How to Pick A Go Bag
What’s the best bag to take for a convention? The wrong bag can really wreck your day (or, at the least, make it way less fun). So what makes a bag the right bag? Some of it is personal taste (backpack vs. messenger bag, for example), but some of it is universal. Take a look at our requirements and suggestions below. Just remember: there is no perfect Go Bag—there is only the Go Bag that is perfect for you.
—Lightweight, yet durable.
Remember that you are going to have to carry this around the entire day. Also remember that the bag is probably going to take some abuse. Waterproofing is a nice bonus, if you can find it.
—Lots of pockets.
Anyone who has ever carried a purse or handbag knows that there is a traveling black hole that lives in purses, and whatever you are looking for is at the bottom of it. Multiple pockets can help keep your stuff organized. Just remember that unsecured external pockets aren’t great places to store valuables (due to the ease of pickpocketing), so look for internal pockets. You also want to make sure the pockets are big/deep enough to be useful (that’s what she said). Just remember that for some cons (like PAX), bags need to be checked, and more pockets means this will take much longer. Many people recommend simple drawstring bags for those conventions. More pockets are needed if you’re going to be camping in lines, because you’ll need to carry more stuff.
Your bag should only be as big as you need it to be, and not bigger. Generally, that means room for emergency supplies (first aid and costume repair), money, phone, water (or, smarter still, a Nalgene that you can refill from a fountain), snack, merch. You don’t want the bag to distract from your cosplay, and you also don’t want to hit other people with it.
Also, think twice before getting a wheeled bag to pull behind you. You will make exactly zero friends doing this, as your bag will trip people and knock displays down if you aren’t careful. It’s best to save these for people with disabilities who actually need them.
This bag will get heavy. Good padding on the shoulders is a must, for your comfort as well as your health. You don’t want to deal with shoulder or back pain. If you are carrying a backpack, get one that has a waist strap and keep it sitting higher on your shoulders to protect your lower back.
Think about adding a magazine box (a cardboard box used for, well, storing magazines) to have handy for artist prints or comics. This will help keep them flat and protected. You can also bring a poster tube with you for storage of larger prints and posters. Just be sure your bag has room to accommodate this. Even better: get a plastic, reusable poster tube with straps that you carry on your shoulder. You can use a yoga mat strap to hold your tube in a pinch.
Rothco Combination Backpack and Stool, $40
—This bag has one very unique advantage: a built-in camp stool. The stool straps to the top the of bag and guarantees seating for those long stretches in a panel queue. It also has a waist strap, which is a huge help if you’re going to end up with a super-heavy pack by day’s end. Note, however, that the stool doesn’t detach, and may be too small for bigger butts. Another common complaint about this bag is that there aren’t enough deep pockets, especially inside the bag.
Mission Workshop “Monty” Roll Top Messenger Bag, $165
—Okay, so this one isn’t exactly inexpensive. However, it’s stylish, weighs less than three pounds, has a laptop compartment, and is weatherproof. It also has a lot of color options, both for bag color and buckle color.
Timbuk2 Messenger Bag, $49-$348
Timbuk2 has a huge variety of messenger bags at a wide range of prices. You can really customize size, color, and features. Available features include expandable, convertible, and water resistant; some are even marked as TSA-friendly if you want to fly with this as your carry on.
(Note that we have not been paid or compensated in any way for these suggestions.)
We hope you find the bag of your dreams! If you know of any other great bags to take to cons, let us know in the comments!