I have a couple laptops I use for various tasks, one is a 15" MacBook Pro and the other is a Dell Latitude D820. I have a nice Targus backpack to carry the D820 around, which is usually short trips to local client sites. When I travel I prefer to use my MacBook Pro, which is quickly becoming my main laptop. I decided the Brenthaven Prolite II I have been using was just too awkward to carry on planes and had more than enough space which quickly filled up with things I never used and just added weight.
I am pretty picky when it comes to things I use everyday, like my laptop, mobile phone, shoes and my method of carrying my laptop. The bad part is that I don’t know I made the wrong decision until I have owned something for a while, which can get expensive and lead to me having too much stuff cluttering up my office.
I started looking around and seeing what other laptop bags were out there. My main criteria is size, I wanted something large enough to fit a few things:
- 15" MacBook Pro
- Power Adapter
- Moleskin Notebook
- Small Digital Camera
I didn’t need a bag with a ton of room left over. I think taking the minimalist approach works well if thought out, otherwise I am carrying around more stuff than I will ever need and have to deal with a large bag and the weight. One of my goals when I travel for short periods of time, 3-5 days, is only take carry-on luggage. One of my pet peeves is checking a bag, I just hate it. I hate having to stand at the luggage return with everyone else hoping the next bag is mine, the chosen one.
While I was going from manufacturer to manufacturer I found a blog post by Dan Benjamin, popular Mac guy and writer. Dan was also looking for a bag for his Mac for traveling. The comments on his site really were helpful and pointed me to a few bags to help me narrow down my decision.
Choices like this are very personal and there are so many options for us to chose from that it makes this type of shopping very hard. I am not aware of any stores that have a huge variety of bags in stock to try. In general the design choices are limited to:
- Hybrid – Not really a backpack and not a messenger
After looking at each style I weighed all of the pluses and minuses of each type, knowing the backpack was already out because of the size. The backpack does provide a lot of room but going to clients with a backpack gives the impression I am in high school and possibly late for my next class.
I read the reviews of many of the messenger style bags and found people who chose them really like them. I also found many of the messengers I looked at from Timbuk2 tended to be large and keep many things in one large compartment. Large is what I am trying to avoid and not matter which messenger I looked at from whatever manufacturer, they were all very similar.
I turned to the "Hybrid" style bags as I chose to call them and narrowed by choice to two company’s products, the Booq Boa Slimcase M and the Medium Loft from STM. These bags offer a bit of different design which carries the MacBook Pro vertically. I had hoped this would make carrying the bag easier being not as wide.
The Chosen One
After what seemed like an eternity I settled on a new bag and purchased the Booq Boa Slimcase M, it met all of my general criteria:
- Small and narrow
- Padding in laptop compartment
- Handle for carrying
- Shoulder strap
These very general requirements may seem like a given for all bags but putting them all together made finding a bag without first seeing it, very tough. I ordered the bag through Amazon and had it in a few days.
One review of this bag indicated his MacBook Pro barely fit in the bag and this was my #1 concern when I ordered it but upon putting the MBP in for the first time I was very relieved to see it fit with no trouble and have plenty of extra room around it.
I took a but of pictures of the Booq Slimcase with the MacBook Pro and other things I usually carry and you can see the bag is small yet holds everything I need. Once I put everything I wanted to put in my Slimcase and closed it up, it felt good. The bag is made out of some tough material and even with all of my stuff in the bag it did not bulge out and show any sign of deforming.
One of the nice little features of the bag are the closures for the pockets…magnets. It isn’t obvious in the pictures but there are small nickel-sized magnets to hold the pockets closed which is a nice touch. You should also notice there are two external pockets on the bag, one which I show with a recent Macworld magazine and the other is on the opposite side and a bit smaller. Both pockets good for quick access to items.
I won’t really know how this bag lives up to my expectations until I have traveled with it a few times but my day-to-day use has been great so far and I don’t regret buying it at all. The Brenthaven I used had plenty of room but lacked in its ability to travel within my tolerance for carrying around a clunky laptop bag.
My first trip with the bag will be to RubyFringe in a couple weeks, I will report back how it goes.