The combo rollie/backpack laptop case I bought two years back is starting to wear out, and I’ve decided that the rollie feature is not cost-effective; there are lots of times I can’t use it, and the mechanism adds weight and bulk while robbing me of space. So I’ve been poking around looking for good laptop packs (has to be a pack so I can put a change of clothes in for my frequent overnighters). David Weinberger told me that Crumpler was a hot name, and in looking at them I ran across some other interesting candidates via reviews that said “and the competition is...” The candidates are the Crumpler King Single (that website is totally trying too hard), the Tom Bihn Brain Bag, and the RoadWired Digital Daypack. Anyone out there got one of these, or want to weigh on on the subject of the ideal laptop pack? [Update: GAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I’m buried, even more people care about laptop bags than about carbonara sauce, even. I must must MUST do that comments system.] [Dear Tom Bihn: you owe the LazyWeb a couple hundred bucks worth of thanks. I just ordered a Brain Bag with all the fixings. Dear Crumpler: please fix that egregious website. What part of “don’t offend every computer professional on the planet” don’t you understand? Dear world: please stop sending me laptop-bag email.]
I have a Targus backpack, a model that they don’t make anymore but it’s very similar to their 15.4" Rogue. It fits my 15" PowerBook like a glove, and the only time my laptop has been damaged was the time I left it unzipped on accident and stood up too fast—let’s just say that PowerBooks function well with bent bottom cases. Other than that, the bag has stood up to some serious abuse (knocked off tables and desks, etc.) with the PowerBook inside and the laptop is always unscathed. I’m not sure if they look cool enough, they’re kind of dowdy, but for my money they’re the best laptop backpacks around.
PS I’m from a pretty big Sicilian family and we’ve never had carbonara--must be a Northern thing :)
Jeroen van der Ham:
I've written about the ultimate laptop backpack some time ago. I still use it daily and like it very much.
Samsonite doesn't seem to be too eager on direct linking to their products, but this URL should take you to the backpack I mean.
and otherwise you could try this search.
I’m a bit of a bag aficionado and I’ve used quite a few in the last 5 years. I used a Timbuktu plain messenger bag with a Tumi laptop sleeve, a large Crumpler messenger bag (“The Suit”, probably discontinued or renamed) and I’ve finally settled on a Brenthaven backpack.
The Timbuktu back was not really geared for laptop use. It was really a bike messenger bag. It was spartan. The shoulder strap didn’t adjust to a long enough position for it to be comfortable to carry in the winter. That was a while ago so they may have enhanced their product line to make them more friendly
I did not enjoy the Crumpler bag at all. It seemed to be a huge bulky thing that wouldn’t really hold much of anything efficiently. Lot’s of foam padding all over the place and not enough interior pockets to hold loose items like cables, etc.
The Brenthaven bag is the best. I found it to be excellent in protecting my 15" Powerbook and storing all the junk that goes along with me. Unlike the Crumpler it has lots of interior pockets to store cables, pens, notebooks, folios, and other items. It is the inverse of the Crumpler, it seems to hold a lot more than it should for a backpack its size. The construction is superb. I travel quite a bit and basically live out of this bag. I’ve abused every strap, zipper, handle and pocket and have not been able to damage it. The only downside with the Brenthaven bag for some is the styling. It’s all black and very plain but think of it as a bag a ninja would (or more appropriately wouldn’t) be seen carrying.
I have the Crumpler Sheep Scarer bag, which I think is one size down from the one you’re looking at. If I was purchasing again, I’d want one slightly bigger for a 15" Powerbook. It fits, but only just and there’s not a lot of room for anything much else once all the essentials (wallet, phone, glasses case, power brick, spare battery et al) are loaded up. So the King Single is probably a good choice.
I can’t speak for the competition, as I’ve not wanted to buy anything else since starting out with Crumpler.
Between the geeky other-half and myself we have I think 9 or 10 Crumpler bags in our household. They’re basically just very well designed and very well made. I’ve found (first hand!) that they do a good job of protecting the contents, have a large number of pockets and equipment loops, and are designed with security in mind (the backpacks can’t be unzipped whilst on your back, for example). Plus they’re just really tough and take daily abuse.
