The best computer bag I've owned: STM Journey

My STM Computer Bag

It has rolled over the sands of Israel. Kept my computer dry in the middle of a New York downpour. Been dragged through more than three miles of the snows and mud of Davos, Switzerland. Held my laptop and a loaf of bread in Paris, France. Kept my computers safe in the Red-Light District of Amsterdam, has visited many other cities and countries around the world. Been to dozens of airports and overhead bins. Its wheels have seen so many miles that they have been noticeably worn down.

It’s been dropped out of the back of a van, been kicked many times loading into planes and other places, squished by all our other camera gear at times, and suffered a lot more in cities around the world.

But there’s not a stitch missing. It is simply the best computer bag I’ve ever owned.

What is it? A STM Journey bag. Why don’t I carry a backpack or a single-strap shoulder bag?

Because I have a bad back and want to keep extra weight off of my back, especially in long walks like the one I took with Mark Zuckerberg back in January through the town of Davos.

Yes, I always look like a tourist. People ask me all the time if I’m going somewhere. I explain why I use a bag that looks like carry-on luggage. It saves my back.

Wheels are one of man’s greatest inventions and because I rarely lift my bag off of the ground I am just fine with packing it full of digital camera gear, extra batteries, and sometimes two laptops, along with tons of cell phone gear.

I love my bag and won’t easily give it up. I wish all my gear took so much abuse in stride.

What is your favorite computer bag?

Comments

  1. i gotta be honest here – i got a bag at seybold in 2000 in san fran and have used it since – i love it – it’s not super heavy, has loads of pockets but isn’t bigtime geeky (i have a rep with the ladies you know). It has a padded pocket for my laptop. I’ve used it all over the world and it still looks brand new. on the subway a few weeks ago, a man said “the bag looks like it held up better than the conference did”

  2. i gotta be honest here – i got a bag at seybold in 2000 in san fran and have used it since – i love it – it’s not super heavy, has loads of pockets but isn’t bigtime geeky (i have a rep with the ladies you know). It has a padded pocket for my laptop. I’ve used it all over the world and it still looks brand new. on the subway a few weeks ago, a man said “the bag looks like it held up better than the conference did”

  3. I love these types of posts from you, Robert – we all love seeing how you do the things you do. Looking for a bag myself – will have to consider this.

  4. I love these types of posts from you, Robert – we all love seeing how you do the things you do. Looking for a bag myself – will have to consider this.

  5. I was happy to see this post as I am in constant pursuit of the ultimate bag and thought I was alone in my pursuit and appreciation. I make it a point to memorize the tumi line and with an old back injury of 2 herniated discs I prefer wheels just like you. Maybe it was the years of travel, endless tradeshow floors or countless airport I had to make a shift.

    Right now I purchase a seperate bag for every gadget I buy and always look for size, function and mobility. If it can’t fit overhead or possibly under the airplane seat i have no interest. I gave up my larger screen laptop for a 2.8 pound Sony notebook so now the case options are easier. My favorite combo is a Tumi rollaboard with a soft tumi case or quality backpack as an accessory. I purchased a rolling case for shows and not happy with the styling or rolling of it. My goal is to one day design the case I want that rolls, expands and does exactly what I need based on the toys I have to carry.

    I have a closet full of a variety of bags so based on what I am doing I switch them to match the trip. I fully agree, regardless of style off the shoulder is way better than carrying the load. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I was happy to see this post as I am in constant pursuit of the ultimate bag and thought I was alone in my pursuit and appreciation. I make it a point to memorize the tumi line and with an old back injury of 2 herniated discs I prefer wheels just like you. Maybe it was the years of travel, endless tradeshow floors or countless airport I had to make a shift.

    Right now I purchase a seperate bag for every gadget I buy and always look for size, function and mobility. If it can’t fit overhead or possibly under the airplane seat i have no interest. I gave up my larger screen laptop for a 2.8 pound Sony notebook so now the case options are easier. My favorite combo is a Tumi rollaboard with a soft tumi case or quality backpack as an accessory. I purchased a rolling case for shows and not happy with the styling or rolling of it. My goal is to one day design the case I want that rolls, expands and does exactly what I need based on the toys I have to carry.

    I have a closet full of a variety of bags so based on what I am doing I switch them to match the trip. I fully agree, regardless of style off the shoulder is way better than carrying the load. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great topic, as I have a bag that I’ve been amazed at for the last 6 years. I bought it in Maui at a surf shop. It’s called a “DaKine”. DaKine is Hawaiian slang (pidgeon/pigeon) for anything. One can say, “you know, dakine” and the other local can figure out exactly what he’s talking about. DaKine takes the place of anything you can’t think of during that instant. Perhaps it came about as the result of short term memory being almost non-existent among locals on the islands. Budz might be a part of that? Lol. Anyway – so I bought this bag and it was the most I EVER paid for a bag in my life. It was about $140 in 2002. I bought it because it was the most well made bag – the strongest and most padded bag I ever saw. There is padding in the pocket I keep the notebook in – on both sides. There is padding around each zippered pocket (3). There is great padding for the back and the straps have thick padding. The material used must be desert military grade because it has not ripped at all after severe use.

    I have climbed Maui mountains with it probably 150 times. I always have my camera gear and notebook in the bag because I can’t risk a thief at the house – even with insurance I’d die over the loss. Here in Thailand I’ve taken the bag everywhere – every time I go outside – I have the bag. I’ve climbed a local mountain here 283 times… it’s 1,237 steps to the top. Big steps. I sweat like a fiend everytime – right into the back of the pack and the straps. I have washed this bag about 12 times over the years. That’s IT. It does not smell. It does not rip. It does not falter. This bag is incredibly strong and I will look for a photo of it… If you go to Hawaii or maybe in Calif. you might find a similar bag (newer model now I’d guess). Yikes. I just went to their site and found they have bags for everything you could imagine… Anyway – check them out. I found some bags on Amazon too. Best of Life! Vern

  8. Great topic, as I have a bag that I’ve been amazed at for the last 6 years. I bought it in Maui at a surf shop. It’s called a “DaKine”. DaKine is Hawaiian slang (pidgeon/pigeon) for anything. One can say, “you know, dakine” and the other local can figure out exactly what he’s talking about. DaKine takes the place of anything you can’t think of during that instant. Perhaps it came about as the result of short term memory being almost non-existent among locals on the islands. Budz might be a part of that? Lol. Anyway – so I bought this bag and it was the most I EVER paid for a bag in my life. It was about $140 in 2002. I bought it because it was the most well made bag – the strongest and most padded bag I ever saw. There is padding in the pocket I keep the notebook in – on both sides. There is padding around each zippered pocket (3). There is great padding for the back and the straps have thick padding. The material used must be desert military grade because it has not ripped at all after severe use.

    I have climbed Maui mountains with it probably 150 times. I always have my camera gear and notebook in the bag because I can’t risk a thief at the house – even with insurance I’d die over the loss. Here in Thailand I’ve taken the bag everywhere – every time I go outside – I have the bag. I’ve climbed a local mountain here 283 times… it’s 1,237 steps to the top. Big steps. I sweat like a fiend everytime – right into the back of the pack and the straps. I have washed this bag about 12 times over the years. That’s IT. It does not smell. It does not rip. It does not falter. This bag is incredibly strong and I will look for a photo of it… If you go to Hawaii or maybe in Calif. you might find a similar bag (newer model now I’d guess). Yikes. I just went to their site and found they have bags for everything you could imagine… Anyway – check them out. I found some bags on Amazon too. Best of Life! Vern

  9. my favorite laptop bag is a totally free not very fancy semi-briefcase given to me by the wonderful people at Absolut Vodka. The thing that makes it so special is it has a padded inner core. The laptop is easily accesable but also well protected.

  10. my favorite laptop bag is a totally free not very fancy semi-briefcase given to me by the wonderful people at Absolut Vodka. The thing that makes it so special is it has a padded inner core. The laptop is easily accesable but also well protected.

  11. eBags Firewall Laptop Brief
    http://www.ebags.com/ebags/firewall_laptop_brief/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=15030

    Lots of well organized roomy compartments. Heavily padded, virtually indestructible. I’ve dropped it more than once hard floors with the laptop inside with no damage whatsoever. $70.

    It’s a gear / laptop bag designed by geeks for geeks. Not just a padded briefcase. I’ve had mine 2 1/2 years on many plane flights and car trips and it still looks new.

    Travel tip: I use plastic bags for the various cables and cords, and label the the bags with indelible markers. Makes finding stuff quickly much easier because I’m, say, looking for the bag labelled “iPod” and not for an iPod cable at the bottom of the bag intertwined with all the other cables.

  12. eBags Firewall Laptop Brief
    http://www.ebags.com/ebags/firewall_laptop_brief/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=15030

    Lots of well organized roomy compartments. Heavily padded, virtually indestructible. I’ve dropped it more than once hard floors with the laptop inside with no damage whatsoever. $70.

    It’s a gear / laptop bag designed by geeks for geeks. Not just a padded briefcase. I’ve had mine 2 1/2 years on many plane flights and car trips and it still looks new.

    Travel tip: I use plastic bags for the various cables and cords, and label the the bags with indelible markers. Makes finding stuff quickly much easier because I’m, say, looking for the bag labelled “iPod” and not for an iPod cable at the bottom of the bag intertwined with all the other cables.

  13. Still using a bag I got as swag at an Allaire developer’s conference (’97 maybe?). It’s still holding up nicely, but definitely wouldn’t protect anything inside of it the way yours does. But then it only has to make the occasional trip home from work and back. Fits pretty well under a seat when it does have to travel.

  14. Still using a bag I got as swag at an Allaire developer’s conference (’97 maybe?). It’s still holding up nicely, but definitely wouldn’t protect anything inside of it the way yours does. But then it only has to make the occasional trip home from work and back. Fits pretty well under a seat when it does have to travel.

  15. I love my bag from http://www.moolight.com. It’s a shoulderbag, with real leather, hand made. It’s been with me every where since I got it two years ago, but the leaher makes it age with grace

  16. I just love my Eastpak Egghead (great name too)

    I do have to carry it around, but it has padded storage for a laptop and tons and tons of extra pockets zippers and such. Also: it doesn’t immediately look like there is a laptop in there, which helps when traveling a lot.

    http://www.eastpak.com (sorry, no deeplink)

  17. I just love my Eastpak Egghead (great name too)

    I do have to carry it around, but it has padded storage for a laptop and tons and tons of extra pockets zippers and such. Also: it doesn’t immediately look like there is a laptop in there, which helps when traveling a lot.

    http://www.eastpak.com (sorry, no deeplink)

  18. Just bought one, excellent tip thanks, I usually carry a back pack and end up taking painkillers for the shoulder pain when on a long trip out.
    I have bought a few different types and none of them seem to alleviate the pain so hopefully this one will suit

  19. Just bought one, excellent tip thanks, I usually carry a back pack and end up taking painkillers for the shoulder pain when on a long trip out.
    I have bought a few different types and none of them seem to alleviate the pain so hopefully this one will suit

  20. Mine’s a bit like yours and, like you, I have a back injury. I do get a bit annoyed in the London Underground system, though, when I have to carry it up stairs and so on – so I have to be careful not load it quite as full as you do yours. I suspect mine must be of a poorer quality than yours, though, because, there are bits of it that are showing wear.

    Curious as to (a) what you were doing in the red light district and (b) why you would take your laptop there. Hmm.

