SNEWS Outdoor Winter 2010 web extras: In search of the perfect laptop bag

In the fall of 2009, we asked more than 30 well-travelled executives from all walks of the outdoor industry to reveal their favorite laptop bags. And whoa-boy did we hit a nerve when we queried about the “one coveted feature you have not found yet in a laptop bag.”
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Check out this expanded magazine extra from the SNEWS Outdoor Winter 2010 issue. To download the full issue, starting in early February, go to www.snewsnet.com/magazines.

In the fall of 2009, we asked more than 30 well-travelled executives from all walks of the outdoor industry to reveal their favorite laptop bags. And whoa-boy did we hit a nerve when we queried about the “one coveted feature you have not found yet in a laptop bag.”

One CEO told us, “Every OR show, I troll around looking to see if I can find one laptop bag that will really fit my needs.” And she was not alone. Many executives told us they actually own multiple laptop bags, packs and briefcases they will interchange depending on need.

Among the favorite brands touted by outdoor industry execs are Louis Vuitton, Tumi, Osprey, Arc’Teryx, Bjorn, Haiku, Sherpani, Overland, Coach, Patagonia, Timbuk2, Eagle Creek, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Swiss Army, Tom Bihn and Briggs & Riley. More than a handful noted relying on a Kelty daypack and stowing a computer in a neoprene or other padded sleeve inside the pack.

No brainers that any bag must have? A padded compartment for a computer that is correctly sized or resizable; durable matters; organizational pockets; compartment for easy-access to an MP3 player; pockets and spaces for other small items like a cell phone (or two), business cards, electrical cables and other small items; an exterior pouch or two for quick stowage of items; and a place to organize file folders and the piles of paperwork we seem to generate in our supposedly paperless society. Though none of the men in our group mentioned it, the women unanimously applauded any bag that used materials that were durable but do not cause clothing to pill or show wear after rubbing against it. Nothing worse than wear marks on a dress, suit or blouse from a bag.

What is that ONE most important feature everyone seems to be asking for? Power supply management, plain and simple. We’ll take a stab at this, but if anyone could create a system that would allow a power cord to remain plugged into the computer, and be quickly deployed and stowed at airports, lounges, offices, etc., there would be applause all around. But wait…we’re not done. There should also be a means to plug in a mobile phone and other devices needing recharging when on the road. Other coveted features included a built-in pocket for noise-quieting headphones; and an easy-to-access external, secure pocket to manage travel documents -- boarding passes, rental car and hotel confirmation documents, passports, etc.

Sign of things to come? Who needs a laptop bag when you have a smartphone! Multiple globe-traveling executives told us they don’t travel with a laptop anymore unless they absolutely must, simply because they can do most everything -- other than write long memos and letters -- on an iPhone or Blackberry, and even long memos are becoming easier.

--Michael Hodgson

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