Chico bag bottle sling

Review: Chico bag’s Bottle Sling

When I bought my 40 oz (approx 1.1 liter) Klean Kanteen, I also bought a neoprene jacket made by Built NY from them. It took me quite some time -almost a year to get used to the neoprene jacket (because I was used to carrying my Sigg around) as it  was a bit different from the simple zip up jacket on my Sigg made of the same material. It leaves the top 3-4 inches of the bottle uncovered on one side. Then it has this vertical handle, which makes for a great grab handle for drinking but when used to carry the bottle, its like carrying my violin in its case and this gets me a lot of stares -not because it looks bad, but simply because not many people in Delhi carry a stainless steel bottle horizontally in a neoprene jacket.


DSC_0002I don’t enjoy the unwanted attention. This means that I can’t really carry the bottle without my backpack if I need my hands free -true I can loop the tail of the jacket through my belt loop and secure it using the sturdy velcro reinforced press button, but a full bottle of  water dangling from a single belt loop wobbling and bobbing on a stretchable neoprene handle is very uncomfortable even on a short walk. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my Built NY neoprene jacket and always use it when I carry the bottle in my pack, but carrying a pack just for the bottle is not ideal in spite of it affording  extra protection and insulation for it. Sometimes you just feel like going for a walk or biking around and at such times it is good to have a bottle holder  which can be slung across your shoulder.

The bottle sling can be stuffed into its own pocket!
The bottle sling can be stuffed into its own pocket!

Some time back, searching for folding bags on Google (The ones that zip up to resemble a wallet) to avoid using plastic bags for my grocery, I accidentally stumbled on the Chicobag website and their glacier  colored bottle sling caught my eye. International shipping to India was just USD 3 so that brought the   total cost to USD 13. Paying for the order was the easy part, receiving the order was not so easy and I was on the verge of filing for a charge-back with my card company four times before I received the product. Each time I received some communication from Chicobag which stopped me from proceeding with the charge-back. They weren’t trying to cheat me or something, its just that they need to polish their sales and support procedures and work on timeliness for International orders.

I buy a lot of stuff from overseas online and was surprised at how long it took for the bottle sling to arrive. It wasn’t just the delay in posting, it was also the delay in any remedial action  that Chicobag took. Here is a time line reconstructed by going back to my email communication with them.

15th September 2010

I receive an invoice for the purchase that I have made. I immediately inform them that my address is messed up and that Haryana has been added after Delhi although I’m sure the postman will figure it out. Two emails later, I’m assured that the corrections have been forwarded to the shipping department.

7th October 2010

I've got a pen and a walkman in either of the sleeves in the strap. When the strap is let down as shown in the picture, the pockets turn upside down.
I’ve got a pen and a walkman in either of the sleeves in the strap. When the strap is let down as shown in the picture, the pockets turn upside down.

I’m shocked as I receive an empty envelope with an invoice for something that I have not purchased. The address corrections too have not been made. I suspect that someone stole whatever was inside. Why did it take so long? Did it actually go to Haryana and come back? I don’t think so, the postman would have to be a complete idiot to do that. I write back and tell them that the invoice for USD  58.17 was not mine, I didn’t order a nylon shopping bag and that there was nothing in the envelope -neither bag nor bottle sling.

14th October 2010

I get an email saying that my order was “damaged on the way” and that they are working on it. I suspect that if they can send the wrong invoice, probably they could also forget to put in the product too. Besides the product is so thin that it is not easy to figure out whether there is anything in the envelope even after packing it. I think the addresses and orders have got mixed up, but an empty envelope, sounds like chaos at their end, unless someone flicked the shopping bag and resealed the envelope. However I have never had any stuff stolen in so many years of online shopping.

23rd October 2010

I get another email asking me for my shipping address as my order is being processed. This could probably be due to any doubts caused by my first email to them.

11th November 2010

I get an email informing me that my order has been shipped

15th November 2010

I receive the bottle sling and it is really beautiful and well made. I stuff my Klean kanteen into it and it fits well. However there were no instructions or description along with it and only when checking their website for the dimensions when writing this post today did I discover that it could also be folded and stuffed into its built in pouch, -a neat feature!

PROS:

  • Uses recycled materials which Chicobag innovatively calls rePETe, short for recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate). The bottle sling is made from 100% recycled PET which is used as the main fabric for the body, the strap liner from 100% recycled Polypropylene, and the carabiner from 97% recycled Aluminum. (All from their website)
  • The strap or handle of the bottle sling has two pockets of different lengths. The longer one can be used to clip your pen and/or chopsticks and the shorter one can fit in a pen drive or a similar sized MP3 player or your lipstick or lip balm or any other object of that size. The slightly elastic material forming the sleeve holds the items tightly -at least in my case (Depends on what you put in)
  • An iPod classic can be put into the integrated pocket used for stuffing the bottle sling when not in use, but it juts out as being flat it doesn’t follow the curvature of the bottle.

CONS:

  • Some people might find the strap too long and there doesn’t seem to be any way to adjust its length.
  • When the bottle is placed down, the pockets in the handle turn upside down. If you have things that fit in loosely in the pockets, for e.g chopsticks, they will fall out of their pockets. My Smith & Wesson tactical pen held on tightly to the sleeve and the sleeve held on tightly to my Sony Walkman, but you’d better think twice of putting in anything precious into it.

All said and done it is a very well made product and not very pricey for all its refined looks. The shipping too is pretty cheap. I was planning to buy  a day pack from Chicobag in the near future but then I ordered a Pacsafe bag and I don’t think I’ll buy any other brand anymore. It is good to have a compact bag which I can carry around when I’m traveling. Here is the link to the product page of the bottle sling.

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