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Recommendations For A Good Laptop Bag? 824

Posted by timothy
from the 11-inches-of-heavy-padding dept.
YOU LIKEWISE FAIL IT writes "So, I was jogging to the bus stop this morning when suddenly - snap, the weight of the laptop on my shoulder vanished, and I heard the dull thud of my powerbook bag hitting the pavement at a wince-inducing speed. The laptop seems to be alright, but the bag (a WWDC giveaway) is completely knackered. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good, impact resistant laptop bag that won't come flying apart under stress? Perhaps it's not too late to guilt work into buying me one for a late Christmas present."
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Recommendations For A Good Laptop Bag?

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  • Jansport (Score:3, Informative)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:24PM (#7799855) Homepage Journal
    Columbia makes some good bags too. Maybe something from North Face would be a little sturdier.
    • Re:Jansport (Score:3, Informative)

      by brsmith4 (567390)
      hell yeah. I would recommend a back pack over anything especially if you find yourself jogging to work because you are constantly late ;) If you are scared of vibrations, just wrap it in a shirt or something. Thats what I do. Never had a problem. Plus, all the zipper contraptions are great for my accessories.

      The best bet if you go the backpack route is to get one of those spiffy outdoors-hiker-sportsman-mountain-climber-looking backpacks that everyone seems to have simply because the straps are far s
      • Make it Bomb-Proof (Score:5, Informative)

        by good soldier svejk (571730) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:54PM (#7800672)
        Rather than wrapping the computer in a shirt, I recommend making a neoprene sleeve out of a piece of insulate pad (available at REI or wherever) and some gaffer's tape. [tape-and-t...-guide.com] Simply cut a piece about twice the size of the laptop, fold it in half, and tape it up. Makes an indestructible nest, regardless of what kind of bag you choose to wrap around it.

        Historically, I have found Eastpack to be a better quality backpack that Jansport. But that may have changed after Coleman bought them several years ago. Guaranteed for life... maybe longer.
        • by Nazmun (590998) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @12:52AM (#7801110) Homepage
          Excellent advice but if your not one to make neoprene sleeves yourself you'll find a good selection of backpacks with such laptop sleeves built in at ebags.com Some are way cheaper then jansport but have excellent build quality (samsonite ones too.. i have one of those).

          In any case you don't want to simply put a laptop unprotected in a regular backpack.
        • After using a Timbuk2 laptop sleeve [timbuk2.com] for years, I had to abandon it when I started using a Dell Inspiron 8600. Sadly, nobody I saw made a good bag, so I decided to make my own. I did it with some 1/2" neoprene puchased from Canal Rubber in NYC [canalrubber.com].

          I cut pieces of neoprene to make a box, super-glued it together, then (ahem) sewed up a canvas sleeve to keep it from falling apart -- the neoprene isn't very abrasion-resistant. I use a separate small cordura bag to carry the charger, mouse

      • EMS backpack (Score:5, Informative)

        by Enry (630) <enry&wayga,net> on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @10:28AM (#7802690) Journal
        Eastern Mountain Sports [ems.com] has a really rockin backpack [ems.com] that has a laptop carrier in it that fits 15" laptops (my 15" power book and 14.1" IBM T30 both fit nicely). There's lots of space for cables/books/MP3 player/cell phone/power adapters/whatever in there as well. Great if you take public transportation.

        Then again, it's not as stylish as an actual bag. But I work at a university, so I fit right in.
    • Targus (Score:5, Informative)

      by smeckert (713620) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:49PM (#7800388) Journal
      I am hard on stuff. I have had three keyboards on my laptop thanks to the "Pepsi syndrome" A book backpack lasts me a year has always been exceptional as far as I am concerned. 3 years ago I bought a Targus Laptop Backpack and the darn thing gives every indication that it is indestructible. It cost me about $70 shipped when I got it, but it shows every indication of outliving my laptop.
      • Re:Targus (Score:5, Informative)

        by paulc (5348) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:22PM (#7800535)
        Yeah, I've got a Targus rucksack and love it. The laptop goes in the back, then the front section has these rigid plastic angled shelf things that are great for putting all your bits and pieces in without it all going all over the place.

        Great for travelling too - fits in the overhead locker a treat. When I travel it's laptop + bathroom in the rucksack, everything else in checked luggage.
      • Re:Targus (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tonywong (96839) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @12:20AM (#7801011) Homepage
        I'll second that targus recommendation.

        I had an executive series for my powerbook in 93. In 95 I was carrying about 80 pounds of change for my bar when the handle tore a bit from the main partition of the bag. I never bothered to call them about it until 97, when they said send it in and we'll take a look at it to see if we can repair it or replace it.

        Well, they replaced it with a brand new unit that had more advanced features in the 4 years that I owned it. For free I might add. They really honoured the lifetime warranty. Too bad the ex took it with her when we broke up. :(
      • Re:Targus (Score:3, Informative)

        by dchamp (89216)
        Several people have already confirmed this... but the Targus laptop backpacks are excellent. I had a Dell inpy 8000 w/ the Dell branded bag, and it was pretty good. I replaced the laptop with a Dell inspy 8500, and they didn't have a backpack bag for it... so I bought this targus bag [targus.com] from my local CompUSA. I've been carrying it just about every day for the last 3 months, and it's been great. Targus makes several bags, this one is less bulky than the one others mentioned that has a built in plastic shelf sy
    • Re:Jansport (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rpmdp (175709)
      Personally I got tired of the normal laptop bags and bought a backpack from L.L. Bean. It holds a laptop with 17" wide screen with no problem. It's very comfortable to wear and if you have to run, your laptop is very secure in a padded pocket inside against your back so it doesn't move.

      Plus there is loads of room inside for other things. On one outing I had the following in the bag:

      1 x HP Notebook
      1 x 802.11g Access Point (Netgear, in the box)
      2 x Wireless PCMCIA cards (In boxes)
      1 x wifi card for my note
  • A backpack! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JThundley (631154) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:24PM (#7799856) Homepage
    Get yourself a good backpack. I got a great one for $40 at staples made by Samsonite.
    • by r_arr (613036)
      I have a Samsonite, damm good bag only drawback was the color. It was a gift so I can't complain.
    • Agreed! Those laptop purses are pretty fem.
      • Re:A backpack! (Score:5, Informative)

        by NeoThermic (732100) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:43PM (#7800000) Homepage Journal
        Well, I use a laptop at school (and still do, mind). Our school (in the UK) isn't the sort of place that plays nice, so I shelled out for a tech a(i)r bag.

        To say the least, I'm very pleased. Its got a lifetime guarantee, and is very very strong. I once nearly got in a fight with a kid who had an attitude big enough to fill the Grand Canyon. I just walked away, but he came in from behind and punched at my bag repeatedly. In my bag was my laptop, and a few books. I was worried that he had damaged the laptop, but there wasn't even a single thing wrong when I checked it out.

        The bag is also large enough to hold three laptops in relative safety.

        Their website is www.techair.co.uk
        The exact bag I have is called a New York Black; http://www.coluco.com/tecair/product.asp?ProductId =36

        Hope thats helpful enough.

        NeoThermic
      • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:00PM (#7800132) Homepage
        "It's not a purse! It's a European carryall!"

        --

      • Re:A backpack! (Score:3, Informative)

        by dasmegabyte (267018)
        When I was in Maine, I bought a black LL Bean bag which was a combination shoulder bag and backpack. The backpack straps pull out of a secret hidey hole on the back, and can be clipped on and off for air travel. It has two nice power supply sized pockets on the sides, two more higher up for PDAs and cellys, a thick padded section for lappys with a pocket for magazines and a second pocket big enough for my sketchbook. On the front is a pocket for discs, a padded PDA pounch, and room for keys and such. Th
    • Re:A backpack! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by srchestnut (717652) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:32PM (#7799916)
      A backpack is a good idea because it doesn't look like a laptop bag. Theives that operate at bus stations and air ports often look for laptop bags. Try a Froogle (http://froogle.google.com) search for laptop backpack and you'll turn up a bunch of hits.
    • Re:A backpack! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tassach (137772)
      Do yourself a favor and get a backpack that's DESINGED to carry a laptop.

      I've had a Kensington Saddlebag [kensington.com] for about 8 years now. It's awesome. The best part is that it doesn't look like a laptop bag, so it's less of an inviting target for miscreants, and makes a great briefcase even when you're not carrying your laptop. Kensington has a version that is more like a sport backpack, which might be better suited to your lifestyle. In any case, Kensington's product line is leaps and bounds better than Tar

    • Re:A backpack! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by subk (551165)
      Skateboarder's backpacks made by Etnies and the like are awesome. They have tons of little pockets for cables, they are often padded, and are always _absolutely_ indestructable.

      I payed $50 bucks for one from Etnies, and honestly I can't see using anything else for a laptop now.

  • Willow Design maybe? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tehdely (690619) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:24PM (#7799860) Journal
    I'm a big fan of the cases from Willow Design [willowdesign.com].

    They're relatively heavy-duty and not too bad-looking, although they could be better.
    • They're relatively heavy-duty and not too bad-looking, although they could be better.

      Willow Design's case for the 17" PB was the only case I've actually bought for a laptop- and I'm pleased with it. It has a lot of padding with plastic protective panels on the outside under the fabric, reflective stripes on all sides save the back, and the "portrait" orientation is VERY nice for such a wide laptop(otherwise, you DO take people out on the subway with it).

      The handle on the case is padded and comfortable-

  • I own one of those samsonite bags, and I seem to see them everywhere. They are well designed, plenty of pockets for mice, cables, PC cards, etc., and the internal structure is sturdy enough that I wouldn't be too worried if I dropped it (which I haven't done yet, thankfully). The shoulder strap is strong nylon (seat belt material, looks like) with metal clasps, not likely to come apart without severe abuse. Of course, they're not cheap, but it'll probably last forever, or at least until we replace laptop
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:26PM (#7799869) Journal
    Don't jog with a $1000+ laptop.

    As Wile E Coyote would say "gravity makes a great servant but a terrible master"

  • Does anyone have any recommendations for a good, impact resistant laptop bag that won't come flying apart under stress?

    You might try bag-modding one of these [titlesports.com]

  • Crump-lah! (Score:2, Informative)

    I've got a Crumpler "Very Busy Man" messenger bag and it's great. The bag itself is quite padded; plus it has a laptop compartment that itself is padded. Holds my 15" Powerbook with room to spare, with space for lots of other stuff. Top-notch construction, waterproof flap, zippers that will never break, and more.

    Plus you can't beat the names of any Crumpler bags: Wack-o-phone, McBain's Lovechild, etc.

    http://www.crumplerusa.com [crumplerusa.com]
  • by adamiis111 (525750) <adam@ v a r ud.com> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:28PM (#7799879)
    The bag that thinkpads come with is great. Has a support system so the laptop literally hangs internally from the top by an elastic fabric. There's 2 full inches of dead space at the bottom.
    • I wonder how well that does when it's dropped from more than 6 inches... I'm imagining the elastic acting like a bungie cord that's been strung too low, making what would have been one impact into a succession of lesser but still damaging impacts ;-p
  • by thesolo (131008) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:28PM (#7799881) Homepage
    I have a Targus bag [targus.com], solely because of the fact that it was one of the only sturdy bags I could find that actually fit my 17" Powerbook and was under $100.

    It's very sturdy, has a very strong shoulder strap & handle, and has enough room to carry my documents, my powerbook, iPod, iPod Dock & headphones, iPod & Laptop adaptors, extra power cable, and digital camera USB cable. It does everything I need it to, and it was pretty cheap too ($65 at Best Buy, IIRC).

