Need a good laptop bag.
August 21, 2012 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I need a good, hip, stylish, messenger-type laptop bag. Not Timbuk-2, not Chrome, not anything too "Hi! I do business!" looking...

15" Macbook Pro, may also carry iPad, charging supplies, maybe a moleskine and pens...

It seems like every thread around laptop bags eventually devolves into Timbuk-2 and Chrome, and I want to avoid those for two reasons:

1 -- I have a Timbuk-2 general messenger bag and, while it is great at what it does, I don't think I want that for my laptop bag. I want something a bit more stylish.

2 -- Two co-workers have Chrome bags, and yeah... I don't want to be the third.

3 -- I want something that maybe every other person at industry events doesn't have. I know, I I want image, or a good bag? I want both.

A bit about me, personality-wise...I am mid 30's, work in a fairly casual industry (chucks, slim jeans, usually t-shirts, sometimes nicer button-downs), I play the loud indie rock, I like the vintage things. I grudgingly admit that there are some on MeFi who would probably dub me a hipster, though I would argue that I am both far too old and far too established for that label to apply. I don't want a stodgy bag. I want a bag that fits my lifestyle.

Leather might be a plus. And I like the look of old army field bags. And 1960's/70's briefcases. And I kind of like the Muzetto bags from Waterfield.

Suggestions? Oh, and I am a guy.
posted by kaseijin to Grab Bag (33 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I am a huge fan of Jack Spade. I've got four of their bags and they work and wear perfectly.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Manhattan Portage is what I've used for years, now. I've had the same one since fall of 2007, and it doesn't even show much wear on it.
posted by deanc at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I covet a Saddleback bag, though they are a bit pricey.
posted by nasayre at 8:06 AM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your post practically screams out for Saddleback Leather. Or something from an army-navy shop. If you want stylish and unusual, I've found that military surplus gear from the former soviet bloc is more often those things than U.S.-issued gear.
posted by gauche at 8:07 AM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

On the cheap end of things, I recently got one of these to replace my many-years-old jansport messenger bag, and I LOVE it. It has a protective sleeve for my ipad, which is great, plus it's nice and casual without being all I AM A BAG FOR STUDENTS.

But, as you may have noticed, that is a lady bag. Something like this looks like it might be a rough dude-quivalent.
posted by phunniemee at 8:09 AM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You are the precise demographic that Mission Workshop focuses on.
posted by rockindata at 8:09 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Check out Ernest Alexander, specifically the wax canvas bags. They're versatile and have that whole vintage look going on.
posted by sonmi at 8:10 AM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Freitag bags are ubiquitous in Europe, but maybe where you are they are a little less common. Very sturdy, almost entirely recycled material.
posted by molecicco at 8:18 AM on August 21, 2012

I think some bags from Duluth Packs have the vibe you are going for.
posted by kitkatcathy at 8:18 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: +1 for mission workshop.
posted by phil at 8:22 AM on August 21, 2012

Brooklyn Industries channels a bit of the old army field bag look. Their waxed canvas is great.
posted by fontophilic at 8:31 AM on August 21, 2012

I love my moop bag.
posted by coppermoss at 8:35 AM on August 21, 2012

Best answer: +2 for Mission Workshop. I'm a mid-30s hipster casual professional. I love mine.
posted by misskaz at 8:36 AM on August 21, 2012

Best answer: I cannot recommend Defy Bags enough. Built like tanks, with gorgeous, hefty, all-metal hardware, handmade in the U.S. of A. by a REALLY nice guy (I called with some questions and the owner answered my questions PERSONALLY). Not to mention that I've NEVER seen another person with a Defy Bag (whereas I see literally dozens of Timbuk2, Manhattan Portage, and other bags every day)
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:43 AM on August 21, 2012

Just here to second Jack Spade. I could sing their praises forever.
posted by jaksemas at 8:44 AM on August 21, 2012

Best answer: Ah, crap, the link didn't work. You can find them here. Again: awesome bags, awesome company, I can almost guarantee that NOBODY else at an industry event will have one.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:48 AM on August 21, 2012

