Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Great laptop bag search of 07

So I figured I'd pick up a new laptop bag.

For a long time I was doing the pseudo-leather laptop briefcase thing, then switched to a backpack that I'd gotten at a tradeshow somewhere. Somewhere along the way I realized I should go the messenger bag route as many have done, as I carried both the same way, slung over one shoulder, ergonomics be damned.

So I started shopping around and am surprised and frustrated by the lack of an overlap between 3 sets of functionality that I'd like to find:
- high level of geek functionality (easy access, lots of pockets for phone, mp3 player, biz cards, pens, etc
- stylish and/or unique (if possible customizable: Why is there no Threadless for messenger bags? Why is 'design your own' limited to a choice of fabric or color, not uploading my own graphics or choosing different strap types, etc)
- finally, while the two above were what I started looking for, I added 'solar powered' to the list after shopping around some. I might give this up, but the idea of gaining a few more hours out of the phone or mp3 player is appealing.

I also like the idea of environmentally appealing (made from recycled/re-used materials), but the high price tag some of these carry is hardly justified and makes it seem its just being done 'for the pitch'. Also, if you really care about the environment then having them shipped from germany or south america or whatever probably negates whatever good you are doing via the recycling.


A few neat ones I ruled out:

  • All The King's Men: Like the belt and the look. Too pricey for the basic bag you get, not enough pockets/etc.
  • Chrome messenger bags: Like the belt system. If I was actually going to use it on my bike frequently, I might have gone this route.
  • Freitag: Made with recycled truck tarpaulins, but they are pretty basic and have to be shipped from europe. (there was another similar one from a cool german company using fabric from recycled mail bags, but I can't find the URL now).
A few candidates I'm looking at are below. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to comment.

  • BumBakPaks: The look is ok (except when wearing it in weirdo backpack mode), I like the versatility. I like the luggage handle pass-thru.
  • Skooba Satchel: High functionality. Seems to get reviewed well. So-so on looks, customizability.
  • Booq Vyper: High Functionality. Sleek looking. However, pricy.
  • Eclipse Fusion: Kind of an OK look. Lower on functionality than some of the others. solar power! Nerd power! (2.5w of it anyway)
  • Reware Juice Bag: OK look, medium functionality, solar power (4W this time), made of recycled soda pop bottles. On the down side, the price could buy a lot of soda pop!
Decisions, decisions...


James Everett said...

I love my Timbuk2 messenger bag, but MIGS this year proved to me that it's just a bit too small for my 15.4" laptop. They have a bunch of other bags designed to hold laptops, so I'm starting my research there.


brian said...

In my experience you cannot tell how well a bag will work until you load it up with at least your laptop. So local shopping is a bonus.

Check out Tom Binh Designs. They are pricey but guaranteed for life and handmade in Seattle where you van go check them out in person.

Outdoor and More has the best selection of Timbuk2 I have seen locally.

REI has more laptop bags than you might think.

For non-local shopping try Spire USA and Crumpler Bags. Crumpler get cred for having a home page with a button for throwing poo at it. Really.

adam lake said...

i looked into this a few years ago and bought the current REI backpack (i believe it was called the REI Byte) i have now, but its showing wear and ready for replacement soon, so i'm definitely interested in your search and conclusions.

also you may want to check out mountain hardwear. yes, for a messenger bag! believe it or not, this was probably one of the better made ones i found when looking around in terms of pockets, etc. i think the ones you have found are actually much more urban stylish and would probably prefer them.

i also found REI downtown to have lots of packs as well as the one in hillsboro. i actually ended up buying a couple and returning them until i found one that suited me.

safesax.com has made custom bags for messengers, i think it was $160 or so for a custom bag.

James Everett said...

I got an MEC Shuttle ( http://tinyurl.com/3yauuj ) yesterday. It's not super hot in the looks department, and no dedicated laptop pouch, but it's big enough to hold the laptop, camera, and some clothes and still fit in carry-on limits. Has a detachable shoulder strap, and backpack straps that can be hidden behind a rear flap when not wanted.

Should give me the flexibility to avoid massive shoulder strain while hauling all the gear around for a full day, but still have messenger style access when I want it for just the camera etc.

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