    And if you want to know if it's strong enough...I let my friend carry my powerbook in the bag. He tripped and dropped the powerbook, only to then land on top of it. Everything inside was just fine, and everything outside is fine too; barely a scratch on the bag itself.
    • Amen to that. I have a Targus bag for my laptop that has performed wonderfully, and the bag is much older than the laptop. When I got it, it had contained a 486-50 laptop (ick) for a couple of years.

      I have dropped it on more than one occasion (what can I say, I'm clumsy), things have been stacked on it, it has been toted across the country in the car, it's used on a daily basis, and it still looks to be in very good shape.

      When/if I need a new laptop bag, it will be another Targus bag. And I'm guessing i

    • I'll second that. I've got 2 Targus bags (one for each of my laptops). One is 4 years old, the other 3 years old. I've never had a problem with either. On one there's a few threads sticking out near the zipper & handle, but the other still looks brand new.

      Oh, they keep the laptop pretty dry in heavy rain. I've been caught a few times having to walk a mile in unexpected heavy rain while carrying the laptop. Only once did the laptop show any signs of being wet, and at that it was only very very slightly
    • I also have a Targus, I've got one of their HUGE [targus.com] models. It's heavy, but it's built like a tank and can hold all my accessories, plus all the zillions of paper documents that I seem to always have to carry around. Every couple years I keep fighting with myself as to whether I want a small bag just big enough to hold my laptop, or something bigger... I found that the small bag is great, but I'm always then having to carry a briefcase or backpack or something else to carry all the rest of the crap I have t
    • by vjmurphy (190266) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:50PM (#7800652) Homepage
      "I let my friend carry my powerbook in the bag. He tripped and dropped the powerbook"

      Shouldn't that be "former friend"?
    • I've been recommending Targus bags for years. Pretty much everything they make is good quality. (Well, I'd probably avoid their most basic nylon bag for a nice laptop, but it's just the thing, at $29 or so, to carry around an old "beater" laptop in.)

      The "Universal Air" is a good option.... Under $100 and lots of padding.

      What really impressed me with Targus was their willingness to honor their claimed "lifetime warranty". I had a bag that was years old and obviously well worn. The strap finally tore o
  • Brenthaven (Score:5, Informative)

    by slag187 (70401) <geoffNO@SPAMzorched.net> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:28PM (#7799884) Homepage
    Brenthaven makes really nice, highly padded bags, that have an extra, built-in, removeable sleeve in them. They make them for all the PowerBooks including the 17in ones. I got one about 6 months ago and have been very happy with it. (I've got the Deluxe Slim I think)

    It was a bit on the pricey side compared to what I was thinking (about $100), but it's a really nice, well constructed bag and the padding will pay for itself if you ride the train like I do and would otherwise bang up your laptop.

    http://www.brenthaven.com/products/index.html [brenthaven.com]
    • I have the Brenthaven laptop backpack, and I love it. It has three compartments, one for pens/pencils/etc, one for the laptop itself, and a third for books and the like. It is fairly stylish and, being as it is a backpack, distributes the weight accross both shoulders rather than only one.
    • Re:Brenthaven (Score:5, Informative)

      by meta-monkey (321000) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:36PM (#7799948) Journal
      I've got a Brenthaven bag for my 17" PowerBook. Great bag...compact design. lots of pockets, lots of padding...wel worth the money.
    • by artemis67 (93453)
      I only buy Brenthaven bags for my laptops. A little pricey, but well worth the expense. In most of the bags, the laptop is suspended inside, and the padding all around is very thick.

      A good bag is like insurance... after all, if you spend $3000 on a laptop, shouldn't you shell out $200 for a decent bag to protect it?

      The best prices I've found online are at Irv's Discount Luggage [irvs.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:29PM (#7799889)
    Have a look at ThinkGeek, there are plenty of them.
    http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/bags/
  • Crumpler Bags Rule (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grantdh (72401) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:30PM (#7799891) Homepage Journal
    Check out the bags from Crumpler [crumpler.com.au] - they're from Australia but they have stores all around the world. Simply the best bags you can get.

    They started off doing bags for bicycle couriers and developed from there. Very strong, very well designed, pockets for everything and no dirty great "Hey, I've got a laptop in here so steal me!" logos and designs.

    I have been using their "Crisp Suit" bag (look in the computer bags section) for over a year, including four weeks using it to carry two (yes, TWO) laptops around Asia while working in Korea, Thailand and Japan. The bag goes with me whenever I carry my laptop (read: almost every day) and I'm still in love with it.

    Definitely worth finding the nearest Crumpler store / distributor and picking one up.
  • I have a Targus laptop backpack that I think is much better than the shoulder sling type bags. I (used to) ride my bike a lot armed with my laptop, and the laptop backback spreads the load a lot more symetrically. I never had any concerns that a strap was going to break or anything (and my laptop is a heavy old Gateway 9300). I think it's better for your posture/back as well.

    grib.
  • An addition to the question: does anyone have any good suggestions for a bag for a big 17 inch laptop? It's considerably larger than the 17" powerbook, and i'd also like to be able to fit books and/or my other smaller laptop (tablet) inside. Are there any bags that would fit this?
    • by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:38PM (#7799968)
      An addition to the question: does anyone have any good suggestions for a bag for a big 17 inch laptop? It's considerably larger than the 17" powerbook, and i'd also like to be able to fit books and/or my other smaller laptop (tablet) inside. Are there any bags that would fit this?

      While we're on the subject, can anyone recommend a car that gets good gas mileage I can fit into the trunk area of my Ford Excursion that I can use to motor around the city streets? The Excursion gets awful gas mileage in the city so I'd like to carry an extra car with me to use for those short 4-5 block commutes between buildings on campus. I've thought about a golf cart or such but they're not particularly fast. Would a Ford Focus fit?

