Had you told me not long ago that I would happily be carrying a murse I would have told you you were nuts. It’s not like I’m insecure in my masculinity but… there are limits. And the whole murse-thing crossed a line for me. That was then. This is now. The New iPad is so fast and the iOS apps that run on it have become so powerful, that it is now possible to carry the iPad instead of a notebook and not feel like you are compromising much- if at all. Yes, the iPad means there is now the possibility of truly traveling light. All you need for a portable office is the iPad, perhaps an external keyboard and a few miscellaneous pieces of gear. That’s it. Under 2 1/2 pounds of gear and you have everything you need to be fully productive on the go.

And here’s the thing, IF that is all you are going to carry why would you take a big, bulky bag along with you? You don’t NEED something big and bulky. Still, you do need some way to carry the iPad, keyboard etc. There are some garments that will get the job done. They let you carry the iPad in a large interior pocket- for example SeV offers jackets and vests that do that- but, for the most part these are more a gimmick than a practical way of doing things. Trust me, I’ve tried. So what you need is a super-small, super-light bag. Something practical. Something functional. And maybe, just maybe, something with a bit of style. You need… A MURSE.

I was already working on this post when we received an email about the “Evolution of the Bag: From Gourds to Laptop Bags”, complete with an infographic. Here’s a link to the post. (It is worth a closer look.)


The explosion in the tablet market has fueled the interest in small, light bags, i.e. “murses”. We’ve looked at a few “murses” and thought we might run down three of our favorites. Hence this first… MURSE-OFF!

The contenders…


The Waterfield Indy Bag

Judie recently recently reviewed the Waterfield Indy Bag. (Read the review.)

As she explained,

Measuring 10.3? wide x 12? tall x 1? deep, the Indy weighs 17 ounces empty. It is composed of tumbled and distressed leather which comes complete with scratches, imperfections and other miscellaneous markings; this means that from the beginning you can fearlessly use the Indy without dreading the day when you’ll inevitably notice the first scratch, ding or water spot. This is a bag that begs to be taken everywhere, and it is slim enough and simple enough that it can be carried by either a man or a woman.

And her conclusion about the $179 bag:

The Waterfield Indy is the perfect bag for anyone who wants a streamlined and fashionable way to carry their daily gear. Although it will appeal to those who like a rugged, outdoorsy look, I think that it will also look great on anyone who wants something “different” from the usual leather bag. The Indy has tons of personality, it’s extremely well made, and it has all of the special Waterfield touches that will make it a bag you’ll love to use.

What I Like: Ultrasuede front pocket is a handy place to carry sunglasses; dedicated Ultrasuede pocket for mobile phones is convenient; high visibility gold interior pockets make it easy to find items inside; plenty of pockets and YKK zippers to keep items secure; great unisex style

What Needs Improvement: I would like this bag even more if there were an option to order it with a matching leather strap


The Sena Messenger Bag for Tablets

I reviewed the Sena Messenger Bag for Tablets (Read the review.) and had this to say about the $149.99 bag:

It is small, looks nice and has the quality build we have come to expect from Sena. If you want to travel light and really want a quality leather bag to use with it this is a great choice.

What I Like: Gorgeous leather; Great construction; Special smartphone pocket on the back; Strong, bold hardware

What Needs Improvement: Small amount of storage makes this a bag with a rather specific purpose- going light; The Sena nameplate on the front is way too big

And most recently I reviewed the Waterfield CitySlicker MacBook Air Case. (Read the review.)

Here’s what I had to say about the $129 bag (as reviewed it was $144):

Here’s the bottom line with the City Slicker: It is typical Waterfield, and by that I mean it is thoughtfully designed and, as a result, it looks great and works well if you carry your MacBook Air and a few other items. It is well constructed and made of fantastic materials. That means it will hold up well through the years. (Seriously, the very first Waterfield cases I bought – long before I was reviewing their products – still look brand new.)

What I Like: Amazing quality design, materials and build; Good protection thanks to three layers of materials around the notebook; Sharp-looking; With the D-Rings and handle is makes a great mini-briefcase

What Needs Improvement: Limited storage; Snaps hard to close at first; Pricey

The conclusions:

This may sound like a bit of a copout but you can’t go wrong with any of these three bags. All are well-designed, beautifully constructed and remarkably functional. Each has a unique aesthetic so that alone may be the determining factor for you. But each also has its advantages in certain situation.

The Waterfield Indy Bag is great if you want to carry your iPad in either its naked state or in a fairly small case. It has some pockets for a few extras, has a main area that is zippered and has a special external pocket within one of the larger external pockets for your smartphone. It makes accessing the phone simple and quick. The interior area has the tablet space and two small, open pockets. The tablet area doesn’t offer any padding beyond the leather of the bag itself. As such, this is probably best with some sort of a case or slipcover.

It has a fairly rugged look that is definitely reminiscent of Raiders (I do love how the video offers up some silly rationale for the name that is not connected to the movie- ah copyright protection!). If that isn’t your thing this bag isn’t for you. If you do like a light, small somewhat rough-looking bag that will age well as it wear it is a fantastic option.

The Sena Messenger Bag for Tablets is the same width as the Waterfield Indy but a bit shorter. Externally it has a hidden pocket for your smartphone. That’s it. In other words, if you want super-fast access to your gear this bag is at a disadvantage compared to the Indy. On the other hand, the bag has a heavy cover flap that secures magnetically. The actual storage space is open beneath it which makes getting your stuff from it a breeze. Interior space includes a padded iPad space (ideally for a naked or close to naked iPad), a larger open space and a zippered pocket. Overall it offers a bit less storage than the Indy but is more protective. It is also more refined in its appearance but does look more like a purse than the Indy. (Although both are super-murse-y.)

This bag is great if you want something that looks a bit more professional, offers easy access to the gear inside but you don’t need quick access from the outside of the bag.

The Waterfield CitySlicker for MacBook Air is a bit different than the first two cases as it is designed for the 11″ MacBook Air (there is also a 13″ version). Still, it does fall into the same category thanks to its size, weight and design. It strikes both a refined and a rugged look, protects the 11″ MacBook Air beautifully. Storage is limited to a protective internal pocket that s a perfect fit for the 11″ MBA, four elastic pockets under the flap (two large and two small), and a large, zippered elastic pocket on the back. The version I got has a handle and D-Rings for a shoulder-strap. This makes it fall into the nurse camp. The bag can also fit an iPad although with a case on the rigidity of the bag becomes a consideration.

This bag is great if you primarily carry an 11″ MacBook Air but, at times, bring the iPad instead. It looks professional, is well built and, over all, is an awesome addition to my bag lineup.

So which wins this Murse-Off? Honestly there is no clear winner. Each offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Each Ensures you will travel light. Each is incredibly well-constructed. And each offers its own unique aesthetic. In short, you can’t go wrong with any of them but be warned- you may find it practical and like the looks but when you start carrying it people will still see it for what it is- a guy carrying a murse.

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