Holiday Gift Guides 2013: Tech Bags and backpacks

 
This is the first of our Holiday Gift Guides this year and we are starting off with the necessities, the all-in-one tech bag solution. Over the last decade our devices have gotten thinner, though they seem to be multiplying at an alarming rate. Like many users, we use separate devices for school/work/shopping around town and then the problem of keeping all of these devices and chargers safe and organized is magnified with each new tech release.
 
Luckily we have become very much involved in the tech-bag solution process. With a dozen editors, marketers and IT consultants in the office here, we have all seen our fair-share of terrific (and not so terrific) bags and messenger over the years, these are our top picks for 2013.
 
Just a side note: Besides being functional, all of the bags that we tested and chose for ourselves had a few hoops to jump through before we would consider them. Any company could make a terrific, indestructible bag when money isn’t an object but we expect our bags to be affordable, durable and efficient. We also expect them to conform to a sense of style, we don’t need zebra stripes on our bags, or handcrafted crocodile leather, but we do expect them to fit in with our everyday style in and out of the office. We also expect our bags to be backed by the company. We want to suggest manufacturers that won’t disappear the moment you get your bag, or are impossible to communicate with online or on the phone. These are the items that passed our tests.
 
Booq--BOA-Review
 
BOA SHIFT $149 | By Booq | Available at amazon, booqbags
 
This was the overall favorite from the editors, picked for it’s features and price-range. Booq also has a terrific customer support system, so if your bag somehow rips, or gets lost, there is a backup team ready to assist you. The Overall weight of the bag depends on what you put in it, but the BOA SHIFT starts off empty at just about 48oz. It’s incredibly light and very comfortable thanks to the extra-padded backing, that not only protects your laptop but your back as well. That padding also performs triple duty, anyone that has carried a backpack through NYC knows things get hot (and sweaty) when you have a bag on your back or side; the BOA SHIFT has an “Airmesh back” that not only comforts, but allows heat to pass through as well.
 
So let’s talk functions because this bag has them, all designed to makes life easier and more organized. The elastic pockets on the front of the shoulder straps will quickly hold almost any smartphone you may be carrying around with you this year. These pockets also keep your phone right on your chest, so you can hear it, or feel it vibrate when you get a message or call on the go. You also won’t have to keep your phone in your pocket, or go digging through your bag just to grab your phone. You have your open-elastic side pockets for sunglasses, notebooks, magazines or any other item that you need in a flash, and the main compartment is sectioned off so you can organize the hell out of your life.
 
Inside you have a detachable keychain and a mesh zipper-lined compartment; for the pens, change or small items that you carry around that you don’t want lost in the shuffle. The overlapping pockets underneath can hold your envelopes, or any other tall items that you would like secured. Inside the main compartment is room for anything that you might need with multiple sections to hold books, notebooks, magazine or clothes; all held securely without bending or binding them out of shape while you are on the go.
 
The laptop compartment was the number one specification that our editors called out in every bag and this one boasts extra padding and a special compartment that keeps multiple size laptops safe and cool. The Nylex interior is also safe on tech, meaning no scratches or marks when you are walking around. All of this is incased in a water-repelling lining, perfect for NYC or anywhere you might get caught off-guard in the rain. The removable pouch was also a big hit as it can hold chargers, USB cards or earbuds. Pretty much anything that you may need at a moments notice from your desk, all right there without having to reach into backpack again to store it or fetch it.
 
The bag is backed by a limited 5-year Warranty and it has a unique ID number. Customers that register their bag online using booq’s Terralinq Service can track down their bag if it’s reported found. This doesn’t help if your bag is stolen, but if you loose your bag on an airline, mall, or subway, it’s an awesome second chance to get it back, or prove that it is indeed yours.
 
Mission-Workshop-Cover
 
AP EDITION $249 | By Mission Workshop | Available at missionworkshop
 
For the tech-lover that has every device possible, the AP Edition Messenger Bag from Mission Workshop is a lifesaver. It’s one of the more expensive bags on the list, but it doesn’t take long to see why the company has made a niche for itself in the tech-industry. The version picked by our team is a revamp of the classic ‘Rummy messenger bag’, customers should feel proud to know that it is made from American-made 10 oz. waxed canvas and is made from weatherproof canvas that will age nicely (even with rough use).
 
There are several outboard pockets to hold everything you need in an instant, with internal pockets that offer zipper-closures and aluminum strap hardware with a ‘detachable cross-chest stabilizer’. These bags were made to be tough, and handle some of the more turbulent lifestyles that many of us face in our day-to-day commuting. You can fit 15″ laptops in the large out-facing zippered pocket and it can transform from “roll top” mode, or “flap down” mode. These bags are made in the USA (‘merica) and come with a lifetime warranty.
 
Chatree-Cover
 
CHATREE SLING $145-$165 | BY TUMI | Available at tumi
 
This awesome hybrid combines the comfort of a backpack with the smaller design of a tote or small messenger back. Women have the luxury of carrying around whatever sized-bag they prefer without any hesitation, but outside of major cities some men don’t like carrying around smaller one-strap bag (though really, it’s a bag, get over it) and this helps bridge the gap for those individuals. The one-strap is worn withe traditionally over one shoulder or you can cross the bag so the straps are just like a messenger-bag. The bag has a terrifically aged-appeal, with subtle detailing. Tumi considers it a part of their “contemporary collection of utilitarian day bags” and the office loves it. The outside is a wax-coated cotton canvas and features contrast-stitching accents and antiqued brass hardware. There is an adjustable strap with side zipper accesses and the bag comes in a few select colors shown above.
 
Bens-Sherman-Tablet-Bag-Cover
 
PACK RANGE TABLET BAG $80 | bensherman
 
Since so many people are choosing tablets over laptops in the classroom or office, I wanted to point out the Pack Range Tablet Bag from Ben Sherman. It’s a simple reinforced canvas bag that features a one shoulder-strap design and comes in either khaki or navy-blue. The bag features leather accents and branding by the company, and on the inside the tablet compartment is secured with a reinforced stud closure. It’s much smaller than the other bags, but that also makes it lighter and easier to carry around. It’s a low-profile and casual bag perfect for everyday use for the tablet-lover.