Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag – Notebook Accessory Review

Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag website image 3

I’m a huge fan of Speck’s various cases. On any given day there is likely to be a Speck case on my iPhone or my iPod touch and there is always a Speck shell on my MacBook Pro. I like the companies approach to design which, for the most part, is rather minimalist while offering superb protection and full accessibility to the device in question. Turns out, the company also makes some pretty slick bags for carrying your gear. They were kind enough to send me a review unit of their PortPack. I’ve been using it for a few days now and am rather impressed. Let’s take a look.

Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag

From Speck:

Like your sock drawer, you want your notebook bag to stay tidy. Ideal for toting your 15″ MacBook Pro or similar-sized notebook, PortPack’s clean, upright design, handy pouches and zipper pockets give you a well organized look no matter how jumbled your day might be. Whether you’re walking to work or meeting friends, PortPack keeps you looking cool and feeling collected.


Tailored to hold up to a 15″ or similar-sized notebook
Sleek, upright design for an ultra-clean look
Extra-plush micro-fleece padded notebook compartment
Media player pocket/organizer with headphone cord pass-through
Tuck-away carry handle and expandable water bottle pocket
Deep-well pockets, pouches and plenty of organizers
Adjustable, removable, padded seatbelt-quality shoulder strap
Convenient detachable key leash fob
Durable exterior with double-needle stitched bindings
Duraflex high-performance buckles
Extra-secure velcro and buckled front flap closure
One year Speck limited warranty
Fits notebooks up to approx. 1.25″x14.5″x10″

One of the things that is important about any notebook bag  is the amount of bulk and weight it adds to your person.  If the bag is too small or light it may not offer enough protection. If it’s too large or bulky, however, it may be difficult to carry on a daily basis. I’m happy to say that this tax strikes a healthy balance between the two. It isn’t much longer or wider than a MacBook Pro and it’s deep enough to carry a good number of additional items while maintaining a sleek look and feel.  Here are the actual dimensions —

Length: 11.75 inches
Width: 3.5 inches
Height: 16.25 inches
Weight: 2 lbs. 0.0 oz.

The materials used are of high quality and workmanship is excellent. There were no loose threads were crooked seams anywhere to be found. Having used it for a few days, it is clear that this is a bag that will hold up well even with a great deal of use and abuse. When you look at the bag it appears rather simple in design. It’s top opening with a flap that covers the entire front of the back. It is secured with one relatively sturdy plastic clip.

Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag back

On the back there is an open pocket that runs the length of the bag. This is good for carrying a newspaper or magazine or, in my case a Kindle (but soon to a Barnes & Noble Nook).  There doesn’t appear to be a handle on the back. In fact, when I first unpacked the bag it didn’t appear to have a shoulder strap either; it has both.


The connections for securing the shoulder strap are neatly hidden behind a piece of cloth on either side of the bag.


And the hand strap is hidden behind a zippered compartment on the back of the bag toward the top. It’s these small design elements that make this bag stand out.

Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag hidden water bottle holdrr

The only element when first looking at the bag is a zipper that runs halfway down one side of the bag. It opens to reveal a holder for a water  Bottle.

Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag inside closeup

Opening the bag reveals that there is a good bit going on. There is a pocket that runs the width of the bag and is about  a third the height of the bag itself. Inside is a cornered and connector for a keychain. As someone who often will lose his keys and spend time searching for them I like this design feature a great deal.

Above this pocket there are two smaller flaps. One opens to reveal a deceivingly deep pocket. It is 4 1/2 inches deep and 3 1/2 inches wide. Next are two pen holders.  Sadly neither is wide enough to hold my LiveScribe Pulse Pen.

The other half get in this area is also 4 1/2 inches deep. It is a bit over 4 inches wide and has a pass-through for headphones. It also has a mesh pocket on the front for the bugs themselves. Again, a tremendous amount of thought went into the design of this bag and it shows.

Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag interior with notebook

The laptop protection has a nice soft material. It holds the notebook snugly, and it has a Velcro snap which secures it so the laptop won’t slide out even if the main flap is opened.

Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag interior

The main compartment is rather cavernous and has a small pocket for holding items that would otherwise close to the bottom of the bag.

Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag strap

Finally, the shoulder strap is wide,  secures firmly to the bag itself and has a nice shoulder pad to make carrying it even more comfortable.

This is truly a bag that was designed by people who are on the go and carry a good deal of electronics with them. It’s simple enough for the outside but full of features that are not only excellent but are truly useful. This is not a “let’s throw everything and the kitchen sink at the stag to impress people”  bag.  Rather, it is a “let’s think through what features we actually need and then design a sleek bag around them” bag. The choices made in the process?? Excellent.

What I Like:

Great design, perfect size for holding a notebook and some accessories, rugged, lots of functionality

What Needs Improvement:

I would personally prefer a simple, solid black material but that is a small negative in comparison to the excellent design and features of this bag

The Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag is available for an MSRP of $79.95

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.