Can Your Purse Do That?

Most women love purses. They spend thousands of dollars on various colors, sizes, and Mountainsmith Phantom 40 Ldesigners. Recently, I went into a Coach store with a friend of mine and she drooled over a purse that was $3,495! I didn’t think it looked any different from my Walmart purse and it cost more than my first car, but to her it was perfection. She explained how it was THE color of the season, the design would go universally with everything she owned, and the price was reasonable since she would no longer need any other purse.  To each his, or in this case her, own but I don’t understand the infatuation. I’ve never really been one for fashion though. I shop at second-hand stores and once in a while I will go all out and buy something from Old Navy or a vintage store. What the “normal” woman spends on purses and shoes, I make up for in outdoor gear and travel. Give me a versatile backpack over a purse any day.  I’ve found my Coach purse of backpacks without the hefty price tag. The Mountainsmith Phantom 40 L panel loader is built with durable, lightweight high tenacity nylon and loads of ergonomic features ensuring years of fast, light, and comfortable use. It fits all of my travel needs and can easily act as a “purse” if need be. 

Mountainsmith Phantom 40 LThe Mountainsmith Phantom 40 L Breezeway trampoline suspension backpanel sports a coated mesh sling for increased airflow, DWR coated airmesh foam for increased breathability, and innovative Illiac Crest Shelf hipbelt that transfers and locks the pack load onto the hips for increased stability. To round out the comfort and optimal load transfer, it includes a Lumbar Control Point pad on the lower backpanel to fully secure the pack load against the user’s major weight bearing point, the lumbar region. Confused about what all that means? It’s comfortable, adjustable, and lightweight; it doesn’t make me sweat; and my back doesn’t hurt after using it.

There is a Ten Essentials list for backpackers and hikers. The philosophy is, “Knowing the Ten Essentials is good. Carrying the Ten Essentials is better.”

It fits the Ten Essentials:
1. Navigation (map and compass)
2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
3. Insulation (extra clothing)
4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
5. First-aid supplies
6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
7. Repair kit and tools
8. Nutrition (extra food)
9. Hydration (extra water)
10. Emergency shelter

Plus it fits my extended 5 Baby Essentials list:
1. Diapers/Wipes
2. Bottles
3. Onesies
4. Formula
5. Sophie (New parents will understand this one)

My philosophy is, “The Ten Essentials will save my life, while the 5 Baby Essentials will save everything else.”

With the exception of formal events like weddings, the Mountainsmith Phantom 40 L is quite versatile. I used it as a suitcase when traveling home to Canada to see my family. (Traveling alone with a baby takes skill. By using a backpack instead of a suitcase, I was able to free up my hands for more important things.) I used it as a backpack while hiking with Darren and Athena, and I used it as a beach bag during our week-long vacation in Virginia Beach. It’s packed, now, with a few extra clothes for both Athena and I along with receiving blankets, extra bottles, wipes, and formula, and a few toys. I leave it in the van when I’m not traveling in case of accidents or low supplies. It came in handy two days ago when, lets just say, Athena needed extra clothes because of an incident.

Comfort, style, versatility, and load capacity make the Mountainsmith Phantom 40 L the “Coach purse” of backpacks. Can you do all of that with your purse?

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95 thoughts on “Can Your Purse Do That?

  1. Funny you post this today. This morning one of Canada’s most high-end stores had a mini magazine devoted to their Fall shoe collection in the newspaper. Pumps and boots for $1895+. And no matter how much or how little I spend for shoes I still can’t wait to take them off.

  2. Nice. I’ve recently been trying to decide which bag to take to Italy. I don’t think I’ll need one that doubles as an emergency shelter, but one that can work as a camera bag and light weight day tripping. I have several small backpacks that always seem to work when a purse just won’t do. :)

  3. Don’t need a purse, but would like to get a Canon 5D Mark II with a couple of Carl Zeiss lenses, a new 17″ Macbook Pro with ram maxed out and a suitable backpack to carry all that.

  4. My favorite bag is designed for travel: special compartments fit a water bottle, plane ticket, and passport. Think I got it from the Lillian Vernon catologue, something like 100 years ago, for under $20. I have other (also, inexpensive) *stylish* bags, but I always gravitate back to my little black, light-weight, sporty travel bag. :)

  5. I so understand, my obsession is camera bags (although, I haven’t made the plunge and am still using a very well built fishing tackle box I bought in the 90s). But I understand. I too shop thrift/garage stores/sales, mainly because I’m a repurposer and I’m always on the look out for that just right item to make into that next just right item???
    Thanks for making me smile this morning.

  6. I’m still waiting for the photo of Athena in the backpack. :) And I’m working on a city camera bag design for the photographer who doesn’t want to scream “I’m carrying thousands of dollars of camera equipment on my shoulder.” I hope to have my prototype ready to carry in France in April 2013.

  7. I despise carrying a purse – avoided it all the way through college but found I needed something to store miscellaneous things in when I got out into “the real world”. So I now have one – just one – plan, black, and bought at a thrift store for $5. Still, I’m thinking of switching to a woman’s briefcase or messenger bag or something equally not-purse-but-business-approved. I would much prefer a backpack, too. I love CamelBaks.

  8. I like a nice purse, but I’d never spend anywhere close to $3495! My splurge won’t go higher than $150 and it would have to be traditional in look to last multiple seasons. However, in terms of gear, yeah, I admit, there’s some awesome, great quality bags out there. If I was in the market, I’d definitely go for something like your Phantom. Nice!

  9. Love this post! I don’t carry a purse at all, just a small wallet, but for some reason I love bags that have nifty compartments and whatnot. Getting ready for a month in Europe, and I’ll be borrowing s friend’s backpack. Yours looks pretty slick though… I’m still trying to wrap my head around liters. Any idea how many liters a hard sided carry on suitcase holds? I usually use a carry on suitcase and I’m feeling like the backpack holds MORE. I don’t want to bring too much…

    • I love, love, love purses, but I’ve never paid over $100 for one. I refuse to pay more for one than the amount of money I carry in it. So for the past year, I’ve been carrying around a free one I got for Christmas. LOL

        • I think Lesley, that’s one of the best ways to spend money on…afterall, its worth for the experience you get and the little discoveries you make…a purse wouldn’t let you do all that :-)

  10. I tried to buy an expensive purse once. I had the money in my wallet and everything. I walked in, looked at what was on offer, and walked back out again. I just couldn’t do it! (However, my sister may tell a completely different story…)
    Your backpack looks awesome–if I didn’t already have one that I really like, I’d be hunting it down right now!

  11. Oh, oh, ohhhhh, can you do me a favor, Lesley? If you haven’t already done shoes could you point me in the right direction for some comfortable outdoor/hiking shoes, probably low top, and if you have, let me know, and I’ll dig around for it. I’ve been looking at some Merrells at DSW, but I just wanted to know if anyone has any suggestions. Thanks!

    And I want that backpack now :)

  12. Good golly! I cannot imagine spending that much on a purse! I’m right there with you – love the backpack and would certainly be more likely to spend money on that! Hope you child forgives you in the future, if she ever finds out you posted about her “little incident” on the WWW :)

  13. your post put a smile on my face, but I still love my bags, though I will never be able to justify spending over $3k for one. That’s just ridiculous for a trendy item or any for that matter.

  14. I love what you wrote about the purse, friends always ask how I can afford to travel. I always ask them how can’t they? They make more than me, but spend it all shopping – I’d buy a nice pack over a purse any day!

  15. I’ve always had a horror of purses–the less I can carry around, the freer I am to *do* stuff (including hugging people). But I did finally find a shoulder-strapped one at Target for $12. Small, light, fake-leather, and PLAIN black (excluding the 3 simple functional horizontal zippers on the back of it), but between the ca. 7×9″ interior and the zippered sections of the back I can fit my wallet, cell phone, keys, compact camera and spare batteries and memory, lip balm and a plain large cotton handkerchief (beats the heck out of disposable/shreddable tissues hands down for most emergencies) and mints for quelling concert coughs or taming dine-out breath and a small sketchbook/notepad and pencils, and so much more! Why anyone would part with any chunks of money for a purse that (a) weighs a ton but can’t be distributed like your backpack weight, (b) will go out of style in the blink of an eye, or (c) requires a second mortgage is beyond me! Great post!! Traveling lighter and better prepared makes for much more fun adventures, as you’ve proven.