    • I'm looking for a bag that can hold my PDA with cradle, an iPod and cradle, a cell phone with recharger, a tablet PC, a 12" sub-notebook, a 17" Toshiba notebook, a Dell Precision 650 workstation, a keyboard, a mouse, a 20" LCD monitor, a digital camera, a bigger digital camera, lenses for the bigger digital camera, an external USB CD writer, a network switch, a USB 2.0 hub, a UPS, an inkjet printer, and a laser printer. Are there any bags that would fit this?
  • Timbuk2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by 1984 (56406) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:31PM (#7799910)

    San Francisco's finest: Timbuk2 [timbuk2.com].

    They do a bunch of different bags, including commuter and courier bags with padded laptop sleeves. I got one after lots of friends steered me in that direction. Had it for a couple of years; it's bombproof. And also waterproof.

  • Pelican cases (Score:5, Informative)

    by enderak (557146) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:32PM (#7799917)
    Pelican [pelican.com] makes excellent protective cases. Almost unbreakable, water-tight, air-tight, dust-tight. The ones with the "pick-and-pluck" foam can be configured to fit a laptop and all accessories nice and snug. They have a few laptop-specific cases, and several general-purpose cases of all sizes/colors.

    If you don't know where to find them near you, check with surveying supply shops, and electronics parts supply (the commercial type, not Radio Shack)
  • Believe it or not, but NorthFace actually had a notebook backpack out for a while known as the 'Network'. They don't make it anymore but you might find it in some stores, however they do make a notebook sleeve [ebags.com] that allows you to carry your notebook in just about any backpack.

    I highly recommend a backpack over a hand bag, because you wont get tired as easily carrying it, and because it doesn't say "He look at me, I've got a $3000 computer waiting to be stolen" the way a Targus bag does. I've tried 3 diff

  • try Spire (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phrack (9361) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:34PM (#7799933)
    http://www.spireusa.com/

    I've been using an Endo for a few years now, super rugged.. even survived the washing machine when it got super stinky once (another tale for another time) with no ill effects. Looks good enough for meeting rooms, rugged enough to handle travel, and slings across the back for bicycle/motorcycle rides or just to get the hands free.

    The wife uses a Volt pack. Both come with padded sleeves for your laptop and the usual sets of pockets and storage.

    Well worth the money.
    • I've got a Spire backpack w/ sleeve for my TiBook. Highly recommended. I originally had a Timbuk2 bag, but I guess I just don't find messenger bags comfortable (distribution of weight)?

      When I was shopping around for my Powerbook bag, I found bagreview.com [bagreview.com] to be a great resource. He reviews many different kinds of bags, loads them up with a laptop, iPod, CD, cables, etc, and puts them through their paces. Definitely worth checking out.

      $60/Month Colo'd Linux Server [aktiom.net]
  • by Saeger (456549)
    Get yourself a nice durable bag made of hemp fiber. The only downside is that Ashcroft probably won't let you get near the whitehouse with it because he probably thinks hemp == maryjoowanna == terrorism == exposed titties == sex.

    And it doesn't hurt that buying hemp means less oil money for petroleum-based synthetic clothes.

    --

    • Re:Hemp! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jordy (440)
      I never quite understood the facination people had with hemp. There are better alternatives to nearly every major thing hemp gives you without that nasty problem of farmers hiding marijuana crops in their hemp fields.

      For paper, kenaf is better than hemp. It produces more fiber per year with little effort.

      Cotton is certainly better for most clothing (we are far too used to the texture) and rayon is quite nice for high end stuff. Nylon and polyester can both be derived from corn oil if we really wanted to a
      • Re:Hemp! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PCM2 (4486)
        Maybe it would be taken more seriously if its most vocal supporters were also for the legalization of marijuana.
        Are you kidding? The number one reason most people discount hemp "activism" automatically is because it's plain that most of the people in favor of it really just want to smoke weed.
  • Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pclinger (114364) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:37PM (#7799953) Homepage Journal
    If your laptop survived, get another one of the same bag. $20 bag saves $1,500 laptop, I'd stock up on 10 of those instead of hoping your next bag does as good a job.
  • Tech-air (Score:2, Informative)

    by pev (2186)
    I had a car [sketchymonkey.com] crash [sketchymonkey.com] a few years ago, and my Vaio was on the passenger seat in a Tech-Air bag. This is a bag sold at PC-World (ugh) and Dixons in the UK, and has an airbag tube around the edge of the laptop to cushion impact. Astoundingly (see the pics) I walked away from the crash uninjured, and more jaw droppingly so did the laptop. Not even a bad sector on the disk, and it is still running well now, four years later. Thats a good recommendation in my book...

    ~Pev

  • by cmcguffin (156798) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:38PM (#7799965)
    sfbags [sfbags.com] (aka Waterfield Designs) has some really nice, customizable bags.

    I use a sleevecase [sfbags.com] for my powerbook. The sleevecase fits the powerbook like a glove, and does a great job of protecting from bumps and scratches.

    Slip the powerbook into the sleeve, and slip the sleeve into a messenger bag [timbuk2.com] (or better yet, a leather version)... Perfection!
  • I used to have a Lands End laptop bag, which was sturdy and versatile, though it looked shabby once the umbrella I kept in its outer pocket wore a small hole in the side -- affecting appearance but not function.

    I then got a Coach leather bag as a gift. It's also been quite sturdy, and I've been happy, but when I recently moved to an IBM T40 laptop I found with its oversize battery, it barely fit in the designated space -- so it won't serve your purposes but might be of use to others.

  • http://drbott.com/prod/db.lasso?code=5184-TIC2

    I havent got to use one, but the form and function of this case looks like it could be teh win, as such. And it looks badass.
  • Timbuk2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by jht (5006) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:39PM (#7799977) Homepage Journal
    Timbuk2 [timbuk2.com] makes some bombproof messenger bags - I've kept my PowerBook in one when I ramble about for the last two years, and it's held up great. You can custom-design your bag online, as well, which is most cool. If you prefer stock, they keep several types/styles in stock, and some are carried at the Apple Stores.

    Mine is a Bolo with a few goodies and a center divider. I made mine with waterproofed canvas (unfortunately, they don't offer that fabric anymore), and I also have a sleeve for the 15" PowerBook as well. It's the best bag I've ever owned, and if I ever get another PowerBook I'll just make sure to buy a sleeve to fit. The sleeves have handles, too, for a little extra protection.

    Timbuk2 also makes the best iPod holders, as well - and they make a handy case for a 1900-series iPaq handheld, too, along with a couple of SD cards. And their custom bags are US-made, which I find to be a nice bonus.
    • Re:Timbuk2 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jordy (440)
      I'd recommend another SF company WaterField [sfbags.com] over Timbuk2. Maybe that's because I see Timbuk2 bags all over SF and they just aren't special.

      Both companies custom make their bags in San Francisco and the build quality is excellent. I mean strong, durable with no shortcuts. I think the fabric of the WaterField bags is a bit nicer than the Timbuk2's. Plus, they have a really nifty airline buckle thing that always gets commented on by the security screeners at the airport.

      They both have a multitude of colors.
  • Kensington Saddlebag (Score:2, Informative)

    by blackketter (72157) *
    The Kensington Saddlebag [kensington.com] has been the trusted protector of my various laptops over the years. This thing is indestructible, goes over the shoulder or as a backpack, has a spot for cell phone, pda, and zippered pockets for everything else. It's even big enough to be an overnight bag in a pinch. It's internal padding could be a bit thicker, but I wouldn't travel without a padded slipcase [goincase.com] around my powerbook anyway.
  • ...but the bag (a WWDC giveaway)...

    How about any bag that didn't come from some marketing supply house that was cheap enough that they could give them away.

    I've use a Timbuk2 bag with laptop sleeve for a couple of years. Still looks brand new.
  • Tom Bihn (Score:3, Informative)

    by SamHill (9044) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:41PM (#7799987)

    Tom Bihn [tombihn.com] makes and sells backpacks and shoulder bags for all kinds of laptops. They're made in the USA of nice materials.

    Many of the bags that don't have built-in laptop support have snaps that can be used to hold a ``Brain Bag'' (available in various sizes) for a laptop. The Brain Bags suspend the laptop in a cradle inside a box with hardish sides.

    Nice bags. Nice people.

  • I've used several bags, and my favorite is my Compucessory bag. It is a rolling laptop case - with an extendable handle and fairly rugged wheels. It also has straps that make it a fairly comfortable backpack. Nice also that when using as a backpack you don't get the uncomfortable feel of the internal braces. Description from OfficeMax [officemax.com]

    For pure safety, try the Anvil [cases2go.com] or Zero Halliburton [cases2go.com] computer briefcases. My first laptop - an IBM ThinkPad - survived an 8-foot fall in one of those things. The ZH ones come

  • by zippotrx (735159) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:41PM (#7799990)
    I have a timbuk2 sleeve for my TiBook in a messenger bag that i totally love. I take it everywhere! from coffee shops to random places and its been great. I have no complaints about it what so ever. The quality is top notch and theres a good solid padding on it. Some say its a bit pricey for the sleeve but i figure i spent close to $3000 at the time with all my "ever so important" upgrades, i can spend a few dollars more. I spent weeks looking for the perfect bag and been routed over and over again to eBags, searched high and low and couldnt find anything else better. anyway play with their site! i believe its timbuk2.com [timbuk2.com]. you can fully customize your bag, and if you think about it... when do you really buy a new bag or backpack? so spend the money!!
    • I concur.

      Best thing about their customization (for me) was that you can design a bag ugly enough that no one would dare try to walk away with it.

      Their bags are incredibly well designed to handle most of the bad things that can happen in a day. I'm glad I found them.

  • TUMI safecases are the best... I've had mine for 5 years now, it's leather and still looks very good... Lifetime warrany on it, as well as the contents, never had to use it tho, those things are awesome..

    i've got the backpack version
  • Try a Rakgear [about.com] deluxe backpack.

    I bought mine 6 months ago and it changed my life (actually, my back life). The backpack is well padded and very comfortable. It include a removeable plastic rack so you can put many books and keep them organized.

    You'll have no trouble running with it and it's very robust.

    I bough it at Radio-Shack fo less than $50 CAN.

    You can't go wrong with it.
  • Don't get a laptop case, laptop backpack, or anything like that. If you do that, your precious laptop is a thousand times more likely to get stolen.

    Instead, get a decent backpack meant for carrying books and binders and the like. If that does not offer enough impact protection... just find some soft foam and stick it in there.

    It will cost less than a fancy laptop bag, and it won't get stolen.
  • Spire (Score:3, Informative)

    by Parsa (525963) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:46PM (#7800027) Homepage
    Definitely check out Spire. As I write this I see 2 other suggestions for this company and I wholeheartedly agree with them. I asked around before I bought mine and EVERYONE I talked to was happy with them.

    Seriously dude...Spire...

    J
  • Use a backpack laptop bag. The shoulder strap bags have a single point of failure--the single shoulder strap. They also divide the weight unequally.

    I have:
    a zitteli bag [ebags.com] from ebags.com (not available on amazon) which fits a big Inspiron 8500 or an 8200.

    Much, much more comfortable than my old shoulder strap bag. The non-laptop pockets have less organizational doodads, but works well enough.

    I can't stress how much more comfortable it is, though. $40 for this is much better than the $100 for a nice look
  • Try something like the Mountainsmith Day Pack 03 [mountainsmith.com]. It's a waist pack, a shoulder bag, and a backpack. Different, at least. The only thing is the Mountainsmith bags tend to have an overabundance of straps. Also check out the REI Mother Lode [rei.com] - cheaper. You see these sorts of things on eBay, too, beat up and really cheap - but good ones last forever (get a good laptop sleeve). The last thing a bag like this says is "laptop bag" - good if you're not interested in advertising the fact that you're carrying aroun
  • I've had an Eastpak backpack with a laptop pocket and it's worked great for the last few years. Even better, it doesn't scream "I HAVE A LAPTOP INSIDE ME" since it's designed as a regular backpack. Their website shows a couple, and I'm sure other companies make them as well. Find them where you would buy a backpack (Target, where I got mine or a sports store).
  • my preferences (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:47PM (#7800037) Homepage
    (keep in mind that I have an IBM X30, currently - a fairly small (8.5"x9.5"x1") laptop)

    The store-bought solution:

    I'm a big fan of solid things that don't break. Thus, the item that fits the bill is a small aluminum briefcase. The briefcase I got was a bit big for what I need: 14x12x3 inches - a bit too big for my laptop (I foolishly didn't pay attention to what I was ordering). For a larger laptop it would work quite nicely - and in my case, it will fit the bill for a general carry-all, being as there's enough room for course books and a laptop side by side, as well as an envelope for things like pads of paper. There's also a sturdy synthetic fiber strap. It's maybe 3 or so pounds.

    Additionally, I saw an iBook (more in your line of interest, it appears) at the local ibook shop in a similar case - only it was about 1.5" deep, and seemably just big enough for an iBook. (This briefcase was what I was looking for; alas, I never found it online)

    Now, for the inventive geeky solution:

    Another option I've found that might work nicely is a nice homemade bag. buy some 1cm rubber foam (or some other sort of impact-insulative of your choice) and some canvas of your choice. grab an old packing box (ofthe cardboard variety) as well. Then, wrap the foam around the laptop and cut it so that it would be a fairly snug fit around all but one edge - so it would cover 5 of the 6 surfaces - and cut it appropriately; secure with duct tape. then take the cardboard and fold it to fit over the rubber foam, and duct tape it so it makes a nice little sleeve for the laptop. tape over the edge of the foam/cardboard to form a 'single' glove. I wrapped ductape all around the cardboard on mine, so as to provide water/liquid resistence. This alone makes a nice carrying device if you use a backpack or briefcase to carry things around, as it's quite protective (I wrapped a palm pilot pro in such a manner - minus the foam - years ago, and it's been used since then, with many an encounter with the ground. no such encounters with the laptop thus far).

    Then, if you're interested in actually having a 'laptop bag' take the canvas and stitch it together to form a fairly form-fitting sleeve for the cardboard/foam sleeve.

    I'd recommend getting a plastic-fiber strap of some sort and sowing each end to the bottom of this bag, securely - then stitch it up the sides so as to prevent your little laptop falling incident. if you need a shoulder pad, sheep hide/fleece works quite well - just wrap a piece of canvas around it and sow it up. Use a nylon strap from an old backpack w/ the clasps to provide a nice closeable pocket for the laptop. I put a smaller pouch on the outside of mine for the AC adapter and some cookies. :P The end result here is a nice, durable laptop bag that's inexpensive, looks nifty, and is washable.

    I've toyed with the idea of using tanned deer hide (quite soft and very strong) for a "professional" cover for my sheath. ;)
  • by Jouni (178730) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:48PM (#7800047)
    This sweet Z5-SI [zerohalliburton.com] case from Zero Halliburton protected my now retired laptop perfectly through 50+ international flights. First time I carried it through an airport I got body searched by the security. It collected a few glances because Zero cases are often used as movie props whenever someone has to carry drugs, money, automatic weapons or all of the above. :-)

    A little pricey, but worth being acting nice all year for. Well hard protection for your preciouss.

    Holiday Cheers, Jouni

  • by sanermind (512885) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:50PM (#7800059)
    I once had a $80 kensington case [with 'special impact density absorbant padding'], but when a coworker knocked the laptop off of a conferance table onto the ground [not even three feet], it broke one of the hinges for the LCD. Ahem.
    The ideal situation I found was this: Fill a cheap walmart school bookbag with 16 inches of foam. I used a mattress-enhancer [lots of foam for around 12 bucks, and in convienient sheet form]. Cut as appropriate and fold the sheets in a coil, until the entire bookbag [get a smaller one, obviously], is almost bursting at the seams with excessive foam load. Leave just enough room for your laptop [and don't forget foam on the bottom and a few layers to fold over the top. I once dropped this down a flight of stairs. It just bounced happily to a rest, no damage to the laptop.
    Plus, it looks crappy enough you can take it anywhere without it being a target for theft, like as a swanky specialized laptop case would be.
  • Spire (Score:3, Informative)

    by ddmckay (56023) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @08:52PM (#7800075) Homepage
    I'm very happy with a Spire laptop backpack I bought a couple of years ago. It has a separate padded sleave for the laptop, several internal and external compartments, and chest and waist straps for stability when running. See http://www.spireusa.com/.

    I'm a satisfied customer.
  • This is the one (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peeko (168788) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:08PM (#7800177)
    This is what you're looking for:
    http://www.highergroundgear.com/

    Absolute best laptop case I've seen. Hands down.
  • Timbuk2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent,jan,goh&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:10PM (#7800198) Homepage
    Timbuk2 [timbuk2.com] started making bicycle courier bags, so they're unreasonably durable in my experience. Waterproof, too. They've started making things like laptop bags, or if you want to, you can buy one of their courier bags and add in one of their laptop cases that fit inside. They make one that fits the 17" Powerbook, I'm fairly sure.

    Oh, and they also make a neat little iPod case that'll go on the strap of the bag. (As well as a cellphone case, radio case, and strap bag. Totally handy stuff.)
  • by inblosam (581789) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:35PM (#7800319) Homepage
    Just got one of these as a gift. Fits my 15" Ti Powerbook perfectly, and I can slip it into any bag. They have a cool image that shows when they dropped a 100g ball on it a piece of glass inside did not even shatter. Anyhow, these bags are made out of this COOL foam that is amazing. You put your fingers on it and your print stays there for a minute or two. High quality everything, and for a good price. 30 bucks. shinza.com [shinza.com]
  • by NilObject (522433) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:37PM (#7800331) Homepage
    Speaking from my years and years of experience with *several* bags, the best way to go it to get a sleeve thing for your computer (any sort of neoprene is good, as are reinforced sides) then buy a luggage bag. I don't mean those pseudo-laptop bags, I mean those heavy-duty bags meant for luggage etc. If you're really paranoid like me, you can roll up a towel and put it in the bottom.

    Otherwise, it depends on the laptop you have. My iBook is sturdier than hell (800MHz white etc) and it goes with me to all my classes (being a comp. sci. major and all). From what I've seen, the cheaper laptops such as low-end Dells are as fragile as Middle-East peace.

    So, what bag do I use if I have so much experience? Well, I bought a $10 neoprene sleeve made by Sony for their Vaio laptops and I throw it in my backpack (which is made to carry 40-50 punds of stuff). That bag will never freaking break. The other nice thing about school bags is that they never seem to fail all at once, they tend to rip and give a little, givinng you plenty of warning to replace it. Just make sure not to put your laptop right in the back near your back and below all your books or whatnot.

    I've jogged to many a class and that set-up refuses to show any signs of giving up.

  • by MidKnight (19766) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:52PM (#7800408)
    ... is a Tumi [tumi.com]. Yes, they are much more expensive than the competition. Yes, they may not look like the flashiest bag with all the cool compartments in all sorts of places.

    But, the fact of the matter is, you get what you pay for. Tumi spends an incredible amount of time & money researching typical usage patterns, wear & tear damage, and the types of storage compartments that people actually use.

    I'm currently on Tumi bag #2 in my lifetime (I switched from a backpack to a saddlebag two years ago). All the pockets seem to be in the perfect place, there's no significant wear to speak of... the bag looks great & protects my laptop very well. I'll continue to buy Tumi for all my luggage as long as I can afford it.

    Do yourself a favor & spend the extra dough.

    --Mid
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:58PM (#7800431)
    I consider myself a sort of expert in bags and packs. I actually 'collect' them... well anyway, I'd have three choices:
    1) Backpack Brandname 'Lowe'. They've got one called 'Megabyte' and it's made of some super-extra-hyper thick cordura stuff that looks like Flakwest material. Indestructable, looks cool, costs a little. :-) They may have other laptop gear aswell.
    2) Eagle Creek. With them I like the bags more than the packs. They got a set that look unobstrusive, yet are specially polstered for laptops. In case you drop it again. Again this is reference grade quality and will cost appropriately. These you can take out to serious business meetings and you won't get queer looks.
    3) Big Warehouse inhouse noname brands. Honestly. If you (can) trust your judgement, this is a secret tip. Most brands, exept for the ones I mentioned above, have gone seriously cheapo within the last few years, so it actually is worth a try. My current laptoppack is a no-name from "Horten" (german Warehouse joint), it cost about a third of the brandname stuff, doesn't look to flashy but is of top quality and has some neat extras. Here you have to be carefull and triple check for sloppy seams, cheap material, cheap zippers and brittle cheapo-plastic fastex-rippoff buckles. Keep an eye on all that and you might find a real bargain.
  • by jhines0042 (184217) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:01PM (#7800450) Journal
    But go for a laptop backpack. Seriously.

    They may not look as professional, but your shoulder and your computer will thank you and you will never go back. Just make sure it is big enough for your computer, your periferals, and some other stuff.

    Plus it doesn't look like it contains a computer. Security though obscurity does sometimes work. And while I wouldn't leave my computer lying around, it is also less likely to be stolen by a mugger etc...

  • by Stinking Pig (45860) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:25PM (#7800548) Homepage

    while laptop bags are made to look okay in a boardroom. I use a Timbuk2 [timbuk2.com] messenger bag with a padded laptop insert that I removed from some Targus PoS when it died. It's lasted through five years of Fight Club-level travel, and I'm confident it could handle five years of Arthur Dent-level travel too.

    The bag is also large enough to accomodate some tools, a book, and up to two days of clothing, meaning that I haven't checked baggage for a business trip in a long, long time. The smoothness of your travel experience is directly related to your ability to get from one end of a major hub airport to the other in the ten minutes between getting off of plane A and plane B's planned departure. If there are trams involved, this sort of trick is very likely to result in the death of your classic laptop bag's shoulder strap.

  • Multiple choices (Score:3, Informative)

    by CharlieG (34950) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:36PM (#7800592) Homepage
    I've always felt there were multiple choices, depending on what you like

    1)A Domke satchel - Jim Domke designed what is probably the most used professional camera bags back when. These are the bags pros use for their "working" bags, (Not storage/shipping cases). You see almost every TV crew with a bunch of them. Well, they make a satchel....

    2)Someone else mentioned Eagle Creek - not bad, mine held up

    3)You might want to look at what Blackhawk Industries, Eagle Industries (NOT Eagle creek - different folks), Tactical Taylor, LBI etc offer. I know Blackhawk offers a briefcase, I don't think Eagle does. Folks, if it's made by one of this last group, they are built like your life depends on it, frankly because, for most of their customers, it does (They supply "after market" stuff to various military and police units - the ones that say "We'll spend our own cash on better than issue") You can find links via Lightfighter.com
  • Comprehensive List (Score:4, Informative)

    by coolmacdude (640605) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:51PM (#7800658) Homepage Journal
    There is an excellent list of laptop bag companies in this MacNN thread [macnn.com].

