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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Looking for the ultimate PowerBook backpack

Looking for the ultimate PowerBook backpack
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Aug 4, 2004, 10:35 PM
 
First of all, I know all about the main PB case/sleeve thread on this forum, and I've read through all of it. I was undecided on whether to add to that or start a new thread; I decided to start something new as I would mostly like comments from those who have already shopped for backpacks before.

I've been considering the booq BP3 mainly; I was recently convinced that a Tom Bihn Brain Bag might be the better way to go, however, unfortunately both their Brain Cell and Monolith (one or the other is necessary to hold/protect the laptop in the backpack) are on backorder for a couple of months. I need this by the middle of September, as I will be going on foreign exchange in Japan at that time.

So aside from the BP3, anything else I should be considering? I was looking at messenger bags at first, but was quickly convinced that they are not ideal when carrying lots of books and other heavy items around.

btw, this is for a 15" aluminum PowerBook.
     
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Aug 4, 2004, 10:48 PM
 
Just so you know, laptop backpacks are a perfect way to tell a thief you have a laptop.

I'm getting case protector and a ZeroShock sleeve, then put it in my trusty Jansport.
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opti  (op)
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Aug 4, 2004, 11:26 PM
 
Originally posted by olePigeon:
Just so you know, laptop backpacks are a perfect way to tell a thief you have a laptop.

I'm getting case protector and a ZeroShock sleeve, then put it in my trusty Jansport.
There are any number of things I could say to this...

- From the laptop backpacks I've looked at, there doesn't seem to be anything obvious in the design to scream "laptop inside!"

- It seems that almost any laptop backpack is much less obvious than the other choices

- I'll be in Japan, theft isn't as much of a concern there (though I will continue using it back in the states now and again, most likely)

- I can always guard my stuff more closely

- I have a Jansport currently, but it's not large enough to fit my laptop
     
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Aug 4, 2004, 11:42 PM
 
I really like the Branthaven backpack. You can order it from Apple.
     
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Aug 5, 2004, 12:06 AM
 
I'm selling my used Brenthaven backpack for the 15" for $100 (retails for $180). Email me at filmmaker2002@mac.com if you're interested. I got the 17" so I got the bigger backpack to go with it.
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Aug 5, 2004, 01:22 AM
 
Originally posted by Nawus:
I really like the Branthaven backpack. You can order it from Apple.
Brenthaven has two backpacks, the Mobility and Professional -- the latter being the $200 all-black backpack with the laptop sleeve. I assume you mean the latter? I was considering that one a little, it got a lot of positive comments on the slashdot thread about laptop cases. It does have one advantage -- it is about the only high-quality backpack that I can check out and buy locally, at the same place I ordered my PowerBook.

I thought it felt a bit stiff for my liking (I'm used to the Jansport), but maybe that's going to be the case for any high-quality backpack; I can't compare it to the BP3 or anything else, unfortunately.
     
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Aug 5, 2004, 03:48 AM
 
I have the Spire Volt XL backpack. It's a great bag, holding my 15 inch powerbook and accessories. The removable padded sleeve is available in different sizes for the perfect fit. This is my 2nd bag from Spire. I also have the Endo courier style bag.

check them out at www.spireusa.com
     
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Aug 5, 2004, 05:41 AM
 
I personally say go with a normal backpack and a nice sleeve. I myself use a glove sleeve from radtech.us with my North Face Borealis back pack. The notebook fits perfectly in the pack with plenty of room for note books and such. Currently I'm taking differential equations at a local campus and I have my PB, a solutions manual (which is about 2 inches thick and is almost as large as the PB length and height wise). My Diff EQ book (1.25" thick), and a 2 inch binder in there and it all fits very nice. Also have my mouse, power brick, extention cord, TI-92, TI-83, TI-30, etc... all stuffed in there!
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Aug 5, 2004, 09:21 AM
 
I got this one at bestbuy...liking it very much! Although I carry a 12" it will fit the 15". It has tons of compartments it does not screen 'laptop inside' and is well padded.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....3&type=product
     
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Aug 5, 2004, 09:36 AM
 
Originally posted by wuzup101:
I personally say go with a normal backpack and a nice sleeve.
Same here, I've got a Waterfield Designs sleeve and a Kipling backpack.

