There is always a temptation to give products high ratings simply to return the favor and secure more free products in the future, but we’re talking about a $250 laptop bag here and I am going to give you my honest appraisal of the product.
WHAT I LIKED
–Durability: The shell is made of heavy-duty nylon that appears very durable. As my bag banged through the streets of San Salvador and Panama City I had no fear that my laptop would be damaged.
–Packing Cubes: Though not included with the bag, Packing Cubes are a great way to provide even more protection for your laptop (store them in adjacent compartments to the laptop) and conveniently pack clothes or shoes. In the past I have used plastic bags to store my gym shoes or dress shoes when I travel: Packing Cubes are a much better alternative.
–Design: Space is really maximized, especially the three zippers on the side. Plenty of space for your cell phone, keys, books, toiletries, and other knickknacks.
–Zippers: High-quality zippers that won’t snap off like many cheap bags.
–Size: Perfect size for carry-on, even for Ryanair and other stringent carriers. For Spirit Airlines flyers, this bag will easily fit under the seat, saving you the $45 carry-on fee.
–Center Compartment: In the center compartment there is space for a Brain Cell, a smaller laptop case that fits inside the Tri-Star bag and can be removed quickly for TSA screening or if you just want to bring your laptop into a meeting rather than the whole bag. Upgrd.com did not receive a Brain Cell to evaluate, but for an extra $60 it provides a stylish way to protect your laptop and and ease your airport security experience.
–Shoulder Strap: There is nothing I hate more than uncomfortable shoulder straps that rip into your shoulder and make a bag extremely uncomfortable to carry around your arm. With the Absolute Shoulder Strap ($30 extra), you can comfortably carry the bag for miles (and I do mean miles). Like the zipper, the snaphooks on the sides of the strap are of superior quality. This is probably my favorite product from Tom Bihn.
–Backpack: Although I found the shoulder strap more useful, if you don’t want to spend the extra $30 the Tri-Star comes with built-in shoulder straps that can turn the bag into a backpack (or be easily stored away in one of the bag’s compartments). Adjustable and perdurable, this is no ordinary backpack–this bag, even when loaded with a laptop and six pound Constitutional Law book, is not a burden to carry on your back.
–Toiletry Kit: This $20 accessory is great if you are tired of replacing your broken quart-sized Ziploc bags. There is plenty of room for your all your necessities and you won’t have to worry about being lectured by the TSA for using an improper storage container.
–Name: I never got a chance to fly on the ol’ L1011 Tri-Star, but I appreciate the classic name.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
–Color: I don’t like bright colors on bags and I thought the bold blue exterior and yellow interior looked too childish. But I realize some people like bright colors and Tom Bihn gives you the option of choosing blue, red, gray, or black. I definitely would have chosen gray or black if given the choice. For this reason, I will continue to use my black leather laptop bag when I must attend business meetings.
If you are in the market for a laptop bag, I highly recommend the Tri-Star bag from Tom Bihn. Most importantly, it will protect your laptop. But it will also give you plenty of space to store your carry-on items, double as a backpack, not be a burden to carry, and withstand the elements. What more could you ask for?
More photos and details here.