Taking your equipment on the road requires a suitable receptacle to provide protection and easy access.
Designed by STM, the King is a rucksack type bag or, as the Australian designers prefer, a Backpack. Available in a choice of botanical green, china blue, tornado grey or, as in the case of my review sample, desert brown, the King has dimensions of 47.
In hot weather a cool bag is very useful either to keep your lunch, shopping or even picnic cool or maybe allow frozen food to stay frozen. Most are insulated bags with a cool brick or two inserted but those bricks take up valuable space.
Here I am looking at a small version called a Lunch Bag and one more than twice the capacity called a Picnic Tote. These bags are different in that the coolant is between the outer and inner layers and you actually fold the bag up and place it in your freezer overnight and then in the morning pack your lunch/picnic or take the bag with you when you shop the next day.
No doubt you will have noticed, and perhaps come to regard as a fact of life, that many devices, classified as portable, tend to arrive without any form of covering for protection during transit. Laptops, tablets and smartphones are devices that immediately spring to mind in this respect. Naturally manufacturers will only be too happy to produce accessories that retailers can sell you to protect your new expensive purchase when you embark on your travels.
Recently I have had the opportunity to check out a bag that has been designed to protect a laptop and some other devices. This is the Radial 15-inch Laptop Messenger bag from the Australian STM company. Offering the user a choice of attaché style handle or adjustable, padded shoulder strap carrying solution, the Radial bag is available in black, steel or, in the case of my review sample, Moroccan blue.
If you travel ‘light’ then the last thing you want is to wait ages at the baggage collection carousel for your one bag. The solution is a bag that is just within the legal size for carry-on luggage and that is the RiutBag R25 a substantial backpack.
It is 50x37x15cm (maximum unfilled size) and weighs 1290 grams empty. The stated size is 55x40x20cm which I assume is when packed. The material of the backpack feels solid and a close examination of the stitching and zips shows a well-constructed item and perhaps most important it is well padded at the points where it matters on your shoulders and back. In fact when I opened the rear compartment – the one nearest your back - there is a label saying ‘hand made by 18 people’.
This is a 17inch pull along case, it has four different zips that all join at one padlock point so unless someone steals the case the contents should be safe as unlike other such cases it is sold with the ‘stab proof’ banner so just add a tracker inside the case and unless it is totally destroyed you can locate it once stolen.
This Kensington Stab Proof Case measures 32x27x50cm and weighs 3.714kilos, remember that last figure it is without anything in and there will be times when you need to carry it up those stairs so when you pack it with alacrity remember those occasions. Of course for the majority of the time this will be pulled along behind you and when you about to stop or suddenly change directions remember those other people who are behind or beside you, they have feet.
Admittedly the box it came in was for two of them but even the plastic bag that this single backpack was packed was large, my first job was to put it on my kitchen scales, empty it weighs 2.81kilos. Next let’s see what items it can hold.
First it’s dimensions, 30cm across, 25cm deep and 50cm tall. Part of the reason for the weight is that it is so solid. The top for instance is solid enough to write letters on, the sides have little give and the front could probably support a child sitting on it. The only part that has giver is the back that fits snugly into your back but still gives to contours they call it a ‘Balanced Comfort System’.
I do not get to see many quality backpacks and here is the second this year. This one is perhaps a little more normal than the recently reviewed item that for me would be the sort of item that might be used by the James Bond character.
The Streetline BP250 backpack from Lowepro measures 51cm tall, 33cm wide and 12cm deep it weighs 1.2kilos when empty. It is charcoal grey with black zips and straps. To be honest it is not a name I have heard of but the agency that handles another brand asked me to look at it and the Lowepro site seems to be popular with quality photographers requirements where what they are carrying needs careful handling and support.
Certainly not what you would use for hiking or hill climbing this is a smart part leather unit that you might use to go for your office meeting or round and about in a city environment and not when crossing a muddy field scenario.
First let’s say it now it’s not cheap in fact it’s a well-made offering with bells and whistles so the word I am searching for is quality and that -as most will know - you have to pay for. It is 2.1kilos in weight when empty and the overall dimensions are 50x32x13cm the last figure is without any expansion to the sides, when fully expanded you can add up to another 10cm. I counted ten zips in pairs so that pockets can open the way you want them to.
This item would be for those who go out and about a lot. As soon as a say high quality it also means high price but the two can go together to produce an excellent well-made product so if you walk a lot then you are made for this item.
This back pack is manufactured to take a notebook first and everything else second. It’s weight when empty is 1565grams. It is 46x30x13cm but the last figure the width does stretch. There is a filled 13cm long handle on the top for comfortable carrying when it’s not in residence on your back. The outside back is packed with an airmesh material that lets your back breathe and so lessens sweat. The top collar is 6cm wide leading down to the straps that are 7.
Although some power walking might be helpful, it is not really necessary with this next product which can still work when just strolling.
The Packr™ belongs to the EnerPlex family of battery charging products. In the case of the Packr, this product is a rucksack that features a 285 x 135mm solar panel embedded into the back of the rucksack where it is ideally placed where to soak up and convert sunlight into power that can be used by a variety of today’s electronic devices that we would find difficult managing without during our daily lives. The rucksack itself has dimensions of 496.
The Crosskase Eighty 6 laptop bag is suitable for laptops of up to 17.3 inches and should meet the needs of the busy commuter who can use it as a backpack, a messenger bag or a tote bag.
