deciding that my new 2012 Macbook Pro deserved a nice home, i went in search of the perfect messenger bag… well, as perfect as my price range would allow!
at the last minute, i decided to take a risk and order the booq Mamba Courier 15 in black. i had previously never heard of booq, but my initial impression is quite good! the attention to detail on this bag is impressive, even more so when considering the cost. i’ll of course update this post if anything goes awry during real-world use.
i purchased the bag through Amazon for $109.50, and received it within a day thanks to Amazon Prime (oh Prime how i love the).
i hate to de-package it…
the first thing i noticed was the thought that went into the packaging. the hang tag is heavy card stock, with a metal grommet on the corner and a custom cut-out around the logo fold-in area. notice how even the cut’s ends are curved back to prevent tearing.
i next found that the shoulder strap was looped on itself and cinched down to reduce bulk during shipment. there was a black band of paper and logo sticker used to keep the strap arrangement in place. again, note the detail here, with the corners having a subtle emboss.
the final bit of packaging was an inflated plastic bag inside the laptop sleeve, helping the bag keep shape during storage and shipment.
the bag features a handle as well as the seat-belt style shoulder strap. the main flap of the bag hooks onto loops with clever metal buckles that slide in opposite directions. i was worried that the hook system might be cumbersome to use, but on first try it seems ok. for a quick exit, i can always just use the shoulder strap without hooking the flap. you would need to secure the flap really only if you want to use the handle.
again, the details impress. the metal buckle/hooks have a recessed logo and their corresponding straps exit the bag via matching titanium colored metal grommets instead of simply being sewn on. the straps are of the same heavy duty seat-belt style material as the shoulder strap.
the back side of the bag features a single non-zippered pocket, with one small phone-size area sewn inside.
note the interior of the Mamba Courier Black is a high contrast red. the Courier also comes in Sand and Grey, which feature more subdued interior coloring. i should note that the “Black” is actually more of a charcoal – the product imagery on booq’s site is accurate in this respect.
opening the flap will reveal a zippered main compartment and a front pocket. the front pocket has no interior divisions, but does include a clip-on key ring holder.
the interior of the main compartment has a well padded sleeve for the Macbook, as well as 4 pockets and multiple pen areas.
i was please to find that the sleeve has padding on the bottom. even better, it’s sewn so that it doesn’t rest at the actual bottom of the bag. instead the sleeve floats about 1/2″ above, giving a laptop even more protection.
also sewn into the width of the bag is a padded insert that helps it to keep shape even when empty. this prevents the frumpy or bulgy look that cheaper bags often have when loaded with power adapters and other randomness.
a final thoughtful touch is the metal tag with an individual serial number and “if found…” note. you are supposed to register your bag on http://terralinq.booq.com and hope that if someone finds it, they see this tag and are honest enough to return it. the finder can enter the serial number and then booq contacts you privately with their information.
i originally had intended to purchase the Incase Heathered Shoulder Bag. it has a similar fabric and overall style to the Mamba Courier, but even more minimalist. after talking to a good friend that purchased the Incase, i’m glad i decided against it. he had numerous complaints about the bag. having owned prior Incase products, he also felt that their quality had gone downhill tremendously. the Heathered Shoulder Bag is only about $10 cheaper than the booq and really doesn’t seem to have the same finishing touches.
another bag i considered was the be.ez LE Reporter bag in Black/Safran. like the booq, it comes in several sizes and they seems to have a street price of about half the cost of the Mamba Courier. though it has clean lines and nothing but excellent reviews on Amazon, i didn’t feel it was quite as stylish. the LE Reporter comes in several colors, so it might be appealing if you’re looking for something a little different.
and that brings us to the Hard Graft Flat Pack, available in Heritage (mostly leather) or Shore (canvas & leather). i absolutely love the style, but at over $350 USD plus VAT and international shipping, it was quite a bit more than i budgeted.
if none of these bags strike your fancy, definitely search Etsy. they had some nicely done bags that i also considered. however, be sure to read the item details and where it ships from. i’ve seen a trend lately on Etsy that goes against it’s artisan roots. some items are shipping from overseas the same items can be found for sale on eBay and other websites – it seems that these pieces are being mass-produced and really shouldn’t be allowed in a “handmade marketplace”.
in summation, i’m currently very pleased with my purchase of the booq Mamba Courier Black. i can’t wait to begin using it and report back on durability.
This is something i have been looking for , and big thanks to you for writing such an beautiful review of the product.
Hi, nice Review! How is the bag holding up? Considering it as well…
thanks! no problems so far – i use it once or twice a month to go to a client meeting or just to Starbucks to work out of the house and it’s been great.
Great review and nice pics, very useful for customers. But after months of use, the bag still good?
still looks new! keep in mind i only use it a few times a month though. if you’re looking for a bag to commute daily on public transit with, then you probably want something made from Cordura, ballistic nylon, etc.
Great review! I’ve been going back and forth on this bag for a while. Your review is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted something for daily commute but your review definitely made the bag more appealing. I want it! haha Maybe I can get it as a backup. How is holding up after a year and a half?
Funny you mentioned the Incase heathered bag. That is what led me to looking for another bag. The strap ripped at the stitching after a few months. Incase was very good about replacing it but I got a credit for something else because it was discontinued. It was too bad, I thought they would be more durable. :(
the bag is still great, not really showing any signs of wear!
i recently picked up a different pack for airline travel, but still in sort of a heathered gray ;) – the “Merrell Adult Westervelt Slim Backpack“. i really like the booq still for most stuff, but i get tired of a shoulder bag on a long travel day.