'm ready to go. The strap is wide and comfortable. It isn't padded, but then it's a small bag, and not meant to carry large, heavy items (plus, a padded strap would negate it's stuffability) If I don't have anything to bring back home, I can stuff it away, and throw it into my jacket pocket.

from a small, compact pouch to a full-sized bag

The main flap is held in place by a couple of fairly strong magnets. Aside from the stuff sack (which when the bag is unstuffed is in the back of the main compartment, and becomes a perfect pocket for your keys or cell phone) there is a large zipper pouch on the front of the bag, and a pocket on each side of the bag to hold a water bottle - or similarly sized object.

The other day, I had to stop by the grocery store on the way home. Since I had my ChicoBag with me, I decided to put it through the paces. A couple bunches of broccoli, zucchini, garlic, and two boxes of Valentines day cards for my boys to take to school all went into the bag with no problem.

yours truly modeling the messenger12, after a trip to the grocery store - and lookin' good doing so ;-)

a couple bunches of broccoli, zucchini, garlic, and Valentine's day cards for my boys to take to school

I love messenger bags. I have a couple of bags that I use almost constantly. Unless I have to take my laptop with me, I will be using my ChicoBag from now on. It's the perfect size for my normal usage. I haven't had a chance to use it on my bike, but come spring I'll try it out to run some errands around home, and on days that I commute to work by bike.

The messenger12 rePETe sells for $17.99. There is also a stabilizing strap that is available that attaches to the back of the bag so it won't shift while you are on the bike. You can order it directly from http://www.chicobag.com/ or use their store locator to find a store in your area that carries them.

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