On a recent trip to New York City I spotted a tall, well-dressed Italian man with a small backpack slung over his shoulder. Based on its form and the two handles at the top, I knew that this bag was a convertible messenger-backpack combination of sorts – which happened to be just the kind of bag that I had been lusting after. So at the next intersection I stopped the terrifically vertical Italian and asked him about what he was carrying. His answer? Tucano.
So it was that I found out about the Tucano Work Out Vertical bag. I spent the next few months checking both the Tucano website and the balance of my chequing account, until two of my best friends decided to give me the Work Out Vertical for my birthday. The Work Out has been my everyday bag for my iPad and MacBook Pro for a few months now, and I’m completely in love with it. It may be a little too early to say this, but I’m feeling the fuego.
Vertical > Horizontal
One of the major draws of the Work Out is its vertical orientation. Horizontal messenger bags, like the be.ez LE rush, are easier to reach into because of their wide, shallow pockets – but they also have the tendency to smash into everyone you’re trying to walk by on the subway. I wanted a bag that I could walk around with and keep pressed against me during tighter rush-hour squeezes, and the Work Out is just that. The trade-off is that it isn’t quite as easy to take the iPad out of a vertical bag, and horizontally-oriented bags are more space-efficient, since you can lay items side-by-side instead of stacking them to fill a pocket. But I’m totally fine with all of that because the comfort and peace-of-mind outweigh all of these downsides for me.
I use the Work Out mainly as a messenger bag, and the shoulder strap that came with it is comfortable enough for this purpose. With the strap fully extended, the top of the bag hangs right at my hip, so I can reach into many of the pockets as easily as if they were on my pants. If I’m out and about with an iPad and umbrella, I’ll carry the Work Out as a messenger.
But once I add my 13″ MacBook Pro to the mix, I prefer to carry the Work Out as a backpack, to better manage the weight. The straps for the backpack normally stay hidden in a pocket in the rear, so it only takes 40 seconds to detach my normal shoulder strap, tuck it away, and then clasp the backpack straps to the bottom of the bag. I’ve been able to walk around all day with the iPad, MacBook Pro, and an umbrella (what? it rains a lot) on my back without feeling major discomfort. The straps aren’t heavily padded, but they do a good job of distributing the weight across my shoulders. Unsurprisingly, the Work Out is still delightfully slim when carried on my back. I’m used to gigantic high school backpacks that carry tons and stick out like turtle shells, but this bag is different. I can finally turn around in stores without worrying about wiping out the displays of fine China behind me.
There are four major storage areas in the Work Out:
- Rear Pocket (open)
This is where you’ll store the backpack straps or carrying handle when not in use, but you can easily fit a magazine or iPad in here, for quick access. The pocket is usually open, though it can be closed slightly with a velcro seal at the top.
- Main Compartment (zippered)
This is where you can store your 13″ MacBook Air/Pro and iPad (there’s a specialized pocket for it). When absent a computer, the pocket serves beautifully for carrying water bottles, collapsible umbrellas, or books. I’ve even managed to fit a Nikon D40, on one occasion. The special iPad compartment within is roomy enough for an iPad 2 with a Logitech Keyboard Case attached.
- Front Pocket (open)
This is the front-side equivalent of the Rear Pocket (listed #1 in this article) that holds the backpack straps, but it’s smaller, and decked out with mini-pockets for an iPhone and three cards. This is actually one of my favourite little spots on this bag. I store my Sennheiser PX 200-II i headphones and my iPhone in this compartment while on-the-go, and although the velcro seal at the top doesn’t completely close things off, the pocket is deep enough – and the bag tight enough, when full – that nothing has slipped out. I really like being able to quickly reach into my bag for my iPhone and headphones while walking, and this pocket serves that purpose beautifully.
- Front compartment (zippered)
The front of the Work Out is where you’ll likely store charging cables, AC adapters, and other pocket-sized accessories. I personally keep my in-ear headphones (yep, I carry two sets of headphones), pens, iPad stylus, and charging cables in this compartment. The main portion is composed of a plain zippered pocket, but there’s also a silver zippered pouch within that you can use to store smaller items, which saves you from having to reach all the way into the bag. You can also pull the zippered pouch out and let it hang outside the Work Out (useful if the bag is getting a little too full), but the silver looks just a little tacky against the “midnight” finish on my bag, so I always keep it inside.
The $70 Tucano Workout Vertical is like two dreams in one: it brings me just this much closer to becoming a tall Italian man, and it helps me carry all of my gear around in a slim, stylish bag. It’s rugged, rain-resistant, padded, wearable as a messenger or backpack, and has a fantastic set of accessible compartments – what more could I want?