We are always on the hunt for the best bags. Laptop bags are a tough thing to buy. We all have different everyday needs that don’t always associate with anyone else’s. And we don’t just use the bag to it’s fullest, we use it to our most benefit…but at the same time also form to the available pockets and other features.
The Mixbag Transformer Bag is a European-style messenger made for 11.6” and 13.3” laptops; I tested the larger of the two, though potential buyers should be aware that if you have an older, thick 13” laptop, it may not fit. The few thick 11” laptops I’ve tested with and the 13” laptops I’ve thrown in, including a 2012 MacBook Pro, all fit just fine, so most laptops should work fine. If you need a bag to hold your camera/supplies you might want to look at our Timbuk2 Snoop camera review.
At first glance, the Mixbag looks like a standard messenger, albeit a bit oddly shaped. Closer inspection reveals a very unique design that can be worn in a multitude of ways, most of which Americans will find silly. Take a look at the options that the company suggests in the image below.
It’s actually a two-sided bag…in fact, it’s two bags that connect into one. The name is pun intended. Side one zips onto side two, and the both also connect magnetically. Unfortunately the magnets are pretty weak (they need to be; otherwise the magnets could in theory damage electronics you put in the bag), so the two halves don’t stick together very well. Each side has it’s own handle for carrying by hand, and the included strap also attaches any way you like from seven different metal grips.
Externally the Mixbag is a very good looking bag. The fabric is a mesh and only slightly rough, good for keeping dirt off and not too harsh on skin. The zippers are well placed for easy access and opening and closing, and there’s plenty of space available inside. I’ve left the bag on the desk and floor and got quite a few looks from passersby.
Three main pockets are available: two laptop-sized spaces plus a smaller pocket for accessories, one major space on each half. On each main pocket, there enough small pockets available for just about anything, though as a smaller messenger there’s only so much space available. Each side also includes a much larger pocket, one side that can extend it outright from the bag so it almost doubles the available space. It’s almost ridiculous; if you don’t use it, there’s just lost space inside the side, but if you do, then half the bag is twice as long as the opposite.
In day-to-day use, the Mixbag works pretty well. The strap is basic, so it doesn’t feel as good as plenty of competitive bags, though again the bag can be worn in a number of ways that doesn’t include putting the strap directly on skin. It option to take one bag or two, combined, is interesting but somewhat confused depending on how you want to carry the bag. If you use methods four, five, seven, or eight in the picture above, then the Transformer isn’t as comfortable to carry around compared to competing bags. They all are shaped specifically for those methods of carrying.
For the alternative options though, the Mixbag is the only option, and those methods certainly work and are comfortable. The only question for potential buyers is how comfortable are you to wear the bag like that.
Two disconnecting sides also helps if you don’t want to take everything with you. I use the Mixbag to carry my Chromebook, iPad, and plenty of other gadgets and gizmos, and have the whole thing organized so that I could work with either half depending on my preference. If I need a laptop, then I take that half, which includes the machine’s power cable, Bluetooth mouse, some select cables specific to either the laptop or functions I use with the laptop. The same for the other side: the iPad’s 12W charger, Lightning cable, a stylus, an external battery pack, and a Bluetooth DAC.
Generally, everything would be carried together and ordered by product type, like cables, accessories, peripherals, primary hardware, secondary hardware, etc. With the Mixbag, you can separate your belongings based on what you need for the day without doing anything special except for zipping the bag apart. Or together. That’s very convenient, and makes for a great go-bag.
The Mixbag Transformer Bag is a smart, well designed European-style messenger bag. The ability to carry half at any time, the pocket options, and the look are all great. It’s selling point is also its greatest weakness, so be aware that if you aren’t interested in having the option, then this isn’t the bag for you. Overall the Mixbag is a very strong messenger, and right now our readers can get a 20% discount on both the 11” and 13” models. It’s pricey normally, at $212, but with our special discount you can get it starting at $169.
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