If you want classy, you want a Brooks Barbican.
posted by advicepig at 9:15 AM on August 21, 2012

The good doctor has and loves his Travelteq Trash Messenger.
posted by evoque at 9:27 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

My wife loves her recycled-bike-tire bag from Alchemy Goods (Seattle).
posted by omnidrew at 9:39 AM on August 21, 2012

I am seconding Moop. I LOVE my bag from them, it's study but unassuming and I get compliments on it all the time.
posted by blue_bicycle at 9:45 AM on August 21, 2012

Just to make your decision harder: Tom Bihn Bags
posted by vespabelle at 10:27 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seagull Bags are local to me, you can get completely custom artwork, and they are indestructible and awesome.

For something simpler, but a little less well-known than the brands you mention, Rickshaw Bags who also make ipad, moleskine and laptop sleeves.

I have a Rickshaw smartphone folio that matches my custom Seagull and am very happy with both.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 10:39 AM on August 21, 2012

How about something from incase? They even have a sale going on right now.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 10:41 AM on August 21, 2012

I love my Tom Bihn bags, but would say that they're a little too far over into the "looks like every other laptop-toting road warrior" bag. If I had the budget for a Saddleback, Brooks Barbican or similar +$300 leather bag, I'd also give a long hard look at Fluevog's Mike Briefcase or their Fitzgerald.

also, if your main objection to Timbuk2\Chrome is the ubiquitous presence of cordura and other synthetic fabrics, then I'd also have you reconsider Reload as they do waxed canvas bags, though their current stock for waxed canvas messengers is currently out; but you might want to ping them to see when they're going to replenish.
posted by bl1nk at 12:53 PM on August 21, 2012

Have been using the same Manhattan Portage bag almost every day since 1995...and it's still in good shape.
posted by bennett being thrown at 12:54 PM on August 21, 2012

I loved my Freitag bag (as mentioned above).
posted by slogger at 1:38 PM on August 21, 2012

Mission Workshop all the way. When my Chrome bag bites the dust I'm making the switch. The fully reversible shoulder strap (goodbye special order left handed bags) is totally boss.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 2:54 PM on August 21, 2012

You want a Filson 257. It comes with a shoulder strap, but like any legit briefcase it looks better in your hand than on your shoulder. The fabric feels bulletproof and is very stiff at first, but breaks in beautifully.
posted by Mendl at 4:07 PM on August 21, 2012

I have coveted the 2Unfold laptop bag from Hard Graft for years now, but their prices are insane (for me). You need to look at the pictures to see how interesting and flexible a construction it is.

They have a range of other laptop bags that might suit you also.

(Eventually I caved and bought a wallet, and their leatherwork is excellent. But I've not seen this bag in person.)
posted by distorte at 12:56 AM on August 22, 2012

I've used my original Freitag as a daily workhorse since 2006 on and off a bicycle, toting groceries, laptop, camera gear on shoots, and as an airline carryon. Each one is unique due to their recycled tarpaulin construction.

But I will also recommend from handling friends' bags the Saddleback, Filson, and Mission Workshop stuff. My aesthetic leans more toward the Saddleback for your needs… but MW's rolltop backpack is basically the most bomber cycle commuter backpack made for non-messengers.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:17 AM on August 22, 2012

I have a booq laptop bag for my 17" Macbook Pro beast, and I just got an email from them that they released some new bags for the 15" that look really nice. I really like the bag and it was designed specifically for the laptop so it holds everything and more perfectly.

I got my booq bag very early on after they came out, and it had some problems that they always quickly fixed. It seems they've resolved a lot of those early design issues -- but their quick response always kinda made me like them more, even though it was due to a problem.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 8:09 AM on August 22, 2012

If you want leather and Saddleback is too expensive, take a look at Grafea.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:54 AM on August 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the great answers! I loved the Defy bag, but it's pretty simple construction for the price. I think it's down to Ernest Alexander and Mission Workshop. And then, within the Mission Workshop set, rucksack or messenger bag.

Decisions, decisions...
posted by kaseijin at 7:38 AM on August 30, 2012

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