Crumpler has quickly become one bag-making company whose work I truly admire. Every bag is designed exquisitely in both form and function for a particular type of consumer. Its bags aren’t cheap, but that’s practically the only negative thing I have to say about them. One of its newer styles, called Vegetable From Within the Mountain ($145 direct), lives up to Crumpler’s reputation and may be my favorite new release from the company this year. From afar, this blue knapsack looks decidedly too simplistic, but up close, it strikes the perfect balance of style and curiosity for the intentionally understated tech-savvy individual with a 13-inch laptop.
The Vegetable’s inspiring design starts with lightweight yet rugged material in solid colors: a deep royal blue outside, which contrasts with an energetic turquoise inside. A single pink dot on one external zipper perks up the otherwise solemn look. And thicker black fabric from the back of the bag wraps underneath the bottom to better protect the Vegetable when you set it on the ground.
Three bonuses come included: a turquoise drawstring pouch (intended for gym shoes, although infinitely functional for other bag organization tricks), a spring-loaded pink key clasp with a rubber water bottle holder, and a black-and-pink-accented padded headphone case. All told, the bag measures 17.7 by 13.4 by 9.4 inches (HWD) and weighs a scant 1.57 pounds when empty. What’s more, the Vegetable expands handily to 915 cubic inches. What couldn’t you fit in that space?
The Vegetable suits minimalists to a tee. The interior has a padded laptop section for 13-inch notebooks or tablets, with a wide Velcro closure, and on the front of that is a half-sized zippered pouch where you can tuck away various charging cords and cables. One more pouch adorns the outside of the bag skirted off to the side (it’s the one with the fleck-of-pink zipper toggle). And that’s it for pockets, pouches, and enclosures—enough for everything you need, and nothing wasted.
Wearing the two-shoulder-strapped Vegetable around town on foot and bicycle, it felt extremely comfortable on my back. The fabric feels rugged. The bag added no perceptible weight to my load. The shoulder straps adjusted to easily fit my gangly arms and narrow shoulders.
As I mentioned, I’ve fallen in love with the Crumpler line, and price would be the only thing to hold me back from gushing any further about this bag. After all, $145 is no small chunk of change, so you’ve got to really love the look of this bag before committing to it. The attention to detail couldn’t be more thorough, though. Even main zipper is protected by a hood of fabric that folds back so it never gets caught. All that earns the Vegetable From Within the Mountain our Editors’ Choice. A slightly lower priced Crumpler model that I also love, and which also earned our Editors’ Choice, is the Crumpler Arnold Heist Tablet Bag ($105, 4.5 stars). Another alternative that we loved and which holds up to 15-inch notebooks is the hundred-dollar Booq Mamba Daypack (4.5 stars, Editors’ Choice) . And if the mountainous blue of the Vegetable doesn’t strike your hardcore note, or you have a massive laptop, try the edgy Chrome Citadel Laptop Bag ($190, 4 stars), designed to withstand the turmoil of urban bicycling with any size notebook inside.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc