15" Messenger, by MacCase
Posted: 19-Dec-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: MacCase Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Steve Larsen Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The MacCase Messenger combines the MacCase Sleeve with a new lightweight, roomy, stealth messenger style shoulder bag. The trapezoidal profile design features a main compartment with a large storage area the gets wider towards the bottom (3" at the top, 6" at the bottom). Exterior, side mounted (easily reached) iPod pocket with integrated headphone pass-through keeps your tunes close at hand. Pocket cover flap keeps your iPod dry. Includes a heavy duty, 50mm shoulder strap.

Messenger Features

  • The front panel organizer has 7 separate pockets (1 zippered) for pens, cell phone, drives, media, a mouse, power supply, camera or keys.
  • Integral flat file pocket in the front flap expand storage options.
  • Not slip, "Sticky Fabric" shoulder strap pad.
  • Exterior water bottle pocket keeps you hydrated.
  • Dual locking cover flap keeps all your stuff safe and secure.


The Messenger works exclusively with MacCase Sleeves. The Sleeve uses a very dense foam wrapped in a metallic-looking nylon fabric.

Sleeve Features

  • Specially designed "MacCase Window" allows Apple logo to become part of the design.
  • Zipperless design will not scratch like sleeves with zippers.
  • Tough polyester wrapped pipping that surrounds the case on three sides and acts as a bumper absorbing small impacts.
  • A custom design to perfectly fit each MacBook, iBook and PowerBook.
  • Fully padded protection.
  • Interior lined with a soft touch velvet fabric.

The dual compartment Messenger and MacCase Sleeve are custom designed to perfectly fit the 12", 13", 14", 15" and 17" MacBook, Powerbooks and iBooks.

Price

  • MacCase Messenger w/MacCase 17" MacBook/PowerBook Sleeve - $69.95
  • MacCase Messenger w/MacCase 15" MacBook Pro Sleeve - $59.95
  • MacCase Messenger w/MacCase 13" MacBook Sleeve - $59.95
  • MacCase Messenger w/MacCase 15" PowerBook Sleeve - $49.95
  • MacCase Messenger w/MacCase 14" iBook Sleeve - $49.95
  • MacCase Messenger w/MacCase 12" PowerBook/iBook Sleeve - $49.95

This review is for the Messenger with 15" Powerbook Sleeve.

What You Get
The bag's main compartment is very roomy, padded, and incorporates a neon green lining ("BrightSight") that is very effective at capturing available light and illuminating the interior. BrightSight is a design vocabulary developed by MacCase that enhances their bags by reflecting ambient or direct light into the interior. This reflected light creates a bright, almost lit interior inside the bag, which allows for better organization, storage and retrieval of items placed in this area. This main compartment is roomy enough for a sleeved laptop, a binder, some folders and a textbook. The white divider attached to the rear of the interior makes for convenient storage suited for small and/or flat objects that you want to keep separated from your laptop.


Messenger with "BrightSight" Main Compartment


In addition to the main compartment, there is a slim zippered pocket in the front flap, 3 open pockets along with 3 pen pockets, and one full-width zippered pocket in the front (under the flap when closed). It also includes one side pocket ideal for a water bottle, and another side pocket with a headphones pass-through (perfect for iPod or other audio device).


Messenger Water Bottle Pocket


Messenger iPod Pocket with Headphones Pass-through

Every Messenger comes with a MacCase Sleeve designed to hold and protect your laptop. The sleeve has a clear window on one side, allowing the laptop's logo to show through. It also has a mesh window on the other side, roughly where the serial number might be located. The sleeve is lined with a soft velvety material which won't scratch your laptop.


The MacCase Sleeve



Sleeve Window for showing off Apple Logo


The back of the bag (where it meets your side or your leg when carried over the shoulder) has some extra padding by way of a breathable mesh foam panel. This extra padding provides more comfort when you are in full stride, as well as more protection for your laptop.


Messenger Back (fully loaded Messenger)


The shoulder strap is sewn down on one end and loops around a loose metal loop on the other end. The other end is secured with a buckle, and the strap can be shortened until the bag is right under your arm or lengthened so that the bag is against your hip or thigh. The strap is passed through a no-slip shoulder pad. There is no handle.

In Use
I have been packing a PowerBook since the 140 came out and using it as my main work platform whenever I could get away with it. I have accumulated a number of things to carry with it that comprise my portable office. I have been using the Messenger for several months, and it has carried almost everything I want to carry. This bag is pretty large for a messenger-style shoulder bag, but it was not large enough for all that I was used to carting around. To be fair, it carries most of my load, and I found that I don't really miss the items that I now leave out.

The bag is made from a outer nylon shell with very light padding between the shell and the inner Brightsight lining. The material has held up well during normal use commuting by car. I have not travelled by other means lately, but I suspect that the material would survive that as well. The padding in the bag is light, but the Messenger comes with an additional padded sleeve specifically for your laptop. The padded sleeve is intended to provide the bulk of the protection for your laptop.

There are two accessory pockets on both sides of the Messenger. One pocket is mesh, and suited well for a water bottle (that is what I use it for). The other side pocket includes a headphone pass-thru, clearly for an MP3 player (such as an iPod). Without an MP3 player, this pocket works pretty well for miscellaneous items (I used it for my Advil, toothbrush, and toothpaste).

The pockets in the front are patch style pockets (as opposed to cargo pockets). By this I mean the patch pockets are a layer of material sewn flat onto the rest of the bag. A cargo pocket is more like a box made of material that is then sewn onto the rest of the bag. An envelope can be easily slipped into a patch pocket. An AC adapter can be easily slipped into a cargo pocket. Placing a bulky item in the patch pocket causes the patch pocket to bulge out. Only the two accessory pockets on the sides of the Messenger bag are cargo pockets, so loading up the main pockets with bulky items makes this bag bulge awkwardly. Fortunately, I carry many flattish items that nicely filled out most of the pockets (the A/C adapter makes the full-width zippered pocket lumpy but it does fit).


Messenger Front Pockets

The zippered pocket in the front flap of the bag is best suited for flat and slim items. It folds over the rest of the bag with ease. There are two quick-release buckles that fasten the flap to the bag. The buckle straps are attached underneath the flap cover, and the release buttons on the buckles are just slightly concealed by the flap. This makes it slightly inconvenient to grab the buckle for release. As mentioned before, this bag will hold a decent amount of items for a messenger-style bag. When carrying bulky items, the bag begins to bulge in those specific areas. For example, when I need to move my "office" to another location, I tend to take my Powerbook along with as much stuff as I can carry. This would include items such as an ethernet cable, my iPod charging stand, two iPod cables, a calculator, and more. When fully loaded like this, the bag got a bit lumpy.

The Sleeve window is very nice for showing off the Apple logo on your laptop, but it also means that there is less padding in that area. The same goes for the mesh window in the back. Of course, you'd almost have to attack the Sleeve with a spear to exploit these areas. As far as incidental dropping or banging of the case, the sides and corners of the laptop are where the protection really counts, and these areas are fully padded. Note, also, that the back and front openings in the Sleeve are meaningful only if you insert the laptop in the correct orientation (to line up the Apple logo with the window). The laptop slips into the Sleeve quite easily, so it's simple to get the orientation correct, plus it's nice to have the logo show through (for those of us who have pride in our Macs).

The shoulder strap is integral to the bag. On one end of the bag it is sewn down and on the other it passes through a rectangular metal loop which allows it to fold back to an adjustable buckle. The metal loop is attached to the bag by a fabric strap that is just loose enough to allow the shoulder strap to twist. This means that through normal use, you end up needing to untwist the strap from time to time. The bag could be improved by using a rotating buckle that allows the strap to untwist itself. I sometimes like to replace the shoulder strap on my bags, and that is also not an option with the messenger, as the straps are sewn in. The good news is that these straps are fortified and secured well, and the shoulder padding is comfortable and adjustable.

In terms of handling wear and tear, the Messenger holds up pretty good. I drive to work most days with my Powerbook, sometimes moving to another building or two during the day. Sometimes I travel by bus or train. Occasionally I commute by bicycle. I also travel by plane on business. My Powerbook goes with me all of the time. The more of these transportation modes that my carry bag can support the better the bag works for me. This bag works really well for everyday commuting by car. I believe that it would also work well for bus or train commuting. I would prefer more padding before I would feel comfortable with it in the saddle bag of my bicycle.

Summary
The MacCase Messenger is a simple and functional messenger-style shoulder bag that can carry quite a load for the average road warrior. It's bright inside compartments make it easy to find things. It also includes the MacCase Sleeve that provides your laptop with some extra protection, as well as showing off your Apple logo through a window in the Sleeve. The Messenger is touted as a stealth-like shoulder bag, and when properly packed, it is exactly that. However, when you start adding bulky items like power supplies and iPod docks, the bag is less stealth and a little more on the lumpy side. With its patch style pockets, the bag looks nicer when loaded with smaller and flatter objects, like files, pens, and cords. The padding of the bag coupled with the padding of the Sleeve makes for adequate laptop protection for the standard commuter. I felt that it needed a little more padding before I would take it with me on my bicycle. The bag is quite comfortable with the side padding and the adjustable padded shoulder strap. On the other hand, it does not offer a handle, and the shoulder strap attachment could be improved to prevent strap twisting. For the average laptop user, the Messenger provides a nice lightweight bag for people on the go, is comfortable to carry, and provides decent protection for your Mac laptop, all for a very reasonable price.

Pros

  • Large main compartment
  • BrightSight makes finding things in main compartment a breeze
  • Lots of pockets
  • Laptop Sleeve
  • Good price


Cons

  • Pockets are patch-style best suited for flat items
  • No handle
  • Strap can bunch and twist
  • Could use more padding for more rigorous travel


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice