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Old Apr 14, 12, 7:56 am   #1
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 795
Laptop Backpack

Hi,
I travel for work quiet a bit (consultant) and am looking for a new laptop backpack. The backpack should look professional (not sporty) as I visit client sites with a suit . I know shoulder bags are more professional but I have narrow shoulders so the bag always slips out.

I am a big fan of Tom Bihn - do have and love their TriStar bag. In their backpack range the Brain Bag seems a little bit too big (I do not have a heavy frame) not sure about the Smart Alec - I guess it could work but I would need to get a sleeve which can be problematic as we often swap company laptops for newer ones (and I am in the UK now so don't want to have to reorder etc).

Are there any other recommendations for good laptop backpacks?

Thanks,
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Old Apr 14, 12, 5:31 pm   #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Berlin and Buggenhagen, Germany
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That's a difficult situation. Any strap on your shoulders will wreck havoc on the shoulder pads of the suit. I have ruined more than one like that. And getting it fixed is not easy because every suit basically uses different pads and they are exactly aligned with the cut of the suit.

So in this situation I think I'd recommend hand carry over backpack or shoulder bag. Yes you can get the so-called Ultra Grip shoulder strap or the TB Absolute Strap. They stick quite well. And you can wear the strap cross-body. This will mess up your silhouette and you look like a messenger BUT it would help to save those shoulders. Anyways, all of these are just compromises. That's why I'd go either full hand carry or maybe even with a wheeled briefcase if the briefcase is really heavy.

Some find that unmanly but, I say if your briefcase is really heavy a rolling briefcase is way manlier than a destroyed suit and a sore back.
Besides wearing your briefcase on your back as if you were going hiking looks even more unprofessional if not more unmanly.

One bag that allows you to carry it by hand, shoulder or as backpack is the now discontinued Briggs Riley BB107. It also looks professional. I love mine for that reason. Perhaps you can still track one down but it will be hard.

The Tumi Alpha stuff normally looks professional but I find the backpack to be an exception.

Lacking a decent backpack recommendation and for the more poignant reasons cited, I'd go hand carry or wheels. This will open up your field widely.

Then consider the Tumi 26141 as one of your prime choices to look at.

Till
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Old Apr 15, 12, 9:56 pm   #3
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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I agree with Till, it is quite hard to find something that works well in all situations, and won't wreck your suit, but will also look good with it.

I am sure though, that there are tons of stuff out there - however, I can only recommend what I know, I would take a look at this: http://www.tumi.com/product/index.js...FindSrc=search

You can find it on eBay (new) often for less, even on Amazon. Also, it looks really silly on the website, however, if you go into a Tumi store and check it out, you will see that it looks totally different. It looks great as a backpack, or stuff away the shoulder straps, and it looks like a wonderful mix of a tote/briefcase that would not stand out in any office setting. Also, its quite "stuffable", so you can easily fit an overnights worth of clothes in there, and then stuff away the straps and carry it in to the office.
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Old Apr 15, 12, 10:46 pm   #4
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
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Have you used the TriStar for business travel or only leisure? Might be worth seeing if it meets your needs for business travel?
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Old Apr 16, 12, 8:41 am   #5
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
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What type of laptop are you going to be carrying and what are the dimensions? What other things will you be taking with you? Power cords? Files? Do you need to carry clothes, etc in this bag as well or just laptop? Do you want to be able to use it for anything else? I think if you provide a little bit more information for us, we can give you some better suggestions.
I'm guessing when you say the Bihn backpack options are too big for you, you are referring the the Brain Bag. It does seem huge to me as well. But if you have a smaller laptop, then maybe you could use the Synapse. Just a thought.
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Old Apr 17, 12, 9:39 pm   #6
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darbs View Post
But if you have a smaller laptop, then maybe you could use the Synapse. Just a thought.
I was going to suggest the same thing. I have the Synapse and love it. It is particularly effective when I need more of a professional look than one of my North Face bags. It has a well balanced and clean look.

It is also small enough that it won't wreck havoc on your suit. At first glance it looks much smaller than their Brain Bag, but at 1160 cu. in. it has more space than you would think. It fits my 13" Macbook Air without issue leaving plenty of room for accessories, gadgets, paperwork and even a few items of clothing. It also fits the 13" Macbook, but anything larger would probably not fit. It is a great bag though. As with all Tom Bihn products, it is very well made and functional.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 11:01 am   #7
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
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In case you have a larger laptop, here are a few other professional looking backpacks that I looked at before I got my MB Air. I had a Macbook Pro 15. They are all Briggs and Riley; the Verb VB415, the BRX Excursion, and the Clamshell KPC405. I have heard very positive things about all of them from other colleagues. More so about the clamshell model because of the ease of getting through security.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 1:36 pm   #8
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Spire Backpacks

http://www.spireusa.com/. I've used the Torq for the last couple of years and have been very happy with it. Even with a sportcoat or suit.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 4:39 pm   #9
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Arlington Virginia | DCA
Programs: AA EXP ->2MM | MR LTP 1.4k nights | NEXUS
Posts: 663
Osprey

I have the Osprey Momentum 26. Technically a "commuter pack", it comes in a dark, or carbide gray that looks good with a black wheel aboard like my Tumi. It is really a bike commuter pack with an expandable gusset if you need it, but it compresses down when zipped. It has great features: a solid sleeve for a notebook, another compartment for more files or bulky items, and a good organizer pocket up top with slots for the phone, etc.

http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/produc...te/momentum_26

It converts to a casual briefcase - you can stow the straps and use the side grip if you want. It's got a couple of secure mesh pockets for a typical water bottle or a few Clif bars, whatever.

I have a very expensive Tumi safecase that is not getting much use while traveling, now that I have this pack. It won't scream "exec" when you pop it out on a conference table like a Z Halliburton or a Tumi, but it won't make you look like a bum either.

I was a big Osprey fan before this for their excellent hi-capacity backpacking products and this pack is just as well made. Check out the reviews on REI, Moosejaw and other retailers and you'll see the Momentum series gets a lot of positive reviews.

Last edited by AATrout; Apr 18, 12 at 4:55 pm..
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Old Apr 19, 12, 3:12 pm   #10
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AATrout View Post
I have the Osprey Momentum 26. Technically a "commuter pack", it comes in a dark, or carbide gray that looks good with a black wheel aboard like my Tumi. It is really a bike commuter pack with an expandable gusset if you need it, but it compresses down when zipped. It has great features: a solid sleeve for a notebook, another compartment for more files or bulky items, and a good organizer pocket up top with slots for the phone, etc.

http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/produc...te/momentum_26

It converts to a casual briefcase - you can stow the straps and use the side grip if you want. It's got a couple of secure mesh pockets for a typical water bottle or a few Clif bars, whatever.

I was a big Osprey fan before this for their excellent hi-capacity backpacking products and this pack is just as well made. Check out the reviews on REI, Moosejaw and other retailers and you'll see the Momentum series gets a lot of positive reviews.
I actually looked at Osprey myself before I picked up one of my North Face laptop bags (Surge), but I didn't really like the huge padded waist straps. I loved the lighter weight of the few that I looked at though. This one looks like the straps are smaller. Are the waist straps retractable, or removable on this pack? Or are they just small enough to move out of the way? Is it a pretty durable pack?
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Old Apr 19, 12, 4:25 pm   #11
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CR1970 View Post
I actually looked at Osprey myself before I picked up one of my North Face laptop bags (Surge), but I didn't really like the huge padded waist straps. I loved the lighter weight of the few that I looked at though. This one looks like the straps are smaller. Are the waist straps retractable, or removable on this pack? Or are they just small enough to move out of the way? Is it a pretty durable pack?
This pack isn't for mountaineering, so the waist straps are not padded. If you prefer, they can disappear under the back panel along with the shoulder straps which are padded but not overly so. Check out the pics on the Osprey site as they have very good info and pics of key features. The owner's manual here:
http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/produc...specifications

has good detail on the straps and how to stow them if not needed.
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Old Apr 21, 12, 5:10 pm   #12
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6
I was looking for a laptop bag to retire the BB107. Till did an excellent review that persuaded me to buy it, back in the day, but I decided that I want to retire my BB107 for two reasons: one, there's no place to put a water bottle, and two, the narrow design makes it very difficult to wedge in the power supply for my Dell. It's a nice backpack, and it has definitely traveled quite a number of miles (I travel with it and an Air Boss) but I wanted to upgrade.


I bought the North Face Surge and ordered the Brain Bag because I couldn't decide between the two through the online reviews. The Surge is definitely a more compact backpack. The big thing for me that is superior to the Brain Bag is that it has fantastic straps. The Brain Bag is a bigger bag, with a better design, but the straps are merely okay. It does look more professional than the Surge (but I'd characterize neither of them as a professional look).


Being a gear kind of person, I'm leaning towards keeping both: the Surge when I just need to bring my laptop and some smaller items, and the Brain Bag when I want to haul more stuff (camera gear, and I am going to see if I can use one of the compartments as a diaper bag of sorts).
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Old Apr 21, 12, 9:02 pm   #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Berlin and Buggenhagen, Germany
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raz, I'm glad you got to enjoy the BB107. You are right in that it is not a deep bag. Maybe around 6 inches deep. It will hold a 10oz water bottle just fine, though, but it doesn't have a specific spot for it. Besides, I think a water bottle holder is best affixed to the outside of a bag. It's simply not very prudent to put liquids with files and electronics and it's easier to grap when it's on the outside in an extra bottle holder.

Till
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Old Apr 23, 12, 9:24 pm   #14
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AATrout View Post
This pack isn't for mountaineering, so the waist straps are not padded. If you prefer, they can disappear under the back panel along with the shoulder straps which are padded but not overly so. Check out the pics on the Osprey site as they have very good info and pics of key features. The owner's manual here:
http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/produc...specifications

has good detail on the straps and how to stow them if not needed.
Great tip on a FANTASTIC pack. I just received mine today and I am amazed as to how well made and well thought out the bag is. While it may not have the "business" look of the B&R packs, which I also love, it still has clean lines and a balanced look that may work for the OP. There aren't many dangling straps so it doesn't have the hiker pack look and it carries nicely even when loaded down. The many compartments (2 laptop pockets?) are very well thought out and it is constructed far better than I expected. It's also nice that all of the straps can be stowed so it can be carried more like a briefcase with just the handle. The cell phone pocket and the key pocket with retractible key ring on the straps are genius. Great bag with a great warranty too.
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Old Apr 24, 12, 2:19 am   #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: 127.0.0.1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pred02 View Post
I know shoulder bags are more professional but I have narrow shoulders so the bag always slips out.
Try wearing it like this:

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