Thursday, September 24, 2009

Patagonia Half Mass Bag - Review

As many of you know I have an obsession with bags and packs, and as my collection has grown I have decided to write some reviews of the bags I use and have used. First off, the Patagonia Half Mass...

The half mass is a medium size shoulder bag, which in the world of messenger bags is huge for the daily commuter. The specifications on this bag are perfect. Pockets, laptop sleeve, sleek profile and external water bottle pouch. The laptop sleeve easily sits a 14-15” notebook securely, while carrying a whole days worth of gear and not look bulky.

My intended use of the bag was as daily satchel for work to carry my laptop with accessories, several folders of papers, and a change of clothes on my daily bicycle commute of 10 miles round trip. I thought the bag would also double as my weekend bag for carrying essentials to the boulder-field. With its water-resistant fabric, durable nylon, and reflective stripe it seemed like the perfect bag.

Out of the box the satchel looked plenty big to hold all my gear, and as I stuffed the bag it held the contents without added bulk. No bulging top flap or pointy edges here! The material is not something I would want to sport in a down pour, but a light drizzle wouldn’t hurt it either. The shoulder strap is thick and comfortable even when leaning over on the bike, and the waist or chest strap is a nice feature. (I prefer the chest strap, but others I know really like the waist.)

The bag hangs low compared to other messenger bags I’ve used; it did not really center itself on my back. This causes bags to have a tendency to swing while biking or hiking. Because of this low hang, it is almost essential that you use the waist/chest strap. The shoulder strap is adjustable with a slide and locking mechanism that makes expanding the strap size to slip over your head easy. Unfortunately, expanding the strap can cause a heavy bag to slip really low while trying to take it off. Overall on the bike the bag was comfortable and confident with little to complain about.

In the office this bag is really nice. It carries looped over one shoulder just as easily as when it sits across your chest. It carries far more than you would ever need, but does rank low in looks on the professional scale. As an engineer this does not play a big role in my work, but for others with a more formal office setting I would not carry this bag around the office often.

Unlike many of the messenger bags I have used this one has a variety of pockets. Amazingly helpful in staying organized on trail and in the office. Holds pens, camera, planners, phones, iPods, etc… I can actually hold quite a bit before becoming cumbersome.

The features of this bag make it nice, but the bag is designed to be worn low (more like a briefcase than a messenger bag) making it less useful for active endeavors.

If you are looking for a large coffee shop companion, or a daily urban outing on foot this bag would be great.

If you are looking for a more aggressive and active satchel keep looking.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Green Roofs for Florida's Future

This week green roof construction is complete on the green roof test section. The roof will be put through a series of wind and rain tests to establish the viability of a living roof in a hurricane prone region. Also, the durability tests will help establish a baseline for the actual lifespan of a non-irrigated green roof. The no irrigation component makes all the technology applicable for future generations as the fresh water scarcity is becoming a real problem.

Materials for the 4x12 roof section's living component where supplied through MetroVerde a green roof designer and innovator out of Jacksonville, FL. These roofs are specifically designed to be placed directly on shingles and use no irrigation. Therefore specifically chosen to withstand the Florida climate extremes. The roof was planted with a variety of species and then seeded. The roof will be let sit for 2 weeks to establish itself before testing.

As the roof grows in I will post pictures and discuss the process, condition, and data from the testing. Look for more to come.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Spring is in full swing here in Florida and with recent a 2 week long May downpour the local flowers are coming to life. Although not one of my traditional hobbies environmentally friendly landscaping is a recent endeavor that is pretty rewarding. Water conscious plants, composting, and native species integration are really interesting to research and fun to experiment with.

Here is a rose sitting in my front garden. The image was taken with my Canon XTi w/ 55mm lens at ISO 100 and f/8.0.

Trying it out

This posting is really just to see if works. First time bloggers have trouble thinking up content.

I am planning a trip to Colorado soon and can't decide which cameras to take. My Digital SLR for sure and then one film camera. Do I go for the full manual or the bulky autofocus? This will need careful selection.