Pipe bags seem to have been a hot topic recently, so I figured I would jump on the band wagon. Recently, Neill Roan published 2 articles on his blog in regards to pipe bags. Both of those articles can be found here respectively: The Compleat Traveler & The Artisan Pipe Bag. My good friend Lars also expressed the importance of traveling light, this can be seen here: Always travel light – the cool kids do it. I got to thinking a little more about pipe bags, and accessories and thought that I would approach it from a different direction. I’m sure there are many of you out there either new to the hobby, or just plain cheap and are always in search of the most inexpensive way to accessorize.
Now, this is not to say that we all would not want a Smoking Holster’s Bag (http://www.smokinholsters.com/) at some point in our pipe smoking, but whether by circumstance or choice we are forced to look for alternative ways to provide a safe haven for our pipes and all other manner of “stuff” that we want to carry around. For those of you that are cheapies, or like me by circumstance cannot foot the bill for a Smokin Holsters creation, I have the alternative.
After seeing my fellow pipe smokers walking around with their pipes and goodies in all varieties of bags ranging from plastic shopping bag to old ragged poly-vinyl toiletries bag from the 70’s, I decided that there must be a better way. I must admit when I first started smoking a pipe, I was the proud owner of a high class poly-vinyl bag myself (circa 1990 though.) I knew that I needed a bag that would carry 3-4 pipes, a small tobacco pouch, a bundle of cleaners and maybe a small tin if I felt the need. So, I went on a hunt, first on the Internet where I found every variety of pipe “stuff” holder imaginable. The problem always seemed to be, they were either very pricey, or did not quite have the capacity that I was looking for. So, I started thinking about my poly-vinyl starter bag that I had and said to myself, “Why not stick with what works.”
So, my hunt turned to local department stores. I decided that I could stick with the toiletries bag, minus the lovely supple poly-vinyl that I was used to. Toiletries bags come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and materials, so the possibilities were endless. To be honest, I would venture to say that your options for size, shape and material far exceed those of the “true” pipe bags that you will come across. There is leather in all varieties of finish you can imagine, canvas, poly-vinyl (Yuck!) and even microfiber. The color choices are endless and there are always plenty of pockets to stick things that you need for your pipes. The sizes vary, depending if you are the corporate traveler or the 2 day business tripper. Now with all of these options, if you are tight on the green stuff, you can still have your classy little pipe bag, without the hefty price.
I shopped around to find the right bag to fit my likes and dislikes. It had to fit into my criteria for size, but as far as shape, color and material, I had not decided yet. I figured when I found it, I would know, and that is exactly what happened. After hitting all the major department stores and not finding anything that jumped off the shelf at me, I wandered into the local Marshall’s. (For any of you that don’t have them, it is a discount store that sells all name-brand products that are over run or out of season etc.) I walked to the accessories department and voilà, there it was. I ran over to grab it and inspect it and not only was it perfect, the right shape, size, material, colors, but it was also the right price. Guess how much… no seriously… guess…. OK fine Ill tell ya. It was a whopping $10 plus tax. Can you believe that, a bag that would do the same thing as those pricey bags for an average of $50 less. Now that is a deal if I have ever heard of one.
It not only would fit all of my stuff, but it fit my personality. It had brown leather which I love and canvas, which if you want to know, happens to match my favorite jacket. It was rustic, masculine and did not look like a purse. I will forgo the measurements, as I’m sure no one will be shopping for the same exact bag, but it was just right.
Now, I bet I know what many of you are thinking, “Great, he found a bag, but its not a PIPE bag, and his stuff is gonna get all banged up.” Well, I found the solution to that as well. I had the same exact thought, nice bag, but nothing there to protect everything once I stuff it inside. So, whilst on one of my shopping trips to my local Wally World (Wal-Mart for anyone not familiar with the nickname) I came across something that never had crossed my mind…..
Ah, what are they, well they are pipe socks of course. No, not your run of the mill pipe socks, they are the “Frugal Accessorizing” version. While strolling through the jewelry section I happened upon the rack of sunglasses, and these little beauties were starting straight up at me. Now, they are really not fancy, they are not leather (poly-vinyl leather imitation to be exact) but they serve a purpose. They don’t look cheap and tacky, and best of all, they were $1.89 apiece plus tax. They are lined with a imitation silk material that is gentle on the pipe and will not scratch it. The best part about them is that there is a little loop inside that you can slide a couple pipe cleaners in. They will hold a pipe up to about 6.5 in. long and with a rather large bowl. Because of the loop inside and the size of these, I have found that they are a great pouch for one pipe when your out and about for the day. You can slide your pipe in there, a couple cleaners and even a small tobacco pouch. In my opinion, it doesn’t get any better, a dual purpose pipe sock.
Now that I had the necessary items to travel with my pipes, I figured it was time to find out how much stuff I could actually get in the bag. Well, take a look….
It will comfortably fit 3-4 pipes in their socks, a bundle of pipe cleaners, a small tobacco pouch, a small tin, a pipe tool and even my little notebook that I use for notes, sketching etc. Id say that’s a pretty good amount of stuff to tote around. I guess I should give you the dimensions of the bag after all, so you don’t think its the size of a grocery bag. The bag measures 8 in. long, 4.5 in. wide and 4.5 in. tall. Id say that is pretty compact and easy to carry, at least for me.
So, next time you are longing for a nice bag to carry all your necessities, don’t fret if you cant afford the pricey leather travel tote that you had your eye on. Hop in your car, take a trip to your local department or discount store and land yourself a bag that is just as nice as anything you would spend $100 or more on.