[Editor's note: We got a satchel to review so I asked the style expert of the house do this one]
I’m a big fan of Jill.e’s uncommon (read: not black) camera bags, but the company seems to be expanding its offerings to style-minded users of other technology. I’m talking about women and men who have laptops, iPhones, e-readers and tablets to cart around (sometimes all at once), but who do not find those black polyester padded bags appealing in the least. So it piqued my interest when the company offered to send us a bag to review. As Mrs. 9to5mac and mother of two, I often have gadgets on the go. Even our 3-year-old has his own iPhone. (It’s simcard-free and makes eating out possible. Don’t judge.)
The women’s bag I have been toting for the past week is the laptop satchel, part of the company’s plaid-clad E-GO line. It’s worked well for many configurations of gadgetry: iPad + Canon SLR, MacBook + Canon SLR, Kindle + iPad. This thing is surprisingly huge, which can be a bad thing for your back, or a good thing when you want to commute with your laptop and ereader in style.Truth be told, the satchel has often doubled as a diaper bag, which is the reality of trying to leave the house with a baby and a preschooler.
First, I’d like to point out the iPhone-sized keychain attachment, which I believe is totally unsanctioned for phone use. But it was a perfect, snug fit, so this has been my configuration for the moment. I probably wouldn’t recommend this in the long term, however, as I imagine the material stretching (but I don’t know for sure). There is plenty of room inside, although I do wish there were an additional, more narrow pocket inside specifically for a phone.
The inside has the following, from front to back: one zippered pouch (wide enough for a Kindle Touch but not the Fire), two wider, open pouches (wide enough for the Kindle Fire or for a pouch of wipes), a large cavity that I used for a plethora of baby supplies I don’t need to get into, and finally, the padded laptop/tablet area secured by a strap. The latter was way roomier than our iPad needed, even in its toddler-resistant G-Form protective case.
You can add a Macbook to the above arrangement without compromising much space, but most likely resulting in some muscular complaints:
Configuration B: 13″ Macbook Pro, iPad, wallet, Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch (iPhone in key wallet)
Nobody would ever be hauling two Kindles, and iPad, and a MacBook (I think?), but I just grabbed a bunch of technology willy-nilly to see what this thing would hold. I’d venture to say I could squeeze a Macbook Air in there as well, but let’s not get too crazy. In reality, the iPad and iPhone were nearly always there, the Macbook sometimes. The run-down:
~spacious but doesn’t look like a suitcase
~receives many compliments
~keychain attachment holds ID’s, credit cards, and (unofficially) the iPhone
What could be better:
~an outside pocket or two, and a couple of smaller pouches inside, especially if you’re going to use it for photography equipment (although other Jill.e bags are designed specifically as camera bags).
~more color/pattern options in this style
The Jill.e collections are not just about feminine style, though: the company makes bags with more masculine lines (check out the Jack Collection), those with a bit of vintage hipness (a classic beige and brown number, for instance, or this yellow camera bag reminiscent of my duffle bag circa 1986), and some sportier, nautical messenger styles. Or if you have a serious amount of tech luggage to carry (or roll) around (photographers on assignment?), check out their stylish gadget suitcases (this red one looks sharp, or perhaps the more classic brown leather option with tons of interior organization).
Finally, I must note that Jill.e also addresses those times when you need a minimal amount of gear. The company’s most innovative offering in my estimation is probably its iPhone-sized clutch, when you just need to grab your wallet and phone and go, or as an accessory to a larger bag like the satchel I tried out. For 25 bucks, it’s an affordable yet sleek gift I’d be happy to receive and use – for once leaving all that gear (tech, baby, and otherwise) at home.