Carry Your Laptops In Style, and In Charge, With STM Bags

GeekMom Household Gadgets Reviews
The STM Bags “Drifter Energy” bag easily holds all your devices, and provides charging power to most of them too! Image credit: Patricia Vollmer

Raise your hand if transporting numerous devices to and from work and school is now part of your life.

“Oh yes! That would be me!” <Raises hand>

You aren’t the only one, that’s for sure. In my Air Force Academy part-time jobs, I routinely have to transport a work laptop to and fro, and I also have my (non-work) smart phone that gets tossed into the same bag.

Our friends at STM Bags has numerous options for making those device-laden commutes easier, and stylish too.

I was sent the Drifter Energy device-charging 15″ laptop backpack  and the Grace 13″ deluxe laptop sleeve for MacBooks to check out, and I’m going to tell you: they’re slim, they’re stylish, and they’ll do the job.

STM Bags ‘Drifter Energy’ Charging Backpack

Image credit: Patricia Vollmer
Image credit: Patricia Vollmer

The Drifter Energy backpack centers around a suspended soft-plush-lined pocket that will accommodate a laptop up to 15″. We tried it with our 15″ Acer Aspire and it fit quite well. Pictured above is our son’s 13″ Chromebook. In addition there are several other pockets for other devices; devices that can be easily plugged into the Joey T35 integrated battery.

The Joey T35 is a 3500 mA battery pack designed to semi-permanently reside in backpacks and other bags, featuring a larger battery pack that rests in a custom pocket at the bottom of the Drifter backpack. The “satellite” unit clips into an easier-to-access part of the bag. In the case of the Drifter, the satellite hangs right next to the device pocket. This makes quick plugging-in a simple task. The Drifter Energy includes a 6′ microUSB-to-USB cable to charge the battery; the cable can also be flipped around to charge anything that takes microUSB, such as your Android phones, rechargeable headphones, eReaders, tablets, or GPS units. I fully charged the Joey unit in about 3 hours, and was able to restore a full charge to my iPhone at the rate of about 2% per minute. The indicator lights on the satellite unit will advise on how much charge is available.

In addition to the space allotted for the laptop and devices, there are several additional zipper pockets which will accommodate other small items, from keys to wallets to small notebooks. There’s an exterior elasticized pocket on one side to hold a water bottle. My 1 liter Nalgene was a tight fit, but it worked. More-slender water bottles and soda bottles will fit easily. The main compartment will hold a couple other notebooks or folders, but this is not meant to serve as a bag to hold all the things. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fit my calculus textbook in the bag when it also was holding the 13″ laptop, a Samsung tablet, my son’s Droid Turbo phone, and the charging battery. According to the website, the Drifter Energy has about 1100 cubic inches of capacity. Note that this is about 30% smaller than an L.L. Bean Original Book Pack, and about 45% less capacity than an L.L. Bean Deluxe Book Pack (which is what my sons use for school).

I toted the Drifter Energy back and forth to and from work for about two weeks. It fit my laptop, a couple folders, my 8 1/4″ x 5″ Moleskine notebook, wallet, glasses case, and iPhone. It did not fit my softsided lunchbox, which I usually store inside my laptop bag.

That being said, for a traveler, who perhaps doesn’t need to tote a calculus textbook or lunchbox on a plane or train, this bag is awesome! The way the laptop pocket sits in the backpack results in a nearly-suspended status, which should help with any impacts the bag might encounter.

The backpack straps are good quality, including an adjustable waist belt and chest belt that can slide up and down for a custom fit.

STM Bags works with the RewardTag program to include a keytag to attach to the backpack. This keytag features a code that someone who finds the bag can use to help return it to its owner.

The RewardTags program helps your bag get found if it gets lost or stolen. Image credit: Patricia Vollmer
The RewardTags program helps your bag get found if it gets lost or stolen. Image credit: Patricia Vollmer

Finally (and this is one of my favorite features!), be sure to check the pocket at the very bottom of the Drifter Energy for an added bonus: a rain cover! It’s somewhat attached to the bag itself (it’s possible to separate it), which makes quick coverage easy: simply unzip and yank the waterproof cover from the bottom, up and over!

The Drifter Energy charging laptop backpack retails for $269.99, and comes in three colors—navy blue, graphite grey, and woodland camoflauge. The Drifter Energy is available through the STM Bags website as well as other retailers such as Amazon. STM Bags also makes a non-charging version of the bag, the classic Drifter model, which retails for $139.95 and has the same color choices as the Drifter Energy.

STM Bags ‘Grace’ Deluxe Laptop Sleeve for 13″ MacBooks

The "Amazing" Grace laptop sleeve for 13" MacBooks. Image credit: Patricia Vollmer
The “Amazing” Grace deluxe laptop sleeve for 13″ MacBooks. I received a “denim” colored one. Image credit: Patricia Vollmer

The second item I received was a “Grace” deluxe laptop sleeve, aptly named for U.S. Navy Admiral “Amazing” Grace Hopper, the inspirational computer scientist and military leader. I’m sure she needs no further introduction to this audience.

Image credit: Patricia Vollmer
Image credit: Patricia Vollmer

The Grace laptop sleeve has a thick foam protective layer and a soft sueded interior fabric meant to truly cushion your MacBook. My 2012 MacBook Pro fits very snugly into the sleeve, the magnetic flap closes easily, and the leather (like) straps let you sling it on your shoulder.

My 13" MacBook Pro fits perfectly inside the suede(ish)-lined sleeve. Image credit: Patricia Vollmer
My 13″ MacBook Pro fits perfectly inside the suede(ish)-lined sleeve. Image credit: Patricia Vollmer

However, please don’t confuse the stylish Grace laptop sleeve with a laptop case, bag, or backpack. There is very little space for anything other than the laptop. Yes, there’s a zippered front pocket that has dedicated space for pens and slim items, but it’s meant for very slim items. Want to take your power cord along? Well, if you have a standard MacBook power cord, it doesn’t fit into the Grace. How about your iPhone? It’s a tight fit, it might work. My wallet and iPhone didn’t fit into the outside pocket together very gracefully (see what I did there?) Neither did my keys. I could work hard to stuff everything in but it was such a tight fit, well, it simply wasn’t pleasant.

Want to carry your MacBook power cord along with your MacBook in the Grace sleeve? It won't be easy... Image credit: Patricia Vollmer
Want to carry your MacBook power cord along with your MacBook in the Grace sleeve? It won’t be easy… Image credit: Patricia Vollmer

That being said, for the numerous times I carried my MacBook out without the power cord over the past month (for <1 hour worth of work), the Grace was perfect. It’s lightweight, easy to load and unload (when there’s nothing else in the bag), and I didn’t have to fiddle with zippers.

The Grace deluxe line of laptop sleeves comes in 13″ and 15″ sizes, and even though they’re sewn expressly for MacBooks, many other 13″ and 15″ slim laptops, Chromebooks, and Ultrabooks. The Grace comes in four fun colors: night sky (denim blue), coral/dove (coral color and off-white), dark purple (two tone purple), and teal dot/night sky (teal with white dots with denim blue bottom). My son’s 13″ Chromebook (pictured in the top photo in the Drifter Energy backpack) fit nicely…although there was a tiny bit more space between the top lid and bottom base. The Grace deluxe sleeve retails for $59.95 (regardless of whether you choose the 13″ and 15″ version). If you don’t need the magnetic closure or shoulder straps, the classic Grace laptop sleeve is available for only $39.95 and features the same color combinations.

GeekMom received complimentary samples of the Drifter Energy and Grace laptop bags for review purposes.

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