As I say, I’ve no experience of the competition, but I’ve found Crumpler bags to be excellent.
I went into a regular mall luggage store and bought a red and black Swiss Army shoulder bag. It has a big pocket in the front for clothes (definitely enough for shirt and undergarments—an extra pair of pants is a tight fit), a smaller one for toothbrush, etc., a middle section with dividers for papers, a back, zipper section for the computer, and a back flat zipper pocket for passport/plane tickets (tight against your body, to help prevent theft) There is a separate, removeable inner portfolio case for the computer with a velcro top and a couple of Palm-Pilot/cell phone-sized front pockets—I often use that as a mini briefcase, sans computer.
Unfortunately, the bag was *so* good that I ended up using it as my primary flight bag, with headphones and GPS in the computer compartment, logbooks and charts in the middle section, etc. My poor computer is back in its old, threadbare Targus bag.
The Tom Bihn bags are excellent. Be aware that the Brain Bag needs either a Brain Cell or a Monolith sleeve to truly protect your laptop. I’ve been beating the daylights out of one for a while, with little wear on the bag to show for it. It would help quite a bit if you said which laptop you are trying to protect, as there are different bags which are more or less suitable depending on the laptop in question. For my 12" PB, I’ve been using an enCase bag that has been quite good, and it was quite reasonably priced at $55 or so, but my 17" PB doesn’t fit it.
Boing Boing recently had a post on Roadwired’s Skooba
Haven’t used it myself, but thought it might be of interest.
I bought the Crumpler Team Player about a year ago. It’s served me very well, is of good quality, looks cool, and is very comfortable.
I’m tall (2 meters) and this is one of the few ones I’ve found that fit me well. Well, I did buy the XL version I guess... My advice: try it first. This is one of those things where you don’t want to choose an uncomfortable bag.
Bought at a bike shop, after a month of indecision about the thousands of bags you can choose from. It’s religious. Don’t go down that path ;-)
PS. Note that you have to take the bag off of your shoulders to get inside because of the way the shoulder straps are mounted about the zip - I love this design...
I’m responding to your search for a laptop bag (http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2006/03/29/Bags). I have owned and used the same Tom Bihn Brain Bag since ’99, and I love it. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s indestructable, has the right number of pockets, and holds everything I need.
I have the appropriate Brain Cell padding/insert for my laptop (three different sizes over the years), and also have a cable bag called the Snake Charmer and an older version of the Freudian Slip insert for the other side that holds papers, pens, iPod, etc.
An extremely satisfied customer
I’m not sure I see any that are as good as the one I’ve got. It’s an older Eagle Creek (no longer made) with a laptop sleeve, the standard pencils+checkbook+crap pocket area, and an outermost pocket for music/Sun badge etc, plus a sort of kangaroo pocket on the outside that right now happens to have a packaged iPod in it, but is also capable of stretching to accommodate a bicycle helmet (the music pocket is full of crap and needs to be cleaned out so the iPod can go back in).
Very functional, very comfortable, getting a little frayed. I’ve used it since about November 2002, and I plan to keep repairing it for a while longer.
For no particular reason, I am partial to Tom Bihn.
i’m a big fan of Patagonia’s One Bag, which is hands down the single best laptop bag / briefcase i’ve ever owned. i’m going on year 4 with it, i think.
if you need something to fit more like 2 changes of clothes, they have a larger version of the bag here.
Hey, I just read your post about laptop bags. I’ve been using the Spire Meta for school and carrying my 17" PowerBook around and it works really well. It might be a bit big for your needs, but they offer smaller bags.
Hope you like it!
I have — and totally swear by — the Tom Bihn Brain Bag. Awesome bag. Awesome company. My bag has been through hell, having been knocked off my bike several times, and it still looks solid and the laptop sustained only minor damage.
Just a quick note to say that I recently bought a Crumpler shoulder bag for my Nikon D-70 plus related stuff, and have been exceptionally happy with it. We toted it around Venice for 5 days, and it was comfortable on my shoulder, the strap was long enough for my tall frame and was spacious for its size. I bought mine locally at Beau Photo on West 6th just off Granville. I didn’t notice if they specifically had laptop bags, but it might be worth calling them.
