Found: The TARDIS of Laptop Bags

No, I’m not talking about bags with images of the TARDIS on the outside – that’s another post for another day.  Shortly after I purchased my new laptop – a MacBook Air – I realized that my old laptop bag left way too much space in which the Air could bang around.  And that extra space wasn’t really useful for anything else.   I wanted the TARDIS of laptop bags – something small, unobtrusive, but able to store anything I needed and more.  Oh, and preferably something with a price that wouldn’t curl my hair more than it already is.  I’ve never been a girl who could stomach buying a $300 purse.  Or even a $100 purse. 

It was almost a year and a half ago that I identified my need, and drew up a list of bags that had elements of what I was looking for… but for whatever reason, I didn’t pull the trigger on any of them.  Maybe because I didn’t have much travel immediately in my future.  I’ve traveled quite a bit since then, but I either left the laptop at home (counterintuitive as it was) or placed it, unprotected, in a giant quilted tote bag (buffeted by a flannel shirt and a bag of cookies).  I got by, but it was certainly sub-optimal.

Then last week, I stumbled upon my answer.  I pulled up the Apple store to verify the stats on the new MacBook Pro for last week’s post, and on a whim I searched for bags and cases relevant to a 13″ Air.   And I wound up purchasing, if not the bag of my dreams, at least the bag I’ve been looking for.  But here’s the really weird part: it’s a bag that made my ‘maybe’ list last year.

STM 13″ Alley Messenger Bag

Holy cow do I love this thing.  It was pretty much love at first sight, and it’s even better in person.  I very nearly bought this bag when I first started searching, but two things put me off at the time.  For one, I was worried that since it doesn’t zip closed, it might leave my laptop exposed to the elements.  For another,  I think at the time it might have been just beyond what I wanted to spend – I wish I’d recorded the price.

What I didn’t realize then was that it’s not a simple flap of canvas over the open laptop sleeve; one heavy-duty velcro lid folds over, and then the wider outer flap covers that.  I suppose it might not be great for walking around in a tropical storm – but I’ve walked around in tropical storms a fair amount, and let me tell you, if you have to stay dry you’re just plain doomed. I don’t foresee any problem with the weather otherwise.

Oh, did I mention I paid $40 for this puppy?  Beautiful.

Form and Function

I have a big thing for vertical-style messenger bags.  The purse I usually wear while traveling is a “man bag” bought at Target a million years ago, and if I wear it cross-body it feels much more like an extension of me than if I wear I giant, wide messenger bag.  This STM bag is slim and vertical, and it doesn’t scream “laptop inside, please take me,” either.

And the space!  By my count, there’s six extra pockets or compartments of varying sizes.  The small ones aren’t so small as to be useless, or so big that your keys would be lost forever.  And while initially I wondered if the bag would be too small to hold anything substantial, quite the contrary.

See, my Air is quite thin.  This laptop bag is meant to hold either the 13″ Air or the 13″ Pro, so it’s thick enough for the Pro.  When I first saw the space, I wondered if it would be too wide for the Air – but when I placed it in the main compartment and even shook it back and forth, it was surprisingly secure.  However, there’s a better option: There’s also a nylon divider in the laptop compartment that probably could hold an iPad if you’re using a Pro, and keep it from banging into the laptop, but is also just perfect for the Air.  If I want extra security, my Air slips perfectly into the pocket and holds it – and then I have extra room to store a notebook and papers, more cables, a paperback novel or whatever else I want.

Safety Dance

Everything on the bag feels structured and padded.  The velcro seems fairly heavy-duty, and it takes more effort to open it than my old laptop bag, which had magnetic snaps.  I don’t know if I’d want to, say, ship something in it, but for the general jostles and bumps that come from wearing something on your body, it seems more than adequate.  And for me, that’s saying something – I regularly walk into walls in my own house.

So, over a year and a half after I first set eyes on this bag, I decided to commit!  And it wasn’t even a decision I thought twice about, this time.  I suppose timing is everything.

What about you?  Do you have a bag, purse, or suitcase that you can’t do without?  Have you had doubts about something that seemed trivial a year later?  Or have you just been pleasantly surprised by a product lately?  Share with me here!  

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