This year is turning out to be the year of the Ultrabook, those super-portable Windows-based notebook computers designed to compete with the Macbook Air. I have a steady stream of them arriving at the office for me to review, and after I received my first one, I knew I had a problem. For the last few years I have been using a Dell Studio 1558 laptop with a 15.6-inch display. My bag of choice for carrying it is the Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Messenger Bag, which fits my laptop, and its above-average heft, perfectly. However, the Ultrabooks I am getting have 13-inch displays and are a fraction of the thickness and weight of the Dell Studio. As a result, they are all swimming in the Timbuk2 bag. So I started looking for a bag geared toward the Ultrabook set and found one in the booq Mamba catch. I was fortunate to be given one, and I have been using it to carry around several Ultrabooks over the last couple of months. These bags are perfectly proportioned for an Ultrabook and have an array of pockets to fit pretty much everything else.
I must admit I had never heard of booq before, but I soon discovered they make a number of high-quality messenger bags, backpacks, cases and sleeves for cameras, iPads and laptops. The Mamba catch S (S stands for small, which is the only size available now that booq has discontinued the L, or large, version) is a messenger-style bag, but there the similarities end.
Unlike the typical messenger bag, which is rectangular, the booq Mamba catch is tapered at the top and bottom, giving it more space in the middle. This extra space comes in handy if you, like me, are carrying your notebook, iPad, Bluetooth mouse, power cables and a stack of papers or a book. I think you would be hard pressed to find a bag of the catch’s size that can carry more. Inside the bag’s single compartment you will find the laptop compartment, which is padded to protect your precious cargo. There are also six internal lining pockets and two internal elastic mesh pockets to carry a mouse, power adapters, cables, hard drives and other accessories. Accessing the main compartment is a breeze. The zipper runs in a large “U” around the entire length of the bag from corner to corner, giving you unfettered access to all of the interior pockets.
On the outside of the Mamba catch, there are three more zipper pockets—one on each side and another on the front. Lastly, on the back, there is a pocket that is perfect for an iPad and a passthrough to allow you to attach the bag to the extended handle of a roller bag. This is one of the many “little things” that really impressed me about the Mamba catch. Another are the zippers, which are well made and easy to use, a trait often overlooked with luggage.
When I have a bag weighted down with all of my gadgets, the last thing I want is for the strap to cut into my shoulder. Luckily, the booq Mamba catch has a well-padded, adjustable shoulder strap.
One final feature of note is the Terralinq serial number. Each booq bag has a unique ID tag that you register online. If you ever lose a bag and it is found and reported, Terralinq will attempt to contact you with the bag’s location and the finder’s contact information.
While I continue to love my Timbuk2 messenger bag, the booq Mamba catch S is perfect for those needing a bag to fit a 13-inch notebook without sacrificing space for all the extras. The bag is well made and strikes that delicate balance between being understated without looking tired. At $130, the booq Mamba catch S delivers the perfect blend of capacity, protection and looks.
booq Mamba catch S
$129.95 (currently $117.99 from Amazon.com)