I love bags that transition effortlessly from the cubicle farm to the urban outdoors, a sack big enough to hold everything you’d need in either environment, but simple and compact enough to carry. Crumpler’s House of Horror laptop bag ($130) hits all those high notes, sliding quickly onto your shoulders as a backpack when you’re riding the subway rails to fitting snugly in your palm via two top handles that turn it into a business tote.
Like all of Crumpler’s bags, the House of Horror has an exquisitely minimalistic and chic design, and a lot of attention paid to detail. It also has a signature bizarre-yet-catchy name (I guess its shape resembles a haunted house… ) and a price tag that prevents it from being an impulse buy.
Available in two colors, gunmetal and rifle green, this laptop bag holds notebooks up to 15 inches but expands in practically every direction to stow a whole lot more than that. It measures 16.5 by 13.3 by 8.6 inches (HWD) and expands to 732 cubic inches. When empty, the bag weighs a meager 1.52 pounds, so it adds no perceptible heft to your load.
A zippered compartment in the front of the bag fits larger items, like books, a tablet, or your lunch. Just above it is another, smaller zippered pouch designed for quick access. Both front-side sections open wide, letting you easily peer into them and find whatever you may have dropped inside. Neither is a bottomless pit, an example of Crumpler’s fine attention to detail. And did I mention that both the fabric and all the zippers are water resistant?
Inside the main section of the House of Horror bag you’ll find a lightly padded laptop compartment with a single-strap Velcro closure. Opposite it is one more zippered half-sized pouch, similar to the one on the bag’s front top side, which I found ideal for tucking away cords, headphones, and charging cables while I was testing out the bag (I have many more thoughts on how to master bag organization).
You won’t find any other pen holders or tiny and miscellaneous slots inside this bag, which I actually appreciate, and other minimalists will, too. There’s plenty of room for everything you need, and not an inch of wasted space.
I carried around the House of Horror for a few days, both on foot and bicycle. I adore the two handles on the top of the bag that let me carry it like a classy tote. The backpack straps, on the other hand, weren’t perfectly comfortable. While I don’t have any major complaints, the adjustment mechanisms on the straps were stiff, although they’ll probably break in over time. Between the laptop compartment and the back of the bag isn’t much padding, which means the House of Horror conforms to your shape—unless of course you’re carry oddly shaped or off-kilter objects that jab you through that thin layer, which happened to me a little.
House of Horror’s main selling point is its style and size, and I do think it’s an amazing bag for trendy office workers who want to use the same gear bag on the weekends or when traveling. It would be a stellar “personal item” or piece of hand luggage in the airport.
I recommend practically any Crumpler-branded bag, and the House of Horror is no exception. Given the $130 price tag, though, you do need to fall in love with the design to make the purchase worthwhile. A slightly less expensive non-Crumpler alternative which holds up to 15-inch notebooks is the $100 Booq Mamba Daypack (4.5 stars, Editors’ Choice)—which has a very straightforward and unassuming look. And if the House of Horror’s style just doesn’t strike your hardcore note (or you have a massive laptop) try the all-black and very edgy looking Chrome Citadel Laptop Bag ($190, 4 stars).
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc