There seem to be nearly as many laptop bag designs as there are laptops – backpacks, sleeves, messenger bags and every variant in between! I have always preferred a messenger-style bag, but there is a trade-off of how much you can carry. Eventually it just becomes more efficient to lug around a backpack. But even within the messenger bag category there is a wide array of possibilities – and the STM Scout 2 Medium bag is on the ‘small & thin’ end of the spectrum. Let’s take a look!
Here are some of the features:
•High quality canvas fabric
•High density padding and self-repairing zippers
•Secure buckle closure for main pocket
•Front pockets organize keys, cords, drives, phone, etc.
•Slip pocket for paperwork and files
•Pass-through haul loop for easy access
STM bags ships their products in no frills recyclable packaging without any wasteful inserts or other non-essential junk. I look at it this way – if a product is meant to be used on a daily basis and take a beating, WHY do you need to ship it in foam? Exactly. I appreciate a company that uses real materials, is efficient in production, and eliminates waste wherever possible. Reading up on the company I liked them before the bag arrived – and liked them even more when I tried their products!
The centerpiece is the padded laptop compartment, which also has a folding-corner Velcro flap that will hold your computer in place and keep it dry and safe from rain or mishaps. In front of that is a full width pocket for storing papers, cords or whatever else you need. And in front of that are two pouches with the snap buckle for the cover between them.
Along with the pouches you get a zippered area to keep a few smaller items safe, because the pouches are not tight, so things can fall out if your bag tips over. Inside one of the pouches are clips for pens and a small area to tuck some business cards (remember those?), but the pen area isn’t big enough to handle a LiveScribe.
There is a fold-over cover that keeps it all together, but doesn’t offer any additional storage. But it is thick and adds extra protection and is long enough to cover the front pouch openings to keep things from falling out.
On the back there is a handle that is accessible through the front or back by a hole in the cover flap. Also on the back there is a narrow pocket where you can put some papers. This slot has a zipper on the bottom, so you can have it sealed for carrying papers, or unzip it and strap the Scout on your luggage.
My only concern with the STM Scout 2 is the amount of space – and it is just a concern. I took the STM Scout with me on a work trip last week, and separately brought a computer backpack. In the STM I was able to load up my HP Elitebook 8460p, put a few files and papers in the back, used the STM Cable Wrap to organize my AC adapter, iPhone charger, and external wired mouse. In the pouches I could put my iPad Mini and LiveScribe notebook and pen, PowerStick+ and a couple of USB flash drives.
That is a pretty decent amount of stuff, but the bag was definitely stuffed at that point. Getting rid of the iPad and putting the LiveScribe notebook in the paper slot on back provided a more balanced feel and less stuffed look. The reason I note a slight concern is that with just the laptop and Cable Wrap, the bag felt ‘just right’. That is also why I note my computer model – my Macbook Pro is slimmer and I don’t use an external mouse, so carrying those would be much easier.
Overall I really like the STM Scout 2; it blends great materials, a solid design, and enough storage for the normal office worker or light traveler to carry what they need for their laptop and smartphone use and perhaps a few extras before it gets too bulky. If you are used to a backpack you will feel cramped, but if you are looking for something stylish, small and light – grab this and prepare to reduce and reorganize what you carry!
MSRP: $69.99 at Amazon.com
What I Like: Great design; rugged; eco-friendly, usable storage; great protection for laptop.
What Needs Improvement: Small size requires efficient packing, might be a challenge for some (but also a good thing).
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
Here is my hands-on review: