Review

Review: Spire's Endo Laptop Bag

EN8_GRN200.jpg The bag I’m reviewing is the Spire Endo Courier bag for medium sized laptops. I got my first laptop, a G4 iBook, 14", a couple of years ago. When I ordered it, I also ordered a padded laptop sleeve, to use with my back pack. It has been useful, it’s even saved my laptop on a short drop at airport security. Still, it’s far from perfect for my needs and apart from a few quick trials with other bags, I haven’t found something to replace what I have now. The Spire company specializes in computer accessories. They carry bags, sleeves, cord organizers etc. The have several variety of bags and seem to try doing bag design with care. As I took a closer look, I found this bag to be an average priced bag for other similar bags of this caliber. You can certainly find cheaper bags from less specialized companies, but specialized makers of bags are offering better quality; I found the Spire bag to be no exception to that rule. The medium size Spire bag is 16.0" x 12.0" x 5.0". The smaller and larger sizes vary by a couple of inches. The fabric is 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon. The fabric feels strong, lightweight and water resistant. The stitching looks thorough and sturdy.

Filling The Bag

Here’s what I might carry in my laptop bag: 14” iBook, iGo power cord set, 1 firewire cable, 1 ethernet wire, bluetooth dongle, flash drive, camera with USB wire, multi-memory card reader with USB wire, Air Click, portable hard drive with USB wire, iPod with USB wire and my Wacom tablet and pen; also a notebook, sketchpad, pencil and pen. Now here’s what I know I like in a laptop bag- padding, pockets and comfort. bag.topack.jpg I laid out my list of objects and then packed the Spire bag to see how it would do. I noticed there was enough pockets for all my small items and plenty of room in the larger areas for the bigger items. I found that not only was I able to pack in all those work essentials, but I could add a few more items. I was able to throw in some travel bonus items like a bottle of water, my DS, plane tickets, a couple of paperbacks and mags, snacks and gum, current Netflix picks and even a few more art supplies. That would cover everything I normally carry in my backpack for long distance travel. Amazing!

Closer Inside

bag.packed.jpg Let’s take a closer look at some of the features of this laptop bag. The most important is the very secure laptop enclosure. It’s padded on all sides, including the bottom, with a removable top pad. There is also a velcro held divider, that made this pocket perfect for holding my Wacom tablet, as well. After putting the laptop in the special sleeve, I put the top pad in place, then secure the elastic velcro strap tight. That makes the laptop very secure, practically unshakable. This padding is called ‘Triple Shock’ and I believe it; it feels very thick, without adding a lot of weight. This padded area also comes with an extra velcro enclosure, which I found useful for giving my Wacom a separate space. It can be used for extra padding or eliminated for thicker laptops, needing more room. bag.insidepad.jpg bag.empty.jpg Because of this secured padded area, there are two things that could bother some people, though I find them reasonable trades for the security of the laptop. First, the padding is built in, so there is a space at the bottom of the bag, where small items could ‘get lost’. I used it to tuck my wires into, so didn’t feel it was a big deal. Putting a larger laptop in the bag, may eliminate that. Second, the secured padded area, means the laptop won’t shift, but it also sets the balance of the bag, ‘in stone’. I didn’t notice this unless I held the bag by the handle, instead of the strap; and only when the bag had only the laptop inside. There are pockets aplenty for all my other stuff. Inside there are two medium pockets and two pen pockets. Under the flap is a zip pocket, with two smaller pockets inside. There is also a series of five pockets, small, medium and pen. The variety of sizes include pockets big enough for my 8 x 10 Wacom tablet and small enough to keep the tablet’s pen from getting lost in the bag. Some other features of this bag include: • glow in the dark zipper pulls on heavy zippers • a drawstring for the the inside compartment, helps keep rain, dust out • a mesh water bottle pocket; the mesh is close knit, small enough for a pen • an iPod pocket, with earbud grommet • a waist strap, for close to the body security • a zip open pass through for luggage handles, to use with your rolling luggage • a snap off key fob, also handy for securing dongles and flash drives • reflective patches for safety • padded, reinforced carrying handle • shoulder strap and super beefy, yet easy buckles bag.ipod.jpg bag.luggage.jpg The iPod pocket has an open grommet to plug in your earbuds and the nylon is thin enough to control the click wheel through it. The zip open pass through is wide enough to accommodate most luggage handles. The padded handle is reinforced for sag resistance. But it is not uncomfortable. bag.back.jpg bag.shoulder.jpg This shoulder strap is probably one of the most comfortable I’ve felt. It clips on and off, it’s adjustable, it’s a couple on inches wide and it seems strong. The padding is rubberized to prevent slipping. The waist strap can clip onto any of the four corners of the bag and is also adjustable. I was unsure of this strap, but after trying it on, I found it comfortable enough and realized how useful it would be for securing the bag closer to my person in crowded airports and the like. I really like the buckles, they are easy to open, but seem very secure. The Spire bags come in smaller and larger sizes; the largest size is big enough for 17” MacBooks. They come in 3 colors- black, navy blue and sage green. Also, all these Spire bags come with a lifetime warranty against reasonable defects. (Don’t let your dog or baby chew on the bag) Conclusion: As I mentioned before, I have dropped my laptop at the airport before. I was lucky that time, that the fall wasn’t long. I think if my laptop got bit tossed around in this bag, I’d expect it to be safe. I like to have my expensive travel items close to me, when zooming around; so far I find this bag comfortable and easy to use. The courier style is also simpler for travel, since you have to often pull laptops, tickets and id out to show security persons. I was lucky to use this over the Thanksgiving holiday travels and I found it perfect for my needs. 5 out of 5