And indeed, the Crumpler website is both insane and useless. Cheers. DB.
Never before have I visited a site that summons someone to shit on the screen with just one click.
This is simplicity that even Apple must aspire to achieve.
I’ve been a long time devotee of Bihn’s bags, having started buying them in early ’90s (okay, really just 2 bags in that time period, they last forever!). With integrated Brain Cell, I feel totally comfortable sling my my Brain Bag around and not worrying about my laptop.
That said, the Brain Bag is both fricking huge (though it cinches down), and kind of dorky looking. And for something that big, I always want to be able to transform it into an overnight bag, for which I personally require external straps for gear (e.g. tripod, or sleeping pad). Sadly Brain Bag lacks any options for doing this.
I also carry a Chrome bag, which while cool looking is *not* comfortable if you have an even moderately long torso and spend most of your time walking vs. biking.
Can’t speak to the Crumplers, their website is too cute by half, and has always made me doubt the quality of their product.
You were asking about feedback regarding you bag decision.
I personally have a ID by Tom Bihn with the matching brain cell for my PowerBook since 2 years. I really love this bag, everything I have to lug around fits in, e.g. power adapter, iPod, digital camera, iSight and various cables. What is in my opinion the most worthy on this bag is the protection to your laptop from the Brain Cell. Suspending the laptop in a foam sling with a corrugated shell is the best protection I have seen. This is a similar design to the Brenthaven bags.
So I would pick the Brain Bag or the Super Ego.
The Crumpler bags are also really cool and probably a little more stylish then the Bihn design, but the does not provide so good protection. I would probably by an additional sleeve for the laptop.
I hope you find a bags that suits you.
Best Regards from Germany
I've had a Spire Volt XL laptop pack for about three years now and its held up very well. I've only made a few airport trips with it, but I've lugged it around town on a daily basis. It has also survived the occassional short biking trip and hike.
I actually discovered this product through someone else's blog entry. They were a traveling techie and seemed to like it very much. It has been so long ago now I can't remember who it was or I'd send a link.
There is a review of Spire's "Zoom" product on macopinion.com from a few years ago.
I'm sure there are plenty more reviews where that came from. Anyway, Spire has my vote.
I have had a Spire Endo Bag for 7 years and it hasn't worn a bit... If I throw it in the washer I think it'll come out as new!
Check out this Mac Book Pro thread on the Apple Forums for a huge number of bag ideas. All the ones you mentioned and many more. Some very funky.
Check out Onebag.com’s list of bags.
At this point you may be sick of hearing from folks on the topic, but I’ve used gear from both of the companies you mentioned.
Crumpler: I carried a “Wack-o-Phone” for two years. It wears well, and I could carry my 15" Powerbook, cords, iSight, pens and all. The laptop pocket’s well padded. I’ve dropped the bag onto concrete by accident a couple of times, with no harm done.
Drawbacks: there’s hardly room for more than a paperback book. No good way to carry papers unless you stick them in the laptop pocket. It’s a shoulder bag. I can’t carry one for long periods without suffering.
Clever bits: there’s a reinforced loop at either end of the zipper. Useful for attaching a laminated buisness card or a small flashlight on a lanyard. Elise Mattheson (http://lioness.net/) made me a nifty charm out of a pewter monkey and glass beads that I hung from one. Crumpler sells a phone/camera pouch that attaches to one side of the bag.
Tom Bhim: I bought the Brain Bag + Brain Cell + Freudian Slip + Snake Charmer two weeks ago. I love the Freudian Slip. Easy to pull it up and get to my iPod, headphones, copies of agenda for meetings, etc. Still working on the best strategy for stowing things. I can put books inside! And after putting away my technology bits, there’s enough room for my shaving kit, shirt packer, and other clothing for at least a long weekend trip. Carrying this and a roll-aboard suitcase, I could do several weeks away.
Drawbacks: it’s big. No good place to put my camera (Cannon PowerShot.) Lots of dangly straps.
Clever bits: The shoulder straps come with the clip to cross connect them, cinching them closer together so the bag rides better on your shoulders. Zipper pouch at the top with a lanyard for keys. Snarky joke, in French, on the care tag.
Hope you find this helpful. Good luck with writing the comments system.