Nylon vs. leather: picking the right notebook bag

Nylon vs. leather: picking the right notebook bag

Summary: Let me start off by saying that I have a bag fetish. I live for bags and love all the different options for carrying around my MacBook in style. Whether it's a shoulder bag, messenger bag or backpack, each has its place and specific application and place. A bag is a part of your wardrobe and should be treated as such.

TOPICS: Hardware
Let me start off by saying that I have a bag fetish. I live for bags and love all the different options for carrying around my MacBook in style. Whether it's a shoulder bag, messenger bag or backpack, each has its application and place. A bag is a part of your wardrobe and should be treated as such.

Nothing is worse than seeing a sharply dressed business man or woman schlepping an ugly-ass computer bag (usually in black) that SCREAMS "there's an equally ugly computer in here!"
People that know me know that I gravitate to nylon bags and generally prefer messengers (my current faves are Crumpler, Timbuk2, Waterfield, Chrome, Tom Bihn, Brenthaven, STM). But there are also a bunch of bags in the nylon family that I have yet to try (Booq, Incase, Axio, Marware, Spire, Tucano and Oakley to name a few.)

There are tons of options for hipsters and students that favor bags in cool colors on nylon, but what about business users? As I find my self getting a little older and having to meet with more conservative clients and professionals, I find that there's times when it's not really appropriate to drag along a sunburst messenger bag.

I have traditionally avoided the stereotypical "business" computer bags (Tumi, Samsonite, etc.) because they tend to look a little too generic. Instead I prefer conservative bags from traditional designers like Kenneth Cole and Cole Haan. There's also a really sweet leather bag from a company called Ghurka, but I can't exactly justify US$1,600 for their Garrison bag thank you very much.

So, my question to you, fair reader, is which bag do you use for your PowerBook or MacBook and why? Bonus points for sexy looking business leather.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Crumpler Wack-o-phone

    I did some serious research before deciding on the Crumpler
    Wack-O-Phone to carry my 12" PowerBook. I've been using it
    from the day I got the computer, and have been very pleased. It
    offers a decent amount of space, with all sorts of pockets. The
    protection it offers my PowerBook is amazing - very secure and
    very padded (I don't get worried stuffing the bag under seat in
    an airplane, nor do I wince when it falls off a table or chair). The
    colors (dark green/red) are hip enough for my taste and still
    passable in more conservative environments. I get compliments
    on the bag all the time...the only downsides: the 2 large velcro
    strips (they can be a bit noisy) and the relatively bulkiness given
    the size. The bag has traveled around the world with me and
    been a great companion. I'd definitely recommend the Wack-O-
    Phone, as well as any Crumpler product.
  • I picked a Loft

    I did a fair amount of research before buying my bag. I actually was looking for a small bag, which fit my macbook perfectly (I don't like 15" bags passed off as macbook bags), and don't scream "expensive computer in here". Ultimately I went for the STM Loft. It hasn't arrived yet, but I can't wait.
  • I picked up an ACME Made

    all-black bag for hauling my 12" G4 PowerBook or my 14" T42
    ThinkPad to client meetings in the downtown financial district
    where impressions are all. Jason is so right about the wardrobe
    statement 100%. In more casual setings or when I am going across
    town via subway, I use a sleeve with the goods in a regular Swiss
    nylon black briefcase that looks as common as common can get.
    For that upper-end client in the seedy, yet redeveloping end of
    town, out again comes the ACME Made and I call a cab. Simple.
    • Which Acme Made bag?

      Is it the Clyde?

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
      • Hi Jason: Actually it is what they call

        the 'Slim Cargo',


        in 'Ballistic Black'. One of my freelance Designers came in with
        one earlier this year and we were knocked out. It looks a LOT
        more impressive in reality than in the photos. Initially I was put
        off with this style as you usually see them in coloured fabrics,
        which to me anyhow, seemed a little 'too festive' (if you catch my
        drift). I grabbed a plain black one for more formal client
        situations. Like I said, the 12" PowerBook or my 14" T42 IBM fit
        comfortably, but as you know, they have sizes for near anything.
        This reminds me of one of my classic portfolio cases I bought in
        NYC about 20 years ago. I'm also amazed at how much stuff can
        go into these while still maintaining the slim profile. Be assured,
        workmanship and Fit'n'Finish is A-1 with Acme Made.
  • Best Business bag-12in Alum PB G4 + HPDeskjet460+

    Would appreciate recommendation for best business bag with following criteria: 1) Conservative business appearance, no backpacks, although they are more functional 2) Hold existing Aluminum 12" PB G4 (& later a 15" MacBook Pro), HP Deskjet 460 "portable" printer & supplies, portfolio & other office supplies, misc computer equipment, 3) Rigid divider to prevent heavy printer from damaging PB/MacBookPro, 4) roller bag preferable due to weight, 5) collapsible printer compartment, since it won't always be carried, 6) lot of functionality/good design.
  • InCase sleeve, InCase Moya Deluxe, and Kenneth Cole attache

    I love InCase & Kenneth Cole!

    (BTW, InCase's website is goincase.com, not incase.com)

    Apparently none of these are in production any more...but I have
    an InCase laptop sleeve (similar to http://macteens.com/
    index.php/features/fullstory/incase_powerbook_sleeve/ but
    without the lighter gray pockets, which are useless (we have one
    of these at the office)) -- all gray nylon exterior -- that I got in
    2001 for my PBG4, which I now use with my MBP. That case is
    simple, sleek, and elegant, all by itself. It looks like their current
    neoprene sleeve ... but with discrete handles and side yokes for
    a simple but comfortable shoulder strap.

