Cram your entire life into this streamlined messenger bag

This thing fits a *lot* of stuff. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

This thing fits a lot of stuff. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I’m all about minimalist bags; paring down my kit to the bare essentials so I’m not bogged down when traipsing from place to place is a daily goal of mine. I’ve gone minimal with my wallet, my MacBook and the various digital and analog ephemera I need to carry with me as I go about daily tasks for work and at home.

There is a time, however, when you need to have a larger subset of your general kit. You might need that extra battery pack (or two), your MacBook Pro, both your iPads, a couple of backup hard drives, an external keyboard, a gaming mouse, a PlayStation Vita, headphones and (of course) all the associated wires and plugins that these items require. Oh, and maybe a water bottle, a wallet, an iPhone and a set of keys.

That’s the exact stuff I’ve got packed into an STM Quantum Messenger bag — and it fits handily, with room to spare.

While I’m able to fit a ton of gear and extras into this messenger bag, it’s surprisingly low-profile, fitting easily on my back as a cross-chest bag, and nestling nicely on my hip when I sling it over one shoulder to head into a coffee shop. The slim design holds all its secrets on the inside and in flush pockets around the exterior of the Quantum, letting all your stuff ride in comfort without bulking up.

The shoulder strap has a nicely padded shoulder protector and adjusts easily with a cam that you can quickly pull on to make it shorter or longer. The carry handles at the top of the bag tuck away nicely, too, into little pockets for that express purpose, streamlining the whole look.

The killer feature here, though, is the incredible amount and variety of little pockets throughout the bag, both internally and on the outside. The notebook-size sleeve fits my 13-inch MacBook Pro with room to spare, and it’s nicely lined with a feltlike material; this is one of the two main pockets in the bag.

There’s a full-size iPad pocket inside the main compartment, along with two pockets on the front of it — one that holds my LaCie rugged Thunderbolt hard drive and the other with a gaming mouse inside. On the front of these two pockets is another, looser pocket with elastic at the top, which currently keeps track of my external keyboard (the Kensington K811, if you’re keeping track).

Opposite in the same compartment are two good-size zippered pockets that manage my iPad mini and a PSVita handheld gaming device with style. Between these two sides of the inner compartment are a little holder for a water bottle and a roomy floor where I can cram in a pair of running shoes (or my MacBook’s power plug and an extra battery pack).

Pockets and more pockets keep everything tidy and at the ready. Photo: Rob LeFebvre, Cult of Mac

Pockets and more pockets keep everything tidy and at the ready. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

On one side of the Quantum, there’s a document pocket that fits quite a few comic books for those stolen nerdy moments, and a strap that lets you slide the bag onto a rolling travel suitcase. The opposite exterior sports a small zippered pocket that’s just the right size for my iPhone and a set of keys, or my sunglasses. Below that is another zipper that reveals an organizer’s dream: two pockets just the right dimensions for something the size of a deck of cards and three little pen/stylus holders. Opposite that is a see-through inner zipper pocket that I put all my cables in – it’s easy to see at a glance which cables I have.

I stuffed as many things as I possibly could into this bag, and still have room for more. It’s perfect for the gaming conferences I go to, where I need to have room to put brochures and the little bits of swag the vendors give out, and still have everything I could possibly need (including a DSLR camera) for the show floor.

It’s also a great way to carry along some light running gear with my laptop and iPad for when I need to get out for a run after a day crammed into a coffee shop chair to write. It’s one less bag I need to worry about when on the go.

There’s really nothing to complain about with this very competent, streamlined, carry-everything-with-you messenger bag. It only comes in black or gray at the moment, so some nicer, more earth-tone materials might be a nice addition to the line. If you’re in need of a bag that can carry all your digital life, plus a ton of extra stuff, whether you’re in the business world or just someone with a lot of stuff, the Quantum bag from STM is a screamingly good deal at the suggested retail price of $99.99, and even better when you can find it for $72.99 online.

DSC06125Quantum Messenger Bag by STM ($72.99 online)
The good: Tons of highly organized space to fit just about everything you’d need to take your digital, gaming or business life on the road. Highly streamlined bag works as a briefcase, shoulder bag or messenger case.
The bad: Nothing here to complain about at all, though some different materials might be nice.
The verdict: Want something to store everything you can think of? This is the one to get.
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About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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