- Buyer's Guide
ONFAdd Versatile Apron Review
On the heels of their “Best Specialist Bag” Carry Award, ONFAdd reached out to me with another first-in-class concept: The Versatile Apron. Since I spend the bulk of my working life navigating the well-worn roads of carry categories (I think we have enough one-bag-travel bags now…) I am always interested to see a fresh direction. If you’ll recall, ONFAdd’s self-stated purpose is to “Unleash the Habit…” Meaning, they are devoted to disruption and innovation, and as such are not so much focused on producing mass-market products as they are on conducting thought experiments through physical items. (The notable exception would be their Rain Socks… apparently some thought experiments turn out to be super marketable.)
So, a convertible carry apron…I know, it’s weird. For the right user, however, an apron can be a pretty brilliant way to carry your stuff around; out of the way, but easily accessible. I myself tricked out a Hardmill waxed canvas apron for my day-to-day sewing shop work after having the minor epiphany that carrying a full set of thread trimmers, scissors, and Sharpies on my person made a lot more sense than having redundant sets at each sewing machine and workstation. My carry set of sharp and pointy objects wouldn’t work with this apron very well, but for the right user, the ample pockets of ONFAdd’s Versatile Apron could be just the right fit.
As the name implies, however, the Versatile Apron offers more than just one style of carry. Of course you can wear it as an apron, and this configuration would be great for someone who worked in a retail or hospitality environment and needed to carry a tablet, phone, and perhaps literature. It also works well over the shoulder like a sling does, providing quick access to its contents while defying classification…is it a sling? An apron? A crossbody? I don’t care; it’s a novel and interesting way to carry.
It also snaps together into a super tidy and slick handbag/tote configuration:
I carted it around for an afternoon of being a tourist in my own town: a trip inside Amazon’s Spheres (or Bezos’ Balls, as they are lovingly known by some around Seattle) followed by a few hours of art gazing at the Seattle Art Fair. The Versatile Apron felt right at home amongst the diverse and multinational tourists of the Spheres, and even more so in the sea of well-heeled and well-styled art patrons at the Fair. I’ve got to give this thing serious style points for its elegant patterning and premium streetwear vibe. It shares construction and materiality DNA with ONFAdd’s Wrapping Backpack; the apron is also meticulously constructed in Japan from all Japanese-made components. The fabric is a high-end outerwear laminate, and its twill webbing and YKK AquaGuard zippers just exude quality and attention to detail. The stitching is, in a word, flawless.
Who It Suits
This thing would be a home-run for the hospitality or service industry professional who also needs to carry around a few items at work. Its elegant and modern vibe communicates value while remaining understated. Other great use cases include computer repair, sculpture, graphic design (really, a number of artistic disciplines), or even installation work. As I was wrapping up writing this article, I ended up volunteering at a charity event, and the apron was perfect for my EDC items, my water bottle, plus my event-specific stuff. I also hadn’t really considered its value as a signal to event-goers that I was part of the staff; it really increased my visibility to them. (And so many people were able to more easily get directions to the bar and the bathroom as a result.) So, the apron is also great for a situation like this where you need to make it obvious that you are involved with the running of an event.
It would also be a good fit for an out-of-the-box thinker who simply wants to carry in a different way. Now that slings are everywhere, if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd and have strangers ask about what you’re carrying, this bag is for you.
Who It Doesn’t
It’s not for everyone, for sure. The styling swings far to the urban side, so it might feel a little out of place in Bozeman (plus Dana’s thugs might rough you up for the heresy anyway.) It’s also not built for heavy loads, so it wouldn’t replace a backpack if you have a lot to carry. (For that matter, I wouldn’t recommend going heavy with any single-strap bag for sheer ergonomics.)
Again, I was drawn to the Versatile Apron for its unique carry concept; I love bags that make me reconsider how we move our stuff around. I’m also a sucker for convertible things, and the different ways in which you can use this bag make it live up to its name.
In addition, this thing is simply beautiful. I love the subdued and sleek aesthetic, and the build quality is stunning. It exemplifies Japanese craftsmanship, and inspires me to be even more obsessive about my thread tension and seam allowances in my own sewing.
The Not So Good
As with the Wrapping Backpack, the material gives me a little pause when I think of long-term durability; this ain’t Cordura. As such, keeping it clean and blemish-free could be a challenge depending on how you use it. Also, as with the Wrapping Backpack, quality and uniqueness like this comes at a price. Small-run, Japanese-made bags are #premium, no matter how you slice it, and this one is certainly that. It also carries a #premium price point of $291.
The ONFAdd Versatile Apron is a thought-provoking bag that literally has no equal, and that is tough to do. I’m enjoying it the way you might enjoy a physical brain-teaser puzzle; I can almost feel my neurons re-routing as I run this thing through different configurations. I love bags that make me reconsider carry architecture myself, and also that catch the eyes of other bag nerds like me. I look forward to the next ONFAdd “thought experiment”; I have no doubt they will continue to push the envelope of possibility.
This review was written by Andy Storms.
Andy’s an independent technical softgoods designer who specializes in development prototyping.
When he’s not running seams on his beloved Juki 9010, he enjoys metal fabrication and finish carpentry, tricking out his AWD camper van, and fly fishing for salmonids in the Pacific Northwest.