- Buyer's Guide
Japanese-born Teppei Teranishi, the namesake of Teranishi Studio, spent his formative years rocking out, wielding the lead axe for post-hardcore band Thrice. Fast forward a few years – Thrice goes on indefinite hiatus and Teppei discovers his passion for craft – and Teppei’s Teranishi Studio has carved itself a boutique-y niche in the carry industry, underpinned by luxe leather goods and nailed waxed canvas bags.
Their flagship: the Teranishi Venture. Our 2015 Highly Commended Work Backpack. Inspired by Teppei’s years notched on the road, the Venture roll-top is made to be a “simple, comfortable, and hardy companion in basically any scenario, weather, or terrain”, and it nails the brief.
"Teranishi Studio has carved itself a boutique-y niche in the carry industry, underpinned by luxe leather goods and nailed waxed canvas bags that drew our attention."
Testing-wise, the Venture has had my back for over 10 months. First commuting to, and then paraded through, the office, receiving slews of in-passing queries, “Hey, what’s that you’re rockin’?” – it kinda does that. Among the ubiquitous heritage-inspired packs rolling around, the Venture stands out, has that individuality, that artisan vibe, and that X-factor that gets a pack ogled like a freshly-buffed super car.
- Name: Venture
- Brand: Teranishi
- Format: Roll-top backpack
- Measurement: Approximately 11"W x 19"H x 4.5"D rolled down
- Capacity: 940 CU-IN/15.4L rolled down
- Zippers: Italian Lanfranchi Superlampo™ zips
- Material: 10.10 oz Gridwax waxed ripstop canvas; 9 oz full grain English Bridle leather
Who It Suits
Crew working in modern work environments will dig this (especially in black); think designers and architects and hip cats who do stuff you never thought was a real job.
Whilst in tan, I can see it on a bearded bohemian type, or style-savvy outdoorsman slinging it for a weekend amongst the sticks, or even a daypack for urban jaunts. As Teranishi say: it’s flexible.
Who It Doesn’t
The Venture is pure and simple. It shies away from a lot of organization. So if you’ve got bits and bobs and like to compartmentalize stuff, use a few inserts or look elsewhere. And thanks to each piece being handmade to order using locally sourced materials, there’s a bit of a sting when it comes to laying out the coin ($475). If you haven’t got the clams to throw around, then cheaper options are out there.
In short: the Venture nails it in the looks department. When crafting, Teranishi abide by the Japanese ethos of wabi-sabi, putting impetus on asymmetry and simplicity in design. And it works. If you’ve ever been awestruck by a Zen garden that consisted of two well-placed rocks and raked-pattern gravel, you know what I’m sayin’.
The English Bridle leather that cups the Venture’s base, clips down its roll and swoops over the shoulder is candy for the eyes!
Its dimensions are trim and compact, giving a sleek silhouette that rides high on the back.
"Teranishi abide by the ethos of wabi-sabi, putting impetus on asymmetry and simplicity in design."
The colorways are nailed too; there’s three fine options: Black Gridwax, Navy and Tan. All appealing. All hitting that sweet spot.
Me, I leant towards Black. Things are always better in black, ask Batman.
"Its dimensions are trim and compact, giving a sleek silhouette that rides high on the back."
The Venture – like the other products in Teranishi’s stable – are made with love and care, and it shows. Clean, finessed lines. Stitching straight and true. Craft is alive and well and living on an island off Seattle.
"...if you’ve got bits and bobs and like to compartmentalize stuff, use a few inserts or look elsewhere. And thanks to each piece being handmade to order using locally sourced materials, there’s a bit of a sting when it comes to laying out the coin..."
The roll-top rolls down cleanly and doesn’t clump up and extend out like other roll-tops that leave you with a set of unwanted “rabbit ears” dangling around your peripheral.
The side pocket could do with some gusseting; currently it can only really swallow a slender water bottle.
There’s a bit of weight in the bag, thanks to the heavier materials and solid hardware, but that’s part of the package when buying beautiful handmade waxed canvas.
Let’s start with the 10.10 oz Gridwax waxed ripstop canvas. Out of the box, you can see its lustre; it’s supple and nice to touch, real nice. I found myself working it with my fingers for an unnatural and possibly socially awkward amount of time.
"The side pocket could do with some gusseting; currently it can only really swallow a slender water bottle."
The 9 oz English Bridle leather (a vegetable-tanned leather that has been drum dyed and hot stuffed with waxes and tallows) on its straps and bottom is smooth, slightly waxy, blemish-free, and will age beautifully with time and wear.
"There’s a bit of weight in the bag, thanks to the heavier materials and solid hardware, but that’s part of the package when buying beautiful handmade waxed canvas."
And finally there’s the 1000 denier coated nylon Cordura liner - in this case it's burnt orange - that gives a great pop to the internals, making objects just that much easier to locate when peering down its barrel.
The strap adjusters are powder coated, smooth-edged and understated. They work just fine.
The grab handle is a mil-spec webbing, and is subtle and functional, and almost invisible. A nice touch. Their initial run of these were stitched too shallow, more suited to the hand of a 10-year-old, but they’ve nailed it in their recent iterations.
The zips are exotic, not YKK or RIRI, but Superlampo tank zips, made in Italy. They look and feel solid, with only a little bit of grab in the beginning.
The Venture is not as much about features as other things – there’s room for a little improvement.
The map pocket-style front pocket that stretches across the Venture’s front is an aesthetic highlight. Clipped closed by a snap closure, it’s deep enough to swallow a bunch of things like keys, sunglasses, magazines or maps (hence the name).
Looks-wise it’s great. Function-wise, it’s great for quick access, but not totally ideal for small tech or valuables. A thief could easily dart a hand in and out before you’ve even noticed. And if you’re caught in a downpour it’s going to get ugly, and quick – I imagine it would fill up like a bird bath. That said, I’m sure this was a design choice; a loyalty to simplicity and heritage, so we can kinda forgive Teranishi here.
"[The map pocket-style front pocket is] great for quick access, but not totally ideal for small tech or valuables. A thief could easily dart a hand in and out before you’ve even noticed."
The vertical stash pocket beneath is a safer place for small techy things, and can fit a Kindle or wallet and keys, if need be.
The padded laptop sleeve is suspended, saving your laptop from any untoward bumps or drops, and it’s penned up by plenty of foam padding – finally, a heritage-inspired piece that puts some thought into protecting our beloved tech! Massive kudos.
"The padded laptop sleeve is suspended, saving your laptop from any untoward bumps or drops, and it’s penned up by plenty of foam padding..."
The lush leather straps not only look like pure radness but can double as a stash point for jackets, towels, blankets, etc. Nice!
As mentioned, it’s suspended; top points for that, we love that! And it’s cushioned to a good level, so yes, awesome. You can slide your laptop in from the top or via the side, but I have one minor qualm – the extra internal side flap. It’s obviously there for access sake and extra moisture protection, but when I was sliding my laptop in and out, it occasionally got in the way. Is it really needed? I’m not sure…
Thanks to a healthy slab of foam sewn into the back panel, the Venture is more comfortable than it looks (and most heritage stuff I’ve rocked). The ergonomic shoulder straps sit snug around the shoulders and are supple enough to give, just a little. Yet, being picky, painted edges would have been my choice. The straps come frayed a touch and stand out from the rest of the Venture’s cleanliness.
"You can slide your laptop in from the top or via the side, but I have one minor qualm – the extra internal side flap. It’s obviously there for access sake and extra moisture protection, but when I was sliding my laptop in and out, it occasionally got in the way."
Space & Access
The Venture is slim in the space department and 15.4L rolled down, so it really suits a day trip or maybe a minimally-packed overnighter. And thanks to its slimness, any largish or awkward-shaped objects in mass can be tricky to pack, and mess with its internal chi.
The exterior pockets work well for small things on the go: phones, Kindles etc.
"...thanks to its slimness, any largish or awkward-shaped objects in mass can be tricky to pack, and mess with its internal chi."
There’s side and top access, which is always handy, but rarely nailed. The Teranishi can swallow a 15" no problem from the top, but the side, not so much. Only a 13" is really manageable through the side zipper. A 15" tends to brush too closely by the zipper's teeth, generating that uncomfortable metal-on-laptop scrape.
Thanks to the roll-top, the waxed canvas, the 1000 denier coated nylon Cordura liner, and the storm flap along its side access, there’s a certain amount of peace of mind when fat ominous clouds roll above. But if we’re talking a torrential downpour, the lack of a waterproofed zip might mean some moisture might seep its way in.
- Elegantly simple design with head-turning aesthetics
- Quality materials and hard-wearing construction
- Versatile for work, play and travel
Not So Good
- Doesn't deal well with fairly large or awkwardly-shaped items
- Side access for storing/retrieving a 15" laptop is tricky, and zip isn't weatherproof
- Front pocket is exposed
I really dig this bag. It’s beautiful. It really is. It has that perfect blend of artisan and urban and luxe and heritage and all that good stuff. It’s now my go-to and day-to-day and I really should have reviewed it earlier, but I’ve just been too busy carrying it around, looking proud.
No doubt, it has its limitations: there’s no weatherproofing on the side zip, one of the exterior pockets is basically unprotected, and loading a 15" laptop through the side is a tight fit, but you quickly brush this stuff off.
This is simple design, darn wabi-sabi at its best, and it’s something that’ll last a lifetime, and should be passed down as one of the coolest heirlooms someone could ever inherit. For me, it’s worth the investment. The Venture is my jam. It might be yours too...
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Space & Access
Look & Feel
Build, Materials & Hardware
Warranty & Support