One of the great thing about mobile technology is that it is, well, mobile. Laptop, iPad, phone, eReader — they all go wherever we go. And more and more that includes shuttling your gear between home, the office, and everywhere in between. Where do you look when you want to be professional but still stylish? Ogio has a strong contender in their new Manhattan messenger bag!
The Manhattan bag has what I would call a more feminine style. There are six decorative buttons along the front, very similar to the types of buttons on a nice suit. And the interior is bright white with multicolored dots, making it easy to find items while also giving the bag a splash of fun that breaks up the more traditional exterior.
Along the back, there is a pocket that has a quilted, padded style. The organizer panel is mesh and the interior liner material. Essentially, there’s a mix of design elements that make the exterior and interior far more visually interesting than the traditional black laptop bag. You won’t be embarrassed pulling out this bag while meeting with your boss, but it will blend in equally well with jeans on the weekend at Starbucks.
Functionally, the bag has quite a few excellent elements, with only a few minor flaws. There is a laptop compartment that is nice and roomy; I was able to hold an Ultrabook and an iPad 3 in that pocket with room to spare. There are lots of small pockets along the organizer panel; I fit my wallet, keys, two cell phones, an iPad stylus, and various small items like mints and gum without feeling cramped. There’s also plenty of room inside the main compartment to hold chargers, books, and any other loose items you might need.
The company suggests the padded back slot can be used for an eReader or tablet, but personally I didn’t like the idea of keeping either item there. Somehow, even though it was padded, it felt more vulnerable on the outside of the bag. I did find it very helpful for holding magazines and important pieces of paper though. And there is a zipper along the bottom for a Pullman handle, so you can slap the bag on your suitcase and haul everything as one unit if you aren’t using it to hold your iPad.
There’s a top grab handle, which I like quite a bit, as it makes the bag less awkward to pick up on the go. The shoulder strap was more of a mixed bag for me. The material is excellent and tough, almost like a seatbelt strap. I have no doubts it will last for quite some time. On the downside though, the strap is not removable and there is no additional padding, so it can be uncomfortable for very long periods of time. I found this to be a bigger issue if I had the bag slung over my shoulder while wearing just a thin shirt. Adding a jacket created enough padding that it did not bother me, so this criticism is definitely of the “mileage may vary” variety. I do want to note that I liked how the shoulder strap was positioned on the bag; both ends fasten along the back side of the bag, instead of on the ends, so it sits comfortably against your back without excess bouncing; that is a small but excellent design feature.
The main pockets of the Manhattan were great, but there were a few ancillary ones that left me confused. Along both sides are small pockets with flaps over them. One side is long enough for a water bottle, but it’s not wide enough to fit one in, so my only assumption is that it could hold an extremely compact umbrella. On the other side, the two pockets are the same width as the first side, but they have less depth. I used these to hold business cards, but they could probably also fit tissues or something equally small. They are as well made as the rest of the bag, I just wasn’t entirely clear on their purpose.
Along the front flap are two vertical pockets, but I found stuffing these with anything that bulged out made the flap difficult to close. Because the Manhattan uses two small ovals of Velcro to stay closed, these pockets were really only good for something flat like a boarding pass, since even sticking tissues in there was enough to shift the alignment of the Velcro pieces. I don’t mind the Velcro, but I do wish they had widened the amount of Velcro used so it would align more easily when the bag was overstuffed.
Despite these minor nitpicks, the Manhattan is a great bag. It holds a great deal of gear comfortably, it looks professional, and it has more style than the average laptop bag. And for only $65, it’s a bargain if you’re looking for a polished, professional, functional, but also fun way to take care of business!
MSRP: $65 from OGIO
What I like: Stylish; lots of pockets and organizer options; holds a laptop, iPad, cables, and anything else you could need; interior fabric makes it easy to find items.
What Needs Improvement: Side and flap pockets are not as useful; shoulder strap has no padding.
Source: manufacturer supplied review sample