It has been pointed out to me that not everyone wants to spend major dollars on a great laptop bag, but still has a need for quality and versatility. I do want you to know, that there are some other options out there for you!
When I went on my quest through the web for my ultimate bag, I came across a company called BBP. They make a series of urban packs that were inspired by the owner’s need for a better way to carry a heavy laptop after suffering herniated disks. They are also motivated to give back to their community and are donating bags for all the ones they sell. They credit Tom’s shoes for the idea but I heartily applaud the action.
They make a traditional backpack called the Industries Backpack, but the Hamptons Hybrid is their namesake bag. The BBP stands for Bum Back Pack and looking at the mechanics of it will make that name make a lot of sense.
The Hampton is a messenger style bag with a very interesting twist. The strap is cleverly engineered to convert from a traditional cross shoulder design to a dual shoulder approach with just a latch and a snap. They have a video and diagrams posted on their website that shows just how quickly that task can be accomplished. Bak2Pak System
When it is in this mode the bag hangs very low on your back so your (ahem) “bum” takes some the weight. There are well padded lumbar cushions to take up the shock on your back side. I found wearing the bag this way to be surprisingly comfortable even very loaded. The backpack straps have both lumbar and waist straps which really help if you are trying to move quickly with the bag in backpack mode.
The bag is a mixture of 1680 Denier Nylon, standard nylon and vinyl. The latches are all metal or Delrin and this bag has become my cable bag for my music stuff. This means I have it crammed with quarter inch, XLR and Cat 5 cables, audio adapters, metal direct boxes and a Presonus audio interface. Lots of weight, lots of hard edges and a lot shoved inside. The bag holds it’s shape and I have been unable to tear any of the internal fabrics. If this were not a really tough bag, it would have self destructed already.
The bag that I reviewed is the Medium Flow Tango. It is neon orange and industrial gray and will not be mistaken for someone else’s bag anytime soon. According to BBP, the only difference between this bag and the full Hampton Hybrid is the Flow only has a single zippered compartment on the outside of the front flap. The full Hampton has three external pockets across the front.
The front zippered pocket is the size of the entire front flap so you can stuff if with a lot of stuff. It is held closed with two quick release Delrin latches with pulls to make this flap tight agains the front.
There are two nested mesh pockets on the right side of the bag. The back one is perfect for a water bottle and I have a big metal direct box stuffed in the lower one so this is heavy duty mesh. The left side has a Denier gusseted pocket that is a great place to stuff a laptop power supply.
The back of the pack also has a zipper bottom slot for stacking the bag on a roller. With the zipper closed this area can be used as an additional pocket which is about the right size for files.
The laptop section is along the back of the pack. It has a gasket zipper to repel water and it is actually on the outside of the pack so you can remove your laptop without opening the main compartment. My 15″ Macbook Pro fit perfectly and there were bumpers included if you need to cut down this section for a smaller laptop. This section is surrounded by 10mm high density foam to keep your laptop well protected.
Opening the flap shows the internal organizational stuff. Four pen slots and a vertical zippered pocket that would be perfect for a hard drive are on the front wall of bag. This section is zipped across the top to give you a 8×5 pocket that also has a key chain latch inside.
The top of this section (which is on the outside of the large main section of the backpack) also features a large horizontally zippered pocket about 12×8 with a couple of open top pockets sewn within.
Finally the big internal section is mainly a large open area with a zippered mesh pocket on the rear wall. This section would easily fit a couple of good sized textbooks and notebooks with the mesh pocket being good to keep smaller stuff organized.
Good points on the bag are it’s construction quality and the flexibility of switching the strap between the backpack and messenger modes. The bag has got good organization internally and does a great job protecting the laptop.
Downsides? I do not like the grab handle on the top. It is not comfortable for the weight of stuff that I tend to put in this bag. If you are going to be using it as a convenience and not a regular handle this should be fine.
I am mid-40s and my wife told me I looked like an idiot (well she was nicer than that, but I knew what she meant) with the bag in back pack mode. I am simply neither cool, nor urban enough to pull the BBP look off! It is a shame because on the bang for the buck scale you cannot beat this bag. If I had a 20 year old son rather than a 20 year old daughter, he would have already stolen this bag from me. Maybe I could use the money I saved to buy something to add to my cool factor…yeah, that’s not gonna happen!
Oh, did I not mention the price yet? That is the kicker on this, BBP has this previous revision of the bag on a ridiculous clear out price of $29.95, and they are currently running a free freight deal. If you are on a budget and the messenger style bag works for your style of packing you cannot beat this as a deal!
I am not sure how any of these that they have left, and you will have to be a fan of the orange and gray color scheme, but I assure you that getting close to this level of quality at that price anywhere else is simply not going to happen.
You are just going to have to be cooler than me to pull it off!
BBP Medium Flow Tango
(editors note: the crew at BBP have just let me know that they have sold the last of the clearance bags)
The full version of the current Hamptons Hybrid is available here.
Adding the front panel organizational pockets and the different sizes brings the price up to a still very reasonable $99.95.
BBP Industries, LLC
244 5th Ave. Suite L241
New York, NY 10001
Fax – 212.931.8539