Brenthaven Pro 12/15
Requirements: 12″ or 15″ laptop
More than two decades, half of my life, has been spent on the quest for the ideal computer bag. Along the way I have encountered many, many bags, in all form factors, sizes, and styles. As I advanced in years, I recognized that my tastes and needs have advanced as well. For a long time I was obsessed with the backpacks and really colorful bags, which would stand out from the crowd and be considered funky. At this point in my life I am looking for something a little more reserved—and definitely on my shoulder, not my back.
For this purpose, I shall focus on computer shoulder bags and only those that I deem worthy of review. There are far too bag makers and vendors out there hawking items of dubious quality. Our computers are far too valuable to be entrusted to just any bag. I should say at this point that some of the better bags I have come across in my travels did not start out their lives as computer bags. There are a number of mountaineering companies who have designed some really nice gear and with just a little bit of tweaking can be much more than serviceable.
Brenthaven’s Core Protection system is a compartment outfitted with a removable and adjustable padded foam sleeve. The sleeve is comprised of hard-sided panels, and snaps in tightly to the interior notebook compartment. Brenthaven claims its protection is “unparalleled” and that it acts as a cradle protecting the computer from impact on all four corners and two sides. While I was not about to use my very own PowerBook as a test subject, the manufacturer kindly points out that this system will provide for the “maximum defense from unexpected drops, bang and bumps.” It sounds nice, and while it is assuredly more protection than most bags offer, I am not about to unexpectedly drop, bang, or bump my PowerBook in their bag. Thank you very much.
The bag is not going to win any points for style. It is basic black, and its shape is boxy. Nobody is going to confuse the 12/15 Pro with anything other than a computer bag. Any criminal bent on acquiring a notebook computer is not going to have look far when you enter the room with this bag on your shoulder. The exterior is made of military grade ballistic nylon and is no worse for wear, even after three grueling weeks with me carrying it on New York’s sweltering sidewalks and steamy subway system.
I pack a lot in my computer bag—I reckon more than most, indeed more than the average road warrior. Apart from my notebook there is my MP3 player, headphones, digital camera, portable hard drives, spare battery, AC adapter, mobile phone, digital memory, memory adapters, cables, and a set of international power adapters. For this reason, the first thing I look at inside any bag, is where they expect me to store all of my gadgets and peripheral equipment.
Brenthaven’s 12/15 has more than enough pockets and compartments, but they are not well thought out, nor are they really well constructed. It is a shame that a better job could not have been done sorting this area out. Granted, I could fit all my devices inside, but then getting to them in a constructive manner was simply a lost cause. I was not impressed with the interior design at all. It resembled a host of other bags, and were it not for the isolation system and the feel of its exterior, this bag would hardly stand out from the crowd.
I really wanted to like this bag more than I do, but alas, that is not the case. Buy it because it is a workhorse, because it will both isolate and protect your notebook; however, if style and/or functionality play any role in your decision making process when purchasing a computer bag, do look elsewhere.