I'm a boy. I need a bag. Does that make a bag boy?
September 12, 2007 3:21 PM   Subscribe

ShopFilter: What kind of laptop bag should I get?

Okay I've been looking for days and I got nothing I really like. So I'm opening it to the hive mind of buyers. Here's what I want

1) A padded laptop bag
2) Stylish (meaning nothing you'd see an I.T. guy carrying
3) Under 100 bucks
4) Not too bulky
5) Preferably messenger style but I'm open
6) For a dude. A straight dude. In a reasonable color. (So if you send me links to something pink that's bedazzled or such, I'm gonna be salty)

One that I really like is that canvas israeli paratrooper bag. Unfortunately it's not padded. And I want that. Not some padding sleeve that you put into said bag. Those are a pain.

So if you're a shopper who loves a good challenge, that's mine. I need a bag for a man with a computer. And if it's a bag like no other I will name her after the person who recommends the right accessory.

Provided they're not named something like "SmellsLikeSoup224" or anything like that.
posted by rileyray3000 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
So, a Timbuk2 doesn't work? Maybe just hitting your price range, but there are lots on eBay usually.
posted by barnone at 3:38 PM on September 12, 2007

Acme (more expensive but hot).
posted by barnone at 3:43 PM on September 12, 2007

After a similar search I bought one of these, and I recommend it very highly; it doesn't have padding but I've been careful, sometimes putting a sweater or toque in there first to help pad it out. Otherwise there are some others in the same range that have padding, but aren't quite so minimal in appearance.
posted by Flashman at 3:48 PM on September 12, 2007

Oh yoohoo! via
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:51 PM on September 12, 2007

I'm a fan of the Crumpler Bags
posted by bitdamaged at 4:07 PM on September 12, 2007

I went through a lot of laptop bags before I finally settled on a laptop backpack made by Wenger (bought at Staples or Office Depot). It doesn't fit your 'messenger style' requirement but man, after going to laptop-backpack I'm never going back to messenger style.

I carry my laptop back and forth to work and also to a lot of other locations. I got sick of always having one hand occupied with carrying the bag. Laptop bag + cup of coffee = no hands to open doors. Messenger shoulder bags slide off or strangle you. Plus a laptop gets heavy, especially when you're toting around a lot of accessories.

The backpack I got has a very secure, padded flap for your laptop and then a good deal of space for other stuff you might want to throw in (books, papers, gym clothes, external hard drives, cables, etc.) It has a separate compartment for more books/papers/etc. and then yet another compartment for smaller stuff. It's got tons of of flaps and compartments and pockets and side-compartments all over the place, so you can keep about a thousand things in it.

This one is very tough and it's lasted me about 3 years so far with very little sign of wear (back and forth to work every day, plus a lot of other travelling). I carry around my my laptop, a surge protector, a mouse, 4-5 external hard drives of varying sizes, a USB audio interface, tons of cables, other various accessories, plus whatever papers/books I'm working with at the moment. I bring it everywhere, toss it around, drop it, etc. Nothing's ever been damaged or hurt.

Here is a link to some of the ones Wenger makes. I think mine is the "Sahara." The item description includes a picture of it open with stuff in it, so you can see how much stuff fits.

By the way, I'm a boy too. It's nice and tough and manly. Best of all, it's not obvious that it's a laptop bag, so it's less likely to be a target for thieves.
posted by Alabaster at 4:12 PM on September 12, 2007

I bike commute with a laptop and lots of law books, and I've tried a number of different messenger bags. Get a Duma if you want something with built-in protection. I have a metropolis that I run with a sleeve and love love love it. Carries great, comfy, handles a lot of weight, huge, really waterproof, and even fits your Israeli styling requirements. Yesterday I sprinted through 3 terminals of O'Hare with it strapped on my back and I managed to make my connection with 30 seconds to spare.
posted by craven_morhead at 4:26 PM on September 12, 2007

eBag is my go-to place for buying any kind of bag; a search on messenger laptop bags turns up 135 possibilities, and they have a pop-up viewer thingie that (usually) lets you see how the inside of the bag is organized. Some possibilities that I like and that might fit the bill for you: the Ful Noble, Overland Equipment Trinidad, Timbuk2 Blogger (for a vertical option). Really, your biggest problem is going to be sorting through all the potentially feasible ones. Also, they carry a good range of Crumpler bags, and looking at them at eBag's site spares one the struggle of navigating Crumpler's own site (which I *detest*).

