ILE Equipment bags are made in America but big in Japan

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"Inspiration comes in weird places," says Eric Fischer, owner of ILE Equipment. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

BERKELEY, Calif. — ILE is big in Japan. The California bag company has found a market with the Japanese bike website Blue Lug, and the collaboration keeps pushing ILE into new bags, materials, hardware and color choices.

Eric Fischer, 26, launched ILE (short for “Inside Line Equipment”) out of his apartment four short years ago. He was racing bikes, buying fabric and making bags one at a time for himself, his friends and friends of friends.

“I always liked making things, but building buildings didn’t seem scalable,” Fischer told Cult of Mac. “Making bags seemed more like a painting rather than building a house.”

Timbuk2: 25 years of sewin’ bags in San Francisco

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Custom bag buyers can specify the color of the Timbuk2

Custom bag buyers can specify the color of the Timbuk2 "swirl" icon that will be stitched on their bags. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


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SAN FRANCISCO — Twenty-five years ago, a bike messenger sat in his garage and used an old-school Singer sewing machine to stitch his mark on the world.

That bike messenger was Rob Honeycutt, and the bags he made in 1989 were called Scumbags. They were designed for use by the city’s notorious two-wheeled delivery riders, whose fashion sense tended toward crude cutoffs, T-shirts and hoodies.

A year later, Honeycutt changed his operation’s name to Timbuk2, and the company’s been crafting an increasingly ambitious line of bags ever since, expanding far beyond the world of tattooed dudes on fixies.

“Timbuk2 wasn’t going to the office 25 years ago,” CEO Patti Cazzato told Cult of Mac during a recent tour of the company’s Mission district factory, where all of Timbuk2’s custom bags are made.

Best List: Gear so great we can’t stop talking about it

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If you don't have a dedicated roadie or one of those robotic tuning guitars, there's no easier way to tune your ax than with a Snark. Just squeeze the thumb-size mount and slide your headstock between the rubberized grips. Then press the little button on the front of the Snark's colorful LCD readout, pluck a string and get your instrument ready to play.


Lightweight and accurate, the Snark SN-2 All Instrument Tuner works with acoustic or electric guitars and basses, mandolins, banjos, whatever. It's perfect for situations like in-studio radio shows, where you don't want to drag around a stompbox tuner or a large amp that might have one built-in tuner. It also boasts pitch calibration, which lets you tune to something besides A-440, and a metronome that I can't complain about because I've never used it. The Snark SN-2 is a great buy at $39 list (and a steal at Amazon's price of $12.99). — Lewis Wallace


Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

If you don't have a dedicated roadie or one of those robotic tuning guitars, there's no easier way to tune your ax than with a Snark. Just squeeze the thumb-size mount and slide your headstock between the rubberized grips. Then press the little button on the front of the Snark's colorful LCD readout, pluck a string and get your instrument ready to play.

Lightweight and accurate, the Snark SN-2 All Instrument Tuner works with acoustic or electric guitars and basses, mandolins, banjos, whatever. It's perfect for situations like in-studio radio shows, where you don't want to drag around a stompbox tuner or a large amp that might have one built-in tuner. It also boasts pitch calibration, which lets you tune to something besides A-440, and a metronome that I can't complain about because I've never used it. The Snark SN-2 is a great buy at $39 list (and a steal at Amazon's price of $12.99). — Lewis Wallace

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


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Best List: Time to seriously upgrade your life

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You know what I hate about Apple computers? The precious keyboards. They look lovely, with their sleek designs and tiny little keys, but they absolutely kill my wrists and fingers. That’s why I plug a grimy old Goldtouch keyboard ($129 list when they made ‘em) into the MacBook Air that I use for work. I even take the weird-looking A-frame keyboard with me when I travel. It’s not an elegant-looking solution, but it’s a lifesaver.

I’ve dealt with typing-related RSI for decades. While I use voice recognition when I have to write something lengthy, it’s not the perfect tool to accomplish every task in every situation. Sometimes I need to hammer away on a keyboard, and when I do, the Goldtouch makes the experience far less painful. It’s split down the center, with a ball joint that lets me adjust the angle between the two halves as well as the height at the center. And the soft-touch keys just feel good to me. — Lewis Wallace

P.S. I haven’t tried the updated Goldtouch V2 ($115) or the company’s Go!2 Bluetooth mobile keyboard, but when ol’ faithful finally gives up the ghost, that’ll be my move.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


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After 25 Years, Timbuk2 Finally Updates Their Ancient Classic Messenger Bag

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No one but actual, honest-to-God bicycle messengers had the authority to wield a Timbuk2 messenger bag. If you were an iron-assed hard case living life on a bike, you’d probably earned the right; though you might still have found yourself the target of diluted messenger disgust.

That was the pervading vibe 15 years ago when I bought my first Timbuk2 bag, a Bolo (back then, each size had a name; the Bolo was the large version). Make no mistake, these were Messenger Bags: simple, voluminous, virtually indestructible black holes, able to swallow an inordinate amount of awkwardly dimensioned deliverables, specially stabilized for use on the bike exclusively. The only grudging nods to civility were a couple of pockets sown onto the outside of the bag and an optional padded shoulder strap.

And apart from a few minor changes, it’s stayed that way. Like the coelacanth, the Classic Messenger has remained a living fossil, unchanged, while other Timbuk2 species have evolved and developed around it. Until now.

Instead of a Laptop, This Messenger Bag Hides An Ice-Cold Beer Bonanza

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Nothing screams “summer!” like a bag full of beer and ice. The messenger-bag gurus at Timbuk2 know this, and have re-clad and re-released their stealthy party-in-a-bag bag, the Dolores Chiller Messenger — this time in Pilsner Urquell’s signature green and white colors.

You may be asking “can’t I just dump all the stuff out of my own messenger bag and fill it with beer and ice?” Why no, you can’t. Your bag’s interior isn’t insulated; and more importantly, your bag doesn’t come with a handy bottle opener.

Timbuk2 Factory Tour Highlights Offshoring Issues at Apple [Gallery]

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SAN FRANCISCO — American companies are rightly proud to show off any manufacturing facilities supporting jobs during the current recession, and San Francisco-based Timbuk2 is no exception. This week, the company known for its messenger bags showed us the hangar here in the Mission district where workers cut and sew colorful swaths of material and help contribute to the local manufacturing economy.

As a group of reporters was ushered through the trendy open-plan set-up, it made us think about what a factory tour of Apple’s manufacturing plants would be like. We’ll never know, of course. Tim Cook would never allow a tour like this one.