What's in my bag January 1, 2013 no Timbuk2 :(
As much as it pains me, I had to replace my favourite Timbuk2 messenger bags. I have mentioned previously (www.flickr.com/photos/beorn_ours/7988163639/) that I had an elbow injury which had me get rid of the Laptop. At this time I was using the messenger bag because none of the below had happened yet:
- I noticed that the messenger bag was hard to put on without exerting strain on the not yet completely healed elbow (taking it off was no problem at all)
- some tasks/functions I took on at work required me to use some Mac OS X grade software and as much as I like my iPad, it simply did not have those (some of them requiring advanced file management and file encryption)
So I had to switch to a backpack - I found out that putting it on and off is much less of a strain on my elbow as I previously thought. Naturally, I bought a Timbuk2 backpack - a custom Swig Backpack. I had several major issues with it. Those are things that might not affect everyone who will use this backpack, but for me, they make the Swig unusable:
- the Swig is one size and fits a 15 inch MacBook Pro such as the one above, but getting it out trough the swig side opening is almost impossible - it is a real fight to do that and this is not the aim of this bag
- this backpack has VERY FEW organisation possibilities, the result being that all the things (and I really haven't got that much anymore) are ending in a big bulk at the bottom of the bag making weight distribution impossible and creating a bulging lump on your back.
Looking at further backpack possibilities from Timbuk2 was not an option for me (delivery time of a couple of days was too long to wait as I had to lug the laptop already), although I found later that they do have something that would be better for my needs - Showdown Laptop Backpack. By then I have already given out quite a few bucks for Timbuk2 bags and did not want to risk it.
Then I went on a hunt for a good backpack - nothing in Zurich, Switzerland could answer any of my very specific needs. There were some really good bags and some interesting backpacks, but nothing as good in matter of organisation pockets as the backpack by Thule I found in the Apple online and then retail store. The product name is Crossover 25L MacBook Backpack - Black (www.thule.com/en/CH/Products/Luggage/DaypacksAndMessenger...) - do not trust the picture - it looks much more bloated in this picture than it is in real life as the producer was trying to show the total volume of, rather than to stress the really low profile this backpack has when on your back.
It has a vertical front pocket for my Kindle, sometimes my Moleskine is there for quick access to jot down notes while on my commute. Side pockets could hold a water bottle (half a litre bottles and even half a litre cans fit fine, although even my smallest SIGG bottle doesn't, which is why I don't carry any water currently), but I carry there keys, hand sanitizer and lip balm - the things I need immediate access to when out and about.
The front compartment has a mesh pocket for my wallet interdental brush and medicine tin. There is a very good plastic reinforced mesh pocket for my cables and SD cards.
The main compartment has got a good volume, but a narrow base so that it doesn't sag when all the contents fall to the bottom. To allow you to distribute the weight vertically, without it all amassing at the bottom you have the side straps to compress the volume of the main compartment.
At the bottom of the laptop holder you have a very good padding so that you can put your backpack down without worrying what you're doing to you laptop by doing so.
The shoulder straps are not padded and basically were the only thing that made me a bit hesitant when buying the bag, but they turned out to be very comfortable. There are a two carrying handles - one at the bottom and of course one at the top, in case you have the bag lying in some overhead compartment and you have to pull it out - you can do so no matter the position it is in.
NOW, we come to my favourite feature in this bag (after the reinforced mesh pocket and the vertical front pocket) - I call it the safe storage compartment, THULE calls it "Heat-molded, crush proof SafeZone™ compartment protects your sunglasses, iPhone, portable electronics and other fragile gear". It is really great for keeping this small piece of equipment that you do not want to be crushed or scratched by the rest of the things you cary. In my case what I put there are the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS camera and my brand new portable HDD LaCie Porsche design P9223 Slim 500GB.
So there, I hope all the above could be useful for someone who like me has a the need to transport a laptop everyday and has to ensure that putting this on and off one's back is exerting as little strain as possible on both arms and back.