I’ve used a laptop as my only computer for at least the last eight years.
So every night at the end of my workday, I put it to sleep, pack it in a bag and bring it home. I usually end up using it at home, so in the morning I put it back in the bag for the trip to the office. Doing some quick math, I’ve packed that laptop in a bag almost 2,000 times.
I’m happy to say it has not been the same laptop. My employer upgrades our equipment every three or four years. My laptops have been 15-inch Apple MacBook Pros. First they were the larger models with the DVD drive, but lately I’m carrying the thinner MacBook Pro Retina screen model without an optical drive.
STM Radial Laptop Messenger
Pros: Not too big, not too small. Tons of pockets. Good protection.
Cons: Tips over when I set it down.
Bottom line: When the big bag gets too heavy, this one is just right.
As a reviewer, I’ve tried more than a dozen bags during those years, and after a flirtation with backpacks, I’ve come to settle on the messenger bag as my first choice.
My current bag (the one I spent my own money on) is the Timbuk2 Custom Commute Laptop Messenger Bag. I like it because it’s big enough to carry my laptop and everything else I need.
If I’m not careful, the bag really gets weighed down with stuff. I have a bad habit of carrying too much on my trips and not emptying the bag when I get home. So then I get tired of the size and weight of my bag and go searching for something smaller for days when I’m just moving between my office and my house.
For the last week, I’ve been testing the STM Radial Laptop Messenger ($99.95, www.stmgoods.com). The Radial can hold my 15-inch MacBook Pro, but it actually fits inside the main compartment of my Timbuk2 bag.
STM says the Radial is designed for 14- to 16-inch laptops.
The Radial has a padded sleeve just for my computer that has what STM calls SlingTech protection, which is a fancy term for nice padding and a suspended pouch that keeps the laptop off the bottom of the bag.
Sewn into the sleeve is a pocket that fits my 9.6-inch iPad perfectly.
Inside the Radial, you’ll find pockets on every surface. I counted at least 16 compartments. There is a zippered pocket on one outside end that’s designed to hold an external battery.
There are internal openings in the bag to route a charging cable from that outside pocket so you can charge your devices and keep everything zipped up and secure.
The front flap is secured by two quick-release clips, and it also has a zipper across the outside to keep your travel documents handy.
The rear of the bag is also a pocket large enough for file folders or magazines, while the back surface has a strap to secure the Radial to the handle of your wheeled luggage. The bag is made of water-resistant nylon and high-quality YKK zippers. The strap is easily adjustable and extends long enough for me (I’m 6-foot-2). There’s also a handle on the top, which I find quite helpful.
If there’s one complaint I have, it’s the depth of the bag. It doesn’t sit upright when I put it down on a flat surface. It tips forward or backward. I’m used to my fatter Timbuk2 bag just sitting upright wherever I plop it down. But I realize there are trade-offs for thinner and lighter bags.
The Radial measures 11 by 15.4 by 3.9 inches and weighs just under 2 pounds.
This isn’t the biggest bag I own, but that’s not its purpose. This is the perfect bag for when I don’t want to carry everything but still need a way to safely bring my laptop and a few accessories out of the house.