I like supporting “green” products and companies. It makes me feel a little less like “ooh, shiny new toy” and more “ooh, shiny new toy AND I did something sort-of good for the world”. Of course, any product, recycled/green or otherwise, needs to be well built and functional. So when I had the chance to review a GreenSmart Puku messenger bag, I was excited to give it a spin.
Let’s start with the bag itself, and then we’ll get into the things that make it unique and earth-friendly. The Puku came in a very earthy green color, with brown accents and a white interior. Physically, it’s a large bag, designed to fit up to a 15in laptop plus all the accompanying accessories. The interior is divided into two parts; an open padded laptop area, and the main cargo space. Along the divider between laptop space and cargo area are two mesh pockets. There is a large zipper along the top to close it, but within the main area there are no closures, so turning the bag upside down will send small bits flying around.
Moving to the back of the bag, there’s a slash pocket held closed by a magnet; it’s nice and roomy, the perfect size for a magazine or file folder. Along each side are bottle holders, though they are a bit narrow and wouldn’t fit a large size Nalgene, for example. In front there are two more pockets, a flap-style one with traditional messenger bag organizing pockets, loops, etc inside, and then a shallower zip-style pocket. While there aren’t an insane number of pockets, it’s certainly more than enough space and organizing capacity to hold everything you might need.
Overall the bag itself works great, though I did have some nitpicks. On the plus side, it’s extremely attractive. My fiancee told me when it arrived for review “Wow…this is definitely the nicest looking item you’ve ever reviewed!” The strap doesn’t have any padding, but it’s wide and comfortable, and when fully loaded with a computer, a kindle, and a few paper books it felt fine on my shoulder. If you’re putting a computer in the laptop area without an additional sleeve I would be extra careful, as the padding was somewhat minimal, but it’s nice and protected from the elements with the zipper shut. My biggest beef was with the use of magnets to hold the front organizer flap closed. The magnet is rather weak, and when shifting the bag to access various areas the flap tended to pop open. As a result, I wouldn’t recommend storing anything important in this area, and would keep irreplaceable and expensive items in one of the zippered areas. Still, taken as a whole the bag is very attractive, and fairly functional, with a nice style that’s a departure from a more generic laptop bag.
I said earlier I wanted to cover what makes this bag truly special as well. GreenSmart uses recycled bottles to create the fabric for their bags, and on the front lower right there’s a logo letting you know 30 bottles were used to create the Puku. Inside the front flap is also an explanation of the “Bottles 2 Bags” concept. Not only does this bag help you recycle, it’s actually a fabulous material. While it looks synthetic and like it should be rough, it’s actually very smooth. The inside liner is also very soft and gentle, not a bad thing when it’s cradling your electronics! While it’s obviously a difficult item to test, it seems very tough with no loose threads or seams. The smooth surface is also very easy to wipe clean if there’s any latte-related accidents at your local Starbucks. 😉
We’ve covered GreenSmart before at Gear Diary, and I never fail to be impressed overall with their products. Not only are they recycling in a creative way, but their products are simply well built, functional and stylish. Even best of all, they don’t really carry much of a premium over “traditionally made” products! If you can live with the weak flap on the organizer panel, the Puku is a great bag, and if not, GreenSmart offers a few other styles as well!
MSRP: $89.95 purchased directly from GreenSmart
What I liked: Material is smooth and stylish, bag is comfortable to carry, very roomy, and made from 30 plastic bottles!
What needs improvement: Weak magnet on the front flap