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Recommendations For A Good Laptop Bag? 824

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 ) <> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:24PM (#7799855) Homepage Journal
    Columbia makes some good bags too. Maybe something from North Face would be a little sturdier.
  • My XMas present (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:24PM (#7799857)
    is a Victorinox WebMessenger bag. I heard good things. Link []
  • Willow Design maybe? (Score:5, Informative)

    by __aavhli5779 ( 690619 ) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:24PM (#7799860) Journal
    I'm a big fan of the cases from Willow Design [].

    They're relatively heavy-duty and not too bad-looking, although they could be better.
  • by rkz ( 667993 ) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:25PM (#7799862) Homepage Journal
    Extreme Laptop Backpack [] made by Hedgren.

    I find it to be very sturdy I'm sure I could drop it and the laptop would be fine, unfortunatly it can be rather pricey.

    I find it important that it does not look like a normal laptop bag and therfore does not attract thieves
  • Crump-lah! (Score:2, Informative)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:26PM (#7799872)
    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. []
  • by adamiis111 ( 525750 ) <> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:28PM (#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.
  • by thesolo ( 131008 ) <> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:28PM (#7799881) Homepage
    I have a Targus bag [], 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.
  • Brenthaven (Score:5, Informative)

    by slag187 ( 70401 ) <> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:28PM (#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. []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:29PM (#7799889)
    Have a look at ThinkGeek, there are plenty of them.
  • Timbuk2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by 1984 ( 56406 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:31PM (#7799910)

    San Francisco's finest: Timbuk2 [].

    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 @09:32PM (#7799917)
    Pelican [] 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)
  • try Spire (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phrack ( 9361 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:34PM (#7799933)

    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.
  • Re:Brenthaven (Score:5, Informative)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:36PM (#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.
  • Tech-air (Score:2, Informative)

    by pev ( 2186 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:37PM (#7799955) Homepage
    I had a car [] crash [] 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...


  • by cmcguffin ( 156798 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:38PM (#7799965)
    sfbags [] (aka Waterfield Designs) has some really nice, customizable bags.

    I use a sleevecase [] 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 [] (or better yet, a leather version)... Perfection!
  • Timbuk2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by jht ( 5006 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:39PM (#7799977) Homepage Journal
    Timbuk2 [] 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.
  • Kensington Saddlebag (Score:2, Informative)

    by blackketter ( 72157 ) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:39PM (#7799980)
    The Kensington Saddlebag [] 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 [] around my powerbook anyway.
  • Tom Bihn (Score:3, Informative)

    by SamHill ( 9044 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:41PM (#7799987)

    Tom Bihn [] 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.

  • by zippotrx ( 735159 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:41PM (#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 []. 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!!
  • Re:A backpack! (Score:5, Informative)

    by NeoThermic ( 732100 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:43PM (#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
    The exact bag I have is called a New York Black; =36

    Hope thats helpful enough.

  • Spire (Score:3, Informative)

    by Parsa ( 525963 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:46PM (#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...

  • by Jouni ( 178730 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:48PM (#7800047)
    This sweet Z5-SI [] 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

  • Re:A backpack! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:49PM (#7800055)
    I use a targus backpack, large enough to hold everything I need for my laptop plus whatever tech manual/books I'm reading at the time. s. asp
  • by sanermind ( 512885 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @09:50PM (#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 @09:52PM (#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

    I'm a satisfied customer.
  • by edwdig ( 47888 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:05PM (#7800165)
    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 let it dry and didn't have any problems.
  • Re:Jansport (Score:3, Informative)

    by brsmith4 ( 567390 ) <brsmith4@gm a i l . com> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:07PM (#7800174)
    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 stronger than the traditional get-your-books-to-school kind of bags.
  • by artemis67 ( 93453 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:08PM (#7800178)
    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 [].
  • by b.thompson ( 542104 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:09PM (#7800187)
    Here's a real nice one from Think Geek, although a bit on the expensive side... []
  • Costco! (Score:2, Informative)

    by FromWithin ( 627720 ) <> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:09PM (#7800191) Homepage
    This will get lost in the inordinate amount of suggestions, but what the hell, eh?

    I got an expanding shoulder bag from Costco that has got a padded independent laptop sleeve. It's a Kirkland bag (seems to be Costco's own brand), and it's absolutely brilliant. It's been around the world with me and still looks brand new. The only slight concern is the weight. It's very tightly made though, so you have to expect some bulk. It's about 2kg on it's own I think.
  • Timbuk2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:10PM (#7800198) Homepage
    Timbuk2 [] 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.)
  • backpack (Score:2, Informative)

    by capsteve ( 4595 ) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:14PM (#7800215) Homepage Journal
    if you have the coinage, spring for the brenthaven executive []... not only does it have space for your laptop, but other necessary items(socks, tshirt, and other overnite stuff, books, power adapter, peripherals, etc)... i've got friends who sware by them ,but i felt $200 a little too pricey($280 about two years ago). i ended up going to a suitcase store(irvs) and got myself a backpack from high sierra [] that has a nice padded sleeve, and totally doesn't look like a laptop container(nice and covert, key in an urban environ)...

    i'll prolly spring for a brenthaven next time around, but when i was in the market, there were very few laptop-backpacks which would fit a 15" tibook. i think market demand for carrying bigger screen laptops has changed that though.

    don't be a dumbass ;-) get a new bag to protect your gear(and your livelihood)!

  • Tom Bihn (Score:2, Informative)

    by Curt ( 37359 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:14PM (#7800219)
    I use the Brain Cell and Brain Bag, a small solid laptop case and high end backpack by Tom Bihn [].

    Extremely durable, and the absolute best combination I've seen for students. The site has a wide variety of different bags in many different styles though. Has a guide for which size case will fit which laptop.
  • Pelican case!!! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:16PM (#7800232)
    Pelican, known for their camera carrying equipment makes a series of laptop cases that cost around 120$. There a bit on the heavy side but are indestructable and airtight up to 30' underwater. I've had one for about a year now and have put it through a number of (unintended) tests: dropping, getting caught outside in a rainstorm.
  • Re:Spire (Score:2, Informative)

    by Thwyx ( 137997 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:17PM (#7800238)
    As an owner of a Spire [], I couldn't agree more. This pack has lasted me 6 years, still looks great, with nary a single hanging thread or broken zipper through more airports than I can remember, including Shanghai and South Africa, and I can tell you without a doubt that this is the best backpack and laptop case you will ever own.

    As a bonus, and as has been mentioned elsewhere in this thread, it doesn't look like a laptop case - a huge plus when traveling.

    Just my opinion obviously, but if I ever need another laptop bag, I'll never buy anything else.
  • Re:Tom Bihn (Score:2, Informative)

    by we3 ( 546328 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:17PM (#7800240)
    Tom Bihn's bags are excelent. Another brand that's made in the USA is Trager. I have thier transporter and I think it's great. Tom bihn sells them too. I got mine at on sale with a 10% off coupon and free shipping, but it looks like you might do better right now buying from Tom.
  • by ross_winn ( 610552 ) <ross.winn@gmail.cCURIEom minus physicist> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:34PM (#7800315)
    I spent five years of my life in the Luggage and Leather Goods businesss and I have some opinions. There is always a limit to what you feel comfortable spending, but I have seen damned few bags that come even close to the powerbook bag by Brenthaven []. USD$149 is not cheap, but it is not a four hundred dollar bag from Tumi or Hartmann either. I would never gamble a $3k laptop on a cheap bag, I can't afford the risk. Buy them at the Apple Store [] or direct from brenthaven.
  • by inblosam ( 581789 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:35PM (#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. []
  • Targus (Score:5, Informative)

    by smeckert ( 713620 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:49PM (#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:try Spire (Score:2, Informative)

    by jgd ( 24522 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:52PM (#7800403)

    I second this one.

    I got a 2000-model Spire for a PowerBook G3 [], and it has been absolutely perfect. Good materials and construction, lots of pockets, comfortable to carry. When I switched to a PowerBook G4 17-inch [] this year, I couldn't bring myself to retire the bag. The aluminum monster fits with the padded sleeve removed. I was initially concerned about possible damage to the laptop, but after more than half a year of daily bus rides, the machine is in perfect condition. It's really a fantastic bag.

  • by MidKnight ( 19766 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:52PM (#7800408)
    ... is a Tumi []. 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.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:58PM (#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.
  • Spire USA (Score:2, Informative)

    by rhatguy ( 536901 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @10:59PM (#7800434)
    I would suggest I bought a backpack from them about 2 years ago and used it to carry my dell 8100 (a brick!) as well as some school books (bricks also). I figured the weight would cause the pack to break but it help up quite well. Also some of their cases have what they call a boot that the laptop goes into the give it added protection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Re:Targus (Score:5, Informative)

    by paulc ( 5348 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:22PM (#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:Hemp! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jordy ( 440 ) <jordan AT snocap DOT com> on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:25PM (#7800544) Homepage
    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 and nylon is certainly tougher. Several types of spider silk are much, much stronger and plain old silk is, well, silkier.

    Hemp does have the benefit of being the best natural waterproof substance, but now with our nifty nano-textiles we have materials that really really repel water.

    Soap from hemp is ok, but the exotic blends we have now are far better.

    Further, the process to industrializing hemp isn't exactly cheap. We have hundreds of billions of dollars invested in processing petro, cotton, silk, trees, etc. It would take decades before you saw any major shift (which is the prime reason why kenaf isn't the prime source of paper right now).

    Hemp is sort of like the peanut. Sure, we've proven there are 10,001 uses, but few are any better than what we have already.

    Maybe it would be taken more seriously if its most vocal supporters were also for the legalization of marijuana. I mean the money it costs to patrol farms for hidden crops of marijuana right now is extreme... with the added problem of having to find them inside a crop of hemp would be down right impossible.
  • by Stinking Pig ( 45860 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:25PM (#7800548) Homepage

    while laptop bags are made to look okay in a boardroom. I use a Timbuk2 [] 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.

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

    by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:32PM (#7800575)
    Do yourself a favor and get a backpack that's DESINGED to carry a laptop.

    I've had a Kensington Saddlebag [] 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 Targus.

  • Multiple choices (Score:3, Informative)

    by CharlieG ( 34950 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:36PM (#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
  • Spire Bags (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:38PM (#7800602)
    Spire [] makes some of the best laptop bags ever..

    Their backpacks are VERY comfortable (the straps won't strain your back or leave marks even if you have a heavy laptop with lots of accessories).

    The backpacks are comparable to military grade backpacks - very durable and wont tear up over time if you like to stuff it full of heavy stuff.

    This is their webpage []
  • by wizzy403 ( 303479 ) * on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:47PM (#7800642)
    I also have a Targus, I've got one of their HUGE [] 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 to take to the office or out to job sites. This is the best compromise so far. And it's held up well for over a year now. YMMV.
  • Comprehensive List (Score:4, Informative)

    by coolmacdude ( 640605 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:51PM (#7800658) Homepage Journal
    There is an excellent list of laptop bag companies in this MacNN thread [].

    Some of them are geared toward the Apple Powerbook, but most are general purpose ones that would work well with any computer.
  • Make it Bomb-Proof (Score:5, Informative)

    by good soldier svejk ( 571730 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2003 @11:54PM (#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. [] 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.
  • Re:Timbuk2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by jht ( 5006 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @12:01AM (#7800709) Homepage Journal
    Yeah - the bags that you can buy "off-the-shelf" at the Apple Store are the Chinese bags. Custom bags are SF-made, as are all the messenger bags (like my Bolo), and their smaller/accessory bags. The iPod cases are made in China, as are the laptop-specific bags. I don't know if the laptop sleeves are made in China nowadays or not, but mine (2+ years old) wasn't.

    Even sneaker companies like New Balance [] have some of their shoes and products made overseas, despite their strong pro-US manufacturing philosophy. The economics are pretty harsh. If you service a mass market, you're likely to send at least some portion of your business overseas - it's a sad reality of a global economy.

