Form and function: Four of the best new laptop bags

Remember when laptop bags used to suck? Really drab looking affairs that screamed “I’m carrying a laptop” and were only slightly more stylish than the comically out of date bags that “businessmen” used to carry around Old Threadneedle street.

Well all that has changed. Laptops are no longer the sole preserve of nerds, and indeed nerd-dom is no longer the sole preserve of people who actually know thing. Both nerds and laptop bags are at the height of fashion (or if not the height, certainly stand taller than they did in my day).

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Crosskase Fusion

If you’re a modern individual you’re probably wearing any number of metaphorical hats and appreciate technology that is equally flexible. The Crosskase Fusion bag features three bag styles within one compact package – messenger, tote and rucksack. The bag uses Ballistic Nylon construction, inner padding and an exterior flap to ensure items are well protected from the elements and theft.

Available now in black or silver, the Fusion is priced at £79.99 inc VAT from www.crosskase.com, Apple and Amazon.

STM-nomad

STM nomad

Leading Australian bag manufacturer, STM Bags have released the nomad, a cool looking shoulder bag, complete with a removable laptop sleeve that fits most 11′, 13′ and 15′ laptops and smaller tablets. The nomad has an external zipper pocket to secure valuables and multiple organiser pockets for pens, keys, cords, cables and accessories.

The nomad is available from Stmbags.com with prices starting from £95.

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CrossKase Solar 15

Battery power is a simple but oh so essential component of the modern gadget and it’s always amusing to see the desperation creep across the faces of iPhone users as the evening draws to a close and they wonder if their devices will have enough power to guide them home. The CrossKase Solar 15 is a sturdy 25 litre backpack with built-in solar panels to charge all your gadgets on the go. Priced at £139.99 it is available now from www.crosskase.com, Apple and Amazon.co.uk

For more detail on the CrossKase Solar check out our article here.

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toffee messenger satchel

If you want to be ultra fancy then there’s always the toffee messenger satchel, which is one of the best looking laptop bags we looked at. Also from Australia, the toffee bags are available in black or tan luxurious top-grain leather, or black or khaki premium 18-ounce canvas with genuine leather detailing – I said they were ultra fancy.

The messenger satchel is available in black or tan top-grain leather priced at £199.95, or 18-ounce canvas in khaki or black, priced at £139.95. Dimensions suit a 13” MacBook Air/Pro or Ultrabook. Check out www.toffeecases.com

Booq Python Pack: Essential protection for your photographic essentials

As a self-shooting video journalist I often find my self lugging an array of cameras, microphones, cables and lenses across the Greater London area. As I don’t have a car (I’m a committed city dweller), and am often on the London Underground or a bicycle, this can be quite physically demanding and potentially hazardous to my precious cargo.

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Fortunately I got to try out a Booq Python Pack, a high-end camera and laptop bag that allows you to comfortably travel from pillar to post whilst keeping your delicate L lenses safe and secure.

The Python Pack has space for a 15″ laptop, tablet, 1-2 DSLRs and various lenses. That can get pretty heavy, pretty quickly so there are all manner of support straps and air mesh back padding, which makes it relatively comfortable even if your walking with a full complement of equipment. It can’t work magic however, so I’d caution against over loading your bag unless you’ve been hitting the P90x hard and need an additional workout.

There’s a commendable level of attention to detail all over the Python Pack and every other place you look you discover another pocket or pouch. Even the bottom of the bag features an ultra-tough rubberized surface

I’m writing this in middle of July in London so obviously there’s been heavy rain almost every single day. Fortunately the Python Pack boasts ballistic nylon exterior fabric with water-repellent coating. And in case that’s not enough, one of the side pockets contains a bright red waterproof poncho to cover your entire bag.

The padded SLR camera and accessory compartment is accessible from the side and the padded dividers can easily be modified to fit whatever camera/lens setup you decide to take on the road with you. You can also hook up a tripod to the back of the bag for extra stability on the move. There’s an extra compartment on top, which is handy if you have a second DSLR, random camera gear or super large headphones.

The Booq Python Pack is out now for about £250. For more information head to www.booqbags.com

Get the kids behind you with the Wallaby backpack child carrier

I went for a walk across the field the other day with some friends with buggy-aged children – bad idea. It was muddy, claggy and clay-ey and as we lifted the buggies over dips and troughs and massive muddly puddles, we realised backpack carriers would have been far preferable.

Wallaby

And just released is what has to be the Rolls Royce of the child-carrying world – the Wallaby. Oddly named, as Wallabies carry their small one in pouches on their bellies, but hey, let’s not split hairs here.

Just released in the UK in time for the lovely weather we’re having and the Easter holidays, the Wallaby, from Vaude, has already bagged the ‘best backpack’ award at the Outdoor Trade Show in the 2011 Novel category.

Its selling point (apart from obviously enabling you to safely carry a small child aged up to two on your back’) is that it is the first child carrier to meet the bluesign environmental standard, which offers a fully sustainable solution for the environment.

It’s designed to be lightweight too (weighing 1.8kg) and has some added features to increase the security of your child and make the backpack more comfortable for the wearer.

It has a roomy pocket at the bottom for nappies, wipes and all those other bits you need for babies and toddlers, as well as some zip pockets.

It has a standing base that can be accessed while you’re wearing it (before buying any carrier we recommend trying it out with wriggling small child, as some oft hem are really difficult to get to grips with!). The belts can be adjusted from the outside, and the shoulders straps have been designed for easy adjustment too. Padded hip wings keep you comfy and an adjustable seat height means your child sits securely whatever their size.

If you’re worried about looks it comes in grey, black and raspberry and costs £150, which is at the more expensive end of the range of carriers available, so you will want to consider just how much you’ll use it.

More at www.vaude.com

LE reporter Kingfisher 11″ review

Have a sleek and stylish ultrabook, such as the MacBook Air? It’s predicted to be the growth category for portable computing this year – alongside its svelte companion the tablet and CES is rife with new outings from laptop manufacturers. With mobile computing options becoming more streamlined and design conscious it makes sense for mobile computing accessories to follow suit.

Kingfisher

be.ez – a Parisian manufacturer whose raison d’être seems to be “sleek and stylish” have produced a new range of cases for laptops and tablets – the Kingfisher.

I got to try out a LE reporter Kingfisher for the 11″ MacBook Air and have to confess I felt underdressed every time I put it on. The LE reporter Kingfisher features a water resistant waxed canvas and 210D nylon colour lining. It’s pretty hard to wear it and not feel like a New York academic or character in HBO’s recently cancelled Bored to Death, it’s that snazzy of a bag.

The inner carrying compartment is raised and padded and provides ample protection from bumps and knocks when carrying or if dropped. The front of the LE reporter’s main compartment contains two additional webbings, as well as two slip pockets on the inside for smaller items, such as pens, keys or cables, to ensure belongings are securely organised at all times.

A velcro-secured flap with a stylish yellow zipped pocket on the front allows for fast access to smaller items. The full-size zipped pocket on the back of the bag allows for storage of a mobile phone, mp3 or thin paperback book – I stuggled to get most hardcovers comfortably in there without making horrible bulges.

The be.ez LE reporter Kingfisher for MacBook Pro 13” and 15” retails from £59.99 and the LA robe Club for MacBook Pro 13” and 15” is available from £24.99.

For stockist details, visit http://www.be-ez.com/where.html

STM Velo Laptop Shoulder Bag: The ultimate laptop thief deterrent!

A laptop bag that doesn’t look too much like a laptop bag – now there’s a novelty. Although on second thoughts, being one of the most ‘nickable’ items in existence, perhaps owning a more inconspicuous-looking laptop bag would be a wise move. The Velo is a laptop bag designed by laptop bags, iPad case and laptop sleeve makers STM, with the aim of looking cunningly unlike a bag for a laptop. Although whilst it may not be the conventional rectangular-shaped, unmistakably designed for a laptop, we now take for granted, the stylish, durable and pocket-frivolous Velo is a far cry from being ‘inconspicuous’.

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I suspect that the Velo laptop bag will be a popular choice of laptop carriers among cyclists, as being made from a durable, water-resistant nylon, the bag is ultra-lightweight, will keep its contents dry in a downpour and is unlikely to rip after the first journey to work. Possessing multiple organiser pockets, the Velo enables for quick and easy access for all of life’s essential items, such as an iPhone, keys, coins, credit cards, and, of course, a laptop. Although having said this, I often find that carriers that feature a multitude of pockets can end up leaving you more infuriated than ever. The amount of times that I have cursed my faux Prada handbag for its mass of pockets as I am unable to locate my ringing phone and by the time I have found it, the answering machine has kicked in!

Jibes aside, the Velo laptop bag certainly looks stylish and may prove to be a provident deterrent to any laptop thieves that may be luring. And with the growing number of people trading the Tube or the car for the bike to get to work, the STM Velo could be a common and convenient accessory to carry all those office essentials to work.

STM’s Velo fits most 13” and 15” laptops and will set you back £69.95.

Golla D-SLR and tablet bags review

You want to keep your gadgets safe… of course you do. But does everything protective have to look so drab. Golla think different and have launched a range of fun, colourful yet (importantly) functional bags and cases. As the label and beautiful models scream “Rule your world by colouring it.” Look at their website – seriously have you ever seen someone so happy about having a well protected laptop? I thought not.

Golla

We had a look at their general range at CES here (and I love that picture so much I ran it twice) but we thought we’d take a closer look at two of their cases – their tablet protecting sleeve and their DSLR bag.

Eschewing bespoke tablet sizing, the tablet protecting sleeve is device agnostic and will happily house anything up to 10” in size. You could probably even slip a MacBook Air or any other ultraportable into the sleeve or even a *shudder* netbook. Other than that it’s pretty basic – just a protective wallet that should help you avoid unwanted scratches, dents or spillages. If I were throwing my tablet/ultraportable in a backpack I’d be glad of the protective sheath. And the pattern on the front is fun and distinctive, which is always a bonus.

The DSLR bag is well compartmentalised with two zippable front pockets with room for notes, SD cards, CF cards (damn you Canon), batteries, white balancing cards and all the other useful bumpf you need to take with you for a shoot. The inner compartments have Velcro separators so you can adjust to make adequate room for you lens and body set up. At the base of the bag are super cool rubber feet  (well strips really) that hold the bag in place and keep all your goodies safe.  And there are lovely big flowers on the front

Check out the range at www.Golla.com