It’s been a while between drinks for the Specialist Carry category, which has been a shame since it’s such an interesting category. But, we’ve got something interesting to share today. It’s a mix of a road test, specialist carry and a guest post – kinda like a Carryology threesome.
What we’ve got is the Media Pack from QWSTION, which was created to help make it easier to transport technical equipment with ease and comfort in a backpack custom-made for geeks and DJs. So with that in mind we got Adam Biesiot, a DJ (vinyl spinner) from Melbourne, to give the pack a good road test.
Adam’s not one of those jet-setting DJs who constantly flies from one city to another. Instead, he is a vinyl enthusiast who has been collecting and playing records around Melbourne for a few years now.
This is the first time he’s actually used a DJ-specific backpack. Before testing the QWSTION Media Pack he was swinging between (depending on the gig location) his P.A.M. tote bag and his Lighthouse Records shoulder bag from Japan, so we were thinking Adam would be a great candidate to test the pack out for us. Read on for his review on the QWSTION Media Pack.
My first impression of the backpack was that it looks great. I liked the clean, minimal appearance of the bag and it was refreshing to see a backpack that wasn’t covered in branded logos or camo prints. The outer is constructed using quality washed black 100% cotton canvas, which instantly gave me the impression that it will be strong and durable. It has contrast canvas padded shoulder straps with slick Nylon seatbelt webbing on the shoulder straps and side compression straps, complemented by QWSTION’s signature Circlestitch bartacks for added strength.
Although the bag looks very simple at first glance, you can tell that QWSTION have paid great attention to detail to all the trims. The carry handle and bottom stash compartment zip are made using soft vegetable tanned leather, with self fabric zip pulls, and polished metal buckles and zip heads. But I think the most unique feature would have to be the main compartment closure, a small polished metal “twist and lock” device that ensures that your contents within the bag are secured and safe.
This signature closure is probably not necessary, as the twin zips on the main compartment seem secure enough to me, but it’s another cool cosmetic feature and also highlights QWSTION’s focus on style and separation from other brands. QWSTION have stated that this bag is primarily a “media pack” for DJs or musicians, but it can also function as a day pack. However, my main focus of use for this bag was DJ-ing.
My first endeavour was to see how many records this bag could actually hold. QWSTION claim that the backpack can support 50 x 12” records and after packing it full it holds exactly that. No more, no less. This number isn’t including a laptop, so if you need to bring a laptop to your gig (not that I ever would, being a vinyl purist!), I tried packing my MacBook Pro 15” into the internal neoprene laptop sleeve and the pack still had enough room for around 45 records snug.
My 15” Mac fitted with ease in the neoprene sleeve and given the bag’s square profile, the laptop sat safely in the bag and the corners of the laptop didn’t get in the way of the main zip closure when zipped up tight. The other added bonus with this pack is that it comes with a removable vinyl protector. This is essentially a removable piece of PE board bonded to a rectangular 10-mm piece of compressed foam that sits at the base of the bag. In the event that you drop your bag, the vinyl protector acts like a shock absorber between the ground and your precious vinyl. It also protects the bottom edges of your record sleeves from being scuffed through wear and tear when sitting on the ground.
The backpack is also extremely comfortable to wear. The combination of soft cotton canvas and generous foam padding in the shoulder straps and back panel contour well to your back and even when the bag is packed full of records it still feels comfortable. Personally speaking, most of the cotton canvas backpacks I have used have been a little lackluster in structure and body and sometimes struggle to stand upright, but this isn’t the case with this bag. It stands up when empty and doesn’t tip over when packed full either, a key factor when you’re at a venue that doesn’t have a table or bench for you to rest your records on and you have to leave them sitting on the ground. There’s nothing worse than having all your records tip over and onto the ground because your bag won’t sit upright.
During the month I had a gig in Sydney, so I decided to take the bag with me and travelled on a domestic flight from Melbourne to Sydney. As the current domestic cabin weight restrictions in Australia are so strict, I tried to pack as light as possible, given that I had to play a two-hour set. I packed the backpack with 27 records, my iPhone, keys and wallet and the bag weighed in at 10.5 kg. I was stressing out a little as Jetstar Airlines carry on/cabin allowance is 10 kg. Prior to checking in I placed the bag in one of Jetstar’s carry on/cabin dimension displays and the bag passed with ease. Lucky for me the lady that served me when checking in didn’t ask to weigh my bag and once seated the bag fitted under the seat in front of me with no problem.
The bag also comes with two pockets. One is a concealed stash pocket on the back that sits just below the carry handle, room enough to fit your iPhone, keys, wallet, 45 rings or even a small digital camera. The other is located on the lower front half of the bag. QWSTION state this pocket is intended for your boarding ticket or VIP card, which is cute, but realistically I think most people would either hold onto their boarding pass or place it in their pockets. Instead I used the pocket to store my needles, but they only just fit and I did have to cram them in.
I also rode my bike to gigs with the backpack packed full to the brim with records and had no problems. The pack sat firmly on my shoulders and back and didn’t swing around whilst riding. A sternum strap probably wouldn’t go astray, as the bag does not come with one, but I was fine without one.
Stylish and looks great
Feels good on your back
Durable fabrication and hardware
Twin main compartment zips make accessing your records a breeze
Fits easily in plane cabin or under seat
Stands up alone and doesn’t tip over
Dual purpose / could be used as a day pack
If I could change anything about this bag it would definitely be the size of the extra storage pockets. Although you can fit a tonne of records in this pack, there’s nowhere to stow away headphones or a laptop charger.
You could rest either of them on top of your records in the main compartment like I did, but a larger exterior compartment dedicated to your DJ accessories would have been the icing on the cake. Having your headphones sitting on top of your records made me a little nervous because if the bag was tipped upside down your records could easily slide back and put heavy pressure on your fragile headphones. Even a pocket large enough to fit a CD wallet would have been a welcome addition.
Spilt drinks are a regular occurrence at hot and sweaty night clubs and cotton canvas tends to soak up liquids fairly easily. Even though the cotton canvas looks great and is super comfortable to wear, a water-repellent lining or exterior such as tarpaulin might be something that QWSTION could consider.
Aesthetically the QWSTION Media Pack will win a lot of buyers over with its looks. The attention to detail in terms of appearance, fabrics and trims is second to none. The pack is very versatile and can be used whilst riding your bike, flying or using public transport. It’s simple and sturdy, and its generous padding makes it very comfortable to wear however you choose to travel.
Given the amount of weight that I crammed into the bag, it held up well. Over the month that I used the pack it’s still showing no signs of wear and tear and still looks brand new. A great sign of quality construction and durability.
You can also rest assured that you will have no problems at the airport with its cabin-friendly size.
I would have loved this bag more if it had additional pockets to store essential DJ accessories, but otherwise it’s a welcome change to the generic and ugly DJ bags that currently dominate the DJ accessory market.
About Adam Biesiot
Perth born, Melbourne based beach boy/DJ Adam Biesiot is lucky enough to spend the weekdays blending his love for design and surf in his role as Global bags Designer at Quiksilver. Come the weekend (if the surf’s no good) he can be found cycling, updating his music blog MOON-ROCKS or foraging for rare leftfield, techno, or psych rock records to play at his once-a-month party DAY CARE.