    Some of them are geared toward the Apple Powerbook, but most are general purpose ones that would work well with any computer.
  • by xeno (2667) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:58PM (#7800690)
    As the topic is carrying a laptop while engaging in physical activities beyond merely walking, I offer a cautionary tale, and a product opinion:

    A laptop bag with a shoulder strap will tend to shift as you move, which is alright while walking, but intolerable on a bicycle or motorcycle. Because of this, I purchased a triangular shoulder bag -- the kind with a single large padded strap over the right shoulder, and a small side strap on the left to prevent the bag from shifting. Several laptop bag makers offer [ebags.com] this style [ebags.com] of bag.

    It worked great until I was hit by a car while on my bike, and landed on top of the bag. The resulting tension concentrated on the single strap of the bag and broke my collarbone in two places (at the edges of the wide strap). I now have a 7" scar, a nice metal plate, and 8 screws in my collarbone to help me remember the event. No more shoulder-bags for me, and most laptop backpacks are uncomfortable (the strap presses on the bolt-heads).

    I now use a Mountainsmith [mountainsmith.com] lumbar pack (a slightly more dignified version of a giant fannypack). This offers all of the no-shifting benefits of the backpack, without much risk of additional upper body injury if I feel the need to fling myself in front of a car again. As an added bonus the pack offers a small degree of back protection. The "Passage" model is/was designed for a 15" laptop + almost 2" of papers, has both a briefcase-style handle and shoulder strap that stows away. When I'm on the motorcycle, I use both the waist and shoulder strap, just in case one fails. I'd hate to see $2500 of equipment go skittering down the road without me. The Passage bag is very well made, has held up perfectly for more than a year, and provided adequate protection for the laptop in a few minors bumps/drops. It's available here [altrec.com], here [ebags.com], and some other places [google.com].

    Jon

    (Oh, and yes, the laptop survived the accident above -- inside an Otterbox [otterbox.com].)
  • Targus or Brenthaven (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:13PM (#7800756) Homepage Journal
    My previous laptop I kept in a Targus with air suspension, and my current laptop is in a Brenthaven. I think I prefer the Targus... it's cheaper, lighter, and has the air suspension which has to be the best protection I've seen so far. The Brenthaven happened to be the only one at the time that would fit a 15" tibook so I had to switch at the time. For its credit, the Brenthaven's exterior is tougher, making it more immune to scratches and cuts that mar the Targus's thin leather covering. The Brenthaven also has a more comfortable (better padded) shoulder strap.

    When will laptop makers design in some sort of way to transport CDs? I take my DVDs with me, and there never seems to be a good place to stick a CD wallet in laptop bags. I've been making do with binding together pages from a large CD wallet and hanging them in the Brenthaven's folding file area.
  • Kensington Saddlebag (Score:3, Informative)

    by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:17PM (#7800776)
    When I was a field engineer, I'd run through at least one laptop bag every six months. They'd usually be the "standard" style laptop + bunchajunk case that seems to be the industry standard. Not cheap stuff, either... Targus bags in particular were prone to busting zippers. They'd all leak like mad in heavy rain, too, so I'd have to wrap my junk in little plastic shopping bags before putting it in the case when the weather looked bad.

    I got a Kensington Saddlebag in '98, and I've still got it today. It's ballistic nylon with thick suede re-inforcement, and it has a buckled flap rather than a zipper over all the inside compartments. Completely indestructable, mostly weatherproof, and not that expensive. It works well either as a shoulder bag or backpack (with hide-away straps included), or can be toted around like a briefcase. It's taller than it is wide (you slip the notebook into it sidewise), and this makes it more maneuverable than courier-style bags.

    Your friendly neighborhood Apple Store will have a black-on-black model with an embossed Apple logo in black on the flap. CompUSA will have the more prosaic models... I have the black-and-tan, but my next one will be the black-and-grey.

    I've got a hyuuuge Targus backpack that's been holding up well, but it's overkill unless I'm carying around all my Java books, and the zippers leak in the rain. The belt strap is a nice touch if you're walking long distances with a ton o' junk, tho.

    SoupIsGood Food
  • by simetra (155655) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @12:04AM (#7800965) Homepage Journal
    This works well for me, as I don't need a traditional laptop bag; I usually use it biking or walking to work. It has a nice padded insert in which you place the actual laptop. This insert has a velcro closing flap, so it seals it up pretty good. There is a lot of storage and etc. too. Plus, it does have a handle on the side, so that if you really wanted to, you could carry it like a briefcase. It wasn't too expensive either, and certainly doesn't shout "I'm an expensive laptop, steal me!". My Thinkpad T22 fits nicely. I only wish it had a few padded pouches for the removable floppy drive and DVD player. The padded pouch for the laptop can be hooked up to the interior of the backback with little clips mounted inside the backpack, or you can simply pull it out, or have it floating around in the backpack if you want. Altogether, it's a nice backpack alternative.

  • by firewood (41230) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @02:44AM (#7801473)
    Theft is also a major risk with laptops.

    A book bag or soft briefcase made by a company that make rugged outdoor gear is less likely to come apart under typical use/abuse, and doesn't attract as much attention as a Logo'd laptop case. Put your laptop inside a neoprene sleve inside the soft briefcase or small backpack, add a thick magazine (Wired, etc.) on the display side, and you will have a rugged case that doesn't yell "steal me!" in crowded public spaces.

    And if you need an expensive briefcase to be seen along with your Armani business suit at some client meeting, carry your laptop in the backpack and your clean shirt/underwear in the expensive case on the trip thru the airport (but this is Slashdot, so never mind...)

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention, with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequilla. -- Mitch Ratcliffe

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