Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review of Vulkan Jiu-Jitsu Gi Backpack, Or, Shark Girl Sells Out

The bag came via a third party intermediary. Shark Girl can’t receive swag directly. It compromises my anonymity. Yes, it was only a matter of time before Shark Girl sold out. The good folks over at (aka BJJ Headquarters) sent free stuff my way, and all I have to do is write as many times as I can in one blog post. I can handle that. I would like it to be known that I have also been talking up to my fellow jitsers at the club. The conversation goes something like this:
            “Yeah, I hate this gi I’ve been wearing. I’m looking for a new one. But they’re so expensive.”
            “You should try They have a Deal a Day. When it’s sold out, that’s it. But the deals are pretty good.” Little do my classmates know that I have been underwritten by, or that they are talking with the infamous Shark Girl. Sigh. Marketing is everywhere these days, and so insidious.
            Oh, back to the bag. The clandestine package arrives and I open it excitedly. Perhaps I can quit my day job and just work for jiu jitsu goods? I pull it out of the packaging.
            “That’s a nice bag!” Husband remarks.
            You ain’t kidding. It is a beautiful bag.

It’s made of black gi material, the softest I’ve ever felt. The bottom is some sort of rubberized plastic so when you put it down on the ground it won’t soak up the ick of the floor. This same plastic lines the lid.
It has two adjustable straps that go over the shoulders. One of the straps has a little Velcroed pocket that I’m guessing is for an iPod or some such other electronic device that I have no need for. Being a classics professional, sometimes I eschew the new and wildly popular, like social media sites and Real Housewives; other times I embrace it wholeheartedly, like Glee and ending sentences with prepositions. Anyway, I do own an iPod shuffle that I run with. I just don’t need a special pouch on my jiu jitsu backpack that I carry to and from the gym in my car. I suppose if I lived in New York City and walked to my gym, I might appreciate this feature. Mother of Suburbia finds it unnecessary.
            On the front of the backpack, the side facing out when one straps it on, are some pouches. Husband would insist that this is actually the back of the backpack, and this has ended us up in some interesting arguments in our 15 years of marriage. They sound something like this:
            Shark Girl:        “Did you find it?
            Husband:          “No, it’s not there.
            Shark Girl:        “Did you look in the pouch?
            Husband:          “Which pouch?”
            Shark Girl:        “The front pouch.”
            Husband:          “Nope. Nothing in the front pouch.”
            Shark Girl:        “Okay, let me check.”
Shark Girl stomps upstairs, exasperated that Husband can’t find it.
            Shark Girl:        “Here it is.”
            Husband:          “Where was it?”
            Shark Girl:        “In the front pouch.”
            Husband:          “But I looked in the front pouch.”
            Shark Girl:        “It was right there.”
            Husband:          “Show me.”
            Shark Girl:        “Right here.” (Pointing to front pouch.)
            Husband:          “Oh, that’s not the front pouch; that’s the back pouch.”
Okay, back to the pouches. The front pouches. There are two and they are spacious enough to hold my mouth guard and hair ties, and a hand brace. If I had a wish for these pouches, it would be that there were sections inside of them, so that when I forget to close them, stuff would not fall out all over my car seat.

            The top pouch is open and can be secured with an attractive drawstring that says “Vulkan.” This is the main section of the bag and it is quite large. For the most part, it is larger than my needs. I wear my gi to class, so the only thing I put in there is an extra shirt and a towel, sometimes my purse. This give the bag sloppy form and it slouches sadly, as if its purpose in life is unfulfilled. On a few particularly hot nights, I put my gi top in the bag and it was much happier, perky even. It stood upright and proud, as if to say, “Hey, I’m holding a gi!”
            On the sides of the bag are two mesh thingies, presumably for holding water bottles. When the bag is un(ful)filled, there is not enough tension to hold the bottles in, and these, too, fall out. When the main pouch of the bag is filled, the water bottle stays nicely in its place.

Sad Bag, Tumbling Water Bottle

Perky Bag, Snug Water Bottle

The dimensions a little hard to measure because of the bag’s free-formness, but I will do my best.Please note that the tiles in the picture are 16"x16", and, yes, I did help my dad lay them.

General Bag Dimensions
Height: 16.5”, with a little flap that could extend this some; Width: approx. 19”; Depth: About 12”

(Front) Pocket Dimensions
Height: 7.5”; Width: 9”. Both of the front pockets are approximately this size. The main pocket has a zipper that goes around the perimeter of the pouch. The secondary pocket is inside the flap that unzipping the main pouch creates, and zips horizontally at the middle.

In Conlcusion
iPod holder and the flames of Vulkan
This is one capacious bag. When I walk around with it, well, I feel like a mother. Not like, “Hi, I’m a mom of two,” but more like, “My bag is from Brazil. It’s large. And it means I can motherf--- people up.” That’s about all I really want to say about a backpack. That’s the most I’ve ever said about any backpack. I am obliged as a Latin teacher to give a shout out to the brand name “Vulkan,” since he is the god of the forge, and there are little flames on one of the patches. He is also a lame god, since he fell from Mt. Olympus as a baby. Recently I’ve felt a lot like Vulkan—spitting out a lot of fire, but a bit creaky in the joints. Sigh.
If this wasn’t enough to get you to go to, I leave you with one final reason, my favorite one. Aaron, who runs the site keeps all the comments up and they are a hoot to read. This is one of my recent favorites.

UPDATE May 2013: While this served me well, at this point the zipper on the larger pouch has broken and I can no longer use it to store stuff. I am limited to the small pouch which can hold a small bottle of aspirin, some adhesive tape, a couple of hair ties, and my mouth guard. This is kind of a bummer. So, a year-and-a-half of good service. It was a sweet ride while it lasted!

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