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#370839 - 17/04/2018 03:34 Laptop bag recommendation
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Hello all.

I currently have a Spire backpack that I purchased at least 10-12 years ago (recommended by Patrick Norton on his Rev3 "Screen Savers"-lite show), and it's served me well. But it's starting to fray and there's always been some things that I just didn't like about it, so I'm looking for something new.

What do you folks use to schlep stuff around?

My primary issue with most bags is that they're not designed for tech people who need to carry a lot of little things. They are, understandably, designed for people who need to carry paper products. But my bag ends up with a few pockets stuffed full, while the rest basically settles to the bottom of the bag. There's essentially five different compartments in this bag, but since they run the full height of the bag, the top of the compartments are always unused space, and the stuff I have in the bottom is all mixed together. There's one compartment where I throw all charging equipment when we go on vacation, and the tangle of cables just sits on the bottom third of the compartment.

Does anyone have something they really like? I'm not wedded to a backpack. Messenger bags are fine. Or something I haven't thought of. I've seen those elastic bag organizers but they always seemed difficult to use in practice.
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#370840 - 17/04/2018 05:19 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3493
Loc: Guadalajara, MX
I've been dragging this Thule backpack around the world with extensive travel and daily [ab]use and it still looks almost like the day I got it five years ago. My one minor gripe is that the rubber zipper tabs eventually get brittle and break after a few years, but it only affects the use in that the tab is about half the size, so not quite as easy to grab in a hurry.

I like having the ability to carry both a full size laptop and a ipad or macbook air in separate padded pockets, which allows us to cut down on technology bags when traveling as a family. I can also pack easily for a weekend trip and not have to worry about taking a carry-on bag. It fits under the seat of all but the tiniest commuter jets, where essentially nothing fits anyway.

While perfect for my traveling needs, I'm not sure if it's a good fit for your organizational needs. Perhaps you might look into some packing cubes to better keep your cables and chargers organized but still maintain the flexible space of the larger compartment. (disclaimer: my brother's website).

Perhaps also check out Thule's other offerings to see if one of them is a better fit.
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#370843 - 17/04/2018 12:23 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
That Thule is nice! But yeah I don't know if it would quite work. I also don't need much in the way of laptop sleeves. I have my XPS 13 which is pretty small and already swimming in the laptop sleeve I got 10-12 years ago to accommodate a much larger Levono.

I like your brother's website! smile packing cubes could work - my wife uses them for travel and they're pretty good. They usually seem better for soft stuff that will fill the cubes though.
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Matt

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#370844 - 17/04/2018 12:50 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
I have this Swiss Gear backpack, apparently I bought it 7 years ago... They have many other styles, and some messengerbags.

I've abused mine. I've over loaded it both weight and volume wise. Compartment wise it has a padded laptop space, with space for a decent paper pad as well (plus a sub-pocket near at the top). The top pocket is ~6 inched deep, great for tossing frequently need stuff (plus a sub-pocket). Then a decent sized main pocket - I carried a pair or EqualLogic SAN controllers in here, or 2/3 shirts plus underwear, enough for a short business trip. Then the front packet, with subpockets, for charger, cables, keys etc. Side pockets for umbrella, plus two water bottle holders. Google images has some good results of the pockets if you search on GA-7305-14F00

Biggest down side; these are super common at tech conferances, so mine has a busted Lego luggage tag

I don't think this is the bag for you, but I do think the brand makes well though out and lasting stuff.

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#370847 - 17/04/2018 18:48 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Faolan
journeyman

Registered: 08/11/2017
Posts: 61
Go grab a job at a corporate tech place, and then laptop bags will roll in like candy. grin

Doing some spring cleaning, and have come across several branded bags from my past of various shapes and sizes. Next time I have them all out prior to a thrift store run, I'll take a look at which ones might meet your needs. My own tech yard sale of sorts will likely be in mid May.

If you're laptop is near the same size as any Apple systems, can definitely recommend some places that will let you assemble exactly what you need. I may be ordering one custom again here soon once I stabilize my tech needs for this year.
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#370854 - 18/04/2018 04:46 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Phoenix42]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: Phoenix42
I have this Swiss Gear backpack, apparently I bought it 7 years ago... They have many other styles, and some messengerbags.