  16. I started carrying a small travel bag that I found in my local surplus/camping store (Dom’s, in Livermore, CA) when the kids were in school and I volunteered for field trips. I could wear it over my shoulder or as a fanny pack, so I had two free hands to deal with kids. It was large enough for essentials but small enough the kids couldn’t expect me to carry their stuff. It had pockets and pouches and zippered spaces to keep everything organized. I carried various incarnations of this bag until just last week, when I stopped another local store (Purse Party) and found a real handbag that just leaped off the shelves into my arms. It also has pouches and pockets and zippered spaces, and costs no more than my travel bag. And it’s red. I’ll hang on to my travel bag for, well, travel, but now I have one that can go to the theater.

  17. I’m a ‘purse person’ and they keep getting bigger; (maybe a backpack is in my future!), but I could never see paying in as much money as your friend on a purse, even if I won the lottery!

  18. Lesley. As for me and my wife, I’m so grateful that we both choose to “shop” at garage sales, no matter our financial situation, so we can make a difference in the lives of those whose needs aren’t even being met, be they human or animal. I put the $3,495 purse right up there with the importance of sending a probe to Mars, while millions starve to death. Our world’s priorities are in the toilet (this isn’t the language I REALLY want to use)! I’m with you and Darren.

  19. My favorite Purse: $12 at Old Navy 4 years ago. Why my favorite? I can walk with it strapped across my chest into museums, book stores, wine shops, bike around, stand in the rain, get on a train, and navigate in a plane without bumping others! AND it has space for my writing AND reading gear. I THINK somewhere in it there may be a stray lipstick. But who knows!

  20. Would much rather take a trip than buy any kind of purse, except for my travelicious PacSafe purse, which is slash proof and makes a wonderful traveling camera bag for my D90 with 18-270 zoom, and all the extras. I should own stock in PacSafe.

  21. As a woman who loves her purses, I just cannot explain the joy I get when I buy a great new purse. That said, I probably won’t buy a $3,500 Coach purse. I’d go to an outlet store and buy it for so much less! Lol. Love your backpack though.

  22. Love it!! I lived in the shopping mecca of Hong Kong for six months, and my favorite purchase of all was a blue Nikko backpacking backpack that I snagged at Mong Kok market for $20. That thing went everywhere.

  23. I gave up on expensive fashion items many years ago after spending several hundred dollars on an Ana Sui jacket and the only person who complimented me was another fashionista. People who aren’t into fashion don’t know how much something costs and I got twice as many compliments on much cheaper items. So that was that. I am stylish, but certainly don’t spend a fortune on clothes or accessories.

  24. I have seen many backpacks very similar to the one you described but these were disguised as purses. I have even seen bushel baskets that were disguised to look like a purse. But, of course your backpack has one advantage that the purses don’t have. You can leave the survival gear out of it and put the baby in. As for spending three grand for a purse, if you have that kind of money, go for it. That will do more for the economy than the government stimulus packages.
    Good post; Jim

  25. Now we know why the super-rich need another tax cut.
    Besides, just how many credit cards can you carry in that primo product?
    For many of the rest of us, it’s back to the yard sales. Seriously!
    By the way, back when I was a Boy Scout, we made our own backpacks … none of that store-bought stuff. Got to make the frame and straps when we earned our second-class rank and then make the basket to mount on it when we passed the first-class level. Bet you can’t buy one of those at the Coach store.

  26. I live in Small Town USA, population 1000. I am always amazed/confused when I see one of the girls around here carrying a purse that cost more than the car she’s driving. I just don’t get it!

  27. Wonderfully written. And titled. My mother-in-law buys me Coach purses every Christmas. Before then I would keep a purse until stuff started falling out the bottom. Not only are expensive purses, well, expensive, they cause too much unnecessary fuss. A glass of juice gets spilled and you’re falling over yourself to save the purse. And when it comes to functionality, your list puts them to shame. Great post!

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