About a year ago, Julie reviewed a wallet from RAGGEDedge Gear. The wallet was unusual because it was made from sailcloth. I had always thought that sails were made from a heavy canvas fabric, but I was wrong. Apparently there are some sails still made from more traditional fabrics, but performance sailing boats (America’s Cup, the Olympics, etc) use high-tech laminates. RAGGEDedge Gear was formed several years ago by Susan and Meredith Bailey, a mother-and-daughter team, who wanted to find a use for the sailcloth they seemed to be collecting. Some of the things they make include wallets, gearbags, yoga mats, purses, and even iPad bags. Julie selected me to give the Carbon Fiber iGear Bag for iPad a try. Let’s give it a closer look.
Most of the pictures in this review can be enlarged by clicking on them, including the top picture.
RAGGEDedge Gear hand-makes their products in their Virginia workshop. Nothing is out-sourced, and they try to get all their material from nearby suppliers. They make their products using Aramid (better know as Kevlar), carbon fiber, Pentex, and PET-X laminated sailcloth. The iGear bag is made of a laminated carbon fiber fabric. It doesn’t look at all like the carbon fiber products I’ve seen before with the textured appearance. This fabric consists of long strands of black carbon fibers laminated between shiny, plastic-like sheets.
The actual sailcloth seems to be clear except for the carbon fibers, but the bag is lined with a black fabric so the bag isn’t see-through. The same black fabric is used to make a couple of pockets on the inside front of the bag, under the flap.
The Carbon Fiber iGear Bag is about 11” long X 9.5” wide. It’s a very flat, envelope-style bag, so it’s only about 0.5” thick when empty. There’s a long strap made of 1”-wide black, woven belting material that adjusts from 33.25” to 58.75” long (including the clips on each end), so you can wear the bag on your shoulder or as a cross-body bag, bandolier-style. RAGGEDedge says the belting is “military spec tubular web”. I like that the strap is soft and flexible. It doesn’t have sharp edges that feel like they’ll cut through your throat. The clips, D-rings, and adjustment buckle for the strap are plastic, but they appear to be sturdy. The D-rings are attached to the front and back of the bag with strips of the belting material. I like the way the belting is attached to the body of the bag. The strips aren’t stacked, but flared out a bit and attached with a zig-zag stitch to a semi-circular piece of the sailcloth. This arrangement of the belting keeps it flatter, and stops it from being a hard, thick lump on the bag. The semi-circular pieces of sailcloth are then layered on the body of the bag and zig-zag-stitched into place. These pieces were cut with the carbon fibers running in a different direction from those in the body of the bag, and this layering creates a nice pattern.
This layering of sailcloth is also used to attach the interior pockets and a square of magnetic metal to the bottom front of the bag. There’s also a piece of sailcloth on the inside of the bottom of the flap that holds another piece of metal. It’s this piece where you can best see the structure of the sailcloth. These layers are also attached with the zig-zag stitches. Attaching the magnet on the back of the flap results in a decorative stitching on the front of the flap.
Except for the layered pieces, the entire body of the bag seems to be made with a single piece of sailcloth that’s folded to form the front and back of the bag and then extends into the full-length front flap. The flap has a nice rounded, asymmetric shape at the bottom. The edges of the bag are bound together with sturdy black grosgrain ribbon and the zig-zag stitches using a heavy black thread. There’s a rubbery “RAGGEDedge” badge sewn into the bound edge on the left side of the flap.
Lift up the flap to uncover two drop-in pockets on the front of the bag. These pockets are made with a black fabric that looks a little like the lining inside a suit coat. This fabric isn’t as soft and limp as jacket lining, though. This fabric is much stiffer than that, and it crinkles when it’s bent. Both pockets are formed from a single piece of this material, which has been folded to form two gusseted pockets. There’s a flat stitch down the middle to separate the pockets, and the top, raw edge of the fabric has been folded down and bound with a zig-zag stitch. I am struck by how perfect and even the stitching is on every part of this bag. These pockets are big enough to hold an iPod, cell phone (even a large Smartphone), the iPad AC adapter block and charging cable, or your wallet. I wish there were little Velcro tabs to close the tops of these pockets. I’m not a fan of open-topped pockets under a loose flap because I’m afraid something will fall out of them. I lost a cellphone that way.
The main pocket is for the iPad, of course. This pocket doesn’t have any gusseting, and the sailcloth fabric doesn’t have any stretch. I was afraid only a naked iPad would fit, and I was very happy to see that the iPad in the Belkin Grip Vue back cover fit in with no problems. Nothing else would fit in there with it, but it’s not designed to hold anything else. There are no other pockets on the bag.
With the waterproof, laminated fabric, there’s no doubt the iGear bag would protect your iPad from rain and the elements. What you can’t see is the high density 1/8″ ShockTec gel padding sandwiched inside the layers to protect your iPad from shocks and knocks. The stiff, bound edges of the bag will also protect the iPad from being banged against something. I tried striking the edge of my desk with the edge of the bag, like what you might expect if you accidentally smacked something with your bag as you were wearing it. The edges hardly gave at all, so the iPad would be protected.
As you can see from the pictures, I received the iGear bag in black. It’s also available in black/orange (bag has black lining with orange strap and orange pockets) and black/purple (black lining, purple strap and pockets).
The over-all appearance of the Carbon Fiber iGear Bag is sleek, high-tech, and somewhat sophisticated. You could use this bag for business, and it would be right at home. You could also use it with your jeans and t-shirt, and it would look perfect for that, too. I really love the iGear bag from RAGGEDedge. I find it is great to carry my iPad and the charger when I want to travel light. If it only had a couple more closed pockets, I could even throw in my wallet and keys. Or maybe I simply need to pair the iGear bag with one of their small purses…