Most Mac professionals know the value of a trusty laptop bag. In addition to toting a cell phone, wallet, keys, magazine, power cords, and maybe a book or two, business travelers also need to pack their Mac laptop. I've found business travelers possess strong opinions when it comes to the best attaché. I've also learned most mobile warriors are unaware of two firms whose bicycle messenger roots ensure the authenticity, reliability, and dependability of their bags: Chrome Industries and Timbuk2.
I've been using both brands for over a decade. Both companies build first-rate products.
Timbuk2 durability is impressive. I've used the firm's laptop and messenger bags and its backpacks, many of which feature laptop-specific compartments with hammock- or sling-like construction to protect the computer from jolts when the packs are placed on the ground or dropped to a table. Timbuk2 is so confident in the quality of its products that it provides a lifetime warranty, backing its craftsmanship. While I've purchased several Timbuk2 bags in the past decade, like many T2 fans, I've done so because I've chosen new designs, styles, and colors, not because an old bag has worn out or broken.
Timbuk2's TSA-friendly $119 (USD) Commute Laptop Messenger Bag comes in several sizes (small, medium and large) and numerous colors (including all black, a navy and blue combination, and a diablo dessert-like style). Most models in the line feature durable nylon material, although a more upscale-appearing polyester canvas is available in a lighter-colored version with limestone green piping or in brown with black accents.
The T2's internal organizer holds writing instruments, your phone, and other small items, while a large internal pocket can hold books, newspapers, a loose iPad, and more. The bag's padded laptop/tablet compartment leverages a high-density foam sleeve and quilted fabric to protect the computer. The medium-size bag is well suited for most daily use and comfortably accommodates a standard 13.3" Apple MacBook Pro. Timbuk2 maintains a Device Fit Guide to help match your specific Mac computer to its bags.
If you need a plethora of pockets and can't sacrifice durability or build quality, Chrome's Mini Buran deserves consideration. The $140 (USD) messenger bag comes in two colors, black with a red accent or black on black. While the Mini Buran is smaller (the Buran boasts more space for $20 more), it'll hold a 13"-series MacBook Pro in its integrated and padded laptop sleeve. And, like Timbuk2, Chrome bags carry a lifetime guarantee.
Getting in and out of a car, train, bus, or plane is easy with the Chrome, because it includes a briefcase-style handle and a shoulder strap (as is true with the T2 bag). The Mini Buran also includes a number of pockets and compartments, making it easy to separate notebooks, your Mac, power cords, your phone, pens, and even keys.
One Chrome claim to fame, other than its legendary durability, is the noteworthy seat belt-like buckle release on the shoulder strap. A seeming gimmick, the manufacturer learned of the design's functionality and advantages building bicycle messenger bags proven in the streets of San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City. I've found the quick release frequently comes in handy when moving around the office, arriving home or quickly attempting to unload and begin unpacking my equipment in a client's office.
You can't go wrong with either option. Both manufacturers offer outstanding builds, features, and protection. You'll just have to determine which best matches your styling preferences and fits your Mac. While Timbuk2 offers the fit guidance mentioned earlier, within the Features tab of the Buran line, Chrome lists the largest Mac the bag accommodates (a 13"-series model with the Mini Buran and up to a 17" MacBook Pro with the larger Buran).
Do you use another model that you think is just as good or better? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below. It's always enjoyable to learn about options that have served other professionals well.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.