Booq describes their Viper courier as “somewhere in between a MacBook sleeve and a slim bag”. Yes, with this laptop bag you can’t carry much more than you would were you using a simple sleeve- and that’s the point. Slip in a laptop, a charging brick, a few key accessories and you are on your way.
The booq Viper courier is a minimalist laptop case that is “purpose-built” to protect an Apple laptop. Available in both 13” and 15” models, the Viper courier is part of booq’s Fibre Collection. That means it has a unique look you won’t find elsewhere and a balance of toughness and refinement that makes it perfect for someone looking to be both fashionable and practical at the same time. Priced at $99.95 for the 13” model and $109.95 for the 15” model, the Viper courier isn’t inexpensive but it looks great and does exactly what it promises. Here’s a look on video and a full breakdown of its features.
The first thing that struck me when I pulled the bag out of the shipping box was just how slim it is. This bag really is really a glorified laptop sleeve with a bit of extra storage. That is not, however, a knock on the bag. This is, after all, a bag designed for someone who wants to carry their laptop and a few key essentials in style. The exterior fabric of the Viper courier is an “innovative fiber fabric” developed by booq exclusively for this series of products. It is waterproof, organically dyed and has a “smooth yet rugged hand feel”. The result is a bag that both looks and feels great. It is tough without being rough. It is elegant with being delicate. Oh, and it is surprisingly light! The 13” version measures 15.4” by 11.6” by 4” and weighs in at 2.1 pounds. The 15” version is 16.7” by 12.8” by 4.4” and weighs 2.3 pounds. Both bags have an exterior of jute and an interior lining made of nylon.
Both exterior panels have open pockets. Neither is particularly large but they are there and can be used to stow a few flat papers or a notebook. The front pocket has a smaller hidden pocket that is perfect for an iPhone either with or without a case. This is great for keeping your iPhone close by and within easy reach if you aren’t throwing it into a pants or jacket pocket. More than anything though they strike me as a design feature and a place to stow the handles when they are not needed.
Speaking of the handles, they are made from nylon webbing and have a thicker grab portion in the center. There isn’t any padding to speaker of but the Viper courier isn’t the type of bag you will overstuff and weigh down. The shoulder strap is made from nylon and has the look and feel of an automotive shoulder strap. It has a removable sleeve that adds a bit of extra support when the bag is sitting on your shoulder. Like the handles, this doesn’t offer much in the way of padding but the Viper courier won’t be weighed down enough for it to matter.
The hardware used to secure the shoulder strap to the bag is one of the Viper courier’s excellent design features. They look cool and function well.
There is nothing “locking” the shoulder strap into place. Instead, a hook or barb at the end of the hardware’s attachment point keeps the strap from slipping off unintentionally. I tried to get the hardware to “accidentally” slip out but no matter what I did it stayed put. At the same time, removing the shoulder strap so you can just use the Viper courier with just the handles is as simple as positioning the “barb” so it won’t “catch” and sliding the hardware out. Smart… very smart.
Zipping the bag open via the YKK zippers reveals a simple interior space. On one side- the side that is designed to sit closer to your body when carrying the bag- is a padded laptop compartment lined with a soft material. It will keep your laptop scratch-free. This isn’t an uber-protective padded space but there is enough protection to keep your laptop safe from minor bumps and bruises.
Directly in front of the laptop compartment is an open pocket that is perfect for an iPad or iPad mini. Next to the tablet space are two pen or stylus pockets. Obviously the key here is simplicity.
The other side of the interior space has a zippered pocket and a key fob. This is where you would stow some papers or, for example, something like an Evernote Moleskin notebook.
Be warned. When a laptop, tablet and Moleskin are put into this bag there isn’t much room left for other items. Yes, if you need to carry much more than that you might want to consider one of booq’s other bags. If, however, you want to travel light this may be the ideal bag for you!
The final aspect of this bag that is worth noting is the Terralinq serial tag. This serial tag can be registered with the Terralinq service and, were you to lose the bag and some kind person find it, be reunited with your goodies. I like the Terralinq idea a lot but also think one needs to augment this system by turning on the “Find My Device” setting on all your Apple products. This feature from Apple has save me on more than one occasion.
The booq Viper courier is a neat bag that offers just enough features and an aesthetic that makes it stand out in an ever-more crowded market. It won’t be for everyone but for the Mac-user who is largely paperless and is looking for a stylish way to make it through the day this is a terrific option. I’m personally looking forward to using this bag once I trade my 15” MacBook pro in for the 13” MBPr. That will happen as soon as Apple updates the MBPs to the new processor and I can see this bag getting a good deal of use when it does. You can learn more and order yours on the booq website.
MSRP: 13” model-$99.95; 15” model $109.95
What I Like: Great, unique material used in construction; Looks delicate but is surprisingly tough; Handles retrace into the bag; Removable shoulder strap; Holds just enough but not too much; Excellent, unique hardware on the shoulder strap; “Secret” pocket for iPhone storage; Terralinq serial tag
What Needs Improvement: Only practical for someone who likes to travel light
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample