It’s European!

A man-purse post.  (Sorry, Brad.)

Out tree planting, several of my male friends each bought themselves one of these.  They used it to carry books, notepads, pens, etc.  I thought it was handy.  But at that time I couldn’t bring myself to buy one–I figured I wouldn’t dare wear it in public. Now I’m once again thinking about buying one, except that it appears as if every reviewer of that bag (as well as this slightly larger one) is a woman.  Plus I’m still not sure I’d dare wear it in public.  Plus Dixie says it looks like one of her purses (in my defense I argue that that particular purse of hers looks a lot like a man-purse).


Phil suggested either a fanny pack.  I have a fanny pack (I used it for the one time I did a combo biking/photography thing), but fanny packs are generally not big enough or the right shape for what I would use it for.

Phil also suggested something that looks like a laptop case and my sister-in-law suggested a “messenger bag”.  I’m not sure what a messenger bag is, but I suspect both it and the laptop case-like bag would be akin to a bag I already have.  I have always thought the bag I have to big to carry around all the time, but maybe it isn’t.

Don suggested I use a camera bag to carry around notebooks, etc. along with the camera.  I’ve considered this as well (it would be nice to have the camera with me whereever I go), but the camera bag is bulky, in the “I’m carrying around a sizeable cubed object” kind of way.

My cousin suggested some kind of army bag from a surplus store to remove all doubt in terms of the purse/man-bag dichotomy.

An informal poll: do any of my male readers carry around a man-purse?  If so, how does it compare to this one?

Also, 10 years ago MEC was pretty cool.  Is it still?  That makes no difference in my purchase, because I still like their products, but I’m wondering if people flock there like they used to.

20 thoughts on “It’s European!

  1. Jobina

    I’m the same age as you and so I guess I’m not into the newest version of cool, but we’re still very much MEC people. Most of their prices are still really good and comparable and the quality is there.
    I too have a “bag” like the smaller one you referred to. Actually, I have the black one just like Dixie’s old green one. It is definitely more purse like. The large one though would be great and look more “manly”.
    I like the army surplus bag idea.

  2. Jay

    I use a man-purse (fanny pack style), but hung over my right knee. I can’t access pockets very well and being seated they don’t hang down enough to securely hold effects. I may be an anomaly, but you asked so I answered.

  3. MayB

    Do not — I repeat DO NOT — use a fanny pack. You are neither middle aged nor a tourist.

    The messenger bag is always good. A smaller version of that is better. All you need to do to convince the world it looks good and isn’t weird is the confidence to pull it off. I know many “metrosexual” guys who use them and they look great.

    I know, I’m not a guy, but seriously… a fanny pack??

  4. Ang

    I totally agree with MayB about the fanny pack…NO!

    I think the messenger bag is a good idea or some sort of leather sachel…mind you if a guy has the confidence to carry the “man purse” go for it…very functional and “hip”… 😀

  5. Simon

    I have a lot more respect for a man-purse than a fanny pack. The latter actually being a swear word in some countries. I don’t personally use anything of the sort, but would benefit from doing so. In the summer at least. In cooler months, my jacket pockets more than suffice.

  6. rilla

    This is my recommendation:


    If I were looking for an all-purpose gender neutral bag for photography, travel, hiking, etc., this would be my pick… or one like it without the branding. I’m in favor of the Sling Bag.

  7. Ian H.

    I have a “murse” – I use it to carry around my Asus EeePC, so it’s really a laptop bag (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I just went to the luggage store in the mall downtown and looked at their smaller travel bags. Decent price, decent quality and doesn’t look too “purse-ish”.

  8. brad

    Seriously now, a man purse? Why don’t you just wear speedo’s all day and tuck your shirt into them, add on a fanny pack and call it a day 🙂

    If you’re going to buy one – I would suggest the keen hillsdale shoulder bag. It has manliness written all over it. Plus, since you are going the way of “the purse” it comes in dull grey/sweet pea/drizzle if you want to roll like that.

    *truth be told – I’m ordering one myself soon SHHHH but in brown

  9. Marc Post author

    First of all, I know for a fact that at least one of my readers is a proud fanny-pack user and I applaud him for it. Take it easy on the fanny-packs everyone. I dismissed it a) because it doesn’t suit my purposes and b) because I’m fairly self-conscious and know the general cultural opinion on the fanny pack and I let this affect me. But mostly a).


    Jobina: What is it about the bag Dixie showed on her blog that makes it a “purse”? I’ve always thought it rather un-purse-like. What makes a purse?

    Jay: Thanks.

    MayB: I still don’t know what a “Messenger Bag” is. Someone please enlighten me.

    Ang: “Some sort of leather satchel”? How would that be different from a fanny-pack or a purse (or the first item I link to in the post)?

    Simon: Thanks for your luke-warm support for the man-purse. 🙂

    Rilla: I actually really like the item you link to, except it’s a little pricey (the MEC items I’m looking at are $15-$20). Also, it might be a little too granola in terms of my style.

    Ian: Can you provide a link to a picture of your murse?

    Andrew: The carry-all is what I use. Would you say it’s a bit big for general use?

    Also, you’ve linked me to a shopping bag. We have those in the house already. And, truth be told, as soon as it’s slung over one’s shoulder (if it’s possible) it becomes a purse.

    Brad: Which one are you ordering for yourself?

  10. Phil L

    I am simply devastated to learn that my fanny pack isn’t cool … it’s even from MEC.

    I’m off to see my therapist.

    But seriously I understand you need more space, so the MEC Travel All Shoulder Bag you linked to looks like a good option (or you can get a really big fanny pack in camouflage pattern at Wholesale Sports).

  11. Toni

    Simon – fanny isn’t swearing here – more mild slang for ladies front bottom.


    IMO a messenger bag is fine, the murse is sexuality ambiguous and TBH just looks naff anyway. And shapewise it doesn’t look especially functional to me anyway: I’d prefer either a small rucksack or a dufflebag for the kind of things that would fit that shape carrier.

  12. Ang

    I never checked out the links to what you had found all ready so if you had found something like that…oops. But what I am thinking of is totally different from a fanny pack; I just thought of it because one of our pastors has a nice brown leather bag that has no femine qualities to it at all…will check out the link to see for sure.

  13. Ang

    Just checked out your links and it looks nothing like any of them…will see if I can find anything like what I mean.

  14. Daryl

    My solution is to find a friend who is handy with a sewing machine to make you one custom sized and in custom colours. Then you can pick some manly colours to avoid the man purse look.

    I am awaiting my first custom made messager bag right now.

  15. Collette

    Marc, the bag you already have is a messenger bag. it’s also age appropriate and very socially acceptable! I really recommend you try using it on a daily basis. the bag I carry every day has pretty much the same dimensions. it carries my wallet, digital camera, a small notebook, several pens, a pack of travel kleenex, my keys, and my cell phone. it is nicely full, but not too full. sometimes it carries a novel, which I think is a great habit to get in to – you never realize how much time you are sitting around doing nothing until you start carrying a book to read. read it at lunch, coffee break, the doctor’s office – whenever! I know you have kids and probably don’t feel you’re ever sitting with nothing to do, but you may be surprised. or I may be full of hooey 🙂

    the kind of thing your treeplanting buddies bought was very cool back in the late 90’s. I bought Jason one back in the day. I’m not sure I’ve seen many around anymore.

    also, a messenger bag (the kind you have) is most commonly carried slung from one shoulder and sitting on the opposite hip either to the side or back. here’s a picture sitting to the back. and one on the side. you can sling it on your shoulder like an actual purse if you want, but honestly not too many men get away with that. celebrities and guys from New York can. lowly humans like us not so much 🙂

    also, I think MEC is neutral these days. definitely not hip, but definitely not lame. if you are a camper, it’s still good stuff.

    hope that helps!

  16. Marc Post author

    Thank you, Collette, for finally clarifying what a messenger bag is!

    Last night I got to thinking that maybe I should just use the bag I have. I still think it’s a bit big, but it’ll do. Thanks.

    I love the Indiana Jones bag. It’s kind of like the “Glen Hansard in Once”, which I also like.

    Not that fashion or style is generally a concern for me (except for some things, like fanny packs 😉 )

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