A DJ is always on the go - in the club, on the plane, in the studio, and on the road, and they need gear to support an active lifestyle. Just like fashionistas who swear that the right handbag makes an outfit, the right DJ bag can make or break a DJ. With this in mind, I tested the Producer bag from Ultimate DJ Gear (UDG).
My first introduction to UDG was at a Winter Music Conference years ago. UDG sponsored the event and provided record bags to carry everything around. That first bag from eight years ago still travels with me. The material is solid and hasn't ripped after much abuse. What I carry with me is safe and protected, so I knew when it was time to purchase a bag for my laptop VJ setup, UDG would be the place to start.
Selecting the bag
The UDG website showcases the line of bags and with messenger bags, trolley bags, and even a Creator Serato bag, I wasn't sure which bag would be right for me. Test 1, I contact customer service to recommend a bag for me. Within three hours, I had an eMail back asking for a list and dimensions of what I would need to carry in the bag. I replied and had an answer within two hours - the Producer bag. The order was placed and the bag arrived earlier than expected.
What is a Producer bag?
The Producer bag itself is quite impressive. Measuring (in inches) 10.5 X 7.5 X 19, it was clearly designed for a traveling DJ - as that is easily below the size restriction for airline carry-ons (which range from 22 x 14 x 9 to 24 X 16 X 10, depending on the airline.)
The bag is designed for the laptop DJ/musician and the main compartment has a padded slot that fits a 17" Mac Powerbook perfectly. The remainder of the main compartment was designed for the M-Audio Ozone or Oxygen 8 and will fit most controllers (the Numark Total Control fits perfectly). The padding is rigid and sturdy-feeling. At first, the orange color of the interior seems to clash with the outside, but after using the bag, the padding actually helps you locate and see your gear better in a dimly lit club.
The outside pockets could not be better. Even though they zip all the way down, a nylon web fabric prevents items from falling out. The "hinging" effect allows easy access for small pieces that might fall to the bottom of the pocket. For cable control, the side pockets have a velcro tab that holds them in place. The front pocket has a pouch (for a phone or PDA), pen slots and a mesh pocket that is zippered and a great place for important documents (like plane tickets or a passport). Like the main pocket, the side and front pockets all have the orange interior to help illuminate a dark area.
It took a few days of usage to "discover" the back pocket which zips down to reveal pockets for 9 CDs, a CD player (or iPod), and a slot to plug headphones into. Basically, you can have your music player inside the bag with headphones plugged in - this is quite ingenious. This ease of use is also in evidence with a quick access top pocket for essentials and the fact that all pockets have double zippers - insuring even quicker access. The zippers for the main pocket can even be locked into place for even more security.
So the design of the bag is flawless, the next test was to see how it stands up to use and abuse. With all the gear in the bag, weight distribution when carrying is an issue. The bag itself weighs about 7 pounds, so it's a bit substantial, yet the weight is evenly distributed. The bag can be carried any one of these four ways - as a backpack (with two well padded straps), as a messenger bag (with one long strap), as luggage (with a handle on the top) or on a trolley (with a foldaway velcro strap in the top pocket). There really isn't a way to judge this as it is clearly a personal preference. With testing, I preferrred the backpack configuration because it distributed the weight between both shoulders. If you choose to use the headphone port, the long strap makes more sense as the weight against the music player may cause skipping. Obviously, the preferred method would be an assistant, but since I am not a superstar yet - I went with the backpack.
To test the ruggedness of the bag, we devised a few tests. With this insane summer drought, it's hard to test the elements of rain and snow , so I improvised with a water hose with the bag stuffed with towels to record moisture. The nylon shell of the bag is definitely water-resistant and after dousing the bag for several minutes, the contents were still dry.
Next to test the padding, I loaded the bag with "simulated gear" and a few eggs strategically placed. I dropped the bag from different heights, raising a foot each time until an egg broke. Although not the most scientific method, the eggs were safe until 9 feet. I interpolate from the test that gear in the bag will be safe from drops and kicks that bags might take during normal transit. I would not recommend dropping a bag full of gear from a height of ten feet, but then again, that is common sense.
It was hard to find things to critique about the producer bag. The only thing I would improve would be more padding in the side and front pockets similar to that in the main pocket. By doing this, you would be able to safely carry more stuff in those pockets, in addition to just cabling (such as a small sound card or portable hard drive).
The UDG Producer Bag is a top quality bag that is highly recommended for any electronic musician or DJ. It holds the essentials and is very functional for travel and use in dark nightclubs. The quality of other UDG products I have used over many years predicts that the bag will hold up to the use and abuse of travelling DJs. At a price of $230, it's quite reasonable compared to comparable laptop and luggage bags. With a full line of quality products, its easy to see why Ultimate DJ Gear has the endorsement of superstar DJs like Sasha, Pete Tong, and Carl Cox, among many others.