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Gear Bags for Men

By PAMELA DITTMER MCKUEN
   We survived the Blizzard of 2011, and waded through the spring rains. Warm weather beckons, which means well-heeled gents must be prepared for sport and business at all times. Thanks to cell phones, laptops and the like, deals can be made and funds can be transferred from nearly anywhere. The key is a gear bag to carry all the accoutrements of modern summer living.
  A good bag is an investment piece that will last you at least 20 years, says K. Cooper Ray, a style and etiquette expert who blogs on manly pursuits at SocialPrimer.com. It should be durable enough to withstand being tossed around a boat deck or into the back of an SUV, but not too precious. If you must choose leather, make it beat-up, soft with age and formerly owned by your father or grandfather. Or at least it should look that way.
  Today’s man wants his bags to be functional, something that keeps his ever-growing assortment of tech gadgets safe and secure, without sacrificing style,” says Joseph Janus, creative director and designer for Bodhi luxury bags.
   As for style and silhouette, consider lifestyle. Perhaps your bag must be waterproof. Perhaps you need something that will breeze through airport security. Perhaps you require a wardrobe of totables.
   A few extraordinary possibilities:
  The Bodhi men’s collection is one that couples fashion and function. The “Expandable Gym Duffle” ($798), in supple gray cowhide, features an outside wet/dry zipper compartment. The waterproof, updated camouflage “Coated Linen Laptop Backpack” ($518) holds a 15-inch  computer.
  Ray’s fave go-to bag for casual use is L.L. Bean’s iconic “Boat and Tote” canvas shopper. Available in multiple sizes and color schemes, zip-top or not, priced from $18, this workhorse was originally designed to carry ice from the car to the ice chest. “You can’t beat it and you can’t beat it up,” he says. “It goes from gym, beach, boat and back. I use the large for everyday and the extra large for weekends.”
  He also recommends Filson, which has outfitted sportsmen with apparel and luggage since the Gold Rush days. Filson’s “Padded Computer Bag” ($315) is sectioned and pocketed, and the “Pullman” ($370) is a travel-savvy weekender. Both are made of rugged waterproof twill with bridle leather trim and straps.
  From Tommy Bahama, the “Relax” Collapsible Duffle ($48) in poly carries the day’s necessities to the beach, pool or gym, and then collapses into a “clamshell” for easy storage.
  Should your aesthetic sensibilities run toward the contemporary, we suggest HVE by Hester van Eeghen of Amsterdam. Her geometrically inspired bags, offered in both serious and whimsical colorations, recently came to the United States and are sure to stay a while. “Custard” ($695) is a calfskin messenger bag that carries a laptop and much more. A limited edition, it is numbered and signed by van Eeghen.
  After you’ve chosen your bag, should you monogram? Absolutely, says Ray. “Choose a masculine block or a vintage diamond, just no swirly lady monograms.”

Published: June 13, 2011
Issue: Summer 2011