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BBP Hamptons Messenger-Backpack Bag
September 25th, 2007Ergonomically designed backpack or messenger bag.
For years you've had to decide between either a backpack or a messenger back, but BBP has combined both into one unit that uses a convertible strap that's really clever. The ergonomically designed bag also lets you carry the weight in the pack much lower than you might expect, hence the manufacturer's name. BBP stands for "Bum Back Pack"), though that's a bit of a misnomer, as it's really placed on your lower back, not your butt.
The Hamptons Collection are BBP's most versatile bags, containing the greatest number of pockets and places to put things. They're fantastic if you want to carry a lot of gear, which I do. If you get the XL, the model I have, you'll have plenty of room for a 17-inch MacBook Pro and lots of accessories.
The Hamptons bag is made of military ballistic nylon coated with polyurethane. It is solidly built, with quality stitching used throughout. A water-resistant heavy-gauge vinyl tarpaulin coats the inside of the bag and there's nothing cheap or flimsy here. This bag is definitely built to take a beating.
The exterior zipper, which hides a well-padded laptop pocket, features a water-resistant zipper too. The velour-lined padding protects your MacBook Pro or PowerBook, so it can withstand whatever abuse you dole out. There's a nice reinforced grab handle on the bag's top, as well.
You'll also find three separate zippered compartments on the outside of the bag's flap. I use these for my AC adapter, iPod, and cables, but you can find your own uses. The point is that there are lots of nooks and crannies to store accessories in this bag. Two mesh water bottle pockets on the side make the messenger bag design more than just spirit only.
Inside the flap, which opens messenger bag style, is a big zippered pocket that's perfectly shaped for a spare 17-inch MacBook Pro battery, pen pockets, and a side-zippered pocket I use for business cards. An absolutely huge center pocket with an inside mesh see-thru pocket finishes the space. There's also a key ring clip and d-ring clips on the outside flap you can use to attach other accessories.
Other features of the bag include a luggage handle pass through system so you can pack the bag on your roller on your way through the airport. The opening for the handle is zippered, so when you don't use it, you have another huge pocket to use. An umbrella or newspaper holder on the underside of the front flap adds a nice touch. I'm amazed that BBP has created places to hide so much stuff on this bag and my tendency at first was to over pack it, just because I could (until my back convinced me otherwise).
What separates BBP bags from all the others is the company's patent-pending carrying system, which it calls Bak2Bak. The bag includes a large, adjustable strap that you can wear either as a single strap, messenger style, or as a backpack. The incredibly clever system works phenomenally well.
The well-padded and reinforced messenger bag strap length-adjusts on both sides. I found it most comfortable to wear across my body and opposite shoulder to help counter the weight of the bag. You can wear also wear it across one shoulder. D-rings on the strap connect to spring-loaded J-hooks on the bag.
Photo from BBP Site
Midway down the strap, you'll find a buckle identical to the buckles that close the top flap, along with a tabbed snap button. When you snap the tab into place, it folds the strap in half, and you can wear the strap as a backpack. It's a simple, elegant, and clever design, although the variety of D-rings, J-hooks, and adjustable straps make it a bit confusing at first. The only complaint I have about this bag is that the hard plastic center buckle sometimes has a tendency to press into my back. It needs to be padded or softened in some way.
Save Your Back
On the back of the bag are padded lumbar supports, which are here because BBP bags are designed to be carried much lower than ordinary backpacks. Instead of centering the weight between your shoulders, the bag centers the weight much lower on your back. The bag is also equipped with sternum and waist straps to help distribute weight and secure the bag. This makes it easier to get the bag on and off, especially if you're carrying a lot of weight, as I do. The straps make it a lot easier to carry for long distances.
If you've ever heard the expression "Lift with your legs, not with your back," you can understand how this helps you. Your body and the bag combine to form a natural fulcrum, and the lumbar padding helps the bag slap around without chafing or causing you discomfort. The other added benefit is that you don't end up with a pool of sweat running down your back.
Form, Function, and Comfort
After running through airports with this bag on my bum for a week, I can tell you that this is by far the most comfortable I've felt coming off a major trip in quite some time. Missing are the big welts I usually end up with on each shoulder, the neck strain, and the accompanying upper backache. BBP's claims of ergonomic superiority are a lot more than lip service. Just ask my back.
Street Flow Collection Bag
I tested a Street Flow Collection bag, and although the construction is excellent, as noted above, it did not work for me. I'm much smaller than Lee and found the bag did not sit well on my frame. The hard plastic buckle dug into my back and the bag was too big to carry comfortably when loaded with my 15" PowerBook and accessories. While the design is excellent, especially for wet climates, women may find their frame too small to wear the medium or large bags if they own 15" or above laptops. The smaller bag, appropriate for an iBook or MacBook, probably solves these problems. -- ilene hoffman
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor
Clever switchable design between messenger and backpack styles. Tons of nooks and crannies for gear and accessories. Smart urban look. Durable construction and materials. Cons
Convertible design is a bit confusing at first. Center buckle may press into back.