  21. Mine’s a bit like yours and, like you, I have a back injury. I do get a bit annoyed in the London Underground system, though, when I have to carry it up stairs and so on – so I have to be careful not load it quite as full as you do yours. I suspect mine must be of a poorer quality than yours, though, because, there are bits of it that are showing wear.

    Curious as to (a) what you were doing in the red light district and (b) why you would take your laptop there. Hmm.

  22. The muji canvas laptop bag. You can’t really tell it’s for laptops, so you’re much less likely to get mugged! It has kept my kit safe through the worst(ish) of east and south London :)

  23. The muji canvas laptop bag. You can’t really tell it’s for laptops, so you’re much less likely to get mugged! It has kept my kit safe through the worst(ish) of east and south London :)

  24. I was given a Chinese Mao bag on my 25th birthday by my friend. With the slogan “For the people” and the fact that it holds my 13″ Dell M1330 laptop perfectly, I think it’s simply awesome. I’ve had quite a few offers from Chinese people looking to buy it too….

  25. I was given a Chinese Mao bag on my 25th birthday by my friend. With the slogan “For the people” and the fact that it holds my 13″ Dell M1330 laptop perfectly, I think it’s simply awesome. I’ve had quite a few offers from Chinese people looking to buy it too….

  26. We actually purchases several versatile computer bags for our employees.

    They have three uses. They can be easily modified to become shoulder bags or backpacks or journey bags.

    They are made out of very tough, weather proof black vinyl and have a professional appearance enabling Executives to feel comfortable carrying them around

  27. We actually purchases several versatile computer bags for our employees.

    They have three uses. They can be easily modified to become shoulder bags or backpacks or journey bags.

    They are made out of very tough, weather proof black vinyl and have a professional appearance enabling Executives to feel comfortable carrying them around

  28. I have tried many, many computer bags, it borders on obsession! The best, by far, is a computer backpack I got as a “thanks” award from IBM, where I work. It is designed well for carrying a laptop or two, books, lunch, workout clothes etc; also exterior mesh pockets that are actually big enough for a commuter mug and a water bottle; shoulder straps spaced well for carrying on your shoulders; compression straps for when it’s not packed full. Padding on the back, ergonomically shaped. Need I go on? Also, it’s the only bag I have that I can fit my T61P in, which is very wide.

    It has a little IBM logo on it, but I can live with that :-)

  29. I have tried many, many computer bags, it borders on obsession! The best, by far, is a computer backpack I got as a “thanks” award from IBM, where I work. It is designed well for carrying a laptop or two, books, lunch, workout clothes etc; also exterior mesh pockets that are actually big enough for a commuter mug and a water bottle; shoulder straps spaced well for carrying on your shoulders; compression straps for when it’s not packed full. Padding on the back, ergonomically shaped. Need I go on? Also, it’s the only bag I have that I can fit my T61P in, which is very wide.

    It has a little IBM logo on it, but I can live with that :-)

  30. Just ordered mine online from Radtech.us. Here is the info if anyone wants it. There were only a few retailers taking online orders (via Yahoo Shopping):

    Items Purchased
    ————————————————————
    Luggage: Roller Bag STM Journey up to 17″ Widescreen Color: Charcoal+Black+Red
    Quantity: 1 Unit Price: $134.95 Ext. Price: $134.95
    ————————————————————

    Subtotal: $134.95
    Shipping: $24.58
    Tax: $0.00
    ——————–
    Total: $159.53

  31. Just ordered mine online from Radtech.us. Here is the info if anyone wants it. There were only a few retailers taking online orders (via Yahoo Shopping):

    Items Purchased
    ————————————————————
    Luggage: Roller Bag STM Journey up to 17″ Widescreen Color: Charcoal+Black+Red
    Quantity: 1 Unit Price: $134.95 Ext. Price: $134.95
    ————————————————————

    Subtotal: $134.95
    Shipping: $24.58
    Tax: $0.00
    ——————–
    Total: $159.53

  32. eBags “Macroloader!” No wheels, but it balances nicely on my wheeled carry-on, and it holds a lot of stuff. It looks like they are discontinuing since it’s on sale and the only color left is pink carnation, but if you don’t mind the color I’m sure it’s the best deal around for $60. Shows no wear after three years of heavy use.

  33. eBags “Macroloader!” No wheels, but it balances nicely on my wheeled carry-on, and it holds a lot of stuff. It looks like they are discontinuing since it’s on sale and the only color left is pink carnation, but if you don’t mind the color I’m sure it’s the best deal around for $60. Shows no wear after three years of heavy use.

  34. Great post! I’m a bag geek, and for me it has to be Domke. I’ve been using the Domke F-802 reporter’s satchel daily for 4 years and like you it’s still as good as the day I got it. Check out good camera stores if you want to get your hands on one.

  35. Great post! I’m a bag geek, and for me it has to be Domke. I’ve been using the Domke F-802 reporter’s satchel daily for 4 years and like you it’s still as good as the day I got it. Check out good camera stores if you want to get your hands on one.

  36. Ahhh, a topic I like!

    I’ve had and still have many bags, but the fave in terms of quality, comfort, protection for laptop and other features has to the Tom Bihn Empire Builder bag. Just superb!

    Tried Booq bags – (looked great on the website and loved the orange detailing) – but didn’t have the quality.

    Tumi – great quality but serious ££££ / $$$$. A little “steady” though.

    Timbuk 2 are great but I have a normal non laptop bag, same with Crumpler.

    Bag fetish? Me?! ;-)

  37. Ahhh, a topic I like!

    I’ve had and still have many bags, but the fave in terms of quality, comfort, protection for laptop and other features has to the Tom Bihn Empire Builder bag. Just superb!

    Tried Booq bags – (looked great on the website and loved the orange detailing) – but didn’t have the quality.

    Tumi – great quality but serious ££££ / $$$$. A little “steady” though.

    Timbuk 2 are great but I have a normal non laptop bag, same with Crumpler.

    Bag fetish? Me?! ;-)

  38. I use the Trager (Seattle) Cross Country Laptop Brief.

    The padded laptop pocket holds the laptop vertically which makes the bag taller and narrower than your usual bag. It converts from shoulder strap to hand strap to backpack; unzips to slide on your rollerbag handle; and has tons of pockets for everything, even a small top front pocket for your airline tickets. It’s also made of ballistic nylon… I’ve only had it a few years, but expect it will last another 15, at least. At which point I’ll just get another one.

    http://www.ebags.com/trager_usa/cross_country_laptop_brief/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=5991

  39. I use the Trager (Seattle) Cross Country Laptop Brief.

    The padded laptop pocket holds the laptop vertically which makes the bag taller and narrower than your usual bag. It converts from shoulder strap to hand strap to backpack; unzips to slide on your rollerbag handle; and has tons of pockets for everything, even a small top front pocket for your airline tickets. It’s also made of ballistic nylon… I’ve only had it a few years, but expect it will last another 15, at least. At which point I’ll just get another one.

    http://www.ebags.com/trager_usa/cross_country_laptop_brief/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=5991

  40. I am totally with Jon above. The Tom Bihn Empire Builder is brilliant.

    When I made the switch to Mac five years ago and wanted a bag that would protect my new prized possession. It has served its purpose with flying colors. The design has been very well thought out with pockets to serve a variety of purposes.

    Get The Empire Builder with the Brain Cell and Absolute Shoulder Strap.

    http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/300/TB0730

    PS Their new Freudian Slip looks pretty cool too…

  41. I am totally with Jon above. The Tom Bihn Empire Builder is brilliant.

    When I made the switch to Mac five years ago and wanted a bag that would protect my new prized possession. It has served its purpose with flying colors. The design has been very well thought out with pockets to serve a variety of purposes.

