Jemma Jackie Bag Review: Travel and Work Carry-All?
Now for the second Jemma bag review of the season: the Jackie 56. I snagged this one alongside the Jules bag during the Thanksgiving Black Friday sale to get a higher level discount. I can’t resist a good travel / work bag to haul it all, so I’ll be comparing it here to my trusty Longchamp Le Pliage Expandable Weekender.
Style and Construction
I’ve had a few Jemma bags now, and I will say that I was actually pleasantly surprised when I opened up the Jackie 56. This one really does feel like a luxe piece of travel luggage, in the same league as Tumi, Lipault, and the like. Unlike on the Jules and the Emma, the hardware on the Jackie is a polished shiny gold and it is really nice! Maybe I’m just a sucker for polished gold but I think it looks and feels much nicer than the matte/brushed gold hardware on the other bags. The zips are golden and all run smoothly. The top main zip has double zipper pulls – I hate it when bags are only a single zip. There are 5 nice polished feet on the bottom of the bag. The bag has a semi-structured bottom to give it a little bit of stiffness but is otherwise fairly unstructured and folds up flat for storage.
The nylon is touted to be the finest Italian nylon and I believe it. It has a sheen to it that makes it look very luxurious, and it feels identical to the nylon on my Longchamp bags. At first I was skeptical about the “vegan” leather when I was purchasing it. I normally hate vegan leather but I was surprised that the leatherette trims on this bag feel pretty nice and aren’t too off-putting with their fakeness. Of course, nothing wears like real leather, which often gets better and better as it wears in. Fake leather often starts to peel, look raggedy, and flake off with wear so we will have to see how well the bag holds up to wear, especially around the handles which would be the high-stress areas.
Organization and Features
The bag has Jemma’s signature pass-through luggage sleeve on the back, with the bottom zip that makes that sleeve a pocket when not in use. The back pocket is otherwise open and unsecure on top.
On either side of the bag there are two zip openings into a spacious “shoe compartment” which is separated from the main compartment. It is one compartment which runs the full-length of the bag. I don’t have a yoga mat, but I imagine you could stick a yoga mat in there or any other really long items would fit with the side zips let down. (Demonstrated in picture below with a bundle of wrapping paper tubes!)
The interior is lined with the Jemma signature white/black windowpane check fabric for high visibility. There is a very large laptop compartment that easily fits my 15″ Surface Book inside its sleeve. The laptop compartment isn’t itself padded so I would recommend using a separate laptop sleeve. I even have room to spare and can tuck another 10″ tablet with case next to my laptop. When empty, the laptop compartment kind of just flops open – no closure there on top. Then there are a variety of card holder slots, cell phone pocket, and a zip pocket. On one side of the bag is a wide elastic loop to keep your water bottle upright – I guess this is okay but I don’t find this to be very practical, since to put the bottle back in after drinking from it you have to use both hands to stretch the elastic band around the bottle.
The bag comes with a couple of extras, including a toiletry bag that I actually really like! Made of the same nylon with the nice hardware. It’s roomy and the shape is really nice, with the zipper opening allowing it to open up really wide. There’s also a simple drawstring laundry bag, and of course a long shoulder strap.
Size and Comparison
This bag is super roomy. It is the supersized version of their other bag, the Birdie 43. It definitely has the profile of a duffle bag, in that it is long and not very tall. Below I’ve packed it pretty full with some items I might need for traveling. My Polar Bear Cooler, which is what I used to store my pumped milk in with ice packs when I was pumping/traveling, fits easily into this bag as it did into my Longchamp Weekender. Next to that I also have packed a pouch with some charging cables/accessories, a 22 oz water bottle, a travel neck pillow, and a scarf/travel blanket. In the laptop pocket I also have the aforementioned laptop and tablet, in their respective cases. Loaded up like this the bag is really heavy and not too comfortable to wear on the shoulder. Even empty the bag has considerable weight to it, so when full of electronics and gear it’s *really* heavy on the shoulder.
I thought it might be easier to carry with the long shoulder strap, so I tried putting that on. While the strap is more comfortable, when the bag is loaded up with electronics on one side, it tilts really crazily to one side when dangling by the long strap, which makes it really uncomfortable to carry this way also. So I would say that if loading the bag with a heavy laptop on one side, it would be prudent not to overload the bag with lots of bulky other items such that carrying by the shoulder handles is impossible. Or, you could try to load the bag in a more balanced manner, with laptop on one side and other electronics on the other side?
You can see below the size comparison with the Longchamp Le Pliage Weekender, in its unexpanded form. I filled out the Weekender with some sweaters so you can see how the bags look filled up. They are roughly the same depth, but the Weekender is a tad bit taller and the Jackie is definitely wider/longer. The Weekender feels more like a tote in shape, and the Jackie is mostly a duffle bag. The Weekender is lighter, but of course there’s no organization inside so it’s inconvenient in that way, especially for holding a laptop. The Weekender has the advantage of being able to expand, and also to fold up into a quite small package. The Jackie has more organization, as mentioned earlier, and the ability to carry it on the shoulder like a tote (the Weekender can only be carried by the long strap or by hand). Like the Weekender, if not stuffed to the gills, the Jackie could probably be stuffed under the plane seat in front of you for air travel, but it might be a tight fit if the bag is full. It would definitely fit in the overhead compartment.
I think the Jackie feels quite luxe and I wouldn’t have any problem bringing it to work or a conference with me when I really needed a big bag – such as when hauling the heavy duty milk cooler that cools all day, or a change of clothes and lunch and a laptop, etc. It looks more formal and stylish than my Le Pliage Weekender, which truly a travel-only bag. The Jackie would look totally at home going from home to work to the gym to the plane and back again. It is very big, so those looking to haul not quite as much stuff can always opt for the Birdie, but for me I think I chose the right size.