Works great and I can always just go with the sleeve for carrying my PB around town.
     
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Aug 5, 2004, 09:43 AM
 
Originally posted by olePigeon:
Just so you know, laptop backpacks are a perfect way to tell a thief you have a laptop.

I'm getting case protector and a ZeroShock sleeve, then put it in my trusty Jansport.
I think I'm going to mod my eastpak to transport my powerbook in. Much safer.
     
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Aug 5, 2004, 02:06 PM
 
Originally posted by opti:
Brenthaven has two backpacks, the Mobility and Professional -- the latter being the $200 all-black backpack with the laptop sleeve. I assume you mean the latter? I was considering that one a little, it got a lot of positive comments on the slashdot thread about laptop cases. It does have one advantage -- it is about the only high-quality backpack that I can check out and buy locally, at the same place I ordered my PowerBook.

I thought it felt a bit stiff for my liking (I'm used to the Jansport), but maybe that's going to be the case for any high-quality backpack; I can't compare it to the BP3 or anything else, unfortunately.
Yes, it the all black one made for the 15" pwrbk. I also looked at the BP3 but found the sleeve too big for the 15. The Brenthaven sleeve also gives a little more protection.
     
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Aug 7, 2004, 04:14 AM
 
Originally posted by Nawus:
Yes, it the all black one made for the 15" pwrbk. I also looked at the BP3 but found the sleeve too big for the 15. The Brenthaven sleeve also gives a little more protection.
Do you mean the PowerSleeve, or what's built-in to the BP3? You want the PowerSleeve 14 for the 15" PowerBook.
     
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Aug 9, 2004, 09:46 PM
 
Well, yesterday I went ahead and ordered the Spire Volt XL backpack, direct from spireusa.com (I'm not sure if there's any other way). Thanks to MusicVideosRock for reminding me of them -- I went over the slashdot thread again and found many extremely positive comments about their backpacks, but the clincher was this Gadgeteer review that I found in a Google search -- very informative and detailed with lots of pics, typical of Gadgeteer reviews. I just never thought to look there, as I didn't know they had delved into laptop stuff.

They gave the BP3 a very positive review as well, but in the comments thread, a couple of readers had a lot of complaints about the backpack -- and worse yet, booq's customer service, which apparently has failed to give people credit or any sort of response when they returned their backpacks (after 3 weeks in one case!) In contrast, Spire's customer service is said to be very good.

I was considering the smaller two backpacks as the Volt XL looked rather large, but when I looked at the dimensions they were really not that much smaller, surprisingly enough (not even my current Jansport is that much smaller!), and I've read the most positive feedback about the Volt XL.

One more thing: if anyone plans to order from Spire, use the coupon code "NRVW" for $20 off any order. I'm not sure when it expires.
     
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Aug 10, 2004, 12:03 PM
 
Incase makes the best backpack ever. Nothing comes close.
     
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Aug 10, 2004, 09:51 PM
 
Please post your thoughts on the pack when it arrives opti. I'm in the same boat as far as backpacks go.
     
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Aug 11, 2004, 01:03 PM
 
Originally posted by Darksider:
Incase makes the best backpack ever. Nothing comes close.
I'm with you there.. I love my inCase back pack.
-quadraphonic
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Aug 11, 2004, 01:44 PM
 
Has anyone tried the BrainBag from Tom Bihn? It looks cool.

http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/mer...roduct_Count=1
     
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Aug 11, 2004, 01:54 PM
 
i have a willow design jacques backpack for my tibook, and it's a killer backpack, most people are surprised when i pull a laptop out of it (doesn't look like a laptop bag) and it's extremely well padded and versatile. however, willow design has closed their doors so unfortunately you can't get them anymore... (they were expensive, but it was nice supporting a canadian company, and they built them in canada so i didn't feel bad buying a backpack made by a ten year old, and also was very well built as a result)

but that's what i would have recommended had willow design not decided to close up shop earlier this year...


http://www.willowdesign.com/

oh, i checked, i guess they still have some inventory to sell...
     
