About a month ago I received an email in my inbox with the following subject line:
Jonathan – This is the Best Bag for Gaming Consoles
Now the subject line grabbed my attention for three reasons:
- This was clearly a “cold email”. You see enough of them, you recognize them.
- However, this person actually took the time to get my first name right, usually the subject includes the name Jonathanbossenger, which is just my domain name without the .com, and makes it easier to pick out the crap.
- About a month ago I purchased an Asus ROG Ally and published not one, but two review posts, so clearly this emailer had read one of those posts.
Anyway, the subject line was intriguing enough for me to read the email. It was from Joclyn, the Media Relations Coordinator of Grams28, an online retailer specializing in leather products for men like sling bags, tech folios, card holders, and other lifestyle gear. In the email, Jocelyn referred to my most recent Asus ROG Ally review and indicated that their 156 City Sling bag might be the perfect bag for my newly purchased gaming console.
She even offered me the chance to have a bag sent to me for review.
Side note, Joclyn had included her pronouns in her email signature, which I appreciated.
Now, to be honest, I’m probably not in the consumer segment that Grams28 is marketing to, given that the male models in the first image attached to the email are probably about 20 years younger than I am. So I was initially reluctant to take this any further. However, the second two images did pique my interest.
As you can see from the images, Grams28 is effectively marketing this bag as being not only able to carry my gaming console but also my mobile phone, card holder, and maybe even my car keys, and sunglasses. As someone who is forever losing these things when I am out and about, the idea that I could carry them all in one bag along with the console was very appealing.
Additionally, I thought about my recent and upcoming international travel for work, and I thought about being able to use this as a travel bag for all my stuff, my gaming console, charger, USB cables, passport, tickets, bluetooth earphones, card holder, etc.
And here I was being given the chance to review one. How could I pass this up?
I emailed Joclyn back, thanked her for the opportunity, and let her know I’d definitely be interested in reviewing this on my blog.
I can’t review the purchasing process, because the Grams28 folks managed that for me, but I did take a peek at the source code of their site (web developer after all) and it’s running on Shopify. I’ve used enough Shopify stores to know that the buying experience is great, so I can only assume that will be the case here.
What I did appreciate was that they do offer worldwide delivery, something that Joclyn confirmed in our email conversation, and they provide free shipping to specific parts of the world on the sling bag if the price is over $129 (US).
Sadly there is a small charge to ship to South Africa, which is $30. That brings the total cost of this bag to $319, or about ZAR 6000. I did however appreciate that they even ship to SA in the first place. Believe it or not, some companies still don’t deliver to SA, although that list is growing shorter as worldwide shipping options improve.
Shipping times on the site range from 5-10 days, which is pretty standard. The order was placed on September the 6th, and it arrived at my office on September the 15th, just in time for me to use it for a weekend away I was taking with my family.
No review would be complete without the unboxing experience, and this is no exception.
The packaging is simple but classic. The box has the phrase “Obviously you’ve made a great choice” which is probably some clever marketing trick to make you feel good about your purchase. (It works, and I didn’t even pay for this bag!)
Once you open the box the bag itself is inside a material drawstring bag, which I thought was a cool touch. It means I don’t have any plastic or other packaging materials to worry about, and I’d just have to recycle anyway. I can also see myself keeping and reusing the drawstring bag.
According to the site, the 156 City Sling is their take on the continental messenger bag. It has a distinctive shape and is designed for those who need more space for their goods but want to remain hands-free. I’m not going to lie, I was dubious about this, especially as a place to keep the ROG Ally. The video on the product page shows all sorts of things being carried in the bag alongside a Steam deck, including a smartphone, digital camera, wallet, keys, you name it.
My two biggest concerns were:
- Would I be able to fit all my stuff into the bag alongside the ROG Ally and
- Would it keep the Ally safe, and not cause any damage to the device?
I am pleased to say that my concerns were unwarranted.
This bag is just the right size to pack your handheld gaming console and all your stuff, and it has room to breathe.
With its range of different internal and external compartments, I am able to get everything you see in the next photo into the bag comfortably, without items knocking against each other, causing possible damage.
- ROG Ally Console
- Charging unit
- Microfibre cloth
- Bluetooth in-ear headphones
- ROG Ally stand
- ID document/passport
- Mobile phone (not pictured)
I especially appreciate that it has different internal compartments of different sizes, to tackle different sized items. It also has two zippered compartments on the outside, for things you need quick access to, like your mobile device, keys, or cardholder.
The leather is of strong, durable quality, and looks great. While it’s not a hard shell case, I never felt worried about things inside being damaged. I probably wouldn’t pack this in a tight place, or with anything heavy on top of it, but for everyday use it’s excellent.
Here is a breakdown of the bag dimensions and other details:
- 31 W x 15.5 H x 7.5 D cm ( 12.2” W x 6.1” H x2.95″ D )
- Max. Capacity 5.5L
- Front Zip Pocket
- Back Slot
- Adjustable Strap
- Heavy-duty Buckle
- Environmental Certified Full Grain Italian Leather
I do have two small gripes about the bag.
They aren’t kidding about the heavy-duty buckle. This thing is heavy! When I pick up the bag, I’m genuinely careful of picking it up by the buckle, in case it hits against my body somewhere. That being said, it would be a great weapon in a fight!
My other gripe is one that is probably specific to me, but the adjustable strap is just a little too short. At full length, the bag sits around the middle of my body, and I’d prefer it closer to my hip.
To be honest, though, those are minor complaints, and certainly not deal-breakers.
So, is this the best bag for gaming consoles?
Let’s put it this way, one of the main reasons I originally purchased the handheld was that while I am a gamer, I’m also other things, and so I wanted to be able to allow my hobby to fit into my lifestyle. Whether it was in the car while waiting to pick up one of my sons from sports practice, sitting in a queue waiting to renew my car license, or during the 30 minutes I grab for lunch after my workout, I wanted a way to rekindle my favorite hobby. Finding a bag that not only accommodated this need but made it easy was a must. The 156 City Sling does all of that.
So if you are looking for a multi-purpose leather sling bag that’s finely crafted, durable, comfortable, and can carry not only your Nintendo Switch, Steamdeck, or ROG Ally, but also your car keys, wallet, mobile phone (and probably also your sunglasses) anywhere you go AND looks great doing so, then this is the bag for you.
If you’re just looking for a case for a handheld console, and nothing else, this might not be what you need. But I would suggest it’s worth considering because you never know how your needs might change.