Meet the First Class Series: Rugged US Military contractor sourced M35 22 oz vinyl/canvas truck tarpaulin collide with $60.00 worth of imported solid steel and brass AustriAlpin Cobra Quick Release buckles used by Special Forces. Each buckle is capable of holding up to 2,000 lbs. Yep, 4,000 lbs of load-bearing strong should keep things First Class. M35 Military truck tarpaulin vinyl/canvas is the same heavy duty tarpaulin used to protect US service members in theater today. It's thick, matte, rubbery feel makes for an incredibly durable bag material which with use over time starts to soften & wear nicely taking on a different patina and character. While it's tougher than the vast majority of tarp material used by other bag companies with enough beating, use and life it can eventually show signs of wear. Those wear marks are a badge of honor! It's military tough as hell for sure, but nothing's indestructible even though it may look it! The First Class is hand-crafted on the gritty west side of Chicago using industrial machines, threads, and techniques learned from disassembling vintage military bags. With reclaimed bicycle innertube trim provided by bicycle shops across the country, Defy also always tries to do our part to help the environment. 15” laptops time share easily with Barker Black shoes or whatever else you want to throw in it. Solid steel swivel clips and hardware fly the finger to the incessant over use of flimsy plastic found on most bags. A First Class salute! The First Class is as tough as you are and truly looks and feels better with age as the material conforms to your body. First Class indeed.
PROUDLY HAND-CRAFTED IN THE UNITED STATES.
(Posted by Defy Bags on 9th Jul 2013)
Just wanted to say that Defy has addressed a few of the points written below, namely:
1. We've made sure when the bags not full, there are no longer any 'gaps' that could let in water.
2. The carry handle has indeed been upgraded to be a much more comfortable 2" handle.
3. Clip and D Ring placement is still in the front, as many people have expressed to us that they like it there, but we're considering an internal option for those who don't. So thanks for that!
4. Smaller side pockets - This has come up a few times. These pockets were never designed to carry much, other than little extras. We always suggest if you're going to carry a water bottle perhaps do it inside.
Thanks again for the review. We just thought that from time to time Defy will directly address when/how we're making positive changes due to the Defy community taking time to write such thoughtful reviews. Very appreciated!
(Posted by Ashley on 8th Jul 2013)
I purchased a First Class Large in March or April 2012 and wrote quite favourably about it a month later on another review site, although after more than a year of daily use I feel like I can give a more comprehensive review of how it's holding up.
First off, and perhaps most importantly, it's completely intact. The build is solid, and I expected nothing less. The moment you first lay hands on it you know it'll take a complete thrashing and then some more. The bottom corners are showing some wear, but it'll be a long time yet before it becomes a concern. As for the buckles? I still love hearing that click every time they're done up.
Anyway, over time there have been a few small things that have started to bother me with the First Class. The most major issue is when the bag isn't packed full, and the sides of the opening extend out past the flap, thus allowing in rain or whatever else the environment throws at you, which almost defeats the purpose of having a bag made from waterproof vinyl canvas. The gaps aren't enormous, but still enough of a problem if you're carrying papers or books.
The next thing is the carry handle. I believe this has since been upgraded, although on this version of the First Class the webbing handle begins to quickly dig into your hands if you're carrying any substantial weight. Not such an issue when you use the shoulder strap of course, but if you're already carrying a backpack or wearing a suit (sorry, straps across a suit isn't a good look) then I find myself alternating between hands every few minutes.
Another issue is the placement of the clip and d-ring. I'm not sure why these haven't been placed internally, as any items you hang from them (i.e. keys most likely, but perhaps also EDC gear) will still be exposed even when the bag is closed. To get around this issue I've clipped a chain to the d-ring and then attached my keys to the chain, which I then throw into the front pocket.
The final matter, albeit a very small one, is the side pockets. I haven't found a use for these whatsoever, other than keeping small bits of paper in there! They're not large enough for a water bottle, nor are they deep enough to carry some sort of knife or multitool without leaving it exposed. Given how ridid the material is, even if it were deep enough you'd probably have some issues accessing whatever was in there.
