A few years ago I got a Macbook Pro 15” and used a Swiss Backpack that worked well but just never had any glamour or adventure to it. So I read a particular Gadgeteer review and I was hooked. Part of my screamed at spending such an amount on a Saddleback bag, so I spent much time debating and as always when I wanted something that was expensive I filed it away and told myself if I wanted it in a few months then I can get it. That is my own personal concession to impulse buying. Most of the time it works pretty well and often things pass after I have wanted them. So then I decided I wanted one. I didn’t want to pay retail and they appeared on eBay with some regularity.
I hunted and tried to snipe until I found one for 380ish that was in perfect condition, a large in this case. I bought it and eagerly awaited having a very nice, spartan, cool bag. I carried it every day to and from work for years, having a Macbook Pro 15”, charger, with various other small extras. Overtime it evolved into a Macbook 13” and thenfinally what you see here, iPad, Skullcandy Aviators and a Moleskine in the back.
Now that I have given you some history. Now time for the review.
Granted this are somewhat fuzzy since I have had the bag for several years. I remember being entranced by it, the mythos the color and the indestructibility of the bag. This leather was think, think of the thickest leather you can and then double that. The stitching is superb, heavy and thick and after several years of daily usage I can see no wearing. The clips are heavy duty and their are no zippers to wear out.
What can you easily put it in and how many nooks and crannies does it have? It is a pretty simply bag, one large compartment in the back, one large on int the front with two small pouches that I generally stick my iPad charger in and in the other any other small cords I need. Two small sleeves on the inside, two small sleeves on the outside I rarely use, and then in the large back pocket a hidden compartment I have never used. Finally there is pocket on the back you could put a magazine or notebook in. Guess what I put in there?
Compared to the Swiss backpack I had the saddleback is not as efficient. I tend to carry less with the saddleback since it is harder to dig into the bottom to find anything lose. On the flip side this forces me to carry only the essentials. On the flip side I have found I can cram two days clothes in the bag, granted it is almost busting at the seems but is handy when I only want to pack one bag.
Padding and Protection
To be honest it is minimal, the leather will almost never let anything pierce the leather and the seams where the leather is sewn together gives it quite a bit of structure. I generally left my laptops bare but my iPad gets wrapped up in the excellent STM case. Again it falls short of the older Swiss backpack I had. That backpack had a good layer of padding that wrapped the laptop. That being said I have tossed the bag into the back of the car and on the floor with nary a problem.
Perhaps in some distant future mutants in the post apocalyptic Fallout will be using the bag to store their fresh water and ammo.
If I look back upon it the Swiss backpack I had outclassed it in almost every category, its a 1/3 of the price, provides better protection, you can put more into the backpack and is more comfortable to wear as a backpack. You can wear the Saddleback as a backpack but I only did so once. That being said I would take the Saddleback every time, it looks better, gives a sense of adventure, people comment about it, and it just plain does not look like a laptop bag.