    I use that sleeve when I just need the laptop by itself... But when
    other papers are in tow, I put the sleeve (without strap) into the
    pouch on my Kenneth Cole attache. It's a clean-lined, black
    attache, but with a large messenger-bag-style front flap and a
    single 3-digit locking clasp. (Sorry, the best image I can find is
    a similar looking: http://shopping.franklincovey.com/shopping/
    images/products/sml/26314_sml.jpg )

    And when I "borrow" my friend's 12" PowerBook, or an iBook
    from the office, it fits wonderfully into InCase's Moya Deluxe...
    incase_moya_deluxe_gearbag_review) one of the nicest most
    elegant side-sling bags I've ever had the pleasure to use. (It's
    also my day-to-day bag for various stuff...)

    I'm always on the lookout for nicer bags, too....but so far none
    have surpassed these three...
  • Real happy with Brenthaven

    I got a great deal on a Brenthaven 15" bag that just barely holds the
    Macbook Pro. Aside from the awesome quality, I really like the
    padded shoulder strap which rests on the shoulder in such a way
    that it hardly feels like I am carrying anything. It's great!
  • "Bashful Billionaire" Bag from Duluth Trading

    No nonsense quality build. A steal at the price.

    For slightly more nonsense, I also like my 2 Gusset bag from
    Rawlings (the baseball glove people). Yes, it's a bit silly, but its
    very well built. And just like that Rawlings glove you had as a kid,
    the leather just keeps getting softer and acquires a really nice
  • 17" Bag

    I prefer leather but also don't want the everyday laptop look-a-
    like, attache. It's also difficult finding a bag that accommodates
    my PowerBook 17" G4. I had success with a leather business
    bag from Samsonite until one of the metal clasps on the closing
    strap broke. I saw the Ghurka Barrister but it was fairly pricey. I
    ended up with one from Saddleback Leathers (http://
    www.saddlebackleather.com/). Extremely durable, flexible,
    numerous pockets for extras, and personal attention from the
    company president including care and lifetime warranty.
    Though they are sold on eBay, contact Dave direct for his regular
    pricing of $500 plus $18 for shipping.
    Clarence Grimm
  • MacBook Pro Bag

    I have had a WaterField cargo bag for years. So the sleeve was the
    perfect addition to it. I got mine with the optional flap and
    shoulder strap in case I wanted to take it by itself.
  • Crumpler Crisp Suit

    Crumpler definitely makes the best messenger bags. Followed a
    O'Grady reccomendation from the Powerpage, and while visiting
    New York got a chance to go to the not-so-new store. At that
    time, they were just installing the store itself, with a few of the
    aussie guys visiting, they let me in and were the most helpful.
    Highly recommended bag (I think they changed the name, but it
    fits a 17 inch powerbook)... And Highly recommended

    Now as a backpack, I think I'm gonna go get one of those nice
    Axio ones... Not very business-like, but they look great for
  • Actually I use a combo of two brands...

    I'm a huge fan of Brenthaven and I've had several of them. I
    currently use a 17" Pro bag. It's one of the ones that had a
    removeable carry sleeve. What I've done is use a Incase leather
    carry sleeve that has handles that tuck inside a pocket on the
    outside of the sleeve. It makes a nicer carry case when it is
    inconvenient to use the larger Brenthaven. But, I have to say the
    combo of these two cases it awesome. Just my two cents.
  • Oakley Computer 2.0

    I recently picked up the Oakley Computer 2.0 bag for my 15" MacBook Pro. The reason I like it is because it's a slim bag without room to overstuff it. The main pocket fits my MacBook Pro nicely. There's another zipper pocket for a magazine or some documents - but not too many. Finally, there's a flap covering the external pocket for those "slim" items you want to retriever without unzipping everything.

    This is a bag that reminds you not to carry too much junk with you. The bag hangs your laptop vertically, rather than the traditional horizontal approach.

    Like most Oakley products, it's made of durable cordura material and has a comfortable shoulder strap. It works for me.
  • Leather bag

    Friends, regarding leather bags, I have used the same Glaser
    Design A4 Flaptop Bag for 12 years.
    It is half the price of the Gurka bag and equal or better quality.
    The leather is the same as used in professional footballs.
    The older it gets, the better it looks.
    While the initial cost is high, the total cost of ownership is
    You can find it at glaserdesign.com.
  • RE: Nylon vs. leather: picking the right notebook bag

    Here is the thing... I love the big tough Crumpler bag my boyfriend brought me from AU last time he was home (he's Australian I'm Canadian - we live in Vancouver BC) BUT the nylon roughs up the fabric of whatever I am wearing just above my hip so I have ruined several favorite garments while doing life with said bag. If I cold have gotten purple leather instead I would have despite not being much into wearing animal skin. If I could invent a satiny patch for the giant rub spot and keep all the water proof integrity that would kick ass too... sigh.
    Edie Babe
  • Leather is the only choice for some professionals.

    Be honest - the bag you carry says a lot about you. If you are a professional who meets with clients (attorney, accountant, banker, real estate agent, loan officer, etc.), and you show up with a nylon bag - there is probably no harm there (unless the bag is a bright colorful one). However, you really make a statement if you carry a high quality leather bag. What is the statement it makes? How about this - "I am a serious business professional, I am worth every penny you are going to pay for my services." Here is a great place to look for these bags http://www.mensleathermessengerbags.com
    Randy Clarke