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When shopping for a bag that can carry larger sized laptops, there is often a fight between major components such as size/weight, capacity, durability, and look. For those with 15-inch laptops, you can often run into a bag that is too big or too small, and made out of cheaper materials such as nylon. Too heavy – you’ll likely not want to carry it given the added weight your electronics will add. Too light – and you’re left wondering how long the bag will last. Korchmar has created the Garfield messenger bag as a solution to those who may need to carry larger laptops and other items while being durable enough to handle their daily activities.
Korchmar is a fourth-generation family owned company which produces goods made in the United States. They have been in business since 1917, nearing 100 years. Michael Korchmar is the current President of the company that has been making business-style cases since the 1920s after originally starting with leather headlamp covers for automobiles.
The Garfield bag is constructed primarily of Full grain leather. This bag is part of Korchmar’s Pull-up Collection which includes chrome tanned leather that was also re-tanned with vegetable tanned methods. This particular bag comes with its share of full grain characteristics – scratches and veining/marbling of the cowhide showing. While full grain, I suspect the Texas-raised hides for these bags are picked and cut such to avoid using high stretch-mark areas of the hide such as belly leather which could affect durability. Having previously carried another heavier full grain bag for my laptops, this one is considerably lighter but not too light. As the bag begins to take on patina it will take on more scratches from use, perfect for those who love the aged look. The hardware is solid brass and compliments the leather color.The major edges of the bag are covered with another layer of leather, which adds to a more formal finished look. The logo is placed on the right front pocket, de-bossed in with a subtle appearance.
The interior is lined with patterned canvas as well as the two outside gusseted pockets on the front and the newspaper pocket on the back. Inside, there is a keychain strap as well as multiple pockets for storing iPads, most 15 inch laptops, charging cables, and cell phones/PDA. The bag also sports a rear pocket and a nylon webbing-backed luggage strap along the backside for transport on rolling carriers. I was able to fit my 14 or my 15 inch laptop, an ipad, iphone, a full sized notepad in cover, phone, keys, field notes, and kindle eReader in the main storage. There is still space in the zippered pocket that I used to stash receipts or smaller papers. I’ll note that next to the cellphone there are multiple webbed pockets for other items such as card readers, business cards, and headphone cables. In the front pockets I stored chargers for electronics in one, and lunch (typically a sandwich, chips, fruit) in the other pocket. The back rear pocket typically holds my bullet journal.
The shoulder strap is padded with a rough suede side that grips well to suit jackets, shirts, and sweaters. The only negative I’ve experienced with the strap is that its construction utilizes relatively thin pieces of leather glued and stitched together. I would have liked to see thicker leather strips sewn together for the strap. The padded handle is one of the most comfortable handles on a briefcase I have used, nicely cushioned without pvc inserts which are sometimes to maintain structure.
One of the most useful features of the bag is how it opens. The Garfield utilizes a Tuck-Tite quick release system partially hidden behind the buckles. They are magnetic and also release with a push of a button. The buckles are also functional in that they allow for expansion of the bags capacity. This is a perfect setup for the individual looking to hold that business briefcase look while also needing fast or frequent access to the inner compartments. I could classify this as a tech bag in that it adequately protects my 15-inch laptop as well as cased iPad mini. Fully loaded with my work gear, this the initial weight of the bag was not as cumbersome as bags I have owned in the past.
This bag really nails the design and aesthetics, particularly with the quick-release buckles and the shape of the top flap. Notice how the edges in the photo below curve in slightly towards the bag. This is a functional element I enjoyed because when you carrying briefcases by shoulder straps, the edges of the flap can begin to crease inward if they are straight cut. Korchmar’s choice to curve the edges allows more maneuverability and avoidance of the bag creasing at those points. The ability to slide the bag onto rolling luggage via the back luggage strap is also an important feature.
While the gusset on the main compartment is not one complete piece of leather, the bottom piece is placed in a way to insure durability. The bottom of the bag has some added support or padding to avoid damage of the inner contents. The construction gives me no suspicions or fears of splitting like bags that are stitched in the bottom middle part of the bag.
Overall, I can say with confidence that the Korchmar Garfield bag is a Buy it for Life product in all aspects. Priced at $465, it is worth the investment especially being proudly made in the USA. Accompanied by a 5-year warranty, the bag will surely stand up against regular use while protecting your goods. While some prefer suede or unlined interiors, I believe the canvas lining is the perfect choice when carrying electronics. The size of the bag is well-suited for the individual carrying a laptop and other business related items such as notepads and file folders.
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