- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: Defy Defender Workcase
Flashing my delegate badge to a security officer I begin an awkwardly long walk down a hallway thoroughly plastered with sponsor logos. The glaring overhead lights illuminating the walls nearly merit wearing sunglasses. Unsure of what to expect I firmly grasp the subtle Horween leather handle of my bag. Abruptly turning a corner I’m greeted with what appears to be a large group of businessmen and politicians who between meetings have accidentally wandered into a video game conference.
This initial assessment it turns out is not far off. I’m at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, an event focusing on all aspects of making our cities smarter through big data, open governance, and of course electronics. In one corner a group of mayors from Latin America take turns piloting a whirring drone. I notice that the excitement of a drone selfie is not lost upon them. Crowds of European representatives gather around the self-driving vehicles that are scattered across the room. Seemingly the closer the vehicle resembles a vehicle from Tron, the more popular it is. Numerous Asian cities have set up booths to entice potential companies to their respective smart metropolises. The glasses of wine they are handing out don’t appear to be hurting either. An odd robot can be seen scuttling across the room with a gaggle of camera-touting businessmen in pursuit.
As a Carryologist, despite the impressive array of unique electronics on display, my eyes inevitably fall upon the expectedly drab business bags. The next black or brown bag seemingly more monotonous than the last. I again clutch that Horween leather handle of my bag, glad to be defying this status quo.
Prior to arriving in Barcelona, Defy Manufacturing Co armed me with their Defender Workcase. I use ‘armed’ because this bag is not only tough but also commands a presence. Motivated by the absolute drudgery of typical boardroom and business bags, Defy put forth the Defender Workcase to throw some stones into this status quo.
As the crowd shuffles to grab seats for the opening keynote, I notice the simple but distinctive features of the Defender Workcase causing a few eyes to raise. As Defy states, The Defender is equal parts Seal Team 6 and preppy look. Bad ass meets ‘Pardon me sir.’ On one side you have the standard tried and true workcase frame that would fit in at any business meeting. From here the bad ass side begins to take over.
Firmly believing that the lauded American manufacturing spirit is alive and well, the team at Defy embody this attitude not only in their exquisite craftsmanship but also in the materials they’ve sourced for the Defender Workcase. The exterior is sewn with heavy 20 oz Martexin wax canvas from Fairfield Textile in New Jersey. Follow this up with a healthy dose of Chicago’s century-old iconic Austin Calf Horween leather on the underside, handle, and gracefully trimming all of the interior pockets. A beefy U.S. sourced YKK distressed brass zipper garnishes the back of the bag. Military-grade hardware adorns numerous parts of the Defy Defender Workcase, most notably in the two AustriAlpin Cobra buckles along the front. Finally the interior is lined with water-resistant black Cordura. It’s an impressive array of materials that come together to produce a bag that thoroughly breaks from the traditional idea of what a business bag is.
As the keynote begins I retrieve my 15″ laptop from the luxuriously foam-padded laptop compartment. Two pockets holding business cards, pens and notebooks line the spacious main compartment. Brochures and a program file into the rear zippered pocket. The front pocket secured with the Cobra buckles holds a book and hard-drive. It takes serious willpower not to constantly unbuckle these things during the keynote. On an incredibly well designed and manufactured bag, the Cobra buckles are the only appropriate accent.
The conference ebbs and flows. Unsurprisingly the allure of Barcelona’s gothic old city begins to overtake the rhetoric of brilliant new smart cities. A few metro stops from the conference center and I find myself deep in the tangle of medieval streets of Barri Gotic. Gone are the robots and businessmen, replaced instead by towering gothic cathedrals and ancient buildings espousing the Catalan style.
Under the shadow of the soaring Catedral de Barcelona the elegant ruggedness of the Defender Workcase makes it clear that it can defy much more than a boardroom. With the laptop and business cards replaced by a camera and jacket, the beefy shoulder schlep pad carries this new payload comfortably all day as I walk streets worn smooth over centuries of use. While the scenery of futuristic smart cities has been replaced by an ancient gothic style, judging by the frequent eyes following the bag, the Defender Workcase still commands a presence.
Though undertones of American manufacturing and muscle ripple through the Defender Workcase, there is a certain similarity with these gothic cathedrals. I overhear a tour guide explaining how the Catalan architecture does not strive for great heights or extensive and intricate motifs but is instead lauded for its simple and effortless presence demonstrated by craftsmanship and endurance. Perhaps a style built upon these principles and constructed from the very best materials by the very best craftsmen is universally recognized, regardless of whether it is occurring in American factories, Catalan gothic architecture, or even the cities of the future. With its elegant, unadorned, rugged style, Defy Manufacturing Co’s Defender Workcase is firmly rooted in those principles, and with it, helping you defy whatever situation you find yourself in.
Top-notch material: Defy has sourced from a who’s who of American manufacturing. This bag is that much better for it. Equally as impressive is the level of craftsmanship employed throughout every bit of the bag.
Unique, understated style: Defy really developed a bag with its own style, quite distinct from anything else on the market. The generous helping of Cobra buckles are the cherry on top of this Bad ass meets ‘Pardon me sir’ style.
Fit is everything: Despite what I loaded the bag up with, I never found myself wishing for more space or less empty room. Space is very intuitively utilized in this bag. It also doesn’t suffer from lumpy bag or droopy bag syndrome.
The Not So Good
Nothing in life is free: The level of craftsmanship and materials that built this bag is upwards of $300.
Grudge match: The YKK zipper on the rear pocket was often in a grudge match with my belt, resulting in some inconvenient rubbing.
Balancing act: Though the utilization of space is nearly perfect in this bag, the balance is not. The bag often falls forward rather than staying vertical if left to its own devices.
Plays nice with others: Though it is a certain aesthetic, it is worth noting that there is no sleeve to slide this bag onto the handle of a suitcase.
FIT: 15″ MacBook Pro (and fits smaller computers perfectly)
MATERIAL: 20 oz Martexin Wax Canvas from New Jersey
TRIM: Horween leather tannery, Chicago
STRAP: Detachable 4000-lb Mil spec webbing with military grade metal hardware and leather trim
CLOSURE: 2 High Strength AustriAlpin quick release 1″ Cobra buckles on outside pocket. YKK distressed brass zipper.
HANDLE: 1″ nylon strapping with leather comfort handle
EXTRA: Padded computer pocket with Horween Leather snap straps
DIMENSIONS: 17″ Wide x 11″ Tall x 3″ Deep
Cost: $329 (bag) + $23 (shoulder schlep) = $352
If you’re looking to break away from a typical business bag, the Defy Defender Workcase is beckoning. The material and style used on this bag would not be out of place in work environments ranging from suits to Levi’s. It’s not a cheap bag but thanks to the top-quality American sourced materials interwoven with military-grade hardware and designed in a timeless, uniquely utilitarian style, the Defender Workcase will be in use for a very long time.