On laptop cases and bags

A few days ago, I linked (via del.icio.us) this post about laptop cases and bags. I then spent literally days trawling back and forth through the list of links that it contains, as well as several that it doesn’t.

I had originally said that I would prefer to get a backpack-style bag for my new laptop. However, having pondered it a little more and looked at the available options, I decided to explore messenger-style bags instead. The reason for this is that I wanted something that looked quite stylish, that would be comfortable and that would be easy to use “on the hoof”. I spend a fair bit of time at trade shows and exhibitions – it’s difficult to talk to someone whilst standing or walking and reach into a backpack to find a notepad, business card, brochure or whatever. A messenger style bag seems to overcome this.

In the end I came up with a shortlist of four.

  • Kensington Contour Terrain Notebook Messenger. Actually ticks all the functionality boxes but it’s just too widely available and not really “down wiv da kidz” enough. It has been given some really good recommendations though, so might be worth investigating if you want a bag in a hurry and want something you could pick up in a local pc store.
  • The Dreadful Embarrassment by Crumpler. Evidently, all the cool kids have bags by Crumpler, although a few bag purists now say that they are (to quote one that I read) “mass produced crap”. Checking out the spec did suggest that this would fulfil most of the requirements listed above (including holding my 15.4″ laptop and the sundry crap the I lug around) and the build quality seemed quite robust according to most reviewers. But the lack of a handle on the top of the bag (meaning you always have to wear it over your shoulder and can’t convert it to a hand carried bag for crowded environments, such as trains, planes and narrow doorways) and the fact that *all* the cool kids have one already rather put me off.
  • Freitag messenger bag coupled with a suitable sleeve (probably the highly-acclaimed Waterfield). Oh god, these are unspeakably cool. I liked these because they were utterly individual (each and every bag is unique) and because they are made of recycled materials, namely old car seat belts, bicycle inner-tubes and the tarpaulins from the side of lorry trailers. I particularly loved the F-Cut concept where you could design your own bespoke bag from whatever lorry tarpaulin they currently have in stock. Incredible. But they somehow seem just too cool and not really suitable for a business environment. The price was also a factor. So, yes, Hels talked me out of this. Maybe if I was a cool kid in the city, this would be great. But I’m not that cool, I’m not a kid and the burghers of Ruralville wouldn’t really *get* it.
  • The Spire Endo. Not the bag that every kid has. Insanely practical. Smart styling. Has that important grab handle. Gets rave reviews for build quality and comfort. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Be warned though – UK distributors (the very few that there are) are still only offering the 2007 edition of this bag. If you want the 2008 version, which I consider to be superior, you must order from the US site and then get delivery within the US to a friend or relative that won’t steal it from you. I needed it quickly for various convoluted reasons and my preferred choice of black was out of stock, so I’ve gone for the blue with black piping. I had it sent on to a colleague in California who has arranged for it to be shipped (in with a consignment of plants, hence the hurry!) to me here. All things being equal, it (and the plants) will be ready for me to collect at Heathrow on Monday night or Tuesday morning. Customer service is excellent (I had a problem getting their server to process my credit card, but it was all dealt with quickly) and they ship via UPS who I have always found to be reliable.

When the bag arrives, I’ll give you a full review. It’s going to have a baptism of fire as I’m off to Germany later this week for the biggest trade show in the business.

5 Replies to “On laptop cases and bags”

  1. I think you should have bought the Crumpler. Their “third Leg” feature is perfect for biking, and much more practical than an ugly handle at the top, like it’s struggling to become a boring business briefcase. Crumpler has better padding, and a great warranty. Plus the guy at the Amsterdam store was super nice. Only complain is that I want more colors and designs…

  2. Hi Graham

    I am very worried about the subject matter of your blog these days.

    The last posts have been dominated by your choice of laptop and case, yawn!!!

    What has happened????????

    Only joking, Happy New Year to you and the family.

    Paul, Wendy & Joe( the new addition, not canine)

  3. Paul: congratulations to you and Wendy on the non-canine addition! Splendid news!
    As for the exciting content on grayblog at the moment, you might be lucky and get some travelblogging in the next couple of weeks, as I’ve got trips to DE and NL lined up, with a bit of sitting around in airports and on ferries.

    Gary: the Spire has a waist strap that performs a similar function to the third leg – it stops the bag slipping around and also prevents Linfords from trying to do a runner with your bag and contents if you are in a part of the world where tea leaves are a problem.
    As for the top handle, I don’t mind the fact that it looks a little like a business bag – after all, I’m mostly using it in a business environment. And, having used a bag a lot on crowded planes, ferries and trains, it is often easier to carry it in your hand whilst you squeeze past other people until you get to a more open space and can swing it over your shoulder.
    As for the padding, I’ve not had a chance to do a comparison. But the reviews on the Spire Enzo are good (in fact, they are very good – all the reviews I saw gave ratings between 90 and 100%), so hopefully I won’t be disappointed.

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