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  1. #1
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    Commuting with a Laptop

    I'm starting a new job in a week, where I'll be thankfully commuting by bike full time again. The differnece this time is that I'll be carrying around a laptop. Not just any laptop, and big mother of a laptop. Approximately 12" x 15.5" x 1.6". I've been browsing around a bit, and most laptop bags don't have a sleeve for a computer that big. Any thoughts on shoving it in the main compartment of the backpack? I really like hte Chrome roll top water proof bags, but the look like they wear high on your back, and they are kind of pricey. Whatever I get needs to have plenty of room for my street clothes and a lunch. My old backpack was nothing special, just sturdy and I think it was around 1,100 in^3, and was a bit overstuffed at times, and I know even a medium sized laptop would be tight fit. The summer is not a big deal because I won't be carrying that much clothing, but come winter I'll need space for extra layers. I intend to invest in warm clothes that pack down small, and lgiht, which should help.

    Any thoughts?

    BM

    edit: I thinking I like this one- http://www.rei.com/product/768564?vcat=REI_SEARCH
    I don't see that it has a laptop sleeve, but maybe I can DIY a protective sleeve or something.
    Last edited by Ultra Magnus; 03-15-2008 at 02:22 PM.
    "I've come to believe that common sense is not that common" - Matt Timmerman

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    I think you would have a lot more options for bags if you bought a laptop carry case. I roll with a 15.4 Dell and a case in a mid sized L.L. Bean daypack almost every day, Never had a problem.

  4. #4
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    Wow. Those are both really good suggestions. I wonder if it not too late to add that laptop sleeve to my order from Dell....

    Hmmm...

    BM
    "I've come to believe that common sense is not that common" - Matt Timmerman

  5. #5
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    I'd probably just get it a neoprene sleeve and some sort of "waterproof" layer if you don't think you can get it in an average laptop bag.

    I have a smaller laptop (a 13" MacBook). I commute with it in a SwissArmy backpack that has a laptop area. When it rains I reuse an old plastic shopping bag (a nice thick one, not grocery store type) as an extra waterproofing layer. I don't think water has ever gotten through my backpack, but I've gotten it pretty soaked at times and I feel better knowing there is one more layer before my electronics.

    I did just get a messenger bag type thing. May have to invest in a neoprene sleeve now as the new bag doesn't have a specific padded area for Hugh...

  6. #6
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    BM;

    Hey checkout my thread a little further down regarding commuting with a laptop (and wearing clips). After the 50 or so replies, I ended up going with this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Targus-TSB109U.../dp/B000X4UFD0

    I looked at Chrome, Timbuk2, and Banjo Brothers as suggested in the thread, but for me, price was a consideration. Spending more than $100 was way out of the question. A close second was the timbuk2 "commute" in backpack form. I plan to be a fair weather commuter, so I really didn't need the extra space that a bigger bag offered.

    I'll get the bag on Wednesday and let you know what I think of it if you are interested. However, I won't have it in action for another couple of weeks (snow is almost gone!!).

    mark

  7. #7
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    Crumpler make plenty of bags to fit 17" notebooks, how big is this one you've mentioned? (hard to tell from the dimensions you've given).
    Quote Originally Posted by tom2304
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by akashra
    Crumpler make plenty of bags to fit 17" notebooks, how big is this one you've mentioned? (hard to tell from the dimensions you've given).
    Yeah, it's a 17" laptop. I'm really into the Crumpler Mahoubar backpack. REI's got it for $125, but I can get a 20% member discount so that's a good savings. Foor cooler weather I'll need the space to carry a few extra layers. Actually, it's the spring/fall weather that's the hardest to pack for. The temp difference from the morning commute in to the commute home can be a solid 40F spread. So, for the ride home not only do I have to carry all my street clothes hom, I also have to pack all the extra riding clothes I had to wear for cold morning the ride in, if that makes any sense.


    BM
    "I've come to believe that common sense is not that common" - Matt Timmerman

  9. #9

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    Try one of these. I have about 6000 miles of commuting with mine, and I love it. You can take your laptop to REI and make sure it fits.

  10. #10
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    I have a backpack somewhere that has a laptop section in it.

    Kinda like the one Rocky Rider posted above. Was great.

  11. #11

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    I've used the same Jandd Gabriel messenger bag for the past 15+ years. My 15" laptop fits fine inside. The waist belt system on the Jandd is really nice compared to other messenger packs as it very nicely secures the load and takes the pressure off your shoulder. I've used Chrome and Timbuk II periodically over the years, but always come back to the Jandd.

  12. #12
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    My Targus backpack is laptop ready with a padded sleeve. It's big enough for my Dell Inspiron with a bit of room to spare. I picked it up at Office Depot for 25 bucks.
    The wood is being bent! Let me know what you need!

  13. #13
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    I have a NorthFace Mainframe backpack (discontinued) which I used for three years in school with my Dell. It has a built in padded laptop sleeve. I now have a 13" Macbook and use a Booq Vyper ballistic nylon shell in a Chrome Metropolis bag. Granted I don't carry my laptop every day, but when I do It's the Chrome bag and the Mac.

  14. #14
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    I've been using a cheepo nashbar laptop sleeve and waterproof axiom pannier (just one)

    It's holding up fine.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmadau
    Yeah, it's a 17" laptop. I'm really into the Crumpler Mahoubar backpack. REI's got it for $125, but I can get a 20% member discount so that's a good savings. Foor cooler weather I'll need the space to carry a few extra layers. Actually, it's the spring/fall weather that's the hardest to pack for. The temp difference from the morning commute in to the commute home can be a solid 40F spread. So, for the ride home not only do I have to carry all my street clothes hom, I also have to pack all the extra riding clothes I had to wear for cold morning the ride in, if that makes any sense.


    BM
    I'm facing the exact same situation. In the afternoons, I end up carrying all my clothes, plus the cold weather gear I rode up with in the morning. Plus my laptop. I'm looking for some good ones. I found a few that look like they'd have plenty of room, funny thing is, this one says it's got 1659 cubic inches, but it looks bigger than this one, which says it's got over 2200 cubic inches.

    They both look like great bags, but I wanna make sure I get the one with the most space. And looks can be deceiving.
    I need it up, you need it down. You don't see me complaining when you leave it down.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by paqman
    I'm facing the exact same situation. In the afternoons, I end up carrying all my clothes, plus the cold weather gear I rode up with in the morning. Plus my laptop. I'm looking for some good ones. I found a few that look like they'd have plenty of room, funny thing is, this one says it's got 1659 cubic inches, but it looks bigger than this one, which says it's got over 2200 cubic inches.

    They both look like great bags, but I wanna make sure I get the one with the most space. And looks can be deceiving.
    Well, I went ahead and ordered a Built NY 17" laptop sleeve and that Crumple messenger bag, back pack really. I'll post back when I get it and say how it all fits. I'm considering getting a pair of shoes to leave at the office. My size 15 skis take up a good amount of space by themselves.

    BM
    "I've come to believe that common sense is not that common" - Matt Timmerman

  17. #17
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    I don't want to scare you, but my local computer store warned me not to carry my laptop in a backpack. The reason? When wearing a backpack, your back always bends a little (more so when riding a bike, as your arms and hands reach forward towards the handlebars) and the laptop will try to accommodate to that. Not a lot, obviously, but even a fraction of a millimetre is enough to cause serious damage. The shopkeeper had a guy come in recently who had ruined his laptop (broken the screen, no less!) in that way by commuting on motorcycle. Also, the bigger the laptop, the bigger the chance of it "bending".
    Carrying the laptop inside a strong case in panniers might be a better option. Oh, and panniers can be absolutely waterproof, so there would be no need to worry about downpours.

    Any thoughts or experiences?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orkje
    I don't want to scare you, but my local computer store warned me not to carry my laptop in a backpack. The reason? When wearing a backpack, your back always bends a little (more so when riding a bike, as your arms and hands reach forward towards the handlebars) and the laptop will try to accommodate to that. Not a lot, obviously, but even a fraction of a millimetre is enough to cause serious damage. The shopkeeper had a guy come in recently who had ruined his laptop (broken the screen, no less!) in that way by commuting on motorcycle. Also, the bigger the laptop, the bigger the chance of it "bending".
    Carrying the laptop inside a strong case in panniers might be a better option. Oh, and panniers can be absolutely waterproof, so there would be no need to worry about downpours.

    Any thoughts or experiences?
    I guess that's a valid concern, however, I definitely don't want to go with panniers, so a backpack is really my only option, as I'm sure it is with other folks. I've been carrying my laptop in a backpack for quite a while without any problems. Granted, I haven't started carrying it on my bike until now, but I think the tech's concerns are probably a little overboard. (Besides, my laptop is company owned, if it stops working, I get a new one!)
    I need it up, you need it down. You don't see me complaining when you leave it down.

  19. #19
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    I've been using this for my monster laptop for about a year and it's been great. I've even had a confrontation with a volvo and my laptop survived.
    http://www.ebags.com/jansport/lap_st...?modelid=81971

  20. #20
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    Yeah, I just ordered this High Sierra laptop backpack myself. Didn't have anything specifically geared towards protecting the laptop, other than the regular laptop padded sleeve. Most of the reason I got it was for the additional space inside. For the price range, it looks to be one of the larger laptop packs, while not being ridiculously huge. Now I should be able to carry all my gear to work with me.
    I need it up, you need it down. You don't see me complaining when you leave it down.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmadau
    I'm considering getting a pair of shoes to leave at the office. My size 15 skis take up a good amount of space by themselves.

    BM
    If you can leave gear at the office I thoroughly recommend it. Saves having to lug it backward and forward to work each day. If you can score a locker and have showers at work then even better!

    I'm lucky enough to have both which means I can leave shoes, belts, toiletries, towels etc. at work without having to lug them around. Saves weight and space in your bag.

    If you don't have those luxuries at least get another pair of shoes to stuff under your desk. Apart from your laptop, shoes will probably be the next heaviest item in your bag.

    Sorry to hijack your thread...
    My LBS | Riding this and this

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve_N
    If you can leave gear at the office I thoroughly recommend it. Saves having to lug it backward and forward to work each day. If you can score a locker and have showers at work then even better!

    I'm lucky enough to have both which means I can leave shoes, belts, toiletries, towels etc. at work without having to lug them around. Saves weight and space in your bag.

    If you don't have those luxuries at least get another pair of shoes to stuff under your desk. Apart from your laptop, shoes will probably be the next heaviest item in your bag.

    Sorry to hijack your thread...
    Totally good advice. I actually do have a locker at work. And showers. So I leave my toiletries and towel and things at work in my locker. Actually I got two lockers! :-) So I have room to hang my sweaty clothes to dry during the day. But I never thought about leaving my belt. Anything to decrease bulk. I have a pair of shoes at the office, but I usually like wear a different pair every now and then. But perhaps I ought to just sacrifice for the biking and just wear the pair I leave at work. Really, the gear that I have to carry is mostly clothes and my laptop, and then the warm clothes that I wore up that I need to carry home in the afternoon. But in a few weeks I won't have that problem.

    I gotta think of other stuff I can leave at work!
    I need it up, you need it down. You don't see me complaining when you leave it down.

  23. #23
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    If you're still undecided and willing to return the order, I think the Arkel Commuter bag may be the best answer; it's big enough to fit a Macbook Pro 15" with room to spare. Of course you'll need a rack, but racks are bit more comfortable than a backpack.

    I often carry a laptop & power cord, underwear, socks, suit, shirt a pair of shoes, tie, lunch, lock, thermos of coffee, blackberry and phone in my bag.


  24. #24
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    More stuff at work = less stuff to carry on the bike = easier/faster ride to work.

    I try to carry the absolute minimum in my backpack so have got it down now to clothes, personal effects such as phone, wallet, keys etc, and food. I also throw in a spare tube, even though I have an under-the-saddle bag with spare tube, lever, tool and spoke key. You can never have enough spare tubes, especially here on Sydney roads...
    My LBS | Riding this and this

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve_N
    More stuff at work = less stuff to carry on the bike = easier/faster ride to work.

    I try to carry the absolute minimum in my backpack so have got it down now to clothes, personal effects such as phone, wallet, keys etc, and food. I also throw in a spare tube, even though I have an under-the-saddle bag with spare tube, lever, tool and spoke key. You can never have enough spare tubes, especially here on Sydney roads...
    Totally, the funny thing is, when I say "gear" that's really all I'm talking about. I guess I was just using such a small backpack before, it seemed really tight. Maybe when I get my new bag in things will fit a little better.
    I need it up, you need it down. You don't see me complaining when you leave it down.

  26. #26
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    Try Arkel

    I currently use the Arkel Briefcase for my commute. It fits the massive 17" dell Vostro. When you order it ask for a bigger sleeve and they'll make the sleeve big enough to fit your laptop.

    Rush Carter
    CS West Bikes
    [email protected]

  27. #27
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    Well, my REI order showed up today and my Built NY laptop sleeve showed up a couple of does ago. The sleeve is pretty nice quality, but is a tight fit for my Dell Precision M6300. It seems to be stretching out a bit because it's easier to get it in now than it was when I first got it. I hope it gets even better with time. It's supposed to be a tight stretch fit, but I think I'm pushing it a bit. If ti was only 1" longer, it'd be golden.

    Well, I guess that's pretty much the same deal with Crumpler Mahoubar messenger pack. It's a very nicely constructed pack, but I can fit my laptop and shoes, or laptop and clothes, or very easily with a LOT of room to spare if I just shove my shoes and clothes in there, but not everything. The mouth of the bag (top loader) is for some reason smaller than the bottom of the bag so getting large items in is a bit of a challenge. It'd be much better if it had an expansion zipper or something, and a wider opening mouth. I'll keep both and see how they work in practical use. For now I'll keep my spare set of shoes at work, and my wife can drop by extra junk while she out running errands (she'd be out anyway)... As a business pack, to carry the computer and other papers, books, etc., it'd do quite nicely.

    I may eventually commute with a trailer. I've had it on my mind to build a single wheel trailer like the extrawheel trailer for some time. I'd make to basically be a pannier rack with it's own wheel, that could attach to a Bob qr...

    BM
    "I've come to believe that common sense is not that common" - Matt Timmerman

  28. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulrad9
    If you're still undecided and willing to return the order, I think the Arkel Commuter bag may be the best answer; it's big enough to fit a Macbook Pro 15" with room to spare. Of course you'll need a rack, but racks are bit more comfortable than a backpack.

    I often carry a laptop & power cord, underwear, socks, suit, shirt a pair of shoes, tie, lunch, lock, thermos of coffee, blackberry and phone in my bag.

    I have the Arkel commuter and it holds a 17" Macbookpro.

    but you could also go for this approach


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