Etchr Art Satchel And Field Case Combo Review by Bekki Page

Etchr Art Satchel And Field Case Combo Review – Doodlewash®

No Signal my monitor informed me. I had worked the better part of three weeks testing, researching, and writing about the Etchr Art Satchel Combo when my computer hard drive crashed. I switched to another computer, but my writing flow was affected. Rather than setting me back however, the computer failure helped me see what I had been missing during the first part of the review process for the Etchr Art Satchel.

I had been testing to determine how the Etchr satchel could be everything to everyone. I felt like I had barely scratched the surface of the possibilities with the Etchr after dozens of different setups. But just like I missed my stripped-back writing computer in a quiet corner, I missed the simplicity of the curated supplies I normally used. I had too many possibilities crammed into my Etchr satchel. I stripped the satchel bare and started over. The goal was to give myself the comfortable minimalism that had kept me sketching day in and day out during the last four years.

When I finished, the drawing board looked empty and not very “artist-y”. I wanted to put on a few more choices, just in case. I resisted the urge and instead placed the pared back items in positions on the felt board in the same position I placed them on my art desk when I drew at home. I folded and clipped the bag into my favorite sling mode setup, and suddenly the system made perfect sense for me. The Etchr Art Satchel is not about carrying everything, it’s about the ability to comfortably carry anything, any place you want to go. 

Etchr Art Satchel Detail Photo ~ Doodlewash®

Do you have a secret obsession with seeing other artists’ supplies, tools, and workflow? I know I do! In today’s review, I’ll show you a handful of the thousands of possibilities with the Etchr Art Satchel. Unlike other art bags, the Etchr Art Satchel includes a self-contained, hands-free workspace that can be used anywhere from your bed to a backcountry hiking trail.

Etchr Art Satchel And Field Case Combo Image ~ Doodlewash®

I first heard about the Etchr Art Satchel and Field Case combo last fall on a favorite Youtube channel, and headed to the Etchr Lab website to investigate.  Measuring a sleek 16” wide x 13” high X 4” deep, the charcoal gray poly and Toughtek Etchr Art Satchel emanates a quiet sophistication that passes for a laptop bag in urban settings or technical gear in a wilder environment. Backpack straps easily convert to a comfortable shoulder strap, or the low-profile handles can be used for simple hand carry. 

The Etchr Art Satchel can be used in several different modes to best suit the artist and the environment. Standing, sitting, or even walking around(!) is no problem with the Etchr satchel in sling mode on the shoulder strap. Want to sit at a table? Use it in Study Mode. Planning a long plein air session? Mount the satchel on a camera tripod and use it as an easel. The Etchr is equally adept at handling digital and traditional media. A small army of tabs and pockets allows the bag to be customized by each individual artist. The system seemed a tad overwhelming, but I knew I wanted to have a go. While I waited for my satchel, I watched videos by artists that had tested the prototype and read reviews from other Etchr Art Satchel owners.

My Etchr Art Satchel combo arrived in just a few days from Singapore. Approximately 4.3 seconds after the “Dark Like My Soul” colored satchel cleared the box, my college-bound son was trying to sweet talk me out of it. Etchr’s style game is clearly on point. Empty, the Etchr Art Satchel Combo weighs around 6 pounds. I tried carrying it as a backpack, switched the strap in seconds to a crossbody bag, and finally carried it like a briefbag. All three carry styles are equally comfortable, an impressive engineering feat. In the weeks since, I most often sling one backpack strap over my shoulder like a lazy schoolgirl or carry it vertically from the top handle.

I’ve decided on a comfortable minimalism, but maybe you’re an artist who enjoys having choices at your fingertips. Over the weeks I prepared for the review, I set the Etchr Art Satchel up dozens of different ways. The drawing board and velcro tool storage is just plain fun. Figuring out how to best fit your gear into the bag is at times exasperating, but there’s no right or wrong way. If something you try doesn’t work, you go at it from a different angle. Once you click with your setup, it’s a custom design that you’re incredibly proud of (and should share with the #Etchr tag on social media!)

Etchr Art Satchel – Study Mode

The Etchr working side had three basic modes I want to learn: study, sling, and easel. I decided to start with Study mode because I normally paint at a table.

