Pad & Quill's iPad, iPhone, and MacBook cases have been popular with TUAW readers and reviewers alike for years. The Twin Cities-based company recently jumped into the computer bag market with three amazing leather bags: The Satchel (US$309.00), The Field Bag ($329.00), and The Messenger Bag ($369.00). I finally got my hands on a review sample of The Messenger Bag and a companion The Sleeve for MacBook Pro/Air 13 ($99.99), and here's my take on both of these high-quality and stylish products.
Dimensions (Messenger Bag): 14" x 11.5" x 4.5" (35.6 x 26 x 11.4 cm)
Dimensions (Sleeve): 13.75" x 10.25" x 0.5" without MacBook (35 x 26 x 1.27 cm)
Weight (Messenger Bag): 3 lbs, 3 ounces (1.44 kg)
Weight (Sleeve): 13.1 ounces (.37 kg)
Bag and Sleeve Materials: full-grain American cowhide leather, twill woven waxed canvas, Parachute grade UV resistant nylon stitching, suede lining, cherry wood logo, aged nickel hardware on bag
Let's start with a look at The Sleeve. Owners of 13-inch MacBook Pro or Air laptops who want a bit of fashionable protection for the outside of their devices will want to take a look at this sleeve, which is all leather on one side (except for the cherry wood logo) and a mixture of leather and waxed canvas on the other. The leather half on that other side is actually a large pocket for papers or a magazine. The waxed canvas comes in several colors: charcoal (with "whiskey" leather) or olive (with "dark chocolate" leather). A single bookmark-like closure keeps everything in place, while the orange suede lining is perfect for cradling your favorite laptop.
Now let's look at the lovely Messenger Bag. It comes in four different finishes, once again matching a color of waxed canvas to a specific leather. Here we have charcoal/whiskey leather, charcoal/dark chocolate leather, navy/dark chocolate leather, and olive/dark chocolate leather as the choices. Our review bag used the navy/dark chocolate combo and it was stunningly beautiful. There's a large flap that closes over the top and front of the bag, with a leather closure that uses a metal peg inserted through a hole in the leather strap to secure the flap.
On that front surface is a lined pocket for an iPhone. Inside the case you'll find more storage space than you can shake a stick at. First, there's a large zippered pocket for an iPad Air or iPad mini -- when I say large, I mean that you can have a pretty hefty case on your tablet and it will still fit inside. Next, there are two large interior pockets that are designed to hold things like a MacBook AC adapter or an iPad mini in a really big case. There's a nice big slot into which your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air can slide, either "naked" or in one of the Sleeves. Finally, there are a pair of loops in which to clip a pen or stylus, and a pocket for business cards.
Pad & Quill partnered with another company to bring a lot of the sewing work to a plant in Leon, Mexico, and I love one of the personal touches that they've added. The person who sewed your Messenger Bag (in this case it was Magdalena) signs a leather patch on the inside of the case.
The shoulder strap is adjustable through a belt-like arrangement complete with a nickel-plated buckle, and can be set up either for comfortable carry behind your back or over your shoulder. There's a big leather pad for cushioning the weight of the bag and its contents on your shoulder. If there's one little improvement I could suggest, it would be to find a way to "roughen" the pad with a different material or perhaps stitched "bumps" to keep it from sliding off a shoulder.
OK, enough about the good looks of both products and the many pockets in the Messenger Bag -- how do they work in real life?
The Sleeve is perfect for fashionable transport of your favorite 13-inch MacBook. The combination of waxed canvas and leather not only looks awesome, but it provides a good secure grip that you don't get with a naked MacBook. This is beautiful and functional protection for a MacBook.
The Messenger Bag is kind of a minivan for your digital life -- you'd be surprised what you can fit into it. I started by placing the MacBook Pro (in the Sleeve) into the pocket, added an iPad mini and an iPad Air (with a keyboard cover), threw in my MacBook Pro charger (installed in a Quirky Curl), dropped my iPhone (in a Mophie case) into the outside pocket, and still had tons of room to spare.
MacBook Pro or MacBook Air owners who are just looking to protect a naked laptop while carrying it to work or school will find the Sleeve to be an affordable luxury. It's beautiful and offers protection for your Apple investment.
For carrying all of your digital tools, now and for the foreseeable future, you might want to consider investing in the Messenger Bag. Sure, it's expensive at $369, but the rugged construction is going to make that bag usable for years to come. If you don't need a larger laptop, you're going to have the Messenger Bag for a long, long time. Pad & Quill offers a 25-year leather warranty -- by the time that warranty's up, your bag will look like it has been carried on a number of adventures by Indiana Jones, but it will still be functional.
I'm pleased that Pad & Quill chose to expand into the computer sleeve and bag market, as the manufacturer has built a reputation for quality and design with its iPad and iPhone cases that is now obviously carrying over into the new line.
Rating (The Sleeve): 4 out of 4 stars possible
Rating (The Messenger Bag): 4 out of 4 stars possible
We have one of the very lovely Sleeves to give away to a lucky TUAW reader. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before February 23, 2014 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected and will receive a Pad & Quill The Sleeve for 13-inch MacBook Pro/Air valued at US$99.99