Short version: Beautiful and well-made, but somewhat restrictive space-wise (especially the twee XS), these premium bags are great for the pro on the go, but not really for any kind of travel. Do you like the slick black style for your laptop bags? This one is probably the sexiest out there right now.
I had my eye set on this series ever since it was announced, and I’m happy to say that the bags have lived up to my expectations. I should say that I mainly tested the Courier M and only gave the XS a little bit of use since, to be honest, the XS is a murse. And I’m not a murse guy.
The exterior is a nice, regular nylon weave of the weight you’d expect on a travel bag. It’s thick and the bag retains its shape while still being flexible. The rubberized bottom looks almost identical to the nylon, but it’s thicker and feels very durable. I would have no problem dragging this thing along in the dirt, or putting it down on a wet street. The handle is covered in leather and feels very sturdy. The back of the bag has a sort of open pocket, and the bottom of the pocket unzips, allowing you to hitch the bag to your rolling luggage handle. There’s one pocket underneath the main flap (which fastens with velcro) with a nice orange color inside, but unfortunately no external pockets that I could discover.
The nylon strap was quite long enough for me, and has an excellent (and removable) shoulder pad with a grippy pattern on it. The strap attaches to the bag vertically, which is a bit weird and caused a few extra twists here and there, but in the end it’s good ergonomically. Attachment stitching seems solid, and I couldn’t cause it to stretch or tear by pulling hard in the “wrong” direction.
Inside the bag there’s a different texture and color: a sort of beige or off-white with a glossy, luxurious finish. It looks and feels nice. There are two notepad-sized pockets that can fit a charger, phone, or what have you. The main compartment really isn’t very big, however, especially when you’ve put your laptop in. I have bags that don’t look much bigger yet seem to hold twice as much. The extra trim, double-layer material, and stiffness of the bag contribute to a slightly restricted feeling inside, but really you can still fit your laptop, a charger, your phone, a couple pens, and a few medium-sized books or a pop can in there. I wouldn’t use it to go shopping, though.
The laptop compartment will fit up to a 15″ laptop, and is designed with the MacBook Pro in mind. The sleeve really is a wonderful little thing: it’s extremely soft, with a slick texture that lets your laptop slide in and out easily. There’s a very distinctive quilted pattern that protects and looks cool. The inside of the sleeve is the same orange color as the outside pocket — again, it’s distinctive and attention-grabbing yet tasteful.
Every Booq bag comes with a Terralinq ID, so if by some chance someone finds your lost bag, they can alert you via the Terralinq service. Handy, but let’s hope it’s not necessary.
Everything I’ve said regarding build and style applies equally to the XS version. But, the XS being essentially a Murse, my criticisms regarding space apply doubly. That said, it’s obviously not meant to be a serious cargo bag, since iPad-carriers are generally going after a minimalist thing. So there’s a slot for your iPad (or a slim netbook), though if you have a bulky case, it might not fit. The Mophie Workbook Folio I use barely made it. Your mileage may vary. There’s room outside the slot for a phone in the little pocket, and a charger or medium-sized paperback in the main area. It’s really pretty small in there.
The compact size really makes this thing feel even more solid, though, and the leather flap is very “executive.” If you’re the kind of guy (or girl) who just likes to carry your iPad and a book or something around, this little guy could be a good solution.
Now we get to the price. $195 and $145 — serious money. Personally, I’d say it’s worth it for the larger M but not for the XS. The XS certainly deserves that price, I should say, but I don’t think you should pay it. It’s just not providing very much utility, in my opinion, and there are other compact and stylish bags out there. The Courier M on the other hand is, I think, a worthwhile investment. $200 is significant but not unreasonable, and this thing really is a live-forever bag. Booq’s minimal exterior style isn’t for everyone, but it’s seriously classy, durable, well-designed, and the sexy little laptop sleeve is just a bonus.