Review: My Cambridge Satchel, 7 Months Later

I’ve had my ruby red 15″ Cambridge Batchel (it’s not a satchel because it has a handle on the top) for almost seven months and I thought it might be worthwhile to offer up a review of the bag now that I’ve broken it in a bit and dragged it through a handful of European cities.

Design

I love the design of this bag. It’s simple and incredibly functional. It’s the perfect size to carry everything I need for a day out exploring or if I’m heading to a meeting. My 13″ Macbook Air fits perfectly, along with the charger, my wallet, notebook, make-up bag, umbrella, phone and sunglasses. And my crazy but necessary assortment of lip-balms and creams.

Obviously if I had to bring more paperwork, or, well, anything else, I would need more space. And it does get a bit heavy to carry around with all of the above. If you’re someone who needs to carry around more than that for long periods of time, this bag might not be the one for you. For instance, it is not the ideal carry-on. It really was designed as a book bag for students.

Wear and Tear

The Cambridge Satchel Company uses really nice leather for their bags. It’s durable and strong, and can withstand day-to-day abuse, I mean, use. While I was hoping that the bag would break in a bit faster (it’s still really rigid), I’m happy with how it’s held up. The edges are starting to get a bit frayed and have darkened, but that doesn’t take away from the look. I think it’s going to take a long time before this bag looks weathered.

Handle/Strap

I use the shoulder strap most of the time because I’m a hands-free kind of gal. I do find that the strap is a bit too long, even buckled to the shortest setting. Nothing I can’t MacGyver. The other issue I have with the strap is that the extra slack just hangs loosely. If only CSC had thought to put a little loop on the other end of the buckle to keep it from flapping in the wind!

Since my bag is the Batchel version, I have the luxury of carrying it by the top handle as well, which is great if I’m in a crowded area, or wanting to make it look more like a briefcase. I would highly recommend spending the extra £11 for this feature.

And I should mention that the enclosures on this bag are not easy to fasten/unfasten. I usually have one or both undone because I’m a bit lazy, which makes me a pick-pocket’s dream.

Colour

My biggest beef with this bag is that the colour transfers. This is a cautionary tale for those of you looking to get one of the coloured leather bags – I now have red splotches on everything from my ear buds to my notebooks, and even on the back of my laptop. Just last week I realized that the colour had come off on my favourite beige trench coat. Not cool CSC! I imagine that all the other colours would do exactly the same thing, aside from the natural brown.

Obviously this is something I should have anticipated, but  CSC should include a little note about the potential for colour transfer with the bags.  My coat is at the cleaners; fingers crossed the dye comes out.

Overall

Despite some of the above criticisms, I do love this bag. It has served me well over the past few months in Europe, and I’m sure will continue to be my go-to bag for travelling. That said, I do wish I had it in more colours. The red is lovely, but sometimes it would be nice to have it in yellow, or one of the metallic Comme des Garçons versions.

If only money grew on trees, mes amies!

My bag came from Cambridge Satchel Company directly, and yes, I had to wait two months for it to arrive. If you’re in Toronto you can buy them at Holt Renfrew, Philistine, and A2zane. In France, there’s only one store that sells ’em and it’s right here in Lyon – Fluxus. If you want to request a specific colour or style, get in touch with Anne Laure and she can place a custom order for you.

More on Fluxus coming up!

Top photo via Davida Aronovitch