If you’re in the market for an inexpensive, lightweight, casual bag to carry your small laptop or tablet, and maybe a handful more than that, Ogio’s 13″ Covert Shoulder Bag ($69.99, direct) will get the job done. The handles on top let you carry it like a briefcase, although the vertical design helps the bag maintain its somewhat grungy look.
Available in all black or heather gray with black accents (shown), this vertically designed bag holds a laptop up to 13 inches. The laptop section has adequate padding, quilted synthetic fabric, and a single zipper closure, but no security flap to hold your machine snug. In front of that section is another central area, which has a wide hinging mouth due to a long zipper that wraps around on three sides of the bag. Pull down the front, and you can easily see the bottom of the bag. Two mesh pouches, three pen slots, and two tiny square sleeves sewn into the right side round out this area.
At 14 by 9.5 by 2.5 inches (HWD), this bag hovers between being a small and medium size. It weighs a scant 1.4 pounds. The maximum volume, however, is only 550 cubic inches—in other words, it doesn’t expand much, something I’ve seen in other slimline bags, such as the CODi UltraLite Laptop Backpack ($79.99, 3 stars). You can fit a tablet or small notebook, small miscellaneous items like a phone and some charging cords, maybe a book, but not much else. The bag works just fine when you know your load, but isn’t well suited for someone routinely stuffing her bag with gym shoes, a packed lunch, or a water bottle. The back of the bag contains a quick access area (with no closure) where you can tuck away slightly bulky items in a pinch.
Something about the look of this bag screams 1980s or 90s street-wear, especially the heather gray model that has an almost denim-like texture. Were you to have slapped it over your shoulder and rocked on into The Palladium in its heyday, no one would have batted an eye. In any event, it’s decidedly not a business bag.
A comparably sized bag that I personally love with more updated style sense is Crumpler’s Arnold Heist Tablet Bag ($105, 4.5 stars), although it costs a $35 more.
Given the Covert is a vertical bag, two top handles let you carry it by hand when you need to take it off your shoulder, a nice touch. The padded shoulder strap is quite comfortable, and the adjusters for the strap length are exceptionally smooth.
Another great detail that’s easy to miss: The very front of the bag has one more zippered pouch with a hidden slot for threading your headphones. As someone who’s rather fussy about bag organization, this feature really speaks to me.
You’ll do well with Ogio’s 13″ Convert Shoulder Bag under the following conditions: 1) the amount of stuff you carry day to day doesn’t change dramatically; 2) you’re into the urban street look; and 3) price matters. You’ll end up spending an extra $30 or $40 to upgrade to something significantly better, but a lot of price-sensitive folks want to keep their bag budget well below the hundred-dollar mark.
If you are willing to spend more, get the Arnold Heist Tablet Bag. If you need a bag that can handle a larger laptop (up to 15 inches), Crumpler’s Vegetable from Inside the Mountain ($145, 4.5 stars) is another personal favorite. The hundred-dollar Booq Mamba Daypack (4.5 stars)—which has a very straightforward and unassuming look—gets the job done at a lower price. Finally, if you have a very large laptop and are willing to spend a bit more money, consider the edgy all-black Chrome Citadel Laptop Bag ($190, 4 stars).
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc