Stitch has been really depressed about the "no party" scenario before him. I had some plan to surprise him with the Zuca bag, but seeing as how he seemed to need a bit of sunshine in his eyes, I decided to give it to him early. "Unless of course you want to wait until your actual birthday," I said.
"No! I want it now! What is it??"
"I won't tell you. Try and figure it out as we go."
I didn't tell him where we were going, but as we pulled into the Skate Shop parking lot, I said "I'm surprised you haven't figured it out yet."
"I think I know! Let me out of this car!"
He bolts into the store and looks around anxiously to the row of Zucas there. "They don't have mine," he says warily.
I go to the clerk and ask for the bag I've put on hold. He brings it out, and Stitch is all smiles. He sits on it, drags it around to light the wheels, and sits on it again.
"You haven't changed your mind?" I ask.
"You still want this?"
The clerk asks Stitch if he has a Coach, and Stitch says yes. "Wow," says the clerk. "She's tough. Is she tough on you?"
"Oh, yes," says Stitch.
"I think he's earned this," I tell the clerk, and he agrees.
We get it home and load it up, and now I have to admit that I like the stupid Zuca Bag. I like it a lot, and now consider it a good investment in my sanity.
Here's why I'm eating Humble Pie:
1. Holy mackerel does this thing have pockets! Every available bit of square footage on this thing has a pocket! If you're the type who believes, "a place for everything and everything in its place," this thing is amazing.
2. The Pockets themselves are well thought out. There's a pocket hangs from the top inside, and it's mesh. I'm thinking wet gloves and boot covers go here, so they dry out. No more mildewed gloves!
3. The Door Opening; It swings out, not down on the ground. And there's three pockets there, one the size of a small notebook. Genius.
4. The handle doesn't move unless you want it to by pressing a red button, which means you can hang costumes on it. Brilliant.
5. The seat. I know, we all laughed at the "OMG IT HAZ A SEAT!" feature. But now that I see the honor of a private seat on command, it's really sweet! In fact, Stitch ate breakfast this morning at the dining room table on his Zuca seat.
6. It's built like a damn tank. From the zippers to the bag to the frame, it's solid construction. One of my colleagues, who has nothing to do with skating, uses her Zuca as a tool bag for shows. Her bag has been shipped in roadcases back and forth across the country while full of wrenches and hammers, and it looks practically new. While this is no promise that the bag will withstand an eight year old boy, it's encouraging. (She's the one who actually introduced me to Zuca's, not the skating community. "Hey, no one will steal my tool bag because the wheels light up," she says.)
My only concern is the warranty. Zuca makes two kinds of bags, one for general luggage and the "Sport" model which is what the skaters use. (The Sport model has the front door and doesn't come with all the inserts.) The Luggage variety has a lifetime warranty, while the Sport model only has a one year warranty. You have to register the bag on their website to get the warranty. (Yes, I registered the bag.) Why the difference in warranty between bags? They seem to be the same basic thing.
So, here's the ultimate question: Do you need a Zuca Bag?
Well, let's put it this way:
Stitch's friend has a Zuca bag, and it only has skates and hard guards in it. She skates once a week at group lessons only.
Stitch's Zuca, within twenty minutes of getting home, was crammed with four CD's, two notebooks, six pairs of gloves, headband, hard guards, Bunny (ugh) soakers, skates, hand warmers, skating jacket, skating pants, trouser socks, jump rope, his BS sticker book, stopwatch (for racing himself), $1.35 in odd change, various membership cards, screwdriver, boot polish, lint roller, sewing kit, Tide Pen, ice coupons, and a stash of candy that I technically don't know about.
Let your skating, not rink culture, dictate your needs.