Laptop Bag for a newbie Executive
August 26, 2017 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Hit me with your favorite laptop bags. I have seen the previous threads and yes, I have some unique needs.

I am going to be traveling to customer locations often and need a laptop bag. I currently have one of those black monsters, but want to upgrade to a more stylish option.

1. Must not have a shoulder strap, not even the buckles on the sides for it
2. Leather bags are preferable but with full-grain leather being so expensive and I want to sort of avoid animal products (in a vague attempt to prevent cruelty to animals)
3. Must be able to hold a Macbook Air 11 or 13 inch, chargers for the Mac and phone, small light pointer, a slim book and pen
4. Must be less than $75

I have looked up Amazon and Ebay, but this one comes close to my "vision" - Amazon link

I don't want to be one of those Metro hipsters who spend $400 on a bag, but also not that guy who has the old huge, faux leather bags.
posted by theobserver to Shopping (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're really, really limiting your options if you're trying to stay under $75, especially for an executive-appropriate look.

To help your search, what you're describing is usually called a "laptop briefcase" or "laptop portfolio" rather than a laptop bag -- that will help you find more options without shoulder straps. However, have you considered a classic attaché case?
posted by erst at 1:58 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Both budget and faux leather are somewhat limiting you here. If you want to avoid animal products go for a man made fabric that doesn't claim to be anything else. This is because at the low price point anything supposed to look like leather will look cheap and will probably be of questionable quality. And laptop bags have to sustain a lot of wear.

As it seems that you want a laptop bag that doesn't have any of the attributes a laptop bag normally has, have you done a search for a briefcase or satchel type bag? I am largely in the field and I've been carting round my laptop and assorted stuff in both laptop and non laptop bags for more than a decade now. Whilst anything designed as laptop bag normally has built in compartments for (laptop related) stuff this is nothing that is actually required. And I assume you're of an age where you are unlikely throw your bag around enough to need the protective sleeves.

I am female and it turns out that the bag I keep coming back to is the le pliage. I have this in a few colours and I use a few small pencil case/make up bag sized, zipped bags to keep the 'stuff' contained and it all just gets dumped in the bag together with water bottle and all the other things I like to have with me at work. Note that this bag is not marketed as a laptop or even work bag yet is used as one by many women in my professional services firm, including many quite senior individuals. If you're not female that bag may not work for you but what I'm trying to say is - look for your ideal style and size of bag and use it, irrespective of wether it is meant to be a laptop bag or not.

And reconsider your budget if you want to stay away from materials that don't look artificial.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:17 PM on August 26, 2017

I'm a big fan of Tom Bihn's laptop bags. They're popular among techies. They're way over your budget, because they're handmade by benefitted workers in the USA. My everyday bag is the Cadet. They do have loops for shoulder straps, but if you're willing to wait, I bet they could make you one that doesn't have the loops, or you could unstitch them. The Founder's Briefcase is a bit more elegant, though clearly not leather.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:43 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I searched ebags with your criteria (although I went with "any material that looks nice/professional" so there's a mix of leather, fake leather, and other materials). I found a few things:

Booq super-slim laptop brief. Does have should strap attachment points but they tuck away and are quite unobtrusive. Here's the 15 inch.

This "envelope style" portfolio, with no handles at all. It is leather. (If you look at the "customers also looked at" section, you can find many other zip-around portfolio type thing that are similar, although mostly they're more expensive.)

Here's a hard-sided briefcase, made of ABS plastic. (It is $84 on sale, so a little over your price point.)

Here's a leather-look hard-sided vinyl briefcase, for very cheap ($27 on sale right now).

Here is a Kenneth Cole hard-sided black leather briefcase on sale for $64 (down from $200), which is actually my favorite of the bunch -- Kenneth Cole stands up to pretty hard use and their leather wears well.

Honestly the most confounding part of your question for me is the lack of luggage strap attachment spots. Just about EVERY bag that accommodates a laptop has these these days, and that dramatically cuts down your selection. Can you share what the problem with luggage strap attachment spots is? Otherwise you're left with the (very small) universe of hard-sided briefcases, women's laptop purses, and very small smattering of unisex bags/portfolios.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:00 PM on August 26, 2017

Thanks for the responses so far. I do agree that $75 may be too less.

If I can spend, say $200, what bags would fit the other criteria? I would like a non-leather bag, but not sure what other materials can look good enough for a meeting with a high-profile customer or in a board meeting.

One other input that I forgot to mention is that I am male and 39.
posted by theobserver at 5:01 PM on August 26, 2017

not sure what other materials can look good enough for a meeting with a high-profile customer or in a board meeting.

Anything non garish - the first option EMcG linked would be fine.

Based on your update - I work with a bunch of accountants. All my male colleagues carry more standard laptop bags or rucksacks, including the partners when they go to client meetings. So not sure your concerns are founded in that respect.

In terms of presenting a professional picture that inspires confidence in you most people would not base their impression on your bag (alone). What does matter is that you present a coherent image - your overall appearance (clothes, shoes, watch, hair style, also fit of clothes etc). When these things look like they were assembled in a haphazard fashion or don't fit it often starts to look sloppy. Most of the time that doesn't have to mean very formal. But it should look deliberate and coherent and grown up. How formal is very industry specific. But quality and fit matter, especially if you're going for simple or less formal end of the spectrum.

All your bag has to do is compliment the rest of your professional image.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:35 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're willing to go up to $200, I'm a similar age, in tech, not executive but senior level, and I have high level meetings (EVPs and above) where I have to bring my bag in. I carry a Kenneth Cole Reaction black leather laptop bag for my laptop and presentation items, as well as a few personal items. I have received many compliments on it. It's great for flights as well.
posted by erst at 8:24 PM on August 26, 2017

I'll second the Tom Bihn recommendation. It is not in your under-$75 price range, but it's one of those "buy it for life" kind of things. They're solid, well-made bags.
posted by WCityMike at 8:47 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

@EMG: When you say "Luggage Strap", I am assuming you mean the shoulder strap and not the straps for attaching the laptop bag to the roll-on luggage.

I have a couple of issues with the shoulder strap:

- I find that the shoulder strap spoils the fabric of the jacket over time.
- I don't like the way the strap rests on the floor or table when you sit down in meetings (Weird, I know!)

Removing the shoulder strap is an option, but the buckles on the side are usually shiny taking away the whole "look".

I will look into the first 2 links you provided (the BooQ looks close to the one in the Amazon link I gave) and also the Tom Bihn bags suggestions
posted by theobserver at 12:31 AM on August 28, 2017

« Older I'm looking for short audio documentaries that are...   |   I Feel So Exposed Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.