With all the talk about the 12-inch MacBook, it's hard for some people to remember that Apple makes an amazing 15-inch MacBook Pro. With the power of the top-end MacBook Pro comes a necessity to keep it protected while in transit, and that's why the STM Haven 15-inch Laptop Backpack (US$99.95) is a perfect product for the current or prospective MacBook Pro owner.
Over the years we've seen some good and bad backpack designs for laptops. The best ones are usually sleekly designed with no dangling straps or unnecessary frills, and that's the case with the Haven backpack. It comes in four different colors -- black, Frost Grey, Moroccan Blue, and steel -- and is made of a tough 300 denier dobby.
The inside of the backpack is lined 200 denier poly that creates a smooth surface for easy insertion and removal of your MacBook Pro. There's a lot of room inside: a full 20 liter capacity makes this bag perfect for carrying your tech gear and other life essentials. The Haven weighs just 1.87 lbs (0.85 kg), so it won't slow you down with extra bulk.
The Haven uses a separate zippered compartment to hold not only your MacBook Pro, but a tablet as well. Both are suspended above the floor of the backpack so that they won't bang against the floor when you take the backpack off. There's padding along the front and back, and extra-thick pads in the corners.
Probably the best thing about the Haven design is that it uses an STM proprietary cable routing system with special pockets, ports between sections, and built-in cable management so that devices can be charged while in transit (you'll have to supply your own external battery pack, though!).
Finally, the design of the Haven makes it comfortable to carry for long periods of time. There's a back panel design with two 3D foam cores with a central air channel right over the spine. The foam cores are covered with a soft mesh to insure your back won't end up all sweaty while carrying the bag to your next meeting.
I tested the STM Haven with my wife's work PC laptop -- sorry, folks, but I don't own a MacBook Pro. While it's a Dell laptop (cough!), it fit easily into the space provided. I was also able to slide an iPad Air 2 in a keyboard case into its separate little pocket. So far, so good.
The bag also has two sections full of pockets for just about everything you can imagine. There's a place for pens and pencils, there's one pocket that's the perfect size for those little Field Notes notebooks, and a larger zipped pockets for items that you don't want to lose. The latter pocket also has a key strap, so you can take your keys out of your pants pocket (perfect for going through security checks) and safely store them inside the Haven.
A zippered outside pocket on one side is perfect for stowing your iPhone, and there's also a big "magazine pocket" for holding papers or reading materials as you're in transit. That pocket is not zipped, but I found that books and magazines stayed in it with no problem.
I really liked the look of the Moroccan Blue material used for the review backpack. It's a dark blue-green color that's just different enough to be eye-catching. As for the comfort of the Haven, I really liked how it felt when I was wearing it -- even better than the Swiss Army bag I usually carry. It's too bad we're giving this STM Haven away to one lucky Team AWT member, because if we weren't, I'd keep it for myself!
STM makes some rugged and really good-looking products, and the Haven is no exception. The price tag is perfect for a quality bag of this type, which should give you years of service.