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Aug 11, 2004, 05:42 PM
 
Best backpack for a 15" PowerBook?

BOBLBE-E hardshell. Either Megalopolis (big model) or Peoples Delite (small model).

http://www.boblbee.com/jsp/public/pr..._hardshell.jsp

High-tech, fantastic back support, separate laptop compartment, expandable if you need to carry that bit extra (via flexible sides). Great for cyclists since it totally protects the PowerBook in case of a fall.

Had mine for 5 years now, used it every day to carry my 15" PowerBook. Almost looks like new.
     
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Aug 11, 2004, 05:54 PM
 
I ordered the Spire Volt XL as well. I have 17" AlBook.
I love it! It's great, comfy, plenty of room, and doesn't scream "LAPTOP - PLEASE TAKE ME"

I took it on a trip from Los Angeles (well Long Beach) to Dulles (I'm now a JetBlue fan), bus transfer, Metro ride (and the reverse coming back).

No problems at all...its survived nicely, had tons of stuff in it, and fit easily under the seat.

-Jake
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Aug 11, 2004, 06:11 PM
 
I use the Brenthaven 15" Pro Backpack and have been very satisfied with it. Very roomy superb sleeve included. Lots of pockets for peripherals, mags, papers, folders. Its also very comfortable. The bottomis well padded and stands upright if placed on the floor.

Its not cheap but it does provide good protection for your PB.

PS. It doesnt look like you're carrying a laptop inside. It has no visible logos.

Straight black
15" 1.25/512/80/5400/SD/AE Aluminum Powerbook
     
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Aug 13, 2004, 01:21 PM
 
That's one cheeze-a-licious site.

I've always thought that if I fall off my bike, at that point I could care less about my PowerBook. Hence, panniers/acme made case/bike rack. Plus, having weight off my back just rocks now (less restriction, lower center of gravity, better balance, etc.). Just a thought.

...




Originally posted by McFarmer:
Best backpack for a 15" PowerBook?

BOBLBE-E hardshell. Either Megalopolis (big model) or Peoples Delite (small model).

http://www.boblbee.com/jsp/public/pr..._hardshell.jsp

High-tech, fantastic back support, separate laptop compartment, expandable if you need to carry that bit extra (via flexible sides). Great for cyclists since it totally protects the PowerBook in case of a fall.

Had mine for 5 years now, used it every day to carry my 15" PowerBook. Almost looks like new.
     
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Aug 13, 2004, 04:15 PM
 
The best bags are ones that messengers use on a daily basis. They get beaten and abused daily and yet they still last for years.

http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/catalog/c...2?categoryId=2

American made and they look good.


Also, check out Crumpler:

http://www.crumplerusa.com/

High-quality bags cool-looking from Australia.
The Kuz
     
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Aug 13, 2004, 04:25 PM
 
Originally posted by igorsway:
Has anyone tried the BrainBag from Tom Bihn? It looks cool.

http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/mer...roduct_Count=1
These are nice bags, but the best thing about them is the warning label:

About the label

Excerpt:

The inside label carries instructions on washing and caring for the bags. Because the bags are sold in Canada, the instructions are also printed in French. The French version, however, contains an additional phrase: "NOUS SOMMES DESOLES QUE NOTRE PRESIDENT SOIT UN IDIOT. NOUS N'AVONS PAS VOTE POUR LUI."

Translated to English, the phrase reads, "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We did not vote for him."
     
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Aug 13, 2004, 04:27 PM
 
I personally would go with a Booq bag, myself. I have a Booq XL and PowerSleve15 for my AL 15" Powerbook. I love both bags. They are very well constructed and are quite stylish, I must say. The straps are sturdy, and comfortable. I can't say enough about how positive my experiences with my Booq Bags have been. I'm sure the BP3 would fit your needs well ( I like the color options on that model, kinda cool).

I do suggest looking into one of their "System" packages. My XL system is more than I could have hoped for, and the quality of product more than justifies the prices (Though I didn't feel they were outlandish by any means).