Despite all these matters I'm still planning to use my First Class for a long time yet. Still not quite the perfect everyday bag for me, but pretty damn close! I wasn't sure whether to go for 3 stars or 4 stars (would've gone for 3.5 if possible) but I have to go for 4 if we include the Defy ethos and the standard of their customer service. Great to see this company continuing to grow and innovate.
(Posted by David Schuminsky on 25th Jan 2013)
I have wanted a Defy bag for over a year. Because my bag and wallet are made in the same city I live in, I decided to take advantage of the fact and visit Chris at world headquarters. I stopped by around 1:30pm and walked up three flights of stairs in this really old building in the historic Chicago of Ravenswood. I was greeted by a Chris and his associate ______ (I am embarrassed as I forgot her name!). Chris is totally cool, laid back and looks at you with a pair of the bluest eyes I have ever seen. We chatted and Chris showed me several copies of the bag I was interested in. The most different aspect (to me) of Chis's bags is the material. It is thick and has a really solid feel to it. It can stand up on its own. The locks are intense. It's almost stealth in nature. Chris let me choose whichever one i wanted. Each bag has marks, slight creases, and areas that are unique to each bag. I also saw one copy that was made of virgin tarp. It was perfectly black but for me the wear and tear of use makes the product so much more of a personal experience.
I also purchased one of Chris's wallets. This wallet will probably last me for a minimum of ten years. The leather is rich in its consistency. It has almost a surreal look to it, as I have never seen leather so rich before. It's almost like it isn't leather at all, but some unique new soft good. I can see myself when I look at my wallet. It is definately sturdy and very well constructed. Each wallet that I examined with Chris was as different as the bags. It has contrasting red stitching and ample room for cards and cash. It has a pocket sewn on the outside so I can keep my transit cards in one convenient place without having to open the wallet.
I am in love with my purchases. I put the bag on a chair in front of me and just looked at it when I got home and I am still looking at it. I have been fondling my wallet as well. It feels so soothing to the touch. And it smells of oil seeped hand crafted leather, deep and rich.
If you ever have the opportunity to come to Chicago, give them a call. Maybe you will be able to choose your own personal bag and meet Chris. He is really cool. See his pride in action. I am really proud to own these exceptionally crafted products. I look forward to using them when I am done looking and caressing them.
(Posted by Brook on 17th Nov 2012)
I keep this short.
Want a great quality messenger bag thats going to last forever and looks awesome? Get this.
(Posted by Unknown on 27th Aug 2012)
This bag is incredibly sturdy and looks far better than your average water-resistant laptop or messenger bag. The clips are incredibly sturdy, and the handle is very convenient and doesn't hit your back while wearing the bag over your shoulder. There are a few design details I would change in an ideal world: the strap could be a bit shorter (I like to have the bag snug against my body, which I can't quite do when the bag is mostly empty); one of the side pockets could be slightly larger to accommodate a water bottle; and the openings to the pockets in the front could be slightly higher so they aren't exposed when the bag is packed full and the flap is clipped in place.
(Posted by John T on 24th May 2012)
I was skeptical at first when purchasing this bag. But I am so glad that I did, the quality is amazing and you can tell a lot of time is put into each product. I get a lot of compliments everywhere I go. The buckles on this bag makes it easy to open not to mention stylish. Keep up the good work!
(Posted by Julia S on 24th May 2012)
So I've Owned My Green First Class For All of an Hour...
... but I think it may be the most perfect thing I've ever encountered. I LOVE this bag... the size is perfect, the color's perfect, the construction is obviously bomb-proof and the Cobra buckles are the epitome of industrial sexiness.
(Posted by JNW on 24th May 2012)
Great craftsmanship, thoughtful design, excellent materials. Ample size, but not enormous. It slings comfortably on the shoulder and is perfect for holding a laptop with accessories. Easy one-handed buckle release is convenient. Slight imperfections remind you that this is a hand-made beauty, no overseas mass production. Oh yeah: I got drenched in a rain storm on my way to work, but everything in my bag was dry!
(Posted by Geoffrey on 24th May 2012)
This bag, is perfection. Absolute, unadulterated perfection. You have filled a hole in my life :)