Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Should Your Next Laptop Bag Be a Bail-out-bag?

The concept of a bail-out-bag is simple. A compact, well organized bag to carry the essential things one would need if one had to evacuate on short or no notice.  I stumbled upon this concept while searching for a new solution to carry my 15" laptop.  In particular, I liked the idea of having a number of discrete pockets to help organize all the things I carry.  I was frustrated with conventional laptop bags that seemed so focused on style and not function; many not even providing a good solution for stowing a laptop power supply.

I became convinced  that a bail-out-bag (or its bigger cousin, the tactical briefcase) would fit the bill; and it does to a tee.  But along the way I ended up buying 4 of them and researching many others.  Here is a matrix of available bags and which size laptops fit in each:

Table of Bail-out-bags by vendor and laptop capacity



Boyt Tactical Briefcase (TAC100)
This is a great bag, well constructed and though out.  It holds my 15" Dell comfortably with plenty of room for documents.  Like most bail-out-bags it also has a secret compartment.  I particularly liked the fact that one of the end pouches is sized for a water bottle and has a drain grommet in the bottom.  Zippers are the primary closure method; all with top-notch pulls.  Zippers are much quieter than Velcro, but many bags  use Velcro extensively.  The only things that would make this bag perfect  In my opinion. are: an even lower price; more specific storage for pens, pencils, eyeglasses etc.; a couple of exposed storage slots and a key chain clip in one of the pockets.


LAPG Tactical Bail Out Bag (Bailoutbag)

This is a great bag, and a huge bargain as it is often on sale for $19.95.  It was so close to being able to fit my 15" laptop that I tried modifying it a little to squeeze it in.  If you own a 14.1" or an iPad, this may be your bag.  The only negative is that Velcro is the primary means of closure except for the zippered main compartment.  Even if your laptop doesn't fit it would make a great 35mm camera bag, an emergency kit bag, or, er, well....a bail-out-bag.  Too bad LA Police Gear only makes a jumbo version and not one in the middle of the line up.

As a side-note, bail-out-bags, having a military or quasi-military origin, all have room on them for an identifying patch.  This is my favorite one, and the one I display on my bag.

LA Police Gear Jumbo Bail Out Bag (LAPG-1119Jumbo)

When I couldn't get my laptop into the regular LA Police Gear I ordered their jumbo version.  I knew from the dimensions it would be big, but I hoped not too big.  It was.  It's better suited to a 17".  Like  the regular version it's a real bargain at $29.95.  Again, warning on the use of Velcro.  If you have to open a pocket during a meeting, everyone will know you are opening a pocket.

Airsoft Utility Briefcase Shoulder Bag (AS1674)

I was so excited when I stumbled across this bag as an accessory item in the Hong Kong Airsoft Club's online store..  On paper it seemed to be the missing middle bag that LA Police Gear should have made.  At $34.99 it was priced right (but shipping from HK brought it up over $50).  I was so disappointed when I received it.  I had the LA Police Gear products side-by-side with it and other than it's desirealbe size it was lacking in every other dimension.  The material was lightweight and floppy.  The bag wouldn't hold its shape.  The stitching an general construction was inferior.  The pull tab were no more than bits of shoe-laced size rope; some not tied and none heat treated to keep the ends from fraying.

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