Review: STM Trust technology bag

STM Trust bag holds laptop, peripherals, more (April 21st, 2014)

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Product Manufacturer: STM Bags

Price: $130

The Good

  • Ample room
    - Water resistant
    - Comfortable

The Bad

  • Size/fit of water bottle pockets
    - How the large zippers meet
    - Foam can lump in laptop compartment

The search for a good messenger bag that doubles as a laptop bag is something many travelers find themselves facing at least once. Between bags that are either good for carrying around a multitude of things every day, or ones that only have the capacity for a laptop, there doesn't seem to be many that offer a good equilibrium. STM is trying to bridge that gap with their new line of Annex bags. These bags take aim at the electronic and carry needs of everyday life, with four different models based on the needs of the consumer. The Trust, STM's lowest-tier laptop bag in the line, meets the needs for both a laptop and one's typical extra items. But how does it hold up in the real world?

STM offers the Trust in two sizes, a "small" version that handles most laptops up to 13 inches, and a "medium" which covers most notebooks up to 15-inches. The bag also comes in three color options -- olive, charcoal, and red. For our review, we were sent an olive bag in the small size.

Initial observations of the Trust offer a mix of awe and confusion when examining the bag. The confusion sets in when the size of the bag is considered. It looks a little on the small side (even considering its labelling), so much so that it was thought nothing much past a laptop would fit inside with a few odds and ends. It's dimensions are only 11.22 x 14.96 x 4.72 inches. Awe, on the other hand, comes out in the overall design of the Trust.

The design is contemporary, with hints of vintage styling of the outside modeled somewhat like a canvas bag. The cloth on the outside, a 320D brushed Cottna fabric for the core and 640D Cottna for the bottom, has an aged look in the fibers that makes it look like the bag has already seen some use. Small touches like the sewing on the strapping, the aluminum buckle receiver and the interlacing pull strings on the zippers show a lot of thoughtful design behind the bag.

Pockets and sleeves are ample in the Trust. In addition to the laptop compartment, the bag also has a front pouch, a pocket inside of the flap, and a large compartment in the middle. The back of the bag also features a slim pocket for reading materials or something thin that won't be crushed by the laptop in front. In each of these areas, aside from the laptop compartment, there are nylon pockets for other items. For instance, the pocket on the flap has a space for business cards, the front pocket has numerous slots for pens and small devices, the slim pocket in the back has a space for a cell phone, and there is a padded pocket for a tablet in the main compartment as well.

The fit of the flap over the entire bag is something that is impressive. With many messenger bags, the flap just gets pulled up higher and higher leaving things inside at risk if the bag becomes full. The Trust's flap fits over in a way that it wraps the top openings of the bag, instead of stretching itself to cover. It appears as if it is fitted to cover those parts, even if the bag becomes stuffed.

The Trust has few options for adjustability as well. The strap is long, with clips on the rings that allow for an easy removal of the strap from the bag if needed. The rings also rotate 360 degrees so there is no issue fighting with the right orientation if it gets twisted. There is also a padded sleeve on the strap that can be moved about to give the shoulder some relief from the weight. It is a comfortable addition that also has a textured coating on the bottom to give it some grip. Setting the length of the strap is easy as well, thanks to a hinged clasp with a quick pull that slides up and down without much resistance.

The pouches for the laptop and the tablet are also lined for protection of the devices. In the laptop section, high-density foam is used on all sides to help protect a laptop inside from abuse. Dropping the bag from three feet didn't affect or damage the laptop inside. However, a much larger drop may not yield the same results. The foam is only three eighths of an inch thick, so it won't stand up to extreme abuse. Additionally, these areas have a softer 200g nylex inside of them to give the devices something softer to rest in.

Our reviewer took the opportunity to test out the Trust messenger bag during a recent comic convention in Seattle. During the trip, the bag was often filled with a MacBook Pro, comic books, art, soft cover books, chargers, backup batteries, a DSLR camera with strap, a stuffed bunny and a few more odds and ends. For as small of a bag as the Trust is, with all of these items inside, there was still room for more. Also, even with the bag being labeled the smaller size that should fit 13-inch laptops, a 15-inch MacBook Pro fit without issue.

It was also comfortable to wear, even with such loads. Either cross shoulder or worn at the side, the weight was never really felt after walking around for a few hours. Wearers would know that it is there, but it feels like less of a weight than, say, wearing a backpack would. The padded sleeve of the strap helps a lot, as does the ability to reposition the bag without much effort.

Being Seattle in the spring, rain was experienced on several occasions when the bag was toted around. From a light sprinkle to a moderate rain, the contents inside the Trust were kept dry. This is attributed to the water-resistant outer fabrics. Rain collected on the top and only needed to be brushed away, since it didn't soak into the fabric. On the off chance rain does get inside, the Trust has 200D water resistant poly on the inside that helps keep water from soaking into other parts of the bag.

Finding fault with the Trust was extremely difficult after the bag was carried around for four days. To find anything to fault, seriously nit-picky items have to be assessed. For example, our reviewer didn't like how the larger zippers meet up to one another. Small gaps for rain could conceivably get in, but none were observed during the course of the review. We also felt that the protective foam on the laptop compartment could form lumps because of how the the tablet pouch in the compartment in front of it sits.

The only real complaint that was found in the Trust was the size of the water bottle pockets. Nothing larger than a 17-ounce bottle can be stuffed in them if the bag is full. Even for those bottles, it requires two hands to shove in. Something like a soda can't really be put in unless it is a little crushed on one side. when the bag is empty, these items fit fine; but it seems like that wouldn't happen often in practical use.

STM's Trust bag is fantastic. It is hard to find a bag that is comfortable to carry around during a demanding trip like a convention that isn't rough on the shoulders, in addition to fitting the needs of everyday life. Even the small size as tested was able to fit a sizeable load that didn't have an affect on the user. Add in the waterproof materials that keep electronics dry from a moderate rain, and this bag becomes hard to overlook. At $129, the cost shouldn't deter anyone from considering this bag either. It is a bargain and well worth picking up for the daily flexibility it provides.

by Jordan Anderson


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