Welcome to another (belated) Flute Friday! Let’s talk flute bags.
Before I begin today’s blog, I just want let everyone know that I have not been sponsored by any of these companies for my opinions. I have watched numerous YouTube product “review” videos that are not true opinions at all but rather just nice things that someone has been paid to say in exchange for an enormous box of products. My thoughts on these bags are based on solely on my experience. I have owned some of these bags and have shopped nearly all of them. Some will work better for performers with schedules, habits, and musical priorities much different than my own. There is truly a bag for everybody and I hope today’s blog will help those of you searching for a new bag find the right one for your unique flutist lifestyle.
Allora Flute Bag. My husband purchased this flute bag for me as a Christmas present several years ago and I loved it so much that I developed tunnel vision for any other flute bags on the market. What I like most about this bag is that the padding on the inner most pocket is super thick and protects your instruments well from accidental bumps and bruises (you know, for those times that you set your flute case on the edge of a table and some brass player accidentally knocks it over…or those other times when you trip over a staircase because you are late to a rehearsal… Basically, if you are accident prone, this is the case for you!). The larger outer case is a perfect spot to hide your phone and wallet while the smallest outer pocket is a very convenient place to store extra pencils, a metronome, or a tuner. The straps are great if you like to bike to your gigs as they stay put and create a light and safe package easy to transport. Speaking of travel, this bag fits perfectly below the seat of an orchestra chair or the seat in front of you on most airplanes. The downside to this bag is that you cannot fit a music folder in the largest pocket but it is just big enough to fit in too much extra stuff. I am a bit of a pack-rat (a trait I inherited from my family) and often find myself packing too much stuff in the pocket reserved solely for my instruments. This is not the fault of the bag, obviously, but if you have hording tendencies, a smaller bag might suit you better. Less space, less stuff you will be able to cram into one bag.
Altieri C Flute and Piccolo Combo (Double Pocket Model). I scrimped and saved earnings from a summer job during my early college years to purchase this bag. Everyone had this bag and for a good reason. This is the bag that can fit everything: flute, piccolo, wire music stand, any and all accessories, music in a variety of shapes and sizes, books, a wallet, your lunch, phone, change of clothes for the gym, etc. (#packrat). Sometimes you just want everything you could possibly want or need in one place and this bag accomplishes just that. The thing that I love the most about this bag is that the outside pockets are big enough to hold those ginormous folders assigned in bands and orchestras or weird, oversized scores that you would love to reduce on a copy machine but doing so renders the music impossible to read by human eyes. I also really like that there is a designated compartment for your piccolo that does not touch the designated space for the flute case. The shoulder strap can be adjusted to be worn as a cross-body bag and the handle is extremely sturdy. This is a great bag if you need to haul a lot of stuff to and from gigs or practice sessions. The cons of this bag are that the padding is not the best (nowhere near as sturdy as the Allora bag) and the nylon outer pockets are a bit thin and wear down at the bottom over time. Again, if you are a pack-rat, avoid this bag. You will be lugging around waaay too much stuff you know you do not need just because it will fit (you and I both know that you do not need ALL THE MUSIC with you at all times, amiright?).
Cavallero C Flute/Piccolo Backpack. Most new, professional series flutes come with a Cavellero style outer case. The fluffy padding on the inside of Cavellero cases is magical. Very soft yet very durable – It is like a fluffy pillow protecting your flute from the outside world (It will be all right. You are safe in here with the magical fluff, my precious). With that design in mind, the C Flute/Piccolo Backpack offers the same lining in the largest pocket with designated compartments for both your flute and piccolo and ample room for smaller scores. The outer pocket is a bit bigger and can fit larger scores (although I am skeptical that a large orchestra folder will fit in this pocket….) and there is a handy compartment for a water bottle on the outermost pocket. Stay hydrated! This is a great bag for keeping everything locked, loaded, organized and limited to the necessities. If you want to streamline your practice by focusing strictly on the priorities or only want to take the essentials with you to rehearsal, this bag is for you. The top zipper is also good for those of us that may be accident prone and the backpack straps may be converted to a shoulder strap if you prefer to wear this bag cross-body style. Of course, the downside is that you will not be able to pack a ton of music and accessories into this model the way you can with the Altieri bag. This may actually be a good thing for us pack-rats but if you need to pack for a number of different types of rehearsals, a bigger bag that can accommodate more might suit you better.
