A laptop bag for a seasons and tastes. (May 29th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Crumpler Bags
Price: $95 US
- Lightweight bag. Excellent materials. Outstanding build quality. A size for everyone.
- Had to call company to understand the included strips for smaller MacBooks.
When you need a simple briefcase-style bag in which to slip your MacBook or MacBook Pro, look no further than the Squirrel line of products from Crumpler. You can choose from one of five styles, depending on how much equipment you need to toss in with the computer. These fabric shoulder bags with built-in handles accommodate either size portable comfortably and come in four different color schemes, red with a dark red interior, black, brown with a light brown (tan) interior, and olive and a light olive interior. The Squirrel name probably stems from their clever marketing, in which they state, your Mac portable "can hibernate comfortably in the fleecy lined interior complete with varying levels of hoarding capability."
The smallest bag, the Winston Fleece ($40), is simply a computer sleeve with handles, while the next size, the Reginald Transfer ($65), adds two pockets, a storable handle, and a shoulder strap. I discuss the medium Chester Squander ($95.00) below. The larger bags, the Albert Stash, 4.7" x 16.9" x 11.8 ($160) and the Harry Hoard, ($240), offer briefcase organizers, an expandable filing pocket, and a lot more storage space. All the bags have an outside pocket graced with Crumpler's signature logo stitched on the side. The logo also appears in white on all the black metal zipper pulls.
A unique feature of the Squirrel line is their ability to accommodate two very different sized MacBooks and PowerBooks. The computer compartment includes two small side pockets into which you slip two strips. The padded strips have Velcro on one side and pull-tabs on them, so they adhere nicely to the bottom of the bag, but are easily removed. These two strips add extra protection and fit for the smaller MacBook. Their function was not immediately obvious and I did have to call the company to learn this little detail.
The Chester SquanderI acquired the medium-sized Chester Squander at Macworld Expo and use it for my weekly consulting gigs. This durable lightweight shoulder bag fits my 15" Mac G4 laptop, mouse, spare battery, charger, iPod and accessories, plus numerous folders with out showing any lumpy bulges. Although I'm not usually clumsy, I've had a couple of incidents with slippery hands this month and spilled water and food on the bag, but you'd never know it. The water and stain resistant treatment on the 600d polyester shell works great and a simple cloth wipe removed all evidence of my bungling.
The outside pockets include 150d Ripstop lining, which is a very durable material. Both pockets close with Velcro, but one is divided into two pockets and has a zipper closure too. Under the handle on each side is an inner pocket into which you can fold the handles, so that they don't get in the way when you use the shoulder strap. You can also remove one side of the shoulder strap and tuck it inside the bag, when you want to use only the handles. My only complaint with this medium-sized bag is the shoulder strap, because it has no padding, nor any padded sleeve you can wrap around it. I did notice that the two large squirrel bags have shoulder strap wraps shown on the Crumpler site though.
An Inside LookThe brushed polyester computer compartment has no pockets or exposed seams, so you won't scratch your valuable laptop. The 8mm PE foam used seems thick enough to protect from minor bumps and spills, but there's no hard impact protection, so don't step on or throw the bag with your computer in it. The light brown interior in the brown bag looks more like a yellowish tan, so it is easy to find things in the bag.
The two-zipper pull second compartment in the Chester Squander includes an expandable file pocket in one side with elasticized strips that keep it taut. The opposite side has a variety of pockets. The top section includes three business card-sized slip pockets, five pen pockets, and a flap pocket with Velcro closure. The bottom section includes three open pockets, all of which close with one zipper. You can easily store mice, batteries, and an iPod or three in any of these pockets and not even notice they're in there.
The finished seams, closed edges, and thick thread used throughout the bag should make it last for years. The exceptional craftsmanship of the Chester Squander makes it well worth the price.
Related Crumpler Reviews:
The Considerable Embarrassment
The Part and Parcel
The King Single - Laptop Backpack
The Whickey and Cox - Laptop and Camera Backpack