The first thing I needed to sort out was which portion was my work surface, and which was my tool storage. I prefer a horizontal work surface for watercolor, and decided to make the side with the storage pocket a vertical tool wall. The challenge for Study Mode is figuring out a stable fitting with the hook straps. Once I placed the hooks through the lower loops on the vertical tool wall and the front loops on the horizontal work surface, the system worked beautifully for me. I can set or close down study mode up in under a minute.

Etchr Art Satchel – Sling Mode

My next task was figuring out the Sling mode that will allow me to work standing, sitting, or even walking around.

Sling mode is the reason most people buy this bag, and I’m no exception. I stripped the Etchr workboard bare again, and set up the drawing board for use without a tool wall. My tools moved into the Field Case, which I wore crossbody for easy access while I used sling mode.

I experimented using the quick adjust buckles on the satchel strap to find the work surface height and angle that worked best for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find the drawing board at a perfect angle for watercolor when I set the Etchr Art Satchel up in Sling mode on a tabletop.

In sling mode the contents of the messenger bag are sandwiched, and difficult to access. On one occasion I lined the interior of the messenger bag with a reusable nylon grocery tote and removed the tote during sketching, but normally the accessibility and additional bulk wasn’t an issue for me. I could once again set up and close down in under a minute.

Etchr Art Satchel – Easel Mode

Exploring easel mode opened up a whole new sketching world for me.

Etchr includes recommendations for tripods and QR mounts on their website that can handle the weight and stress of a loaded Etchr Art Satchel. Even with my trickety release mechanism and grandpa Star D tripod, I was able to use and enjoy easel mode. It takes me 3-4 minutes to set up or tear down the satchel in easel mode, but I was surprised to find I liked painting at an easel much more than a desk.

 

Etchr Art Satchel – The Messenger Bag

If you watch any of the prototype reviews, artists are packing the messenger bag out with lots of extra studio supplies. I use mine for personal items instead.

Etchr Art Satchel Messenger Bag ~ Doodlewash®

The roll top on the main bag not only keeps the contents dry during backpack carry, it also keeps them secure while transitioning between modes. Anything in the main bag is accessible without unpacking: simply unzip one or both sides of the drop front of the bag. The front weatherproof flap also has a zippered quick-access pocket I use for my phone, keys, and ID/bank cards. The lining throughout the bag is a ripstop poly that has the same luxurious feel as stretchy yoga pants.

The MOLLE System

The MOLLE strap system on the front and sides of the bag are one of the main selling points. Not only can you carry your tripod, but dozens of aftermarket bags and the Etchr Field Case will slide into the straps on the bag, too. The Llama mode worked as advertised, both horizontally and vertically. While I was impressed, the bag got uncomfortably heavy and bulky for me at this point. I might use Llama mode for a short walk or with a luggage trolley, but it probably won’t be something I use regularly for more than the Etchr Field Case.

The Etchr Field Case

The Etchr Art Satchel Combo comes with a 9.5” x 5.5” Field Case modular unit.

Etchr Art Satchel Field Case ~ Doodlewash®

The Field Case is made with the same materials and attention to design as the Etchr Art Satchel. The hand-sized case can be stowed inside the messenger bag, hooked onto the MOLLE loops, or carried separately cross-body on the included strap. I particularly enjoyed the ability to hook the straps onto opposite top and bottom loops which minimized swinging vertically and provided a mini sling mode for a pocket sketchbook when adjusted horizontally. I was surprised how many tools I could pack into this clamshell-style pencil case, and pleased there was room to carry my personal items (phone, keys, id, and bankcard.) All-in-all, the Etchr Field Case makes an exceptional artist EDC.

After learning the quirks of the various modes, I’ve fallen in love with my Etchr Art Satchel. All the past awkwardness of trying to paint away from my desk is gone. My tools don’t have to be unpacked or repacked on location, and they’re all secure from start to finish. I use the satchel around my home, too. Etchr Lab fulfills their company purpose for me with the Etchr Art Satchel: I am creating more art, more often, in more locations.