- Chris

(The XL definitely DOES NOT scream Laptop inside. Just maybe style and class outside )
     
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Aug 13, 2004, 04:30 PM
 
Particularly for biking, I recommend the Brenthaven Executive for the 15". It has cross-straps at chest and belly to keep weight from shifting and bouncing.

I've beaten and abused mine for three years daily and it still looks brand new.

It's incredibly comfortable.
     
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Aug 13, 2004, 05:04 PM
 
Originally posted by kuzelnik:
The best bags are ones that messengers use on a daily basis. They get beaten and abused daily and yet they still last for years.

http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/catalog/c...2?categoryId=2

American made and they look good.
Or you could get the same version from EMS for half the price, with more pockets, better construction, and a lifetime trade-in guarantee.

Hmm..not on their site, but was just at the stores and they're in there. I had a 12" powerbook in a powerbooq sleeve inside one of these fall off my car at about 30mph and aside from a small warp it was fine.

But yeah, the timbuk2 bags do look nicer.
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Aug 13, 2004, 05:15 PM
 
I've looked at a LOT of bags (i'm a bit of a bag junkie, always in search of that *perfect* one), and i have to say that the incase bags are the best-designed and best-built bags i've ever seen. They actually have a trained industrial designer creating their stuff, and it's totally top-notch. Little details like how the zippers are concealed totally set them apart from every other bag i've seen.

I have a Spire Vurt, and it's been fairly disappointing. The design is not very well thought out, and the build quality is a little sketchy. Spire bags are overrated, in my opinon.
     
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Aug 13, 2004, 07:32 PM
 
you might want to checkout the nike epic 1. protection on the inside and out. rigid outside structure, hidden pockets galore, and u can customize the fit. good luck finding the perfect bag for you though. it's never easy

No trees were killed in the sending of this message. However, a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
     
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Aug 13, 2004, 11:02 PM
 
I bought the Swiss Army backpack with laptop holding, padded compartment and have found no faults to it yet. It also has a seperate compartment for books and many other pouches and holders for all sorts of things. Very comfortable on the back, lots of ability, recomended since you'll be studenting it up.
     
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Aug 14, 2004, 12:41 AM
 
Originally posted by opti:
Do you mean the PowerSleeve, or what's built-in to the BP3? You want the PowerSleeve 14 for the 15" PowerBook.
The Booq 15 is TOO wide and the 14 is too SHORT

Brenthaven is a tight fit.
     
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Aug 14, 2004, 09:20 AM
 
1) I think that you can pick up the Brenthavens at the Apple Store in Tokyo. I saw both of them there a couple weeks back.

2) Laptop backpacks are different enough to tell an experienced thief that it likely has one inside. The padded backs are particularly telling.

3) Japan is still relatively safe, but not everywhere or always. If you are in Osaka or Tokyo areas you need to be on your guard a bit more than a few years ago. Maybe it's us damn foreigners who are responsible. :-) And behavior of teenagers here is often downright deliquent - in recent years.

4) If you are commuting alot with your PB in Japan, go light as possible. I hauled my 15" in a sleeve inside a generic backpack for 9 months. It was murder on my back when I had to carry a book or stack of papers with it. So get a pack that itself is lightweight and that's a challenge if you want protective layers.

Cheers,
umijin


Originally posted by opti:
Brenthaven has two backpacks, the Mobility and Professional -- the latter being the $200 all-black backpack with the laptop sleeve. I assume you mean the latter? I was considering that one a little, it got a lot of positive comments on the slashdot thread about laptop cases. It does have one advantage -- it is about the only high-quality backpack that I can check out and buy locally, at the same place I ordered my PowerBook.

I thought it felt a bit stiff for my liking (I'm used to the Jansport), but maybe that's going to be the case for any high-quality backpack; I can't compare it to the BP3 or anything else, unfortunately.
     
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Aug 14, 2004, 11:01 AM
 
I use an AXIO hardpack,I ride my motorcycle to work everyday and this offers some protection for the powerbook in case of accident



http://www.axio-usa.com/
     
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Aug 14, 2004, 05:29 PM
 
I spent six months looking, found them all, picked up every one with my laptop in it and put them on my shoulders, it seemed the most comfortable, impressive protection and storage. I do have a 17" (shouldn't everyone) which did limit the choices some. The willow looked good but by the time I was ready to pull the trigger they only had navy, I wanted black, now they have none. The deciding factor was that my partner has one over a year old and other than some paint wear on the zipper handles (indicating some real use) you couldn't tell it wasn't brand new, so I went to an Apple Store and got it for $179. Finally and I'm loving it.
     
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Aug 14, 2004, 05:40 PM
 


wow. i wonder how well they work and if the graphics card burns up.

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Aug 14, 2004, 05:54 PM
 


OOPS, i posted to the wrong thread there, i hate when that happens...

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Aug 14, 2004, 08:15 PM
 
any more thought on the boblbee products? i've had my eye on one for quite some time now. do the peoples' delight models work well with the 15 inch PBs? how much extra room is there? i was looking at a megalopolis because i was afraid the PD would be too small for books and such but no i wonder if the PD would work too.

filmmakr2002 if you have any insight, i know you also have some (indirect ) experience with them.

thanks all.
     
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Aug 14, 2004, 10:03 PM
 
I use a Timbuk2 messenger bag (the small model) and so far my only complaint is that the strap is just a bit short for someone of my length. Aside from that, it's a great bag. Lightweight, waterproof, damn near indestructible, and not excessively expensive.

If you're set on a backpack, however, I would advise you to buy a good strong sleeve and aside from that just pick up a light, generic model. I've found most of the backpacks intended for use with laptops tend to be bulky and overweight while providing less protection than a sleeve would.
     
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Aug 14, 2004, 11:33 PM
 
If you're searching for the Ultimate Backpack, you should include Boblbee in your list of choices. They're not for everybody but they certainly are extreme.
     
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Aug 15, 2004, 12:51 AM
 
Don't let a Pelican or ZEROHalliburton case become an after-thought.

You now swear _by_ the bags you have, but one day you will swear _at_ the bags you have. Bag the bags before it's too late.

My ZERO case has been to hell and back and dropped many times. The PowerBook is well protected by the ZERO case.

In situation where I am using a backpack, I leave the PowerBook home, where it belongs.
( Last edited by Paul Huang; Aug 15, 2004 at 01:09 AM. )
     
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Aug 15, 2004, 03:18 AM
 
I've had most of the above recommendations, but putting it back on topic, I'd recommend a typical bomber pack (Arcteryx, TNF, Gregory, et al) with a waterfield or booq sleeve, because of vertical orientation.

enjoy.
( Last edited by iomatic; Aug 15, 2004 at 03:43 AM. )
     
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Aug 15, 2004, 08:31 AM
 
Patagonia just updated their messenger bag design to include a padded laptop section. Their products are built to last but I haven't seen the new bag in person yet.
     
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Aug 15, 2004, 01:43 PM
 
Originally posted by Paul Huang:
Don't let a Pelican or ZEROHalliburton case become an after-thought.

You now swear _by_ the bags you have, but one day you will swear _at_ the bags you have. Bag the bags before it's too late.

My ZERO case has been to hell and back and dropped many times. The PowerBook is well protected by the ZERO case.

In situation where I am using a backpack, I leave the PowerBook home, where it belongs.
Good call on this. I just got a ZERO DZ-3 Laptop case this summer, and it's excellent. Aircraft-grade aluminum, and high strength hinges, latches, and combination locks—it takes more than 400 pounds of force to pull them off. I can stand on it (I only weigh 130 lbs, but still) and it barely moves. It's indestructible. The government uses these (handcuffed to someone's wrist) to move around secret documents. My brother got a used ZERO from the 70's, government auction, used to belong to the FBI. It's scratched to all hell but still as solid as the day it was made. He uses it to store his paintball gun and equipment.

Plus, they're sexy as all get out, to match the PowerBooks. My 15" is nice and snug, and there's enough room vertically for me to put my power adapter and Logitech MX900 Bluetooth mouse on top of it when I'm travelling.

They're expensive, but they'll last forever, and if you take care of yours they have great resale value. Definitely take them into consideration.
     
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Aug 15, 2004, 04:49 PM
 
I've been extremely happy with my Tom Bihn Brain Bag with a Monolith sleeve. From their website it looks like only certain sizes of the Monolith are back-ordered, and that the Size 4 (which would fit the 15" PowerBook) is in stock.

The bag does not look at all like a laptop bag, and it is spacious and comfortable to use. Also, the dimensions are very well-designed for travel: even when I cram tons of stuff in it, I can still easily fit the bag under the seat in front on a plane. With my previous backpack, when I crammed the same amount of stuff in it, the bag became too bulky to slide under the seat comfortably.

The Monolith is designed simply to hold your laptop (I would have liked if it has a pocket for the AC adapter), but it gives very strong protection -- much stronger than the neoprene sleeve I used to use, especially when combined with the Brain Bag.
     
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Aug 15, 2004, 09:29 PM
 
Originally posted by hart:
Patagonia just updated their messenger bag design to include a padded laptop section. Their products are built to last but I haven't seen the new bag in person yet.
I just looked last night at various Patagonia bags in a Shinjuku store and was not so impressed with the quality and less in impressed with the prices (around \200,000 or $180).

These were 3-way bags (shoulder, carry, or backpack) and one of their shoulder bags - but none of the larger messengers. (I notice these 3way bags are not on their website...) The one I liked most for size and overall outside look had the computer sleeve on the side opposite the backpack panel. So the section you would put your pens and small sundries (power supply, mp3 player,etc) would be against your back! Pretty silly. I was also not so impressed with the straps on that model and the shoulder pack (One Bag). Too thin!

The messenger bags look nice, however, and I wish I could see them in person first.
     
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Aug 16, 2004, 01:14 AM
 
Tumi's bags are fabulous--they have sizes that fit all the various powerbooks. Just take yours into a dealer, have them find the right size for your machine, pay the exorbitant price, and then go home and throw all the crap bags you've bought/been given at trade shows/given at companies over the years into the trash.

Tumi just rocks. Right down to the unique ID in every bag, and the special suitcase handle pocket to keep your bag snugly on the handle of a rolling suitcase.
     
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Aug 16, 2004, 07:24 AM
 
I have a Boblbee hardcase back pack thing, it is very comfortable fits my 17 inch AL very securely (I have it in a separate sleeve as well), as well as all my other crap if I need to take it with me - eg. external drive, wacom tablet, etc...

It is made of ABS plastic and I have dropped it with relatively delicate items in eg. my XL1, my laptop - it has so far protected them all.

It comes in lots of colors as well, although I have min in a relatively conservative dark blue so as not to scare off the more staid clients.

Boblbee (Swedish apparently)

I have Mac
     
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Aug 16, 2004, 11:12 PM
 
Originally posted by kuzelnik:
The best bags are ones that messengers use on a daily basis. They get beaten and abused daily and yet they still last for years.

http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/catalog/c...2?categoryId=2

American made and they look good.


Also, check out Crumpler:

http://www.crumplerusa.com/

High-quality bags cool-looking from Australia.
i can vouch for the incredible durability, waterPROOFness, style and flexibility of the timbuk2 detour bag. the only addition would be a 12" sleeve so the laptop sleeve is nice and snug.

the timbuk2 detour is by far the best backpack/shoulderbag i have EVER bought for my laptop.

...did i mention the timbuk2 bags have a layer of rubber that keeps water out? we're talking waterPROOFness...not water resistance.

don
     
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Aug 17, 2004, 01:44 AM
 
Originally posted by kuzelnik:
Also, check out Crumpler:

http://www.crumplerusa.com/
Another vote for Crumpler. for my 15" AlBook I use a black Base Toucher, together with a Tucano Second Skin.

As for laptops in Japan, its really nothing to worry about, at least as far as the natives are concerned. I`ve never heard of anyone being mugged here for such things. Burglary is another matter of course.
PowerBook G4, 1.25GHz, 1GB, 5400rpm 80GB HDD
PowerMac G4 Cube, 450MHz, 512MB, 7200rpm 120GB HDD, GigaDesigns Blue LED 80mm fan
AirMac Extreme network, connected to my FTTH (100Mb/s) phat pipe 8)
     
 
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