Once upon a time I was a fresh faced 18 year old who came to London for university. I made my way down to Camden market to get myself a bag to use for lectures. I found a nice black satchel that I really like the look of, being sold for £20 (reasons being that it was “designer”). I haggled the price down to £12 – a great success. It would have been a fine price to pay for a bag if it would have lasted me around 2 years or so. It wasn’t to be, however. Less than 4 weeks later, the lining of the pockets was cracked and falling apart, the zip inside was broken, and the nylon (which I didn’t realise came in different grades) was looking very ruffled on the edges and there was a hole in one of the corners. I later went to an unnamed sports shop where I purchased a fake leather satchel for £5 that lasted me around 5 years before being worn out. The moral of the story is that you don’t always pay for quality or longevity.
After such an experience I never tend to pay very much for bags, but I see them around and I’ve always wondered what the experience of using a very nice bag would be like.
Enter the dojo: the Booq Boa Courier bag (13 inches). My first impressions were that the bag was that it was a rather substantial item. I could feel that it was constructed without much corner cutting and that the materials used were of good quality. At the same time, I couldn’t see the reasons behind the cost, and was still sitting on the fence.
- Fits: 13-inch Mac/PC
- Exterior: 435 x 275 x 120 mm
- Interior: 365 x 245 x 25 mm
- Weight: 0.91 kg
As I started using the bag more and more I discovered that it was very well thought out for the modern gadgeteer. I found that the bag very conveniently has various pockets that snugly fit my phone (Samsung S3 with a case, so will fit most phones), a pen, my 7 inch tablet (Kindle Fire here, but also fits my Nexus 7 well), and my laptop (which happens to be 10 inches, but obviously the bag takes a device up to 13 inches). So far, the bag is accruing brownie points nicely.
The laptop pocket itself and the divider have been well constructed – as you can see the divider is thick and provides a good amount of cushioning to your device. Not only does the bag fit a good amount of gadgets, but there is enough room to fit various other bits, a tightly packed lunch, a bottle of water, etc.
Most of all, the material that the bag is made of is very tough. The nylon that makes up the main strap feels very much like a car seatbelt (which are constructed to be tough and last a long time).
It has to be said, that I have a propensity to put a lot of wear into everyday items. Perhaps it’s got to do with the fact that at least twice a week I go to work followed by an evening activity (e.g. school, press event or client drinks) which involves moving between multiple rooms and opening the bag to get various items out multiple times. I make most bags (including my tough Ortlieb panniers) look old very quickly. The material (presumably nylon) that makes up the main body of the bag is also a synthetic material with tough properties, as after daily use by me for over two months, the edges of the bag are not worn at all, and the weave is as intact and shiny as it was on the first day. At the rate this bag is wearing, I think it will last for years to come.
There is also an outside pocket which is rather handy. I rarely use it if I’m on public transport in case of pickpockets, however it would be great to use if you’re on the bike to store items you’d need immediately after you arrive, such as bike lock keys. It even has a compartment that appears to be sized for a phone, although I’m sure it could hold other valuables.
Whilst review the Booq Boa there were only four small things which came across as a little negative. The first being that the inside of the bag flap has a lovely white lining which unfortunately shows dirt rather well, it would be perhaps better if the lining remain black, the same as the outside, to better hide any detritus which may accumulate here.
Secondly, whilst done up the clasps offer great security for your possessions as you travel or commute, however, the actual act of closing the clasps can sometimes be a painful one. In order to successfully lock the clasps in place you might line the top and bottom parts to the clasp perfectly – if not you may find yourself catching your finger in the clasp, which I can tell you, is not a good experience!
Thirdly, in places the exterior reflective piping designed for visibility on the road, does not line up with the nylon fabric which looks a little shoddy, although this does not detract from its main purpose which is keeping you safe when using this bag with a bike on the road.
The last issue I had with this bag, which I do find rather strange, is that the large outside pocket has 2 holes at the bottom. I am unsure why these 2 holes are there, but I would suggest being wary of placing anything small in this outside pocket as you will find that anything small enough will simply drop out!
To summarise, the bag is tough, it’s well thought out, looks understated (if you’re worried about security) and despite the price tag will definitely prove to be a worthwhile long term purchase despite having a few small flaws. Overall I award the bag 4 of our 5 stars and would recommend it to any London cyclist looking for a functional courier bag.