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Laptop bags to protect that prized possession

Alex Miller
Special to the Daily Timbuk2's Track Daypack is a modest-size backpack-style laptop carrier great for everyday use.
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As they’ve gotten lighter and endowed with longer battery life, laptop computers are more and more likely to be hauled just about anywhere by their owners these days. While it may not be the kind of thing you want or need to take skiing, it’s not uncommon for valley folk to haul them on bikes or by foot, car, bus or – who knows? – snowmobile.But the last thing you want to do is drop that $3,000 Mac PowerBook as you’re getting out of the car. That’s why we took a look at some of the better bags out there made specifically for laptops.

Timbuk2 out of San Franciso makes a variety of tough, cool-looking bags for a variety of needs and computer sizes. The Commute “messenger”-style bag ($100) fits a 15-inch laptop nice and snug in its padded compartment. A Velcro strap over the laptop slot ensures greater security, while rubberized padding on the bottom and back of the bag provides extra protection against bumps, drops and stains.This is a nice bag, an obvious step above the kind they give away free at work or those available for $40 or $50. Made of ballistic nylon (not sure what that means, but sounds cool), the Commute has features like exterior water-bottle compartments, removable shoulder and waist straps, a padded handle, waterproof top flap, cell-phone pocket and plenty of places to store pens, keychains and the like.

Another neat product from Timbuk2 is the Track Daypack ($90), a backpack-style laptop carrier that incorporates many of the features of the Commute into a sleek package. Divided into two main compartments, the Track holds a medium-size laptop in one zippered area while the outer space has an organizer for pens, cell phone, iPod, keychain, etc. There’s also a slot to poke your headphones out of.The Track is a good pack for everyday use – especially for those who commute to work on a bike or a bus with their laptop. Its lack of waist and sternum straps, though, wouldn’t make it a good choice for more active uses.All Timbuk2 bags are sharp-looking, sturdily built in trademark bright colors and three-panel stitched design. Check out timbuk2.com for the complete line or to order. Timbuk2 bags are also available at the Bag & Pack Shop on East Meadow Drive in Vail.



Another high-quality bag comes from Boulder-based Spire, whose stuff is available online at spireusa.com.Spire focuses exclusively on laptop bags and packs with a short line of notebook sleeves, messenger-style bags and backpacks. For an upcoming trip to Italy to cover the Olympics, our sports reporter Shauna Farnell was happy to stick her Dell laptop in a Zoom pack ($120).

The Zoom is made of sturdy nylon with extra padding in the bottom to protect the laptop. It comes with a waist strap and a contoured design, which makes it a good fit for someone (like Shauna) who plans to ski with her computer. The pack has plenty of extra pockets, a good-sized main compartment and even an iPod slot with a grommet up top for sticking the headphones through.Another nice thing about this pack is that it contains an extra laptop sleeve complete with handle and strap, so you can leave the pack behind if you want and just take the computer. Spire laptop backpacks go up in size and price from here, all the way to the big travel pack Meta ($180).



Also from Spire, the messenger Endo bag ($80) is similar in style to the Timbuk2 Commute but with that extra laptop sleeve inside and a slightly different design. Not quite as heavy as the Timbuk2, the Endo has a nicer (padded) shoulder strap and a slightly larger main compartment. It’s also got some handy exterior places to stash stuff – a zip pocket and a mesh pocket.The big difference between the Endo and the Commute is the latter is a little easier to use if you don’t want to be bothered with the extra sleeve. Both fit a computer like an Apple 15-inch PowerBook very nicely, and both offer the kind of extra protection you need in a laptop bag.Finally, if it’s a less-expensive, larger backpack that you need, the Targus “Sport Deluxe” isn’t a bad choice. It’s not as cool looking as the Timbuk2, but at $79, it’s pretty reasonably priced and has enough room inside for the largest laptop. It’s also got sternum and waist straps, a cell-phone pocket, water-bottle holders, and zippers and stash spots all over the place.

Targus bags are available at targus.com and at stores like Office Max and Staples.

Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or amiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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