Broke and Bespoke

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Review: Blue Claw Co. Schiphol Utility Bag (Made in USA)

As a teacher, I often have to carry a lot of things to work. A laptop, an iPad, several books, a stack of papers, gym shoes (if I weren’t me) and workout clothes (again, if I weren’t me), and a camera (I am the main yearbook photographer at my relatively small school).

While normal briefcases can cut it for most people on a typical work or school day, sometimes I just need to cram more stuff into a bag than can fit in a traditional briefcase, and I don’t particularly feel like bringing two bags to work. It’s both situations like these, and the versatility that allows the Schiphol to speak to them, that makes this an ideal bag for a person with a large workday carry. However, if that’s not you, fear not because it’s also a great bag for an overnight or weekend getaway.

In the bottom pictures above I’ve got a laptop (the older white clamshell MacBook), an iPad (my nod to the technology of the second decade of the twenty-first century), a sizable textbook, 6 academic history books (200-400 pp. each), a notebook and pens, a J. Crew field jacket, a pair of Red Wing Wabashas, a belt, a full sized DSLR with a big 17-55mm zoom lens attached and an additional smaller 50mm prime lens in a separate lens pouch, all in the bag. And, there’s still room to spare!

The Schiphol features a single main interior compartment with a small zippered compartment where you can store pens, keys, and any other thing you don’t want to search too long for. The interior is lined with a nice blue cotton twill that is the company’s hallmark. The exterior of the bag has a single leather flap with brass buckle closures that covers two pockets that are easily large enough to hold a small e-reader and other miscellaneous items like sunglasses, etc.

Though the Schiphol can clearly carry a lot of stuff, it doesn’t look weird or underutilized if all you’re carrying is a laptop, lightweight jacket, and some papers. Who knows, the extra space could come in handy if you’re sidetracked by a trip to the market, or if you come upon a nice sale somewhere. Since I’m on summer break, I’ve mostly been carrying fairly small loads in it.

The Schiphol clearly has more going for it than the fact that it hits that sweet spot between a weekender and briefcase, and can therefore do double duty as both. It’s also a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. The bags are designed and produced in the U.S.A., and made of a tough 15 oz. waxed canvas. They also feature incredibly thick full-grain leather straps and rolled handles, and heavy duty brass hardware and zippers. The Schiphol has a great thick leather bottom that is already starting to get some nice graining and patina from the few weeks I’ve been using it. The sample I received has straight stitching throughout, and solid hand hammered rivets. I looked it over very closely and could find no flaws in the workmanship. If you’re not a fan of the navy colorway I received, the Schiphol also comes in black, grey, British tan, and olive. 

Although the Schiphol isn’t a cheap bag ($285 w/ free shipping), it’s priced lower than comparable offerings from, say, Filson or Mismo. And with regard to the former, you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd a bit with the unique look of a Blue Claw Co. bag. If you’re a fan of the Blue Claw aesthetic, but both want to spend less and don’t need as much space, their Frankfurt Field Brief and McCarren Messenger bags are both great looking and clock in at under $200. And for those of you who already have your work or school bag needs covered, Blue Claw Co. also sells a nice assortment of accessories like dopp kits and iPad cases.

If you love waxed canvas and leather bags and accessories that are made in the USA, and you like to have stuff that doesn’t blend in with the gear everyone around you already has, then I heartily recommend checking out Blue Claw Co.

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