You should also check out the Tom Bihn bags; they're pricey, but in my experience the quality is really excellent.
posted by Kat Allison at 4:29 PM on September 12, 2007

My sons have a Crumpler bag for their MacBook. Cheap and fit for purpose.
posted by veedubya at 4:35 PM on September 12, 2007

I still recommend getting a sleeve separate from a bag. That's what I do so I can use the bag for non-laptop use on the weekends for trips or walking around the city on errands. The padding takes up a lot of space and reduces functionality if there's no laptop inside.

If you use public transit you'd better be using a messenger bag. If you're That Guy swinging his fully-loaded backpack into my head as you turn around, I'm not going to like you much. I use Timbuk2 (local) and Manhattan Portage stuff, mostly. Waxed canvas is the lukewarm hotness.
posted by kcm at 4:45 PM on September 12, 2007

(I've never had a messenger bag slide off except when fully loaded and improperly strapped while riding a bike at speed. If it's sliding off while walking around you're wearing it wrong - across the chest with the strap snug, not hanging down low. It's much easier to swing around for access than a laptop, to boot.)
posted by kcm at 4:46 PM on September 12, 2007

Echoing kcm and totally going against your request to not use a sleeve, I still recommend it. Not a pain at all, and far cheaper. I use a neoprene sleeve (InCase) which is great to keep the rain and spills out, and that goes inside a Chrome messenger bag (Metropolis).
posted by monkeymadness at 4:53 PM on September 12, 2007

I'm on my second Booq bag, and I've been very pleased with both of them. When I went to buy my new one, the model I wanted was discontinued. I was still able to find it at Pivot Gear though.
posted by spilon at 4:58 PM on September 12, 2007

I just got a Timbuk2 Commute laptop messenger bag. It's awesome.

Also, it's ten bucks cheaper at eBags right now than it was when I got mine last week... sigh.
posted by killdevil at 4:59 PM on September 12, 2007

I'm absolutely mad about my Waterfield Designs bag. These are hand-made in San Francisco. Simply excellent. One of the best-made things of any kind I can remember buying. My bag was more than 100 dollars but I think you can get sub-100 dollar bags:

posted by galaksit at 5:02 PM on September 12, 2007

As I can't seem to edit my post, I will have to fix the URL here:
posted by galaksit at 5:08 PM on September 12, 2007

If you really want to play the "I'm straight and manly" angle, try the rainproof cloth briefcase at Duluth Trading. They have a bunch of awesome-looking bags, but this one features a padded laptop slot in the middle, various pockets and features, and it's truly built for the outdoors.

Stylish? Well, I think so. But then, my sense of style is a CF-M34 covered in stickers with a flashlight and a compass on the handstrap. Functional is a style.
posted by Myself at 5:51 PM on September 12, 2007

I recommend SpireUSA , BooqBags or Tom Bihn bags.

I have personally used a spire bag, although i got a booqbag once I got a bigger laptop, the spire bag is still being used-- it's neigh indestructible.

Booqbag looks nice.. but I feel the workmanship is a little more shoody then the other two-- but it's still a good bag and has yet to fail me.
posted by countzen at 5:54 PM on September 12, 2007

Flashman's second link, that Kenneth Cole leather bag, is sexy hot, if you want a woman's point of view. I want to like the Crumpler Moderate Embarrassment bag simply for the name alone, but the site really does suck. I like countzen's SpireUSA Dart bag for light and functional, the timbuck2 bags are ugly, and pretty much all of the Booq bags are great, but pricey.
posted by misha at 6:07 PM on September 12, 2007

I have a BumBakPak and despite the stupid name I LOVE it. It is 100x more practical and comfortable than a messenger bag (you can wear it as one of those too though). Mine goes from business meetings to construction sites and all points in between and fits in. Plus it's waterproof, pockets are reasonably well thought out and the company are really good to deal with.
posted by fshgrl at 6:34 PM on September 12, 2007

posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:55 PM on September 12, 2007

I'll second the recommendation for a Wenger backpack. I have this one.