Weighing 1.2kg it is 32 x 46 x 17cm in size it is made from durable grey 600D polyester with the lining in a lighter weight blue material. It has a wide range of pockets and compartments and has been designed to accommodate the laptop and the rest of one’s paraphernalia on the daily trek to and from the office. Comfortably padded handles on both top and one end as well backpack shoulder straps give one a choice of carrying modes.
This unit is designed to take up to a 15.6inch notebook/laptop. It does however have room for a few extras so could be just about big enough to contain a spare shirt and socks etc so could just about constitute an overnight bag.
The first thing I do is discover how many pockets in unusual places such an item has. This I found even has its own raincover in a little zipped compartment near the base of the outside, something I think you will never find in normal use as it will be on its base. Unzip the main compartment and you have the padded blue area at the rear for your notbook/laptop in front of that a 21x28.5cm padded area which could be for say a Tablet on the outside of this two 10.
First an offering from one of the largest names in Laptop or Notebook bags STM, second an offering from probably the most used peripheral manufacturer but this time a name associated with quality DSLR cameras.
A backpack has one huge advantage over a handheld bag, you are less likely to put it down and forget to pick it up again. It is 47x34x9cm and weights around a kilo when empty. It is a rather sober grey colour which is suitable when you go into posh meetings. The only bit that is visable that is not grey are the tips of the zip pulls that are orange. However open the various and numerous pockets and more orange is there.
A laptop bag is as much a tool as the laptop that goes in it. Consequently, it must be comfortable to use while protecting the machine and its associated accessories together with any other necessities. The Stockholm 16 inch notebook backpack in Verbatims Bags for Business range has been designed to meet these criteria.
The Stockholm is for notebooks of up to 16 inches as well as being able to accommodate a tablet of up to 10.1 inches together with everything else that one needs to carry. It certainly does not appear to be flimsy in any way and seems to be well made and robust and looks as if it will provide a very reasonable degree of all round protection. Coloured black overall with red detailing the fabric and zips all appear to be heavy duty. It is 45 (H) x 36.5 (W) x 21cm (D) and weighs 1kg.
Its not often I get to review products made in Australia. In fact to my immediate knowledge I have reviewed only one product previously and that was an excellent software package. Here I am looking at two bags for your notebook.
I picked two of slightly different size, both allow your shoulders to take the strain, I have worn both while out and about. Which of the many bags that STM do that you pick will depend on the size of your notebook and the other items that you need to carry so this look concentrates on the quality of construction as well as overall size. This is available in a light green or a pale brown colour, mine was the latter. The name describes it perfectly as it has a portrait shape.
Having spent good money on a new laptop, it is only sensible to look after it. One of the first things to do is to choose a suitable laptop bag that will protect it from knocks and other damage as well as ensuring that the necessary cables and power brick are all in one place. STM and Techair are two of the manufacturers producing ranges of bags to fit the different machine sizes and to meet a wide variety of needs. The shoulder (messenger) bags that Ive looked at from each vendor address a different need.
The actual ones I have reviewed are the for 15inch MacBook and the for 15.4inch PC laptops. The former is 43 x 34 x 14 cm and the latter 42 x 29 x 5cm. Hence, as well as being slightly smaller it is much thinner. They both have convenient carrying handles but, in the case of the latter, the shoulder strap can be removed and it also has a trolley strap and an external rear open pocket for a newspaper etc. Both bags have a padded compartment to provide physical protection for the laptop.
STM has introduced a vertical laptop shoulder bag in which the computer is stowed vertically rather than the normal horizontal. This turns out to be a remarkably comfortable way to carry a machine together with its basic accessories, possibly an iPad, and some paperwork and so many people may consider it a viable alternative to the conventional ones.
Designed to accommodate the majority of 15inch laptops it weighs just 0.9kg and is constructed, mainly, out of 300D water-resistant micro rip-stop polyester. As well as the padded grab handle there is a removable shoulder strap that can be adjusted over a wide range to suit user needs. My preference was to have a very short strap so that my elbow stopped the bag swinging around. Others may choose to have a far longer strap going diagonally over the shoulder.
Do you flaunt it? Or maybe you opt for a more low profile approach during your travels. To avoid any confusion and to stop wild flights of fancy, I should clarify that the it referred to is your notebook / netbook and your choice of receptacle for carrying a portable computer between various locations.
Many of the bags currently being used for carrying your notebook or netbook have been designed to make a fashion statement and, as a result, do give a clear indication as to the content of the bag. This type of bag also has a third unintentional attribute which will certainly not appeal to the user but it will be like a beacon to those others who are only to willing to relieve you of your property.
Having spent a fair amount of money on a new laptop it is important to get a suitable case. The Revolution from STM Bags is a backpack that will be easy to carry around and should provide adequate protection for the laptop even though its internal facilities for accessories could be improved.
There are tradeoffs in the design of any laptop bag as it must be kept as light as possible without compromising robustness and the protection that it needs to provide for the computer. At the same time it must conveniently accommodate all the various items that the road warrior needs. Hence, the design can be considered in two parts: the rucksack itself and then the facilities provided for the protection and storage of the contents.
Recently I have felt like putting my laptop on a diet. The reason for this unusual thought was brought about by the need to test a laptop bag.
Laptops, notebooks and netbooks are all meant to be computer devices that can be easily portable when moving from location to location. However, apart from the latter category, you are rarely provided with the means to help you transport the particular product. Fortunately various manufacturers have come to the rescue with bags that have been designed specifically for keeping your portable computer safe and secure while you are on the move.