    The flip side of it is that companies like Timbuk2, New Balance, and others have at least a stated goal to keep as much manufacturing here as feasible, along with the business aspects of the company as well. New Balance employs a lot of people here besides the ones in China, and a good number of the people here are making shoes. I can live with that. And I buy New Balance's shoes.

  • Re:A backpack! (Score:2, Informative)

    by welshsocialist ( 542986 ) <> on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @12:13AM (#7800755) Homepage
    I personally have the Brenthaven Mobility Backpack [] that I ordered the same time as my iBook. It works well, fits the iBook comfortly with room left over for everything else.

    I recommend it highly.

  • Kensington Saddlebag (Score:3, Informative)

    by SoupIsGood Food ( 1179 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @12:17AM (#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 NeGz ( 629279 ) <nicc&rk0n,org> on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @12:59AM (#7800948) Homepage Journal
    For anyone in Australia, I would highly recommend the standard technical merchandise range of bags. Being a *cough* hip, young */cough* teenager, I really wanted a laptop bag that looked nice.

    I ended up going with the STM Alley, a messenger bag type affair. My bags go through alot, as my hole ridden previous backpack would tell you, yet thus far my STM Alley has not a single scratch. The Alley comes in two sizes, one for 12"s and one for up to 15.5"s. My 15.2" Mitac 8060b (sexy, sexy laptop) fits snugly inside along with some thin books, adapters, mouse and a CD wallet in the other compartments. However, if you need to carry any uberfat manuals and such around, a backpack would very likely have more space and be kinder on your back. My laptop is 2.7kg, and I find the combined weight of laptop and bag is fine for me.

    STM also make backpacks and laptop inserts, as well as products to store/carry iPods, cameras, etc. Their website is [] . Plus, they're Australian made if that matters to you.

    If you're not in Australia, or looking for a larger backpack, I think the Ogio Metro looks very nice.
  • by simetra ( 155655 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @01:04AM (#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 pocopoco ( 624442 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @01:21AM (#7801016)
    Whatever you choose, make sure it has good padding. I've lost a lappy hd or two due to having my laptop in a backpack and putting it down too hard (used to just books in there). The best type of padding is this strap that suspends the laptop from the top of the bag, but cushioning is OK too. I use the bag IBM gave me when I worked there so don't know where to get it actually.
  • Re:A backpack! (Score:3, Informative)

    by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @01:31AM (#7801042) Homepage Journal
    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. The whole thing is padded again with 1/4 inch of foam and then the outside is rubber and cordura nylon. The clasps are really awesome, some kind of pincher thing in a dull steel. It has proven indestructable, waterproof, and comfortable even with 40 pounds of gear. I even used it as an overnight bag on a trip to a casino. Price tag: $65.

    Now for the bad news: I got it at the Bean outlet, and have never seen one since either in a store or online. But if you can find it...SNATCH IT UP! It is the best bag ever, and it will pain me when I have to part with it (the 12" iBook i want won't fit snugly enough).
  • by Nazmun ( 590998 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @01:52AM (#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 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.
  • by Dub Kat ( 183404 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @01:59AM (#7801132) Homepage
    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 [] 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 []
  • Re:Targus (Score:3, Informative)

    by dchamp ( 89216 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @02:13AM (#7801159)
    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 [] 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 system... but is plenty big for the laptop, a CD wallet, a little linksys WAP, a mouse, palm pilot, USB key, some CAT 5, some blank CDR's ... ;)
  • by dmauer ( 71583 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @09:32AM (#7802212)
    ...the kenneth cole leather bag that came w/ my Dell laptop (for a bit of an extra charge) is phenomenal. Really sturdy, really good looking, and the most comfortable shoulder strap in the history of the world.

    Don't recall how much these guys run if you buy separately; I'm sure it's not all that cheap, but I'll never want another laptop bag again.
  • EMS backpack (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enry ( 630 ) <> on Wednesday December 24, 2003 @11:28AM (#7802690) Journal
    Eastern Mountain Sports [] has a really rockin backpack [] 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.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama