Ross OC Jennings takes the PiperChief on his journey piping around the world...
In January 2018 the Piperchief team got in contact to see if I’d be willing to test out their newly designed bagpipe travel bag. Dream come true I thought to myself. I travel a fair amount and I also have a set of bagpipes! Done deal. Dozens of emails, a few phone calls and a whirlwind pitstop in London later, I had the Piperchief prototype in my hand. Its leather traps and hard-shell case were music to my hands, and the tartan panels a beautiful addition. It wasn’t long before the bag was whisked away back up to Glasgow. “You’ll soon be having your own bag,” I was told by the lovely Eilidh from their design team “…and it’ll even have your own tartan.” To say I was excited would be a vast understatement. I’ve never had a personalised bag, let alone a specialised luxury bagpipe carry case! Two months later, my very own Piperchief bag was delivered to me in Kathmandu, decked out in the Baird Ancient tartan. It even had a personalised leather name tag - lovely touch there.
Kathmandu is a sprawling expanse of cables, concrete, traffic & temples, but like any big city it has a certain charm. I had a few piping gigs to attend to during my time there so I thought it would be the perfect location to put the case to the test. I stuffed it to the brim with all my kit, I was jumping in and out of taxis, hopping on the back of motorbikes, and squeezing into buses. Temples, shrines and even a former Nepali Palace were visited, and all the time I used it, I was yanking it about with the leather handles and shoulder strap. In short, I wasn’t too kind to the ol’bag, and I’m surprised it survived the Himalayan onslaught!
To start with some criticisms, the bag I was given didn’t have any “feet,” which meant that whenever I put it down it would roll around; however, I’ve since learnt that the final product will have feet so this will no longer be an issue. I was also slightly hesitant at opening my bag on the ground for want of ruining the tartan panels, but I’ve been assured that the panels are durable, waterproof (wipe clean!) and if need be they’re replaceable. If you’re filling the bag up with your pipes and other bits of kit, it does get a little heavy in hand, but I suppose that is where the shoulder straps come in handy.
Now onto the positives! The best features of the bag are its durability and the personalised tartan panels. I felt like I could do anything to the bag and its contents would be safe. As a professional piper I’m always slightly concerned with how my pipes will fair on a trip, but I’d be more than happy with storing them in the Piperchief case, particularly knowing that they're being protected by the padded interior and the “tool roll.” Regarding the tartan panels, I initially thought they might look a bit twee, but on viewing my own tartan strapped to the sides, my reservations were swept away. It looks damn cool and very classy. Being able to wear your family tartan is novelty enough, but to have it on your own bag is a brilliant addition. To top it all off, the tartan panels are interchangeable so if you fancy a change of style then that is also an option. I hear leather, tweed and other designs are on the cards! To comment on some other aspects of the bag, the leather handles feel sturdy in hand and the shoulder strap is comfortable enough on the shoulder without the need of padding.
All in all, the Piperchief case is a practical yet classy choice for anyone with a set of bagpipes. Without much competition on the market I’m pretty certain they’ll be a popular choice for pipe bands, individual professional pipers and even hobbyists. If you’re visiting the World Pipe Band championships this Summer in Glasgow, drop by their stand and check out their bags!