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Old 10-30-2010, 10:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Juneau, Alaska
I'm looking for a laptop bag.

I'll be traveling to Florida this coming December, and I've been poking around to find a new laptop bag.

See, I have a messenger-style bag that works great while I'm in the hometown, but when I'm traveling I tend to pack a good deal more in it, which causes a lot of discomfort since it's all weighed down on the one shoulder. So I've been doing some comparing on laptop backpacks and found a few interesting companies: Namely Spire: Laptop Backpack, Laptop Bag, Laptop Sleeve and BBP Laptop Bags - Hybrid Bags, Breathe Sleeves, Industries Backpacks, Industries Messenger, Expand-It Messengers, DSLR Slinger. I want something with plenty of organization, that can fit a fairly heavy 15.4" laptop, and is of course comfortable.

It should be noted I do currently have a Timbuk2 H.A.L. bag on layaway, which looks great and is comfortable, but doesn't really have a lot of options for organization.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-30-2010, 11:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I used the Ogio Mastermind backpack throughout college. It has an external padded laptop sleeve built into the back and numerous organizational pockets for other goodies like cables, trackball. Has a nifty "file cabinet" pocket atop the standard backpack cavity. Perfect size for international travel.

Check it out on ebags.com or Zappos.
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Last edited by Plan9; 10-30-2010 at 11:10 PM..
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Old 10-30-2010, 11:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The only issue I currently see with the Mastermind is it doesn't have any side straps for compressing the bag when not completely full. Being able to pull the bag closer to my back means better weight distribution, never mind convenience of storing. Otherwise I am liking its storage capabilities =)
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Old 10-30-2010, 11:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, no compression straps. I'm not a big fan of those things, anyway. I just pack tight instead. Have you considered anything by Maxpedition? You'll probably have to get your own padded laptop sleeve to insert into the main compartment, but you can't beat their backpacks for durability, excessive neato features (pockets on pockets with secret pockets) and ability to tailor it to your nerdy needs with straps, pads, MOLLE pockets, Velcro, etc.
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Last edited by Plan9; 10-30-2010 at 11:25 PM..
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Old 10-30-2010, 11:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Huh, I've never heard of them. Definitely something to look into when I finally replace my Deuter backpack, but I really want a dedicated laptop sleeve for protection and ease of getting through checkpoints. Thanks for that though-I'll be looking at them in the future, for sure.

Ideally if I can convert the laptop bag for biking, day hiking, etc. that would be great, so the compression straps are important for that as well.
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Old 10-30-2010, 11:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Here's a good place to buy Maxpedition products. They occasionally have sales like 30% off or free shipping.
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hope you don't mind if I join in on this one Furious, I'm also finding myself in need of a new backpack that's laptop compatible, although I'm a cyclist and my laptop's a 17incher with an extended battery so its even harder to find a good backpack...

almost makes me wonder if I should be posting in KirStang's thread instead >.>
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Old 10-31-2010, 05:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I am a big fan of the Trager brand bags. They have a drive for quality and comfort, while offering excellent computer protection.
Here's their website: http://www.tragerusa.com/catalog_home_body.html

I have had this model for 8+ years. Survived field work, still looks new.

It has a lot of pockets, and the flap over the top comes in handy for a yoga mat or an ultralight sleeping bag.

It doesn't have the "dedicated laptop sleeve" that you seem to be interested in... but their other models do. This one has a well-padded laptop compartment built-in. It does not detatch. I've done a lot of traveling with this bag, and have always had an easy time getting my laptop out quickly for security checkpoints. It doesn't have compression straps, but the top flap you see in the image fulfills a similar role. You can cinch it down to apply an even pressure on the entire surface of the bag (my biggest pet peeve with compression straps is the uneven bulges) and it's just one strap so it's faster to cinch. Now that I look at the other bags you have mentioned in this thread, it looks like you're in the market for something much larger, bulkier. Most of them look like monsters that would surely break my back if I packed them to capacity. This one is sleek and I suppose it must be more of a woman's field pack.
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Last edited by genuinegirly; 10-31-2010 at 06:15 AM..
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Don't mind at all Shadowex3, the more the merrier. You might take a look at Timbuk2's H.A.L. backpack-It's currently what I have on layaway while I consider other options.

I'm a fairly big guy, so while I like the construction of some of those Trager bags, I have the feeling they'd ride pretty high on my back. I do tend to be the pack mule of the group, too, so a big bag isn't necessarily a bad thing, so long as I can reasonably compress it down.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I have a Timbuk2 laptop backpack that I love for traveling, but it looks like they don't make this particular model anymore. I can fit my laptop in the sleeve (netbook these days), clothes in the same main compartment, toiletries on top or in the small front compartment (or snacks). It has two compartments on either side of the bag that I can fit stuff in; they have little pockets built in. One of the side compartments has a pocket designed to fit a 32 oz. Nalgene, or my coffee cup, which I always liked for school. The other compartment has pockets designed to hold pencils/pens and my cell phone, as well as two smaller pockets. One I use to hold medications I need and the other is for female necessities. With the way the bag is organized, I can pretty much fit anything and everything I need in it. However, it is not compressible--and I wouldn't advise a bag with compression if you are only using a laptop sleeve. Compressing your bag down with expensive electronics inside it just seems like a really bad idea.

Have you looked around at other retail outlets for Timbuk2 bags on closeout? REI's outlet has some of the older bags that have more pockets. I guarantee that inside those pockets, there are some knacky organizational pockets. My backpack is actually what led me to then buy a Timbuk2 purse because it's so well designed.

I also found this North Face pack while poking around on REI's outlet site: The North Face Base Camp Compressor Daypack - 2010 Closeout at REI-OUTLET.com It is a compressible pack with a laptop sleeve.
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Old 10-31-2010, 04:38 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: Sydney, Australia
I've got one of these
Targusomg|omgCN600omg–omgTargus 15.4 - 16 inch / 39.1 - 40.6cm Laptop Backpack

I spent ages looking online but Oz is a backwater for online shopping - I ended up taking the laptop with me shopping to an actual retail outlet. This has a removable padded 'sleeve' for the actual machine and this is held in place but a velcro tied elastic strip. It has 2 small side zip pockets and 2 other compartments on the back. I can fit the laptop and power supply and a bit more stuff in the main compartment. I stick the mouse and headphones into the smaller back section and have a relatively sizeable space that is about the size of an A4/Letter size notepad (but about an inch thick).

It works pretty good, but I kinda wish I'd bought something with a bit of extra space in it - and I also wish it had a hip strap - my alienware is a heavy beast - walking any distance wearing this - it can get a bit uncomfortable.

I'm spending 6 weeks in the UK next year - this is where I'll really see how this goes as a commuter bag.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the help everyone, but I found the Camelbak Uproar to suit my needs. It has a laptop sleeve that doubles as a hydration pouch reservoir for hikes, compression straps, plenty of organization, and even a bottle pocket.

I almost got this beast: M.A.S.K. Laptop Backpack, but that'll be a purchase for a later date, when I can utilize it more fully (I really like this damn bag, though, I tell ya' what).
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:44 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Just took a look at that one and it looks like a good smaller pack that can also be plenty useful for other stuff if it's as durable as they want it to look. I'm a bit iffy on the "modular" backpack though because its basically the size of my current one which is not that big and anything that can be changed around that easy makes me concerned for it's sturdiness unless it's got REALLY beefy connectors or is modular in that they sew it up custom.

Personally I always wind up with classes on two days and I've got a 17"er with an extended battery... and the rain gear for biking and i'm going to start bringing a bento/thermos type thing for food. That basically works out to:

14 x 10 x ~3
11 x 8.3 x 5.7

Along with some odd shaped stuff and some soft stuff. I hate to say it but I seriously considered KirStang's ideas since it looked like it would also be comfy when biking.
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Location: Juneau, Alaska
I've been very happy with camelbak in the past (and still have another bag). Through 3 years of very extensive use (backpacking, biking, being dropped down a hill, etc) it still has no rips and only the usual scuffing you'd expect with such use. I love having the hydration pack, also, and was a little sad to give that up in favor of a laptop sleeve, but then I found this bag that doubles in that regard.

You might consider the Camelbak Presidio, Shadow. It has some of the same features but looks more like a traditional backpack, and has 9L of extra space over the other bag.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:54 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Actually I was thinking more along the lines of the CamelBak MGM or BFM. They're 19x13x8 and 21x13x10 which is big enough to hold the combined 14x10x~8 of my laptop and textbooks for the next semester but they aren't are as... overdone... as the lines in KirStang's thread. Thanks for the lead and vouch for CamelBak, I would've thought their stuff was mostly based on the gimmick power of their hydration packs rather than actual durability.

I'll probably go for something like the BFM or MotherLode which should also give me enough extra space to stuff my jackets in there around everything else, pretty important given that the classrooms are 60deg and outside its 80deg... Really the only thing I don't like about either is that outer pocket not being compressable, but I can sew on some straps there myself.
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Last edited by Shadowex3; 11-02-2010 at 08:58 AM..
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:20 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I can attest to the durability of the Camelbak MotherLode. I used it for a year in Afghanistan and it held up really well despite being thrown around inside trucks and manhandled in the countryside. It is comfortable and the zippers didn't fail. What I didn't like: mesh organizer pocket in main compartment, top heavy secondary pocket design makes it fall over all the time when it's not on your back. I'm not sure if they've changed the design since 2006, but the MotherLode isn't designed to take laptops without their own sleeve. The pockets, including the hydration sleeve area, are unpadded.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:44 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The progression in size was basically motherlode -> "Big Fucking Motherlode" -> BFM 500, with the BFM being more or less the motherlode with a bottom and side pocket and slight redesign, and the BFM 500 being a more significant redesign (ignore the tacticLoL website, they just give the actual dimensions).

They also made a 500 version of the original motherlode that seems to be almost the best of both worlds, having the price/size of the motherlode or classic BFM with the improved big-pocket-on-bottom design of the BFM 500. The only downside being it sticks out further from your back an extra 4 inches compared to the classic BFM, although that can be solved easily with an added strap or just good packing.

The only thing would be the lack of a padded laptop pocket, but with the extra space I think I could get away with either getting or my own sleeve.
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Old 11-02-2010, 03:10 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Shadow-take a look at this:
Amazon.com: Pacsafe Daysafe 200 Anti-Theft Computer Backpack, Black: Clothing: Reviews, Prices & more Amazon.com: Pacsafe Daysafe 200 Anti-Theft Computer Backpack, Black: Clothing: Reviews, Prices & more
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