Olathe Flute and Piccolo Bag. This bag is very similar to the Altieri bag, however rather than keeping the instruments in the innermost pocket, they are given separate, fleece-lined pockets on the outside of the bag, reserving the single, thinner, inside pocket for music and accessories. The idea is a good one to keep organized by providing everything its own, designated space and limiting any tendency to cram more items than can fit in one area, however the accident-prone player might want to find a bag with a bit more protection. What I love about this bag is that it is very easy to access what you need quickly. For example, if you are player that switches frequently between flute and piccolo in rehearsal, having an easy compartment to access your piccolo (or quickly put your piccolo away when not in use) will save you a ton of time and annoyance from having to search for your cases in a larger bag. This is a great bag for the hyper-organized and super-efficient player who prefers to have everything easily accessible at all times.
Pattillo Fluterscooter Bag. https://www.fluterscooter.com/collections/flute-bags/products/the-greg-pattillo-bag This is an awesome bag for those of you who need to carry a ton of extra stuff all.of.the.time. The new Patillo Fluterscooter Bag reminds me of those old-school Adidas gym bags everybody used to have in the 90s (but, of course, tailored moreso for the busy flutist than the bodybuilder). You can literally fit everything! There is even more space than the Altieri bag (if I had had this in college, I would have saved $25/semester on an instrument locker). I think one of the best things about this bag is that your instruments can sit flat rather than upright (my repair guy warned me that storing your instruments flat prevents accidental damage that may occur during travel). This is the perfect bag for an avid flute choir performer who switches frequently between several instruments. If you are a pack-rat, you will be immediately attracted to this bag. I love love love love the outer pocket for smaller accessories because it is super sturdy and will hold all of your electronics, smaller instrument stands, pencils, pocket music dictionary (do we still use these?), ear plugs, and much more. The outer pockets on both Altieri and Olathe bags are not nearly as rugged as this one. And just imagine how much music you can fit into the largest pocket! #marathonpracticesessionanyone
Fluterscooter Case Cover. For several years, I have salivated over these bags. I have walked by professionals at flute conventions carrying the beautiful silver models, sleek red and black patent leather styles, and even passed by Vivian Guzman herself carrying the very stylish ocean blue design (this color is even more gorgeous in person than it is online). Although they were very chic, I was always a bit concerned that they would not be big enough to hold both my flute and piccolo (which my Allora bag held nicely). I was happily surprised recently when I bit the bullet and finally ordered the Spring Lilac bag https://www.fluterscooter.com/collections/flute-bags/products/spring-lilac-bag to find that these bags do, indeed, hold both instruments with room to spare. What makes these bags so unique is that they are the most stylish bags on the market. There is a color and style to fit just about any performer. Every musician backstage has a boring, industry approved, black nylon carrying case. Sturdy, does the job, but nothing to write home about. Fluterscooter bags add a splash a color to a bleak backstage while remaining supportive and functional. We are creative artists, aren’t we? Shouldn’t our cases express our individuality? Uhm, yes. What I love most about the bag, however, is the hefty nylon strap on the inside that wraps around your flute case, securing it directly to the bag. My Allora does not have that and the Altieri only has a flimsy drawstring on the inside of the bag for the same purpose. For an accident-prone person like myself, I am very confident that if something happens during travel, or simply because I am a klutz, my flute will not jimmy around in its outer case causing unexpected damage. Of course, the only downside is that you cannot carry your music in this bag (unless you fold it…eeek!!). As part of my anti pack-rat therapy, I am okay with this. My solution is to invest in a really sturdy orchestra-type black music folder with bungees on the outside that can hold all of my music in one place. Works brilliantly! (And prevents me from packing my entire house into a bulky bag for rehearsals.) Chic and streamline. Two thumbs up, Fluterscooter 😊. P.S. If you need a bag that can hold more but still want some style, be sure to check out Fluterscooter’s backpack and messenger bag styles.
There are many other bags on the market, but these remain the most popular bags on display at conventions and used in greenrooms around the country. All of these bags have pros and cons and appeal to different personalities and performer types. For example, the hyper-organized performer would do well with the Cavellero backpack or the Olathe bag while the super busy, multi-instrument performer would get the most bang for their buck with the Patillio or Altieri bags and, of course, the fashionista would dig a Fluterscooter bag with tons of personality.
What type of bag would fit your priorities and tastes? Do you own a bag not on this list that you love and how does it differ from the other bags? What do you look for in a flute case or gig bag? Please comment below!