Review: Booq Mamba Shift L laptop backpack

Short version: An excellent backpack for bloggers or the Batman. It has a ton of pockets and compartments, lots of space, a padded laptop section, and a water-resistant exterior. Its main flaws: no good spot for a big camera, and no readily accessible outside pockets.


  • Laptop compartment fits up to 17″
  • About a gazillion sub-pockets
  • Water-resistant outside
  • Wide-mouth cargo section for easy access
  • MSRP: $149.95


  • Comfortable
  • Roomy, lots of pockets for thermite, batarangs
  • Sleek and understated design


  • No good place for your DSLR and lenses
  • Few outside pockets
  • Expensive!

Full review:

At the end of Bag Week, we had just received the Booq Mamba Shift, and I didn’t want to give it a rush review. We were about to head to CES, and I thought that’d be a great place to put the thing through its paces anyway — so I did, and it performed admirably with some minor caveats. Before anything else, though, here’s the video tour of the thing that I put together, so you know what I’m talking about.

So I won’t waste your time with descriptions — you can see for yourself above and in the pictures just how it looks. I want to add the result of some hands-on time with the thing.

Basically, it’s great. CES is a madhouse and not only are you trucking around the convention center for miles at a time, but whatever bag you’ve got is going to be a mess of cables and devices. Luckily, the wealth of smaller, well-laid-out pockets on the interior of the bag made separating my card readers, generic cables, power adapters, 3G modems, and all that stuff easy as pie.

There’s a ton of padding and the straps are comfortable. No complaints there. The backpack itself is very well put together, having very few seams to unravel or edges to catch on things. The counterpoint to that is that there are very few outside pockets, so if you like having a water bottle or point and shoot within reach, you’re out of luck.

The main trouble I had with it was that it was not at all optimized for camera gear. The bottom of the cargo pocket is quite narrow, and had trouble fitting my Rebel XSi, which anyone can tell you isn’t a big camera. Furthermore, the pockets are obviously designed for separating small items from one another, not for carrying anything bulky — so if you want an extra lens around, it too will have to sit in the undefined middle space. Obviously this isn’t a problem if you’re not a photographer, but the result for me was that I had to carry my camera separately most of the time.

There’s also the issue of price. $150 is a lot to pay for a backpack, though the Mamba Shift L is both large and high-quality. So it’s not that you don’t get what you pay for, but whether you’re willing to drop the cash in the first place. Personally, I might save $50 and go with the Boa Squeeze.


The Booq Mamba Shift L is a terrific backpack for anyone who carts a laptop around a lot, but doesn’t need room for a camera. The L of course means it’s the large version, so if you have a smaller laptop it might be worthwhile to wait for an M to come out.

Booq Mamba Shift L