Since I got my Brompton about 3 years ago, I’ve used an S-bag for my regular commutes into London; it’s been a good bag, but the design flaws in it were evident from early-on and have only gotten more annoying since.
The main problems were:
- The “shoulders” on the main bag opening, presumably meant to provide some structure to the bag when you pack-out the body, but actually preventing you from putting anything large into the bag.
- The geometry of the front flap, which bulges curiously when stuffed with items, and seems generally to rest on-top-of (rather than covering) the bag’s body.
Example of the S-bag suffering bag-bloat:
This finally got to the point of vexing me, so I started to look for an alternative:
- the NEW brompton s-bag
- the brompton c-bag
- the NEW brompton t-bag (formerly “touring” pannier)
- the brompton o-bag (ortlieb)
- something else
This led to a bunch of research and decisions; my eventual decisions were:
- new S-bag? alas it’s great for a light day-trip but still awkward and not big enough for my stuff; I like the s-bag style yellow lining, though.
- the C-bag? this was a really strong contender, not least because @bartbl has got one and i’ve been able to see it close-up; the yellow lining is a great idea, the materials good… but the waterproof zips worry me (i’ve seen things like that snag themselves closed, before) and there is an overall “chunkiness” to the materials and strap, which i didn’t really like
- the t-bag? i also have a friend (@ids) who has one of these; they are huge and expandable, but the weird bulges, puffy netting and fabric roll-top have something of the fetish boudoir about them. Plus, I don’t know if it’s fair but to me the design smacks of “I’m going to get rained-upon and then take an age to dry-off, and I’ll be dripping on the floor for ages”.
- and finally, the o-bag? Stupid, stupid amounts of money, and not particularly larger than the S-bag.
So I was stuck.
I found a couple of fabulously useful reviews of the c-bag on the net, mentioning the Carradice City Folder bag in the process. Chris Rust’s review of the City Folder bag sounded pretty rough, and from the pictures I would have agreed with him.
On a Canadian website (URL lost) I found discussion of the Carradice City Folder, including a video, and in the comments a reference to a waterproof version, this led me to the Carradice website, plus a few others, but I hadn’t found any reviews of it.
When next in London I visited Velorution, went through all their Brompton bags, found one of these Carradice Carradry City Folder bags, and bought it on the spot.
To get to the meat of the purchasing decision:
- Large enough, comparible to C-bag
- Reasonable price
- Waterproof and easily wipeable
- Boxy, angular, and semi-rigid, but there’s no impediment to putting stuff into it.
- Interior laptop-compartment large enough to take ancient Thinkpad, let alone Macbook Air.
- No waterproof external pocket for quick access to phone, wallet
- Internal laptop-compartment is permanently fixed; apparently in the non-waterproof version it is removable
- Topmost seam tends to rub on knuckles when carrying through the handles; loosening the bottom velcro helps somewhat.
- The center of the three built-in phone pockets is a bit awkward to use, since it velcros-over to shut the laptop compartment
There are mesh pockets on the CarraDry – two rear, one front, but Carradice’s own people say that these are only fit for light items like gloves and so forth, and I’d agree.
I found this out because I managed to tear one of the mesh pockets from the corner, with the lightest of finger-touches, taking my phone out. The material “ran” and quite a rent appeared, but Carradice and Velorution replaced it immediately and Carradice suspected a manufacturing fault. The replacement bag’s mesh pockets feel rather more coarse and stronger, so I’d agree.
Having experienced two bags I have found a minor random advantage that the first (faulty) bag had over the second: the centre phone-pocket is covered/closed by a strip of double-sided velcro. If that strip has fuzz on one side and hooks on the other then (assuming the bag is put together properly) you’ll have more options for how you close the laptop compartment on top of it.
Unfortunately on my second bag, the strip is fuzzy on both sides, meaning that both the laptop compartment elasticated strip (hooks) and the pocket velcro (also hooks) will not stick together.
This is a small nit, though.
Overall I am very happy with the bag, and certain that I have bought the right bag for me. It’s not my “perfect” brompton bag, but it’s not far off.