I can't ever see going back to a messenger style bag -- I love this thing. It really comes in handy in the airport, when you're also wheeling a suitcase.
posted by jmevius at 6:55 PM on September 12, 2007

I've got a Crumpler Part and Parcel and it's quite excellent, if a bit bulky. If I had a slightly smaller laptop, I probably would've gotten the Considerable Embarassment instead (it's a reasonably-sized 15.4" widescreen laptop, and it barely fits in the Considerable Embarassment). It's about $100 CAD (so slightly less USD) and pretty much fits all your criteria. If you can stand the site long enough to buy one (or visit one of their brick'n'mortar stores), recommended.

The Chrome bags looked pretty good too, but I believe they're over your price point.
posted by chrominance at 7:00 PM on September 12, 2007

I have this timbtuk2 laptop bag in grey. I've owned it for about 2 years, and I've carried a laptop nearly every day in it. About half a year of that I spent doing a twenty-mile bike commute with it. I'm rough with my things (I've torn many a pair of jeans within the first week of owning them), and the worst I've managed to do to this bag is tear the seam on the laptop pouch a tiny bit (if you're not forcing your laptop into an already full sleeve, this probably won't happen to you). If I ever manage to render it unusable, it's been good enough that i'd probably buy another one, despite not being a big fan of the timbuk2 look.

I tried using a more standard laptop bag for a hot second in order to look "more professional' and ditched it within a couple days (hated carrying it by the handle, shoulder-strap totally worthless, no room for carrying all my other bullshit).
posted by fishfucker at 7:10 PM on September 12, 2007

I've carried an Eagle Creek laptop bag for - geez - 8 years now and it's been great, but it's a basic black laptop bag and doesn't pass your "wouldn't be carried by the I.T. guy test.

I also like Timbuk2. I have a large messenger from them that's not a laptop-specific bag (I've got a sleeve I use when I haul the computer).

These from Keen are cool.
posted by altcountryman at 8:35 PM on September 12, 2007

I've have bought a Pelican 1080 Hardback by now, but mine's too large to fit. After all, how many laptop cases are not only waterproof, but buoyant up to 10lb as well? They're about $60-$70 at third-party retailers. You will probably have to install your own shoulder strap.
posted by Orb2069 at 10:11 PM on September 12, 2007

I use a North Face Off Site bag. Check out the messenger types Ruckus, Shifty, Fixy and Sepal amongst others.
posted by brautigan at 1:10 AM on September 13, 2007

rileyray3000: Can you get to the Flight 001 store in LA? They carry a German brand called BREE that I haven't seen anywhere else, even in online stores. I got my BREE messenger bag from the local San Francisco branch. It fits all your requirements and cost $85.

I looked on the BREE website and the closest model to the one I got is the Punch 14 bag. The one I have is all jet black without the nylon webbing trim you see there. The outer shell is similar to the indestructible Tyvek material in Fedex envelopes. In black, it's indistinguishable from black leather except on close inspection. The inside is padded gray nylon with a padded divider so it snugly fits my 13" MacBook. The bag has the physical appearance of a sleek, minimalist Kenneth Cole leather messenger bag but it's actually super light, sturdy, and the opposite of bulky.

There's a whole bunch of other great features about it but describing it woud be useless. Best to just head down to your LA store and see if they carry it or maybe something else you might like. Flight 001 has a lot of well-designed European bags that you don't see anywhere else so even if they don't have it, you may luck out with something else. I'll find out if my branch still has it. If they do, I'll buy it and I can send you pics if you're interested. If not, I'll just keep it as my #2 if and when my current bag fails.
posted by junesix at 2:45 AM on September 13, 2007

posted by zackola at 7:14 AM on September 13, 2007


Skooba from roadwired. Best bag I've ever owned, perfectly padded and can hold a ton. Though it might be to 'IT' for you, take a peak at it.
posted by Quazie at 9:05 AM on September 13, 2007

Response by poster: These are all FANTASTIC suggestions folks. Thank you.
posted by rileyray3000 at 9:40 PM on September 13, 2007

Response by poster: Also I can't believe this made The Consumerist. What a rush.
posted by rileyray3000 at 9:56 PM on September 13, 2007

Waterfield Designs bags (http://sfbags.com) are the best quality products of any kind I can think of. I agree with galaksit--they are amazing.

One of their bag and sleeve ensembles will run you more than $100, but you can get a custom-fitting sleeve for your laptop from them and then just put it in a cheap bag.

I recommend taking the plunge, though and going for their Cargo Mambo Combo. It will last you a lifetime and save you money in the long run.
posted by flyawaygal at 4:22 PM on September 14, 2007

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