Laptop bags are the unsung heroes for mobile users everywhere. It’s too easy to just drop by a store and pick up any bag with a special slit for a laptop, but finding one perfectly suited for you is much harder than it seems. We at Gadget Review have tested a few laptop bags, and the Knomo Saxby is the best I’ve ever seen.

The Knomo Saxby is the best messenger laptop bag I’ve ever used because of very smart pocket design and because it fits around a shoulder, and hanging on the back/side, much better than any competing bag. The looks may be questionable, based on your tastes. Half of the people I spoke to about it think it looks like an old man’s bag, not retro or old fashioned but from a generation long since past. The other half think it looks sleek yet mature. I agree on both fronts, though partially because the blue leather of the tested bag isn’t really suited for serious people in the tech field today. The Saxby does also come in black, which is slightly more subtle while also a little more grotesque because of the reflectivity of black versus blue. Both color choices are good, I think, but it depends on what you like better.

The outer pocket stretches out on one side to provide room for one ill-shaped object

Pocket design is intelligent because it takes into account what should be placed in the corresponding pockets. The main pocket is for documents, a laptop, potentially books or magazines, and anything of similar shape. The inner pocket is for small cables and pens and business cards, while the inner-most pocket has a lot of leeway for that one funny-shaped device or object you keep on-hand. It stretches out on one side and enables users to have some weirdly round or just odd piece of equipment in there without forcing anyone to throw it in with the rest of your things. The rear pocket and flap pocket are very flat and thin, and are pretty useless when compared to the main pocket, but for organizing additional paperwork or separating work and pleasure reading material, for instance, they both work well. Or, for the flap pocket, just carrying simple easy-to-reach things like pens or pads of paper adds to the convenience.

Comfort is the other main quality of the Saxby, specifically how the messenger rests on the shoulder and on the back. I’ve found that, even though messenger bags are made to stay at whatever level you set the strap length to, they can bob when walking pretty atrociously unless it’s as tight as spandex. And even then, if the strap is designed on the back to just connect to the very top, it can still bounce around and hit the wearer even when walking at a slow pace. I find that completely unacceptable because it makes the bag uncomfortable to wear, and unfortunately most messenger bags have this problem to some extent. Knomo Bags hasn’t solved this with the Saxby, but it has made the bouncing issue a manageable one, one that with practice in step and the proper length set for the shoulder strap, users won’t have the bag hitting them. I tested the bag thoroughly, over a period of about two months, both for everyday use and even during E3, and in every way the Saxby was excellent. I’ve used it for a number of shows and events and trips, and for business use it has proved to hold everything I put in it with easy and comfort.

The main pocket has a laptop pocket, but also smaller holsters for other trinkets, like the PS Vita, bundled cables, or even CD cases

The trouble comes if you try to store things that don’t really belong in the pockets based on their shape. One trip I took had me storing food for a long flight, and the Saxby isn’t suited for that. Again, it can hold one smallish item of odd shape in the furthest small pocket; anything else needs to fit in the main pocket, along with the laptop and main personables. Because I only take carryons and my other bag was shared and full, I was left with no other choice, and it didn’t work out very well. I was forced to leave all the food items, stored in standard ziplock bags, in the main pocket above my MacBook Air and documents. Whenever I needed to get into the bag, I’d have to essentially empty it out. That’s a secondary problem I found, which has mostly to do with travel and close quarters, like on an airplane in coach. Reaching into the Saxby and pulling out a single item is pretty hard because the bag is so tightly designed. It makes getting anything particularly difficult in a confined space, like in the backseat of a small car or on an airplane. With more available space it’s easier, but again because of the bag’s very thin and tight design it’s much easier to keep things in than to take them out. The Saxby is very strongly organized in that manner, so while I appreciate it for day-to-day use, and especially for walking around because it won’t bob up and down, rummaging through the Saxby isn’t as easy as it looks.

Knomo has done an excellent job with the Saxby despite the flaws. I’m willing to live with difficulty in removing items in the messenger for comfort when worn, and will 100% of the time. I’ll get whatever needs to come out of the bag one way or another, but if it isn’t comfortable to wear when walking, then I don’t want to use it. The thin profile and strong design makes it very suitable for storing as well; it keeps its shape no matter what sort of punishment you throw at it. This means some of the things you might store on occassion, like camera lenses, will barely fit or make the bag bulge in ways it was never intended.

Knomo also includes a security feature to GPS track the bag after registering your particular model. This enables the company to track the bag if users ever lose it, or if someone finds it and feels the urge of conscience to return it. Unfortunately there’s no real-time tracking of the bag in case it is lost, likely because the bag has a simple low-powered chip or system for finding it. There is no user replaceable battery, and Knomo tries to keep the whole system as easy as possible by keeping it all out of user reach. I’m not sure what it adds except for a false sense of security in this world, unless you’re lucky and whoever has it wants to kindly return it.

At $169, the Knomo Saxby is an expensive but very well put together messenger laptop bag. I’m happy to use it day in and day out, on a normal day, when traveling, or during a trade show. The slim profile and strong design elements, from how it maintains its shape even down to the zipper construction, is very well thought out and practical. I highly recommend it, so long as you plan on using the bag and it’s pockets as intended. If you regularly carry around odd-shaped objects, then you’ll probably want to find a more flexible bag. For me, the Knomo Saxby is the best messenger for stability and walking around, without that constant bag-hitting-you-from-behind problem.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★★½

Excellent

Bottom Line: A sleek laptop messenger that is excellent for professionals and students not packing abnormally sized goods.

Pros:

  • Fits up to a 15″ laptop, several books and magazines, cables, trinkets and pens perfectly
  • Extremely comfortable to wear and it doesn’t bounce

Cons:

  • Tight frame may not be for everyone
  • Overall design looks good, but the colors and shapes make it look like an old-man’s bag to some
  • GPS locating is a passive, non-user feature

The Knomo Saxby can be purchased direct from Knomo for $169.



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.