Two are better than one! Following my review of the Etchr Art Satchel, Etchr Labs provided a second case, the Etchr Slate, for me to compare and review for Doodlewash. I set both cases – the Etchr Art Satchel the Etchr Slate up for “grab and go” art sessions and used them throughout the summer. I also used the Etchr Slate to hold my bullet journal and supplies during the summer.
The Etchr Slate is a streamlined version of the Etchr Art Satchel designed for those who don’t need the storage, but still desire a large, hands-free working surface. The Etcher Slate comes at about half the weight, thickness, and cost of the Art Satchel. Both the Satchel and Slate comfortably hold up to an A4 block or sketchbook, and the Etchr Slate is constructed with the same materials and high quality as the Etchr Satchel.
Etchr Slate vs. Etchr Art Satchel
All of the numerical specifications are on the Etchr Lab website, so I’m going to focus on how they differ in the field.
Onboard Storage: The Etchr Art Satchel has a roomy roll top, drop-front storage section featuring an integral laptop/tablet pocket. The Etchr Slate sports a gusseted slip pocket that allows easy retrieval of papers or other flat items. I like to bring an assortment of paper with me, so this pocket functions like a vertical file folder for my paper and finished work.
Working Boards: The Etchr Art Satchel and Slate both have two rigid felt surfaces and Velcro accessories to hold a tablet, paper or tools. The art satchel features a 13 x 13.5” working area hinged along the horizontal side, the Slate accommodates up to 9 x 12” and is hinged along the short end. The Etchr Slate comes with fewer Velcro tool holders, but additional accessories are available for purchase on the Etchr website. The corner tabs with elastic allow a bullet journal to be secured so the pages can still turn freely. The zipper gusset around the working boards on the Satchel is twice as wide as the gusset on the Slate, allowing for thicker supplies when closed.
Carry Mode: Both the Satchel and the Slate have grab & go handles and a shoulder strap. Only the Satchel converts to a backpack. Both can be carried in either horizontal or vertical orientation. The Etchr Slate looks the same size as the Satchel on the models in Etchr photos, but because of the slim profile carries much closer to the body. I was able to navigate both crowded sidewalks and challenging terrain easily.
Self-Supported Mode: Both cases perform well in self-supported mode. I prefer the padded strap on the Satchel to the seatbelt-like strap and moveable pad of the Slate. I prefer the slim profile and the updated zip-around cargo net on the Slate. The Slate turned out to be a champ for sketching at sporting events with bleachers.
Easel Mode: Both perform well on a sturdy tripod, but the Slate is easier to mount and feels more secure. The storage side of the Slate does not have any support straps and has to hang vertically. The Art Satchel can carry a tripod onboard, the Slate cannot.
Llama Mode: Only the Etchr Art Satchel has the M.O.L.L.E system and extendable weatherproof flap to support and protect other items.
Table-top Mode: The Etchr Art Satchel can be set up in study mode with the storage surface supported vertically (like a briefcase) or folded back on itself and clipped to create a sloped working surface. The Etchr Slate cannot be set up in study mode. On longer tables I simply left it open. On smaller tables, I allowed the surface that held the tools to drop to my right. This position is unique to the Slate: The Art Satchel is too heavy and pulls itself off the table. The Slate can also be folded back on itself and clipped to create a working surface.
After several months with the Etchr Art Satchel, the Etchr Slate, and the Etchr Field Case I’ve fallen into patterns of use.
The Etchr Art Satchel: Haul all the things!
I reached for the Etchr Art Satchel when I was planning to watercolor. The Art Satchel has enough room in the briefbag side to carry water in and out, fit my normal brush case, and keep my good palette flat during transport. The entire length of the support strap is comfortably padded and has M.O.L.L.E. loops to hold brushes and pens while working. The satchel makes a great day bag for adventures or classes, and allows all my gear to be carried on one strap. The satchel has the same size and weight as a piece of carry-on luggage, which can be daunting for times I just want to sketch.
The Etchr Slate: Capsule Studio
I chose the Slate when I wanted to sketch away from my art desk. I primarily used pens & pencils, but my Cotman Sketcher Pocket Box modded with a Velcro sticker and Pentel Aquash waterbrushes allowed me to add a swash of color. I was able to carry phone, keys, and ID in the quick access pocket, but had to pack an additional bag for personal items during longer outings. The Slate is so slim and light it was the perfect solution for most trips. I particularly enjoyed how well it worked on both a table and a bench/bleachers. I didn’t get along well with the strap on this case for months, but am finally getting used to it.
The Field Case: EDC true love.
I use the Field Case every day for everything from my morning reading (I use the same Col-Erase pencils and Pigma pens in my Bible as I do in my sketchbook), to grading and helping my daughter with schoolwork, to sketching. I bring this case on family outings and use the shoulder strap hooked on opposite corners to support my small sketchbook while I draw and paint. In 5 months I’ve never lost or misplaced a single tool, and everything remains in excellent condition because items don’t rattle around and hit each other. I store a Cotman Pocket Sketcher box retrofitted with a thumb ring in the Field Case.
Why would I choose an Etchr Lab product over a less expensive or homemade option?
Etchr makes sketching easy.
- The cases are grab and go and fully protect my paper and tools. Set up and pick up takes less than a minute, and all of my tools are at my fingertips the entire time.
- I never have to find a “good place” to sketch: I carry it with me. If I feel unsafe, the weather changes, or my view gets blocked, I can move instantly without disturbing my work. At home, I can sketch anywhere and move at a minute’s notice.
- The sketches I produce using the Satchel and Slate are the same quality or better than pieces done at a table or desk after just a few weeks with an Etchr product.
- I can customize the setup for any piece of paper or sketchbook up to 9 x 12″ and any art tools.
Because I like to sketch landscapes from life, the Etchr has become a vital piece of kit. The cost is about the same as an art class, and gives me a freedom that is unmatched by anything I cobbled together on my own.
Do you own an Etchr Satchel, Slate, or Field Case or have one on your wish list? Which one is your favorite? Why? Talk to me in the comments, and visit my Instagram, to see more ways I’ve used the Etchr.
Although I received the Etchr Slate in exchange for my honest review, I was not paid, nor will I receive any compensation for future sales of Etchr products.Recommended1 recommendationPublished in
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!