Works With:iPad Air, Mini
Price: $108 as tested
If Indiana Jones carried an iPad, he’d carry it in the Outback Solo. It’s a beautiful, tough waxed-canvas and leather number, with a padded lining for an iPad, pockets on the front for an iPhone and a wallet or a charger, a little loop on the front for handing your whip and a leather flap that closes with a magnetic clasp to keep out snakes. It’s pretty great.
What It Is
The Outback Solo solves a few specific problems. It lets you carry a minimal load of an iPad Air (or Mini – it fits just fine), plus a few essentials like cash and small gadgets. And that’s it. This isn’t a giant bag that will crush your shoulder bones into your ribcage, nor is it a mere folio sleeve offering minimal protection and maximal dorkitude.
No, the Outback is a man’s purse.
It comes in a few sizes, which differ only in their width and therefore the amount of iPad they can carry – you can go commando, or use a Smart Cover or Smart Case. If you have an iPad mini it’ll fit just fine. I’ve been using mine with a mini is a Smart Cover plus a Kindle paperwhite, and I can even squeeze in a small paper notebook, although getting the lid to click shut is tricky if you stuff it too full.
The other option is the shoulder strap. This adjusts from short to very long, so you can keep the bag low on your hip, or just use it if you’re a fatty.
Style. This is a cool-looking bag no doubt, and the materials – canvas and leather – only get better as they get older, kind of like Harrison Ford himself. It will last, too. The bag’s not heavy exactly, but it’s no lightweight either – the fabric is thick, the stitching tough and the strap fixings are nicely engineered: the ends of the straps loop through holes on the back of the leather flap and then fasten onto themselves using press-studs.
Thus, you can either use the bag over the shoulder (tough and macho) or as a clutch (neither tough nor macho). Using it without the strap also makes the Outback Solo perfect for traveling, as it keeps the essentials together and protected while letting you slip the whole lot into a larger suitcase or carry-on.
I also like the strap arrangement. It fastens to the back of the bag with the straps laying parallel with the body of the bag. This lets the Outback lay comfortably against your hip or waist without the straps cutting or getting in the way.
Finally, the magnetic clasp is quick and easy to use, with the heavy leather flap stating mostly closed anyway, and the padding inside is dense enough to protect without being bulky.
The clasp, while effective, only has one position, so if you do overstuff the bag the top flap will sit slightly ajar. The flap looks like it has multiple positions for length adjustment, but that’s an illusion. A shame, as it’d make the bag more flexible.
The other problem is inevitable given the Outback’s design. When there’s an iPad inside, the bag is stiff, and therefore can’t conform to the shape of your hip. This is alleviated slightly by the clever placing of the straps, but you’ll still feel the bag bounce around and get in the way because it’s a stuff rectangle.
I usually carry an iPad, a Kindle and – in the winter – a rain jacket and a bottle of water, so for me the Outback is more useful as a kind of evening bag when I go out to a nearby bar for a coffee. But in the summer, or if you’re the kind of person who only needs to tote an iPad and some cash, it’s perfect. It’s also just about the most minimal way I’ve seen to carry an iPad fully protected, but at the same time easy to access. And as iPads are only likely to get smaller and thinner, it’s a case that will actually be useful for years to come.
Product Name: Outback Solo for iPad Air
The Good: Stylish, extremely practical, will outlast all your other bags.
The Bad: Don’t try to squeeze too much in here.
The Verdict Perfect for what it does, not suited for much else. It’s a study in well-considered compromise. Also: Indiana frikkin’ Jones!
Buy from: Waterfield