Boa Flow backpack is like having your own personal Sherpa


Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

When I opened the (huge) shipping box that brought the new Boa Flow to Cult of Mac’s German HQ, I thought I’d hate it (the bag, not the box). But it turned out to be one of my favorite bags for lugging a lot of gear with me.

The Boa Flow is made for “creative professionals.” That is, it’s for anyone who needs to carry computers, cameras, headphones and other accessories, and to this end it had zillions of pockets and storage sections. The best part is that there are many options for every kind of item. You can put your MacBook in the separate slot by your back, for example, or you can slip it into a pocket in the main chamber.

Feed me now.


If you have an iPad, you have even more choice, and if you use the bag for your camera gear there’s a special protected, easy-access section at the bottom, and a lot of pockets inside where you can stow lenses.


  • Separate waterproof section big enough for 17-inch MacBook.
  • Protected bottom section with its own opening, which can also be collapsed to give more room in the main bag.
  • “Hidden” pocket in the waist strap for cash, phone.
  • Little zippered pouch up top for phone/MP3 player.
  • Cavernous interior which can be used whole, or with pockets that fold in and out of the way.
  • Side pockets that can zip closed even with a bottle of water in there.
  • Chest and hip straps.
  • YKK zippers and rain cover.The Flow even gets lighter as you heft it. I don’t like structured, weighty bags, and I felt every gram of the 1.65 kg (3.64 pound) bag when I first lifted it. Add a water bottle, a thermos of tea, an iPad and a stack of books and it weighs a ton.
No matter how much you put in, there’s still more space.

But once it’s on your back, with the hip belt and the chest strap buckled, it feels like it weighs nothing. Better still, if you ride a bike the hip strap supports most of the weight on the bike, and the padded back is made of breathable fabric. It won’t stop you sweating in summer heat, but it’s a lot better than plain nylon.

I also like the separate bottom section. I use it collapsed, with the protective support removed, but this means that I can drop water bottles and so on in the bottom of the bag, with all the electronics and paper items tucked into the pockets, well above any potential spills. I also like that I can open the bag up, peel back the main flap and work out of it like a mini mobile office. This is helped by the pale interior of the bag, which makes finding lost widgets easy.

This is one of the sturdiest bags I’ve used.

In short, this is one of the sturdiest bags I’ve used, but it manages to be relatively light and distributes its loaded weight well. I find the pockets to be useful rather than annoying, and the neat touches (the top phone pocket, the headphone hanger inside and the carry handle that’s just a weightless gap in the main strap assembly) have been well thought out. Recommended.

Boa flow by Booq ($225 list)
The good: Capacious, comfortable when full, packed with clever features, super versatile.
The bad: Shoulder straps need careful adjustment, dorky-looking.
The verdict: A fantastic bag, even for folks who don’t normally like this kind of thing.
Buy from Booq