Back in May, I was tooling around on Facebook when I came across the following post by celebrity chef, television host, touring entertainer, and GeekDad favorite Alton Brown:
My first thought upon seeing the above photo was, “Wow, that looks slick.” This was the first time I had heard of the L.A. based company This Is Ground, so I headed over to their website to learn a little more about the company and their product offerings. What I found was an array of stylish products infused with a sense of whimsy for the geek on the go. I just had to reach out to them and discuss reviewing any one of their amazing-looking products, in particular the organizer I saw in the photo above. (Note: Alton Brown referred to it as the “cordito,” when in fact the photo is of the “Bandito Lifestyle Roll.”)
I was sent a pair of products by Marc and the team at This Is Ground, including the Bandito Lifestyle Roll, which I want to talk about first. Opening the package was a multi-sensory experience. Right off the bat, you’re hit with the smell of leather. Seriously, I stood there just sniffing the product for what would have been an uncomfortable length of time had anyone else been present during the unboxing. From there, I took to rubbing the product. To be able to roll the product up and tuck it inside a purse or messenger bag, it has to be pliable, and the Bandito I received (in “Bomber,” with five other colors available) is one of the most soft and supple leather products I have come across.
There is no questioning the high quality of the Bandito. That allowed me to focus on the other question I had for the purpose of this review, which was how well the product performed its job.
Unrolling the Bandito, I couldn’t help but think of Dr. Szell in Marathon Man or Major Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark. This thing should have come pre-loaded with all sorts of simple yet effective implements of torture. The Bandito comes with three larger slots for cord management–lightning cables, earbuds, and the like–and five smaller slots for holding things like pens, stylus, brushes, and pencils, if you’re artistically inclined, even sunglasses. Anchoring the product is a zippered pouch large enough to comfortably hold both my iPhone 6s Plus and my wallet (I really need to adopt a money clip or other, better system than this bulky thing). The Bandito measures 18.75 inches long and eight inches wide when unrolled. Rolled dimensions depend on the size of the items enclosed. A rawhide cord keeps everything rolled up nice and snug.
I’ve had the Bandito for about a week now. In that time, I have changed what I load it with depending on the use. I’ve set up an “everyday” load, with everything I usually need to carry with me. I’ve had specific loads for various meetings and functions, which are modified versions of the everyday load out. I’ve had occasion to carry the Bandito to the office, to meetings, to an all-day conference, and around town. Sometimes I unroll the Bandito in order to get what I need (which has led to an “ooohhh… what’s that?” every time). Sometimes I just poke the pen that I need out of the slot without unrolling the entire strip. While I’ve not had the Bandito long enough to say how it holds up over time, the craftsmanship of the piece and my experiences so far lead me to believe that I will be carrying the Bandito in my messenger bag for a long time… which is a good thing if you’ve ever seen me try to hunt a particular item out of my cluttered messenger bag before adopting the Bandito.
The other piece I was sent by This Is Ground is the Cord Kit, pictured below.
The Cord Kit contains a sample of various This Is Ground products. Highlighting the Cord Kit is the Cordito, a smaller version of the Bandito. The Cordito has the zippered pouch and four slots for cord management (one more than the Bandito), but lacks the additional pen/stylus slots. The Cordito is approximately 12 inches long and five and a half inches wide. My wife works a rotating schedule at the hospital, which includes some overnights. She doesn’t need to take pens and stylus with her to work, but she always takes her phone. Some nights she takes her Kindle. Other nights she’ll take an iPad. With the Cordito, she can select the device(s) she needs, insert the appropriate cord(s) in the Cordito, roll it up, throw it in her overnight bag, and she’s good to go.
Also included in the Cord Kit are a pair of Cord Tacos, one in plain leather, the other in a fun pattern (yes, that is Bill Murray from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in the print above, one of many available). These are great for wrapping a spare set of earbuds or cables, so you have a set when you need them without having to untangle the wires. Additionally, the Cord Kit comes with one Cordtilla Strip in tanned vegetable leather, which is thicker and more rigid than the leather used in the other products. The Cordtilla Strip is a great bit of cable management at your computer desk, behind your entertainment center, or any place you have a lot of unruly cables spilling out all over the place. The final piece included in the Cord Kit is the Lupito, which wraps around your cube mobile device charger and organizes the charging cable.
I have been impressed with the products from This Is Ground that I was sent for review. They are classy, functional, and serve as great attention pieces. The Bandito Lifestyle Roll is available online at This Is Ground’s site for $85. The Cord Kit is a $90 value that is available until the end of June for $70 (with free shipping in the USA if you use the promo code “dadsandgrads”). If you’re still looking for a Father’s Day gift for dad, a gift for a recent graduate, or simply want to pick up one of these to keep yourself better organized and free of having to untangle every time you fish a pair of earbuds out of your bag, then I highly recommend picking the This Is Ground product that is right for you.
Disclaimer: The Bandito Lifestyle Roll and Cord Kit were provided for review purposes. All opinions and revelations of my love of the smell and feel of quality leather are my own.