After I got my new 10.1” notebook at the turn of the decade, Charmaine bought me a laptop bag to carry it in.

Given how picky she knows I am, I’m surprised I’m still using it, even though my new ultrabook doesn’t fit into the padded laptop section and that the catch has broken so that the bag can’t be closed properly.

So I’ve been looking for a new one. By gum, it’s difficult!

Size matters

Trawling through Amazon and ordering a couple of canvas / canvas & leather bags, I’m beginning to thing to think that one centimetre is not the same across the world, particularly in that part of the Far East most of the bags on offer come from.

Image: canvas bag.
Well, I like it…

There’s this one, which looks quite nice, especially the angled half-depth cover/flap. But it isn’t the stated 32cm x 30cm, it’s nearer 29cm x 28cm on the outside and  a bit smaller inside. A couple of centimetres on the width doesn’t matter (fnarr), but it means that the bag is too short to hold A4 papers. What’s the point of being a messenger bag if you can’t hold A4? I even had trouble getting my brolly in there. Too small, sent back.

Then I tried something a little larger. It wasn’t until I had it sat on my lap, hanging halfway onto the person next to me on the train, that I thought to measure it. Not the advertised 35cm but closer to 43cm. That’s about 3 inches difference in old money. Too big, going back.

And why do bags with laptop sections have metal zips at the back of the laptop section? It’ll just scrape along and scratch the back of your laptop or tablet. At least make it a plastic zip and tag, jeepers. And a handle on top, laptop bags get heavy when they have a laptop in them. And why has no-one ever invented a laptop bag with a removable padded section, so you can use it as a sleeve when you don’t need the whole bag? (Ooh – I’ve just invented a thing.)

I’ve now ordered my third bag, another messenger-style one, which for some reason is coming via Krefeld in Germany. I am not holding my breath here.


Sadly, even if I could find the materials I lack the needlework skills to make one myself, despite Sr Augustine’s best efforts when I was at St Benedict’s, almost 40 years ago (yikes). But I know what I’d like, if any of you have decent stitching skills?

Start off with something that looks like that first bag, but make it the correct height for A4; or, perhaps, a 12.9″ iPad Pro with keyboard. Why not? That’s still only 31cm x 23 cm, internally. (The ultrabook needs 33cm x 23cm. Hmm.) Almost double the depth to 10cm and divide it in two, so that the rear half can be zipped up along the top – like the original and similar bags – but with an easy-access front section. Your general stuff would go in the front bit, your tablet, Kindle or small laptop in the zipped rear bit for a bit more peace of mind.

Add loops of lining material (or pockets, but they will wear through at the base eventually and pull at the seams more) in the front section to hold a water bottle or a brolly on either side, and loops for a phone, spectacles case or wallet and a couple of pens at the front. The zipped section doesn’t need anything inside it except a little extra padding.

A front pocket, covered by the flap, to hold something A5- or iPad Mini-sized – no zip, just a pouch. And make the front flap adjustable by having two sets of magnetic catches or press studs (no Velcro, thank you) instead of just the one set, for those occasions when you overstuff the bag or put in something a tad larger than A4. No need for pockets or holders on the outside, but an open pocket on the rear wouldn’t do any harm. Wide, adjustable strap for carrying, perhaps even a shorter one across the top of the flap for carrying in your hand. If you really wanted to go to town, make it block RFID signals too.

That would do for me, securely hold everything I might want to carry to and from work and only has a single point of failure – the one zip. I’ve seen bags with six or more zipped pockets, which is just silly. They’re always the first things to go.

Anyone up for the challenge? I think we’d be on to a winner.