Accessory Roundup: Six great iPad satchels
Your iPad’s only useful if you’ve got it with you. In situations where a briefcase proves too formal and a backpack seems too cumbersome, an iPad-sized satchel is the way to go. To help you choose one that best suits your needs, we’ve reviewed six iPad satchels.
Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad
If you’re in the market for an iPad bag that’ll stand up to a rough-and-tumble commute, rain, dirt and just about anything else your work week can throw at it, you’ll want to consider buying a Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad ($125). Light weight, and featuring a padded iPad compartment, the Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad comes in multiple colors, and is constructed from U.S. 1050 denier ballistic nylon, which has a tight enough weave to provide a modicum of water resistance and even repel cat and dog hair.
The Ristretto’s iPad compartment and ample, zippered secondary pocket are both lined with brightly colored rip-stop nylon, which provides a great deal of durability, and makes finding odds and ends even in poor lighting conditions a snap. Perhaps the best feature of this insanely awesome bag is one of its available extras. For an additional $20, Tom Bihn will include an ‘Absolute’ Shoulder strap with your order. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most comfortable shoulder straps we’ve ever encountered on any bag.
Rating: 5 out of 5
SENA Messenger Bag for iPad
While it’s nominally designed for use with the third-generation iPad, this handsome leather satchel from SENA Case ($149.99) will serve older versions of the tablet just as well. Constructed of sturdy black leather, and boasting a magnetically sealed flap to keep your tablet and other contents safe inside, the Messenger Bag’s svelte lines would look at home in even the most formal of office settings.
Additional features include an adjustable shoulder strap, and a concealed slip pocket that’s sized to fit a smartphone, USB charger and perhaps a Moleskine-sized notebook. As with most SENA products, the case oozes quality.
Despite its good looks, the bag is not without it’s faults. While the strap is indeed adjustable, we found that due to it’s strong, stiff construction, it's uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. The same stiff construction also makes it difficult to jam outsized objects into the bag. Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that the bag’s high quality leather is very susceptible to scraps and scuffs, making it a poor choice if you battle a daily commute on public transit. That said, for anyone with little more than their iPad to carry that’s looking for a beautiful way to transport their tablet back and forth to work, The SENA Messenger Bag for iPad is a great option.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Booq Cobra Courier XS
Long-time Apple aficionados already know of Booq’s reputation for making quality MacBook-centric bags, sleeves and backpacks. Fortunately, Booq has the backs of iPad users covered as well.
Thanks to its blend of water-repellant ballistic nylon, Nappa leather accents, a padded iPad compartment, and a rubberized bottom, the Cobra Courier XS ($145) features sleek, modern lines, while providing ample protection from bumps and liquids. Thanks to a zippered front compartment and a storage sleeve sewn into the back of the bag, there's adequate room for toting your daily necessities as well.
We weren’t thrilled with the Cobra Courier’s seatbelt-style strap, however. While, the strap adjusts to fit most users, we found it uncomfortable—sometimes biting into our shoulders when carrying heavier loads or when wearing the bag for a prolonged period.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Brenthaven ProStyle Courier for iPad
The first thing you’ll notice about the Brenthaven ProStyle Courier for iPad ($69.95) is that it’s significantly cheaper than the other bags we’ve looked so far. The second thing you’ll notice is that you get what you pay for. While Brenthaven’s ProStyle Courier for bag is capable enough, it lacks the good looks, build quality and protection of some of the other products we’ve tested.
That said, the Courier isn't without its charms. The ProStyle offers slightly more room than SENA and Booq's bags, making it better for commuters who need a bit more room. We also found that the ProStyle Courier’s adjustable shoulder strap is more comfortable than Booq's Cobra Courier strap. Despite these niceties, we can’t recommend the Brenthaven ProStyle Courier for iPad as a top pick to anyone but the budget-minded.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Pelican i1075 HardBack Case with iPad Insert
While the i1075 retails for $150, it can be found for as low as $45 on sites like Amazon and eBay. For anyone that works in a hostile environment, the case is a steal at any price. Compatible with all three iterations of the iPad, the Pelican i1075 is constructed of thick, hard plastic, and features a sturdy, molded interior designed to secure your iPad, an Apple Wireless Keyboard, your charge cables, charger and headphones.
Thanks to a cleverly designed waterproof gasket and equalization valve system, the case is effectively water and dust-proof once sealed, making it an ideal accessory for keeping your expensive tablet hardware safe even under the harshest of circumstances.
Our only complaint about the Pelican i1075 is the shoulder strap. Due to the weight of the case and it’s contents, the thin strap provided little comfort. Still, given the specific functionality of this bag/case, we can’t complain too much about the fact that the strap digs in as we lug the i1075 around. This is a tough bag made for tough situations and it performs admirably.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Waterfield The Indy
Chronically back-ordered, Waterfield’s laptop, tablet, and gaming system cases are typically of the highest quality. Their latest iPad case, The Indy ($179) is no exception.
An ultra-thin satchel-style bag, The Indy is constructed out of distressed leather that has the look and feel of an heirloom item, but without the structural wear that comes along with years of hard use. With The Indy, Waterfield forgoes the use of a flap to provide the bag’s contents with an additional layer of protection from the elements, opting for the use of a single zipper instead. While this might provide users with easy access to their tablet, we wouldn’t want to get caught out in the rain with The Indy.
The bag’s secondary pocket fares even worse, as it has no cover flap or zipper at all. Much like the SENA Messenger Bag, The Indy unfortunately puts form and fashion over function. For many people, that’s not a bad thing.
If you’re style conscious, this could well be the bag you’ve been looking for—especially when you throw in the fact that it’s also available in black and be outfitted with one of six different accent colors and two different hardware finishes. For anyone other than fashion plates, especially with it’s $179 price tag, That said, you can find a tougher and more versatile—albeit less attractive—bag for less money, and without the wait that comes with Waterfield’s products.
Rating: 3out of 5
It’s a tie between The Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad and Pelican’s i1075 Hardback Case with iPad Insert. For most people, the Tom Bihn Ristretto will prove to be a functional, durable and attractive purchase that will serve them for years to come. For users whose jobs require them to venture into harsher environments than the average office cubicle, Pelican’s 1075 is the way to go. It's tough as nails, dustproof and waterproof—your iPad will be better-protected than you are.