As a full time journalist I have a heightened appreciation for bags of every description. I expect much of a duffel bag, more than I should of most backpacks, but the portable office slung over my shoulder gets the most unsympathetic scrutiny. Having gone through more shoulder bags over the years than I care to claim, I received my Triple Aught Design Dispatch bag dubious that it would live up to its vaunted promises. It’s not the bag’s fault, I had just given up on the concept of the perfect bag years ago.
My first observation of the Dispatch was that it was unlike anything I had previously owned and clearly placed function over form. This is not to say it is an unattractive bag, but maybe to suggest other bags put undue importance on appearances. The Dispatch is unapologetic in its utility with every facet of its design given a particular and practical purpose, starting with its size.
At roughly 13-liters of capacity with a 17-inch width and 12-inches of height, it is a near perfect size. Any bigger and it would burden the most stout of shoulders. Any smaller and it wouldn’t fit a 15-inch laptop in the padded sleeve or the usual items that accompany most people on the go. My typical carry is pictured below and contains everything I need to take my show on the road. That haul typically includes a 13-inch MacBook Pro, full size DSLR, iPad Mini, and a menagerie of chargers, batteries, and other accessories. The Dispatch not only accommodates those items but keeps them tidy and organized, something that suits my fastidious nature.
What I found most interesting about the Dispatch was its shape. My other bags have rounded corners, asymmetrical dimensions, and despite their claims that these elements make them ergonomic, I found they did everything but. The Dispatch uses good old fashioned right-angles producing a clean exterior shape and a cavernous and useful interior.
Within that interior are two primary elements. There is the aforementioned padded laptop sleeve complete with Velcro closure to secure your laptop. There is also a removable sleeve perfect for caching items like notebooks, documents, and other things you may need separately packaged but easy to grab. A full sized zippered pocket can be found at the front of the bag, and an equally large pocket is accessed at the back of the bag, even with the main flap folded in the closed position. That main flap is secured with two large Velcro patches and dual side-release buckles. In total there are seven individual pockets including their innovative Flashlight Cave, which is an inverted pocket on the side of the bag allowing for quick access to small items without opening the main compartment.
The outer aspect of the bag is covered on four sides with a PALS webbing attachments for a variety of MOLLE pouches and accessories. A large Velcro strip across the front is a perfect parking place for your favorite patch, like a nice ExPo patch. The padded shoulder strap rounds out the thoughtful refinements and can be detached at both ends. As a motorcycle commuter, I particularly like that feature as it makes for a quick egress from the bag without having to duck my head through the strap.
After using the Dispatch for nearly a year, the only way I found I could improve on it, was to further augment it with TAD’s OP1 organizer pouch. This seemingly unnecessary add-on has become a daily use item that I’d have a hard time doing without. Designed to attach to any MOLLE compatible pack, it has become home to all of my charging cables, card readers, thumb drives, extra batteries, GPS dongles, and anything else I need. It’s my little technological toolbox and has frequently been rescued from wanting hands.
As a combined set, the Dispatch and OP1 are a formidable duo. I’m now able to travel with my full office and even a change of cloths all in one bag. Having used this bag for several months, I have yet to find any little gripes or nitpicks. I may have one or two, but they’re so petty and critical, I’m not even going to admit to them. It is simply a very well designed and constructed bag. It’s even made in the USA.