Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag Review

17You never really know how well a laptop bag is going to hold up until you take it on a trip; and thankfully I was able to really test out the Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag, $69.95, on a recent trip from New York City to Boston. And this was a rigorous test: I was carrying some serious weight with a suitcase, two purses, and a laptop on a bus. Carrying this laptop bag could have either left me hating life or made the trip that much better. And I’m happy to say that this Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag actually made the trip feel easier thanks to its even weight distribution and all the features of the pack itself.

The purple striped messenger style bag is split into two compartments: one side for carrying your laptop, and one side for your miscellaneous objects. The interior of the bag is padded with a soft felt material so you know your computer isn’t going to get damaged or scratched. Even the divider between compartments is made of this soft padded fabric to protect your laptop from whatever you may have shoved in the neighboring compartment. Once I eased my 15″ full sized Sony laptop into the computer carrying compartment, I secured it in place with the stretchy velcro strap that goes over the opening of the compartment. The strong velcro strap made me feel like the laptop wasn’t going to fall out if the bag turned upside down while under my seat on the bus. The other compartment of the bag is also lightly padded and features a zippered pocket for carrying smaller doo dads. So now comes the truth test: is the extra compartment going to fit the magazine, power cords, and various stuff that I like to shove in my laptop bag? The answer is: sort of. One of the benefits of the case is that it’s pretty slim so you’re not going to feel like you’re carrying around some huge bulky bag. The downside to this is that I might have to pack lighter! That being said, the second compartment fit various loose papers, a magazine, my power cord, and a wireless mouse. It was a tight squeeze but definitely doable.

So the bag is completely packed to the gills, and I’m ready to close it up and get going. Both internal compartments load from the top and the bag has a quilted fold over flap that closes the bag shut. The flap connects to the bag with Velcro and has the added security of a small buckle to make sure that nothing falls out if the bag is shifted. The Velcro is a great feature for when you’re in a rush and forget to completely buckle your laptop in — you know that your papers and doo dads aren’t going to be all over the floor because the flap will stay in place. On the front of the bag but hidden under the flap when the bag is closed, are three compartments for storing your cell phone, extra papers, or whatever else you may need to carry. The bag also features a mesh side pocket, which held my water bottle securely in place.

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There’s two ways you can carry this bag: one is across your body messenger style. The other is just to carry it on your shoulder like a shoulder bag. Unlike a normal horizontal messenger bag, this bag has a vertical orientation, so if it’s packed really tightly or if the strap is set to the wrong length, you may feel a little awkward carrying it. This can be easily fixed by adjusting the lengths of the straps. If you decide to carry it across your body or on your shoulder, the weight was pretty well distributed and I was thankful for the super padded shoulder strap. The padded strap relieved that “I just traveled on a bus for five hours” ache that is usually incurred with a standard bag. During the trip when I was reaching for my bag, I was happy to find that there is a tuck away carrying handle, perfect when reaching for the bag underneath your seat or just for added briefcase style portability.

When carrying my laptop is normally a huge burden, I felt much relieved when carrying it in this Speck PortPack Shoulder Bag. Almost an afterthought, the laptop’s weight was well distributed across my body and I had no problem carrying the bag around along with my luggage and purse. Well made and durable, I can see the case being my go-to laptop carrying case in many future trips.

The Good:
-Extremely well made and durable
-Combination of Velcro and buckles made me feel confident that my laptop wouldn’t fall out
-Added carrying handle made the trip feel that much easier when reaching for the bag under my seat
-Super thick padded shoulder strap for comfortable carrying

The Bad:
-Vertical orientation makes the bag a little more awkward than a normal horizontal orientation messenger bag
-With a 15″ laptop, it’s a very tight squeeze to use the bag’s additional compartment

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