Tip of the Day #15: What Kind of Bag Do You Need?

a.aaa-Chinese-backpackFor today’s tip, we’re going to be talking about something simple but can still have a huge impact on your Comic-Con experience- your BACKPACK. I know what you are thinking, “what’s the big deal? Well, there is actually more to it than grabbing your pack from college and hitting SD for the week. During the grueling 4-days in San Diego, there is no companion more faithful to you than your backpack. It will be there for you during the good times and bad- it will never leave you nor forsake you. Besides carrying your prized SDCC Exclusives, it will also be filled with much needed food, water, and other con supplies that might make the difference between life and death (ok, not really death but how about a really bad day). Here are a few tips to consider when choosing a carrying companion.

WB Swag Bags
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.24.29 PMUpon entrance to the show, you will be given one of the exclusive Warner Bros Swag Bags- which are a time honored tradition and a great Comic-Con keepsake. The various bags, advertising WB/DCs properties, are collected, traded and coveted during the 4-days. However, as awesome as these bags are, they are not ideal to carrying around a lot of precious cargo during the show. Designed for you to be a walking billboard, these giant bags are really more for show than functional. With the exception of an occasional poster sleeve, there are no compartments so everything just rolls around at the bottom of the bags. Another drawback is last year some of the bag straps were breaking because of the weight, so you have to be careful how much you put in them. Overall, I LOVE these bags and they have become a signature of the show. However, I would not rely on them to be the luggage workhorse for you during SDCC.

xnintendo-reversible-messenger-bag.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.KE85Wdc_unSide Satchel
I used to be a hardcore backpack guy but I have been able to reduce how much I carry over the years. I pre-print the schedule or use my smart phone so I don’t carry the program book. I also don’t collect much of the swag since most of it get’s thrown out. So the space I need is just for food, water, and some basic survival stuff (which I’ll post later). Because of this, I go with the ‘man-satchel’. The problem I have with the backpack is that in order to access it while walking, you have to sling it off your back, hold it with one hand, or drop to the ground. When you are in a PACKED showroom, that is difficult. I like being able to reach down to my side and grab my camera or a granola bar quickly and easily. Plus, since it can shift side-to-side, I can squeeze through tight spaces (which is common on the floor). If you are only carrying a moderate amount of supplies, not buying a lot, and geek fashion is a priority, then go with the satchel.

Screen shot 2013-05-06 at 10.30.45 PMBackpack
We are all pretty familiar with the traditional backpack- none of us would have graduated college without it. They come in all shapes and sizes- range from the the cute and plushy to the functional and all purpose. I would definitely encourage you to use a backpack if:

  • You are carrying a lot of tech like a laptop, iPad, extended batteries, etc.
  • If you are prone to being cold, you will need one to stuff extra clothing layers in.
  • If you need extra space for food and water
  • Buying a lot of larger items like toys and you have no place to store them.

Remember, something cute like R2 here won’t be feeling cute by the 3rd day. You may want to have something with more functionality and options- especially one that has cushioned straps.

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 6.57.26 AMThere are a few things to consider when choosing a backpack for SDCC. First, ask yourself what you will be accessing the most. Make sure you have an easy way to get to them so you’re not having to drop and unzip every pocket. For me, I like to have food and water where I can reach it quickly, so having a side pocket would be critical. If tech is your highest priority, get a tech designed bag. You don’t want your electronics and food to be in the same compartment. Plus, there are ‘external battery’ backpacks that can be used to charge your tech (pictured left). A must for heavy bloggers. You never know what the weather will be like so you may want to get a waterproof bag just just in case. Regardless of your backpack of choice, remember be mindful of how much space you are taking up when you walk- The WORST is getting body slammed by some random backpack that is crossing your path. It unintentionally but is a hazard at Comic-Con. A backpack can extend a full foot backwards so you have to be careful when weaving in and out of the crowds.

I know this is a lot to consider for just what bag you are carrying at a convention. While it seems a little overly-complicated- believe me, it’s important. For those veterans of the show, we know that what you carry and how you carry it will make a big difference. Like I said, it’s your closest companion during the show. The right bag will either weigh you down or assist you in a dire moment. With just 6 weeks to go, I wanted to give you time to shop around and try out some options.

For you con vets, what is your bag of choice? Leave a comment of what is your favorite bag type is or how you wished you chose differently your first time. Thanks and check out my other Tip of the Day Posts!

23 thoughts on “Tip of the Day #15: What Kind of Bag Do You Need?

  1. Im a messenger bag man myself. I dont carry much. Water bottle, portable chair (1.2 lbs utterly collapsible), some snacks, phone (but thats in my pocket), powerbank charger, ipad mini. and i have plenty of room left. I usually keep the my WB bag in my messenger bag if i need more carrying capacity but i think ive only used it once for exclusives since they give you a bag anyway. the ease of access is my main pro for the side shachel. Also I think the fact that Ive had very close hotels the past few years helped me with using this bag too. If im carrying a ton, I can go drop it off in the room right next door. I can see if someone was staying in Hotel Circle needing to carry around more all day using a larger backpack.

  2. Great tips! Due to shoulder issues, I like to split up my survival gear into two bags. One cross-body sling bag for the essentials, and a separate tote large enough to carry my Con quilt which doubles as a pillow, ground cover to accommodate four people, or to simply keep me warm in those brr cold rooms. Last year my Superhero quilt was my favorite Con accessory. If you see someone with a blue and gray Star Wars quilt this year, that will be me!

  3. After attending Star Wars Celebration this year I think I have been converted to a Think Geek bag guy. First, before I get into that I would like to say this might be the most important decision you make that can determine whether you have a good or bad convention. 8-12 hours of lugging around books, swag, and other crap will take a toll on you. So beside having a comfortable bag also remember to only pick up the free stuff you know you will use. Don’t carry around crap you will end up just throwing away three years down the road when you finally have a chance to go through it all.

    At SW Celebration I had two bags with me at all times, first i had the Bag of Holding Messenger Bag version. Now, the one I have also includes straps that can make allow you to wear it as a backpack. My understanding now is that is no longer an option, and that Thinkgeek now has a Backpack of Holding. I would say if you can find the old version do it, as it allows you to switch it around when you need to. The material is strong, and it has a ton of pockets.

    The other bag I carried was the Bag of Holding Con Survival Edition. The reason I liked this one so much was that I was able use this as messenger bag and keep it in front of me. First of all, it means I have some front and back separation from those around me, but I also like that the front pocket of the bag opens up and is hinged with vinyl plastic that allows you have it open hands free with a tablet inside, so when you’re standing in line after line you can have it open to either fling an Angry Bird, or in my case, work on the article for the last panel I covered.

    One other thing, if your room is close or you can park in convention parking that is a huge plus so you can dump your bags, but if that’s not an option there is a bag check service on site, $2 an item in the past, and this can make a big difference between having a good convention to needing to see an orthopedist by the time the weekend is over. Also FedEx is on site, so if you have something big that you have no way of getting home you can always have it shipped to yourself. It won’t be cheap. but hey it’s SDCC, what is cheap.

    • Aww I have the new one. I commented to my hubby when I first used it that I wished my Bag of Holding could convert to a backpack. If I had known it existed that way before I would have sought it out… I still might!

  4. I couldn’t do a backpack any more because of back issues, and all the messenger bags I looked at were way too big. I got the Mountainsmith Small Messenger bag, purchased at Kohl’s and I love it. Very convenient and just the right size for me – I carry necessities and don’t purchase much/collect much swag. I can fit snacks and several bottles of water in there with plenty of room to spare. I also fold up a tote bag and put it in the messenger bag, just in case I decide to buy something that is too large for the messenger.

  5. I like a bag that holds my camera and sits in front of me – prefer criss cross over me too. I was using a camera purse specifically the last few years but I just bought a Bag of Holding from ThinkGeek and used it at Philly Comic Con and really liked it for the most part. It was definitely closer to my body which I really liked, I just have to get used to where all my stuff goes in it as it is very different from the camera purse. BUT I also carry a sling backpack (I call it a turtle bag) that holds our food and water, I take it off only when we are eating or I have to sit in a panel. It does not stick out too far on my back and it is soft so if I should hit someone with it, luckily it will not cause damage 🙂 We then pack a fold up tote for any swag we get or purchases we make. Carrying stuff is my least favorite part of any comic con BUT the most important. Having food and water at our disposal is critical to getting through the day for us.

  6. I used a backpack last year and it was great for carrying all my gear, but it was bulky and difficult to get into when I needed something. I think I will go with a messenger bag this year. It should be easier to access and I can give each shoulder a break once in awhile.

  7. I park at the Convention Center (Got parking for all days!!!) and have different set-ups depending on what I will be doing. If I am at the convention center for panels I take my camera bag with different lenses, batteries, snacks, batteries, etc. If I am going to be walking in the exhibit hall you want to be able to move easily around so I try to bring the essentials so I take my camera, murse (yes, a man purse…)and a poster tube because you never know what cool poster or autograph you may get. If you go outside the convention center you want to take a medium sized back pack and bring a water bottle battery pack and maybe a snack or two. This is my 6th year going to SDCC and I always see people making the mistake of using the WB bags as their main bag… Terrible idea. They are big, hard to manage and they make it difficult to walk around crowded areas. If you have a hotel or car near by try to make a run or two and drop off as much as you can and try to carry only the essentials when you have a chance, otherwise you will be tired by the end of the first day carrying stuff and constantly bumping into people and other attendees will appreciate if you are not constantly bumping into them with your over sized bag.

  8. As a cosplayer, I usually opt for a backpack or tote that represents the show or video game I’m cosplaying from, or a bag that fits the color scheme of my cosplay. Usually I one-strap the backpack so that I can set it down while I pose for pictures. I keep a little cosplay emergency kit (a mini sewing kit, extra makeup, a wig comb, etc) so space is essential in my bag.

    • Great suggestion- carrying gear is always a challenge for cosplayers. Leave a link for good places to shop for one. Thanks for commenting!

  9. I’m not really sure what sort of bag I should carry. I know for sure I will have my cell phone,IPad, Digital camera and snacks and water. Also batteries to recharge my phone. And a sweater. That’s all I can think of for now.

    I like the idea of a messenger bag cause it’s not as big as a backpack but then I worry I wont have enough room and that one shoulder will start to hurt.

    WDYT? Is the best bet this is my first time going again since I think 2008 trying to plan as much as possible!

    • Actually since that one person above posted about the bag con survival bag from think geek I’m thinking about getting that one. It looks perfect for all the stuff I’m going to bring
      it’s not to bulky and big which I like. I don’t want a bag that’s too bulky or big.

      • Great! Yea, it’s always better to have a little more space than less- but a decent sized messenger bag should work fine for you. Let me know how it works for you. Thanks!

  10. Pingback: SDCC Tips: Start Getting in Shape NOW | Gender Biased Reviews

  11. I always stick with a trusty ol’ backback that’s not super bulky but carries the essentials (water, snacks, small electronics). After 12 san diego comic cons (the perks of growing up in San Diego), this never fails me and never takes up too much space. I have parking this year at the hilton for all 4 days which will be awesome for dropping stuff off during the day.

  12. Pingback: SDCC Tips: Start Getting in Shape NOW - GBReviews

  13. Pingback: SDCC Tips: Start Getting Comic Con Fit Now - GBReviews

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