1. Laptop ready
2. Relatively small
3. Look professional
I've had a lot of bags in my life. Some were big, others small, some backpacks, others messengers. When I go to conferences, I usually switch to an old soft leather attache case that has room for my macbook (in an incase sleeve). After I stopped conducting all the time, I switched to a backpack for my then new laptop. Now that I'm in the latter stages of graduate school, I need less room for stuff, and I'd like something that set me off a bit from my students while still having more personality than your standard briefcase. Having said that, I'm not sure if I want to give up the comfort of a backpack. Basically, I want a bag that is a lot like George Clooney: high quality; good looking; stylish; and well-built.
See what I mean? (source).
I've narrowed it down to three bags. Each meets my size and laptop requirements, and each has its own pros and cons.
The Incase backpack offers several features I love. It's slim and sleek, and has enough room for what I have in mind (book+laptop+charger). I trust the brand and it's relatively cheap ($80). On the other hand it's still a backpack, and I'm not sure it looks that professional. While certainly a step up from what I currently have, I'm not sure I would use it a conferences or (hopefully) job interviews while wearing a sports coat or suit. The guys over at Carryology, a blog devoted to bags (yay!), mention it in their list of favorite versitile backpacks. It's a fun, well written blog, and especially useful if you're into outdoor stuff like hiking.
One of the most all around impressive backpack I've seen so far the Tokyo Backpack has loads of great features such as locking zippers, numerous pockets, a great laptop sleeve, and includes a rain cover. Carryology gave it a rave review (with a few minor quibbles) and really made me want one. Having said all that, $450 (that's four hundred and fifty dollars in US currency) is a lot to pay for a bag, especially one that's made of synthetic materials and manufactured in China. I'm not saying that nothing good comes from China, just that I would like to know that my money is going toward well treated workers who can browse the internet for bags as easily as I can. I would probably use it every day, though I'm still not convinced of its conferenceability. What? That's a word.
This is the real deal. High quality Italian leather with wool lining, this bad boy looks like a really neat bag. It can be treated as a shoulder bag big enough for gym clothes, a laptop, and a book, or it can hold a 13" Macbook Pro (my next computer) and fold over on itself for a smaller footprint. I found one lengthy video review as well as another short review by Carryology. As mentioned in these reviews, this bag can be turned into a backpack, but the video review makes me extremely skeptical that I would ever choose to do that. It also has a really cool aesthetic and I'm sure I would be the only kid on the bock with one. Did I mentioned that this thing is $600? While that's a lot of money (read: shit-load), I would probably have this bag for the rest of my life. I suppose the question is whether I would always have a 13" computer. Probably, but who knows what the future holds?
So there you have it, my current bag wishlist. All in all, I might get myself the Incase at some point, and ask for the 2Unfold for Christmas or graduation or something. Ultimately, I don't spend a huge amount of time at conferences, and I could totally use the backpack for most of my regular life.