Disclosure: We received samples of these bags in order to facilitate our review. All opinions are our own.
With 9 business trips already completed in 2016, it’s no secret that I rely heavily on my travel accessories. My laptop bag goes with me on every flight and I’m constantly looking for the ultimate travel companion. To meet my needs, a bag has to comfortably hold:
In addition, the shoulder strap must be easy on the back and the bag must attach to my roller board so that I can roll everything through the airport with one hand.
I’ve found two bags that I can swear by with two different styles, zipper-top and folding flap-top – chose your style based on how you want to access the inside of the bag. Oh, they also need to be quite rugged since I’m tough on my computer bag. I can wear out a poorly constructed bag in less than 3 months and there’s nothing worse than having your laptop bag’s zipper or carry strap break on the first leg of a multi-city trip.
I don’t know if I’m naming this type of bag correctly but to me it’s called a flap-top bag since the bag’s top opening is protected by a large folder-over flap that buckles or snaps onto the side. The flap contains a large zipper pocket where you can keep items needed for quick access (I use it to hold my laptop charger and other cables. The flap mechanism makes the inside pockets of the bag very secure but you sacrifice a bit of accessibility for the added security.
My choice here is the Radial 15” laptop messenger bag from STM Bags.
The Radial has padded bottom corners and the laptop compartment itself is a padded “sling” that keeps my precious MacBook Pro suspended above the bottom of the bag. Given how many times per trip I drop the bag down onto a solid surface, this feature is saving loads of impact and wear on my laptop. The Radial also features a firm back panel to give the bag shape even when not fully loaded and a proprietary interior “cable routing” system that enables you easily run interior cables to connect your devices to a portable external charger.
These models use a zipper to close off the main pocket of the bag and are preferred if you need quick access to the entire bag’s contents.
For a zipper top bag, I recommend the Case Logic LoDo laptop attaché.
Case Logic is part of the Thule Group based in Malmö, Sweden. This same design firm produces the legendary Thule bike carriers and roof racks. Their attention to design detail and history carries through to the Case Logic line as well. The zip-top enables quick access to my laptop and iPad while the side pockets use magnetic snap-closures for quick access to travel items. The bag attaches to the handle of your roller board easily – I can’t overestimate how important this is for a road warrior.
The LoDo also uses a unique diagonal connection pattern for its removal shoulder strap. The shoulder strap connects to the bag via a “front right, back left” configuration that keeps the bag extremely stable when strapped over your shoulder.
At CES this past January, I began looking at bags in search of my ultimate travel accessory. To pass the test they had to:
I’ve tested both the STM and the Case Logic bags and have put them both through the ultimate travel worthiness test – multiple connecting flights at the Philadelphia Airport! They both continue to perform well and still look good. So chose the style that fits your needs – Zipper-Top or Flap-Top – and get on the road!
Featured Image Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Thinkstock