A special thank you to Etchr Lab for providing the Etchr Art Satchel Combo for review and for providing customer support as I explored and wrote about their product. My Etchr journey has just begun! Follow me on Instagram to see how I continue to integrate my Etchr Art Satchel into my art routines and click here to read my other reviews on Doodlewash!

Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

I’m a science and math educator who has been creating since childhood. I picked up watercolor four years ago and have been on a grand exploration discovering its playful and enigmatic personality.  Follow my adventure on Instagram!

17 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 5 months ago

    Becky, thank you for your thorough and comprehensive review of the Etchr Combo. I wondered what it was that made this bag different for others, and you’ve explained it well.

    • Author
      Bekki Page 5 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! The hands-free drawing/painting board is a joy to use and unique to the Etchr company. I’ve discovered how to create a small hands-free working surface with the Field Case, too. Pop over to my Instagram account for pics and details!

      • Sandra Strait 5 months ago

        I’ve already followed you on Instagram!

        • Author
          Bekki Page 5 months ago

          😁 Just followed you back. Looking forward to seeing your art in my stream.

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 months ago

    Isn’t it ironic that losing everything can allow you to find what’s most important? Thank you for a thorough review about this art field case. One of my biggest problems with painting on site is how uncomfortable I get after only a few minutes. I’d never thought about using a tripod support for watercolor, though I wouldn’t be without an easel for oil paints. Thank you for sharing all so many possibilities.

    • Author
      Bekki Page 5 months ago

      Thanks, Sharon. The Etchr provided a comfortable amount of privacy while cafe sketching in Study mode. Even though I feel a little conspicuous in Supported, or Sling mode, not a single person has approached me. The easel is a dream to work on for watercolor, and I hope to pursue it more this summer.

  3. Jill Gustavis 5 months ago

    Wonderful review! Yay for actually productive supplies! I’ve yet to field test my satchel, but I’ve finally got a system down for my field case, which I love to move from bag to bag having to stop to think if I remembered everything (pencil, pen, eraser, waterbrush…errrr, lol). I think it’s just like you said so well, I just need to find how the satchel will serve ME best. I know I’m gonna want to stuff it to the brim with all the supplies, but I think I’ll be happiest once I find a system with a few supplies that will let me work efficiently. Hopefully with my current emphasis on landscapes, breaking in my satchel will follow suit.

  4. Sharon Nolfi 5 months ago

    Thanks for a very comprehensive review.

  5. Tonya 5 months ago

    Oh my gosh, best review ever!!! “The Etchr Art Satchel is not about carrying everything, it’s about the ability to comfortably carry anything, any place you want to go.” Okay that summed it up for me, so I’ve placed my order. I really want to move art from a table to the moment, which is where I always want to be: the beautiful outdoors. (Of course, I’m up for a table and forgetting the moment when it’s 10-degrees and snowing. ha!)

    I’ve never worked at a tripod and am totally a lazy, lap sketcher. But I’m going to try the combo system for a month or so and may spring for a budget-friendly tripod. Freedom of movement is very enticing.

    Again, thanks for your thoughtful, knowledgable review. Couldn’t have done it better. 🙂
    Tonya at Scratchmade Journal

    • Author
      Bekki Page 5 months ago

      Everyone should have a friend like you, Tonya! I hope you like and use your Etchr as much as I do mine. Here’s to a speedy delivery 😉

  6. Author
    Bekki Page 5 months ago

    Can’t wait to see your Etchr setups and landscapes, Jill. I’ve always enjoyed the thoughtfulness behind your work and workspace. And the cat pics–cant forget the fluffy friends!

  7. Author
    Bekki Page 5 months ago

    Got to admit, this was a fun one! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Sharon–it means a lot.

  8. Pamela Smith 5 months ago

    Excellent review,,sounds like this satchel would fit the needs of many artists..

    • Author
      Bekki Page 5 months ago

      Thanks, Pamela. I’ve really enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of the Etchr satchel, and imagine it would work well for a wide range of artists.

  9. Marie Bock 5 months ago

    Thank you for the review! This was very helpful. Now I know what I’m getting myself for my birthday 🙂

  10. Author
    Bekki Mundy Page 5 months ago

    I hope you enjoy it, Marie!

  11. Les Grindey 3 months ago

    hi Bekki great review enjoyed reading it very much also following you on intagram

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