Wanted: The TARDIS Of Laptop Bags

When my Facebook news feed gets eaten by people celebrating their tickets to Comic-Con, I know we’re officially into con season.  However, the season of geek travel brings with it a very specific complication: we want to bring all our gadgets with us.

With gadgets come choices: laptop, iPad or netbook?  Or can you get away with ditching them all and relying on your smart phone?  What about your trusty DS or PSP for the long plane ride?  Where do we keep all these electronics so that they don’t get crushed or stolen, but are easily accessible for plane checkpoints and Twitter updates?

I am very practical.  More than that – I’m pretty cheap.  I don’t have the perfect catch-all bag yet, because I won’t buy one until I’m certain it’s The One – and I have a lot of requirements.  Here, then, is a peek into my brain as I attempt to suss out what I want in a gadget bag.

Zip It

I am fond of messenger bags, satchels and the like; particularly the kind that tip the laptop vertically instead of horizontally.  However, many of those bags close by draping a piece of cloth across the top, leaving areas on the sides exposed by the elements.  My dream bag would have to zip closed.   That’s considerably easier to find in a backpack than a cross-body bag –  so let’s consider backpacks.

Bags That Come Close: STM Small Alley Bag

A House For My Back

There’s a wide variety of laptop backpacks available, with plenty of room for everything from hydration systems to the course load of a first-semester Bio major.  They often have cool, cushy straps that claim to minimize the wear and tear of, well, life.

The downside?  Well, for one, they often look like… well, laptop backpacks.  In other words, “please rob me.”  For another, keeping everything out of sight and leaving you hands-free is something that’s perfect for the outdoors, and not so perfect when you want to keep an eye on something you just bought.  I like having my bag easily accessible, for grabbing a water bottle or my phone or whatever I need.  I can see using a backpack for travel – not necessarily at the con.

Oh, and?  I’m clumsy as all get-out.  I would probably take out three people with my overstuffed backpack and not even notice.  Having my appendages where I can see them helps with my body awareness.  Hmm, looks like I’m looking at messenger-style bags again.

Bags That Come Close: Level8 17″ Atlas Backpack

Keeping It Simple

I’ve noticed a bit of the disconnect in the laptop bags I’ve been looking at.  I have a laptop that is on the smaller side, and very slim.  I want a bag that keeps my laptop secure, but has lots of room for everything else.  However, most of the bags that are designed for the new Air seem to be for just the bare essentials – and the bags that have room for the kitchen sink are made for monster 17-inch laptops that would leave mine knocking around.

So maybe the best, cheapest decision is the simplest: get some sort of super-protective sleeve for my laptop, and use a regular, mammoth messenger bag.  Maybe even a vertical one, if I can find it.  Then it won’t matter if I decide to bring my laptop, my iPad or a game of Battleship.

Bags That Come Close: The Handlebar 13″ Laptop Sleeve by Brokesy

Almost Perfect

In truth, I have a “purse” that is very close to the perfect bag.  Technically it’s a Man Bag, bought in the men’s section of Target somewhere around 2007.  I have scoured the Internet for a picture, to no avail; naturally, this one time, the bag is lacking any branding or tags.

So why is it perfect?  It zips closed; it has secret pockets upon pockets, inside and outside.  I can place my iPad safely inside, or leave it sticking out in an outer pocket (worn against my body, in that case).  It is the TARDIS of bags, fitting everything from a bottle of water to stuffed animals with ease.   The only thing it won’t fit? My laptop.  And the search goes on (or I leave my laptop at home).

What about you?  What do you use to tote your gadgets hither and yon?  And what electronics are essential for travel and cons?

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