Looks nice. I've certainly noticed a strange issue with backpacks on Amazon, in that a surprising number of listings will have 4-8 photos of the bag...but not a single one of the insides. That one has 7 shots of the outside smile

I did take a look at some Google images, and I like it, but it has too many full-height compartments. I really only need space for the laptop, and would love for the rest of my back to be entirely small pockets.

BTW, my absolute favorite photo is the one that dates it. I've attached it. I had a Treo!

Quote:
I don't think this is the bag for you, but I do think the brand makes well though out and lasting stuff.

Hey, it's a great brand! I'm glad they've kept up their quality.


Attachments
download.jpg


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#370855 - 18/04/2018 04:52 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Faolan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: Faolan
Go grab a job at a corporate tech place, and then laptop bags will roll in like candy. grin

Ha! I assume they're the backpack equivalents of promotional flash drives?

Quote:
Doing some spring cleaning, and have come across several branded bags from my past of various shapes and sizes. Next time I have them all out prior to a thrift store run, I'll take a look at which ones might meet your needs. My own tech yard sale of sorts will likely be in mid May.

Thanks! I'd really appreciate that, but you don't need to go to the trouble. I'd be interested in seeing what you have though, out of curiosity.

Quote:
If you're laptop is near the same size as any Apple systems, can definitely recommend some places that will let you assemble exactly what you need. I may be ordering one custom again here soon once I stabilize my tech needs for this year.

I'd love to hear about some options. I think the XPS 13 9350 (my model) is roughly the same footprint as the MacBook Pro, but .08" thicker.
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#370859 - 18/04/2018 13:15 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3716
For the past two decades or so (!), I've been using a Timbuk2 messenger bag, banging my way through somewhere north of a million airline miles and other such indignities. There's no padding, but there is a divider sewn in that lets you keep the computer over here and the rest of your junk over there.

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#370860 - 18/04/2018 13:31 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
I like their products, but I don't see one that matches my use case.

I guess I'm mostly surprised that in this age where one might have a dozen gadgets and chargers, there aren't at least a few bags geared toward that. I totally get the appeal of a bag that can hold your electronics AND a weekend of clothes. I've done it myself a few times, but that's by far the exception. The only two things I ever use my bag for are vacations where it's dedicated to holding all the electronics for the trip, or for work where I need access to a bunch of little things for my job - screwdriver, pens/pencils, at least 7 different flash drives that are always floating around the pockets, WD Passport, USB drive adapters, etc. At the moment I have two pockets that hold half of this stuff together and I'm always fishing around in it.

Going off the packing cube recommendation, I'm thinking of picking up one of these. It could at least help organize the charging cables I have to bring on trips, and the many flash drives I have to carry around. I bought an AmazonBasics version a while back but it was very small and not well organized.
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#370865 - 18/04/2018 18:05 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13872
Loc: Canada
The bag I have (and love) for my XPS13 is a Targus messenger style bag, found in new/unused condition for $5 at a garage sale.

From searching images of it online, it seems to be (very similar to) a TSM101AP-A7 bag, and it does fit my XPS13 absolutely perfectly, with lots of smaller pockets for various accessories and other electronics. Nice and compact.

http://miyanjigroup.com/product/targus-tsm101ap-a7-netbook-messenger/
https://www.amazon.in/Targus-TSM101AP-12-inch-Netbook-Messenger/dp/B00NHMSQ9U

Of course, years later now, and it is no longer generally available. smile



Edited by mlord (18/04/2018 18:21)

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#370866 - 18/04/2018 18:10 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Faolan
journeyman

Registered: 08/11/2017
Posts: 61
Some quick photos of one of my favorite laptop/cable bags. Looked around, it's called an "Uzzi Sling Backpack / Laptop Bag" and seems to be a popular choice for brands to hand out. $20-$30 in volume, and it's held up surprisingly well.

The power adaptor in there is the larger 87W Apple USB-C charger, and a Logitech full sized Bluetooth/LogitechRF mouse. Those 4 pouches, along with the small zippered pouch up top is where I keep cables/adapters I want with me. And theres a full size zippered pocket where I tech the Apple power extension and ethernet cable if I need them, room in there for a lot. Even the "MP3 pouch" on the sling is handy for less used adapters or thumb drives like my dual Lightning/USB one.

The laptop area holds a 15MBP and thicker laptops with ease. Smaller 13 ones fit fine too, though they may shift a little. This backpack was my dailyrail/bus commuting bag for work for a solid year before I swapped it out for another freebie.

The rest of my bags are all in a spot in the closet currently, I'll let ya know when they finally come out smile
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#370869 - 18/04/2018 19:05 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
That's a neat one! It looks a little slight. How much padding is in there for the laptop?

I think one thing I need to do is really figure out exactly what I need to carry with me each day. At the moment it's:

laptop
laptop power cord
ethernet cable
backup battery
lightning cable
micro USB cable
7-10 flash drives
Square reader
screwdriver
pens
WD Passport
USB hard drive adapter w/ AC adapter

I guess I could get away with that list, which would necessitate a smaller bag than the one I have now...
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#370870 - 18/04/2018 19:35 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: DWallach]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3153
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: DWallach
For the past two decades or so (!), I've been using a Timbuk2 messenger bag,

Oh, I'll second the Timbuk2 messenger bags. I have a large one that I bought a couple decades ago for bike commuting (no divider -- I just use it for clothes and shoes), plus a smaller one for toting other things around, and I just picked up a third for $10 (regular price >$120 USD) at a consignment sale last weekend, that's in nearly new condition (it has a couple of very minor scuffs on the bottom, and a couple of accessories are still in bags).

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#370925 - 30/04/2018 17:20 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Faolan
journeyman

Registered: 08/11/2017
Posts: 61
Originally Posted By: Dignan
That's a neat one! It looks a little slight. How much padding is in there for the laptop?

I think this was in reply to me. Padding wise, it's not as thick as others, however it's got padding on the inside seperator to protect from anything in the pockets on the other side. And the portion of the bag on the outside of that compartment that rests on ones back is also extra padded. Both for comfort and protection of the laptop.

The custom bas company I was thinking of is WaterField bags out of San Fransisco. Website is here: https://www.sfbags.com
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#370935 - 01/05/2018 19:52 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Those bags are beautiful! But might be a little out of my price range smile I mean, given how much use I'm likely to get out of it, it's not unreasonable, but I'd need to see one of those in person first. The curse of online shopping for things like clothing, really.
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#370936 - 01/05/2018 23:42 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
jmwking
addict

Registered: 27/02/2003
Posts: 680
Loc: Washington, DC metro
And why brick-and-mortar folks hate being the showroom these days. (I spent enough time in retail and happy to be out...)

-jk

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#370938 - 02/05/2018 05:14 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: jmwking]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: jmwking
And why brick-and-mortar folks hate being the showroom these days. (I spent enough time in retail and happy to be out...)

I try not to do that whenever possible. I'd rather buy and return than showroom.
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#370980 - 27/05/2018 03:41 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Thanks to a response on a discussion thread under Wirecutter's backpack article, I think I've found a strong contender:

eBags Professional Slim Backpack

Looks like it has lots of vertically aligned pockets and compact size. Looks good.

I forgot to mention that for the moment, I just ended up getting a packing cube type thing for my back, I have flash drives and some cables semi-organized inside it. It's awkward to put in the bag and to use, though.
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#370988 - 03/06/2018 04:18 Re: Laptop bag recommendation [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
I just received the eBags Slim backpack and I'm very happy with it. It's far more compact than my old bag, and feels more like a case than a sack, if that makes sense. I definitely don't have as much space in it as my old bag, but it's been good to pare down. I suspect I'll have to figure out a different way to pack all the family electronics on trips, as I don't think this one will be sufficient.

Funny enough, it almost feels better to carry it as a briefcase using its side handle than with the straps...
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