- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: Teddyfish 9/TF
Teddyfish have – somewhat counter intuitively, perhaps – decided to make something that’s ready to get old by throwing “classic styling” to the whims of modernity. The 9/TF’s eye-catcher is a divot in the front panel, for example. Sure, it stands out but is that the kind of statement that (a) makes a good bag or (b) holds up over time?
Not quite. It’s original, sure. And it got the Interwebs excited. But that doesn’t make up for a lack of functionality and, well, coherence. The 9/TF mightn’t be the bag you’ll have for life.
Who It Suits
People that want an interesting looking, well-enough made, sack-like bag.
Who It Doesn’t
People that want their gear well organized and don’t want to be confused about features.
It looks nice – nice quite my style but the shape does catch the eye (making it the 9/TF’s drawcard). The c-section zip cuts the bag in half nicely and makes it easy to get to the bottom of the bag (and that’s good because anything and everything could end up there).
“…the shape does catch the eye.”
The materials are fine. They’ll neither impress nor disappoint (which is likely how my ex described me to her mum). It’s a canvas body with leather accents, YKK zips and easy to adjust straps. It all works about as well as you’d expect for a bag at this price point ($289.00) .
“The c-section zip cuts the bag in half nicely and makes it easy to get to the bottom of the bag…”
The laptop sleeve – or “interior padded compartment” as Teddyfish’s website likes to call it – is novel. Rather than a sleeve or compartment in a traditional sense, it’s a padded flap you can button down.
There’s a side access zip to make getting at the flap a bit easier but it’s still a little fiddly. It’s a nice idea though and I’m glad they’ve tried something a bit different.
The Not So Good
You’re not getting this bag for its organization. Beyond a small side pocket, there’s no compartmentalization. The main compartment is just one big void.
Given how deep this bag can go (it has a 16 oz capacity), that means a lot of stuff can go a lot of places. Not ideal for finding that gizmo you really need right now.
“You’re not getting this bag for its organization.”
And that side pocket… it’s inexplicably tall and surrounded by quite the bezel of leather, which catches occasionally on the zip. It hurts the bag’s looks to my eye, especially when compared to the more subdued (and hidden) access zip on the other side. It feels like an attempt at asymmetry that doesn’t quite land, especially since there’s no other visual element on the bag quite like it. It’s just there, sans-context and eyebrow-raising.
I wouldn’t mind so much if the bag’s key feature – it’s c-section zip – didn’t highlight the idea of symmetry. It cuts the bag in half in a real (and nice) way. It’s a shame Teddyfish didn’t commit to that.
But maybe the longer side zip being somewhat hidden is a good thing – it almost makes this bag’s initially most confusing thing make sense.
Right, here’s the thing. This bag has one small gimmick: it comes with keys so you can lock the c-section zip in place. That’s kinda fun, yeah?
But you can access the same compartment via the side zip. That you can’t lock. So, as far as security when off your back, it’s entirely superfluous.
So what’s the point?
Well – thanks to a reader chiming in – we know it’s likely there to stop plunderers from yanking on the zipper pull while it’s on your back, causing all of your belongings to plummet out onto the curb or into a set of thieving arms.
So that does make more sense!! But it kinda feels like there’s a better solution…
Beyond that, the bag is just functional. The shoulder straps have some padding but they’re not enough to carry you through a heavy load all day. And, for your spine’s sake, don’t move too quickly if you’re carrying a laptop. There’s not a lot on the back to keep you pain-free.
Others to Consider
I imagine Teddyfish is full of intelligent, capable people. The shape of the bag is enough to convince me of that: it looks cool, it looks different.
But get beyond the shape and things start falling apart. The side compartment works against the bag’s looks. The main space isn’t at all functional.
But those are all things that can be fixed – another pocket inside the bag, some padding on the back, a few tweaks to the visuals.
As is, this is a nice bag that’ll leave some positive feelings. There’s just not enough to make it a bag I’d want to grow old with. I’d love to see a version 2!