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New STM Link bag fits right in with red-and-white Spanish fiesta colors

New STM Link bag
New STM Link bag
Courtesy photos

Guess it was meant to be. When my new STM Link Shoulder Bag arrived, I thought it was going to be the graphite color I had requested. I don’t own a single bag that is not black or dark grey.

New STM Link bag
Jackie Sheckler Finch

So I was surprised to open the package and find a bright red bag. Don’t think I have ever owned a red bag, maybe when I was a school kid too long ago to remember.

I had planned to use the Link bag to carry my new Kindle on a trip to Pamplona, Spain. Thought I would read a few books on my Kindle on the long flight to Spain and the four layovers in airports.

Then in Spain, I would leave the Kindle in my hotel room and use the bag to carry my camera, notebook, cell phone and other stuff. So I loaded up the neon red bag anyway. Everything did fit quite nicely.

The bag is well designed which is not surprising. Founded in 1998, the Australian bag and case designer STM is known for creating thoughtful designs that really work.

The Link is part of STM’s new Annex collection. The STM website says the Annex line was created “for a more urban, fashion-oriented customer, while remaining organized and protective of daily and digital gear.”

The Link was designed to carry just about any 10-inch tablet with room for additional items in various organizational pockets. After I tucked in my tablet and charging cord, there was still room for a wallet, business cards, bit of paperwork, candy and other important stuff.

The bag is equipped with a magnetic closure drop pocket for easy access to keys or phone and a quick cam-adjust shoulder strap for cross body and shoulder carry. It also has a handle which I used quite often to move the bag about or to loop it over my chest.

I love the strap. It is wide and comfortable and stays in place. I usually wear bags in a cross body style, especially when I’m working as I would be in Spain. I’m going to Pamplona to cover the annual San Fermin Fiesta, better known as the Running of the Bulls. The event was made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises.”

And when I arrived in Pamplona, I saw a big advantage to that unexpected red bag. I was quite in style. The colors of San Fermin are red and white – mostly white pants and white shirts, red neckerchiefs and red bags. So I fit right in.

The bag is made of water resistant 320 D brushed poly main fabric with a reinforced bottom fabric. That is important because although My Fair Lady might say that “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain,” we know that pop-up showers can happen any old time, sometimes in the most inconvenient places. And the bottom of a bag is often what gets the most wear and tear so I was pleased to see that the Link bottom is reinforced and sturdy.

The main compartment of the bag is lined with soft nylex and high density foam to protect my gear. It has a soft front lined pocket for easy access to my cell phone. There is also a pocket for pens, keys, business cards and other items.

A back slip pocket was a handy place for my notebook. And the large super light aluminum zippers are said to be self repairing. The zippers certainly are easy to use and the pulls are easy to find. The zipper pulls aren’t some little wimpy things. They are a good size and have a red silky cord loop around them for even simpler use.

'MOST DANGEROUS PARTY ON EARTH'

So here’s what my bag and I discovered at my first running of the bulls.

The co-author of the guidebook “How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona” was gored in the thigh by a bull and rushed to the hospital for surgery.

One-eyed matador Juan Jose Padilla thrilled fans with his display of grace and bravery in the bullfight arena. The 41 year old lost his left eye three years ago when gored by a bull and had to learn to be a bullfighter all over again.

Charlie Sheen was partying at the same hotel where Ernest Hemingway liked to stay.

And all of that was just a scant scattering of what went on during my first day at the annual San Fermin Fiesta in honor of the patron saint of Navarre in Northern Spain. No wonder it is famed as “the most dangerous party on Earth." San Fermin lasts an exciting eight days in July.

Before I saw the popular Spanish event in person, I had certainly heard news reports about the dangerous running and the foolhardy runners who are injured every year. Since records began in 1923, 15 people have died running with the bulls and every year there are dozens of injuries.

I was fully aware of the controversy surrounding the festival, which reportedly glamorizes the tradition of running the bulls through the narrow ancient streets of Pamplona to the arena where the massive animals meet their death at the hands of matadors.

For more than 400 years, the bulls had been running in Pamplona for a very practical reason – to get them from the stockyard to the bullring. Hemingway and his book put a spotlight on the fiesta and one cabbie did grumble to me that he wished Hemingway had stayed home in America. Hemingway first visited in 1923. His last visit was in 1959, two years before he took his own life with his favorite shotgun.

I stood on a balcony to watch three of the runnings. The six, half-ton raging bulls are fast and their menacing horns come terribly close to the runners. Heck, I think the thousands of runners are dangerous enough. In the narrow street, there is no place to escape. No doors to duck into. No fences to climb to safely. The street is shut down before the run with only runners and officials allowed on it – until the bulls make their mad dash.

The red Link bag stayed safely strapped across my chest. It was far more practical than the bigger black camera bag I usually carry for such trips. I can easily see why the Link is such a popular accessory. It is lightweight, comfortable and – even in some instances – a conversation starter.

Where, several people asked me, did I get such an appropriate fiesta bag? From STM, I answered, but never added that the red color they so admired was not by choice. As I said, it must have been meant to be.

For more information: Contact STM bags at www.stmbags.com