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Best Bags for Architects

by , July 20, 2016

This piece was researched and written by award-winning architect, educator and critic Graeme Nicholls.

As an architect, I face a real carry conundrum.  There is a wide range of things I have to haul around on a daily basis – whether it’s visiting a building site for an inspection, or going to a potential client’s office to give that killer presentation.

A typical list of things I have to take with me looks like this:

·         Drafting pens

·         Sketchbook

·         Tracing paper pad

·         A4 notes and reports

·         A3 drawings

·         Rolled drawings

·         Architectural scale rule

·         Compact camera

·         Survey kit (tape measure, clipboard and a laser)

Graeme Nicholls

With this requirement for carrying equipment and different situations in mind I thought it would be a great challenge to try and find the perfect bag for an architect.

The ideal bag would have pockets for organizing the smaller items like pens, and easy access to a camera or other things needed on the go. It would also feature a square shape, perfect for A3 and A4 documents, and preferably a strap or other mechanism to carry rolled drawings too. Of course, given how style-conscious architects are, it also needs to have a professional but hip aesthetic.


Tod’s Architect Bag

Tod's Architect Bag

Best For: Architects with an eye for high-end quality.

Tod’s shape-shifting Architect Bag is the only one in our guide specifically designed with architects in mind. Designed by renowned Japanese design studio Nendo, it can adapt according to what it holds inside. From its base A4 format it can extend to hold full-size A3 drawings and samples, as well as working as a ‘sling’ for large-sized rolled drawings. Made from high-quality leather it is a beautifully designed bag that will really appeal to architects who don’t mind the price tag!

Topo Designs Commuter Briefcase

Topo Designs Commuter Briefcase

Best For: Architects requiring versatility.

Topo Designs’ Commuter Briefcase is a brilliantly versatile bag which has multiple carrying modes. It can be used as a regular backpack, or by stowing away the pack straps into the rear compartment, it transforms into a briefcase with two leather carry handles, and finally by clipping on the detachable shoulder strap you can have messenger-style carrying. This versatility makes it ideal for carrying to site, or the client’s office, and in the Black Ballistic colorway looks especially handsome.

The interior of the pack is well organized with a 15″ laptop pocket and a whole bunch of compartments suitable for keeping your stuff in place. The compression straps on the leather base are also great for holding rolled large format drawings on the go.

Malle London Jack Shoulder Bag

Malle London Jack Shoulder Bag

Best For: Commuting Architects.

Malle London’s bags are made from noble materials – like waterproof waxed cotton, bridle leather, organic cotton and brass. Their smart Jack shoulder bag is perfect for carrying all your papers and digital tools, with six interior pockets including one designed to hold laptops up to 15″ as well as pens, sketchbooks, and so on. The neat doctor’s bag framed opening allows for easy access.

I especially like the external leather straps which are great for accommodating rolled drawings, though the makers report they have heard of customers using them to transport all sorts of things from umbrellas, baguettes, and fly fishing rods to cricket bats, jackets and copies of Playboy!

Reflecting Malle’s motorcycling roots, the Jack bag can attach to the pannier racks on motorcycles, or to the luggage racks on bicycles making it a perfect option for architects who prefer two wheels.

Mission Workshop R2 Arkiv Field Pack

Mission Workshop R2 Arkiv Field Pack

Best For: Architects who are on the move visiting sites.

The magnificently made R2 Arkiv Field Pack from Mission Workshop is actually like having ten bags in one. Its innovative modular system allows you to attach a series of different pockets to the base backpack to suit whatever carry challenges you face that day – whether it’s carrying survey equipment, traveling out of town on business, or even using it as a handy laptop/messenger bag by detaching one of the smaller pockets and pairing it with a shoulder strap. The Arkiv bags feel supremely well made, and as well as being weatherproof, come with a lifetime warranty which makes them a great investment.

C6 Laptop Bag

C6 Laptop Bag

Best For: Minimalist architects with lots of tech.

C6’s bags are really on trend with their minimal designs and fantastic build quality. The pick of the bunch for architects has to be their Laptop bag which features elegant, understated styling, and which is surprisingly spacious with great internal organization being able to easily accommodate a 15″ laptop, alongside A4 documents, folded A3 drawings, and mesh pockets for various tools. The secure opening flaps can handily store rolled drawings. The detachable shoulder strap is great for providing optional hands-free carrying when required, though I found it a bit unreliable at times as it would pop open. I would go for the Olive colorway in order to stand out from the crowd.

Hard Graft Flat Pack

Hard Graft Flat Pack

Best For: Architects who pack light.

This slim messenger bag from UK-based Hard Graft is well proportioned, and is made from exceptional materials including Tuscan vegetable-tanned leather and dense German Wool Felt with a sturdy marl grey lining.

The single main compartment allows for easy-to-see packing, and can be supplemented with other storage units for organization as required. The Flat Pack is quite compact, so if you don’t haul too much at any one time then this is a really smart option that’s sure to impress.

FREITAG Dragnet Bag

FREITAG Dragnet Bag

Best For: Environmentally-conscious architects.

FREITAG’s bags have great green credentials, being made from recycled truck tarps, which are cut to suit the bag pattern. This makes for a truly unique product that is a one-of-a-kind, and also means that the bags themselves come in a variety of colors which range from sober, business-friendly tones, through to wilder styles which would appeal to more extrovert architects. The Dragnet is a robust waterproof bag  with a comfortable shoulder strap, and hip belt that keeps the bag under control when cycling. The inner arrangement features a handy pocket at the front for keeping pens, and other bits required to be accessed on the go, while the organization of the larger main compartment can be supplemented by some of the matching accessories such as laptop sleeves and pen holders.

Trakke Wee Lug Waxed Cotton

Trakke Wee Lug

Best For: Architects on the go.

The Wee Lug from Glasgow-based Trakke is a stylish waxed cotton messenger bag, which comes in a range of colors. It’s deceptively spacious, and well organized with four pockets and a padded laptop compartment, which means it can stow all the equipment you might need to lug around on a daily basis. The two front closer straps can also accommodate some rolled plans, making it perfect for visiting a site or a technical meeting by bicycle.

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