Monday, November 21, 2011

The Perfect Bag

My laptop case, just three months old, is close to death. The outside is tearing apart as the strain of a laptop, a couple of paperback books, a Kindle and countless other electronic ephemera is taking its toll on the poor thing's fabric. And so I can see, as its demise creeps over the horizon, that I need a new bag.

I've put some thought into this, and there are various things I require from a laptop bag, some of which the current one fulfils quite well, while others (not falling apart in less than a year) it does not.

It needs:
  • A separate, padded, zipped compartment for the laptop, with a velcro strap inside to hold the laptop tight. That way it will be easy to remove at security checkpoints, and not slide around haphazardly while I'm walking.
  • A second compartment for almost everything else: books, chargers, headphones (which come in their own, paperback-book-sized box). This shouldn't be zippable, but have a flap covering it, secured by two fasteners. A velcro strip would be nice, but not completely necessary.
  • Two pockets on the covering flap, one long and narrow, to hold a boarding pass and a passport, and the other, oblong, to take a Kindle. Actually, since I'm going to be tempted to stuff all sorts of stuff in the outside pockets, rather than root through the bag, that oblong pocket needs an internal divider so it will easily accomodate two or three swipe cards for the office and public transport, and perhaps my wallet, or at least a few cards.
  • The inside of the bag needs to be a bright colour, because nothing is annoying like searching for a black USB memory stick on a black background. In the dark.
  • Under the flap, on the outside of the compartment, some more pockets: two zipped pockets, to put change and the other for SD cards. Two pen holders. A pocket with a plastic window, for my business card to peek out of, if the bag loses its owner and needs identification. And one more pocket, to hold USB cables.
  • Back inside the main compartment, there should be a hook to hang keys off, and some way to secure my charger, so I don't open the bag to find the cables are strangling everything else in there. I don't want the bag to be full of dividers that get in the way when I'm not transporting my laptop, so the charger pocket should vanish when it's not needed. Perhaps it has a concertina edge to it, and a drawstring top, so when the charger isn't there, it vanishes. I'd like somewhere to put my sunglasses where they won't get squashed or scratched - another pocket, with a bit more rigidity? Perhaps a tube, like the kind you use to protect an SLR lens. Mind you, pace the charger pocket this shouldn't be conspicuous when it's not in use.
  • Straps and handles. It needs a wide shoulder strap (an inch and a half, I think) with some padding to keep it comfortable. There should be a handle on the top to aid with hefting, and two elasticated straps on the back to secure it to the handle of my rolling suitcase. I only ever see bags with one strap but I'm paranoid about that sort of thing.
  • A waterproof cover. If it rains, I don't want to be carrying around a recently soaked laptop. It would also be good if I could put it on the floor and not worry about damp getting in the bottom.
What it shouldn't have:
  • Protruding edges. Bits of fasteners or loops or zips that snag on things.
  • A shoulder strap that squeaks because it's attached with some cheap plastic hooks.
  • Too much plastic. I want a bag that doesn't look like it was fashioned from the jacket of a recently deceased snowboarder. Lots of pockets, yes, but I don't need a bag that shouts about how great it is.
  • Saggability. The bag shouldn't wheeze and develop a paunch as I stuff things into it. That's my role. The bag needs to keep its shape.
  • The ability to fall apart in less than a year. This is very important. My bags come in for a fair amount of abuse, stuffed under seats or under feet or between other bags or on top of mud-soaked bicycles, so something delicate, or something that shows every scratch and scrape and scuff mark, is not going to be satisfactory in six months time.
I'll go foraging for laptop bag bliss this week, and report back if I find anything. In the meantime, anybody fancy trying to build it?


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