    Get The Empire Builder with the Brain Cell and Absolute Shoulder Strap.

    http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/300/TB0730

    PS Their new Freudian Slip looks pretty cool too…

  42. We travelled with video equipment for many years – back when video equipment was very heavy and bulky. We bought an ordinary gym bag and had it modified. A Solid wood base on the inside and four very high quality casters for it to run. It was easily manoevoured and fit under a plane seat. Because of the solid base I could stack all our batteries and it would still roll without trouble. It was obviously carry on luggage and no-one realized just how heavy it was. Had it for years. Wish we’d bronzed it when we gave up travelling for video shoots.

  43. We travelled with video equipment for many years – back when video equipment was very heavy and bulky. We bought an ordinary gym bag and had it modified. A Solid wood base on the inside and four very high quality casters for it to run. It was easily manoevoured and fit under a plane seat. Because of the solid base I could stack all our batteries and it would still roll without trouble. It was obviously carry on luggage and no-one realized just how heavy it was. Had it for years. Wish we’d bronzed it when we gave up travelling for video shoots.

  44. STM is a great bag company indeed. I have been using their backpack for my MacBook Pro for the last 2.5 years. Not a stitch is missing, there is only minimal wear on the strings connected to the zippers.

    I USE THIS BAG EVERYDAY

    STM is just an awesome company and they know how to make a great bag for a fantastic price. I remember spending less than $70 for that backpack whereas similar bags were at least $100 and some at $150.

    I will probably never buy a bag from a different company, they get people who use computers on a daily basis whether or not it is for work.

    Wow, I just realized how much I sound like an STM advertisement. Just a guy who likes their bags.

  45. STM is a great bag company indeed. I have been using their backpack for my MacBook Pro for the last 2.5 years. Not a stitch is missing, there is only minimal wear on the strings connected to the zippers.

    I USE THIS BAG EVERYDAY

    STM is just an awesome company and they know how to make a great bag for a fantastic price. I remember spending less than $70 for that backpack whereas similar bags were at least $100 and some at $150.

    I will probably never buy a bag from a different company, they get people who use computers on a daily basis whether or not it is for work.

    Wow, I just realized how much I sound like an STM advertisement. Just a guy who likes their bags.

  46. My favorite bag is the Samsonite Paragon II off. case.
    Ofcourse with wheels and a telescope handle. I bought it for my first trip to America for an IT conference and it has followed me since, literally!
    But… Now I own an Asus EeePC I don’t know if I still will need the case. Anyway, going to a conference abroad means taking a lot of adapters and stuff so I think it will be the Samsonite after all.

  47. My favorite bag is the Samsonite Paragon II off. case.
    Ofcourse with wheels and a telescope handle. I bought it for my first trip to America for an IT conference and it has followed me since, literally!
    But… Now I own an Asus EeePC I don’t know if I still will need the case. Anyway, going to a conference abroad means taking a lot of adapters and stuff so I think it will be the Samsonite after all.

  48. I recently purchased a STM small Rogue backpack for my MacBook and love it so far. I like how the laptop pocket is hidden and keeps my 13.3 inch MacBook snug inside. And all of the outside pocket zippers are easily opened and closed with one hand.

  49. I recently purchased a STM small Rogue backpack for my MacBook and love it so far. I like how the laptop pocket is hidden and keeps my 13.3 inch MacBook snug inside. And all of the outside pocket zippers are easily opened and closed with one hand.

  50. Robert,

    My back has been having a hard time when I’ve been lugging around my laptop in a backpack. Thanks for the info, as a result of this post I have bought the same bag. The store had to special order it for me so I don’t have it yet (I should be picking it up on Tuesday).

    Thanks again!

  51. Robert,

    My back has been having a hard time when I’ve been lugging around my laptop in a backpack. Thanks for the info, as a result of this post I have bought the same bag. The store had to special order it for me so I don’t have it yet (I should be picking it up on Tuesday).

    Thanks again!

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