For many years now, I’ve been using a small-sized Timbuk2 messenger bag as my go-to if I just need to carry a few things when I’m headed out the door. I’ve also got a GreenSmart Mandrill backpack that has served me well for conventions when I know I’ll be out and about for a whole day—but it’s pretty big and soft, so things tend to get mushed down at the bottom. That, and my wife commandeered it for her regular work bag so I have to get special permission to use it now.
For my trip to Gen Con this year, though, I got to try out a new bag: the Moleskine myCloud backpack. (And now it’s become my wife’s regular work bag.)
The backpack retails for $220, and comes in green or dark gray. Moleskine also has several other bags of different sizes available, from a small shoulder bag to a messenger bag to large tote bags.
The backpack has some features that link it to the popular notebooks: there’s an elastic strap across the bottom that holds the flap in place, echoing the elastic ribbon of the notebook covers. And the green interior and accents hint at the classic notebook, too.
Inside the main compartment are two flat padded pouches (in green, above); one is large enough for laptops up to 15″, the other is narrower and can just fit my iPad 2 if I’m not using the bulkier case. An elastic strap with velcro keeps things in place. On the front side of the bag (in blue) there are several smaller compartments: two sleeves for pens, two wallet-sized pockets, one smaller zippered pocket, and one larger zippered pocket the width of the bag. There’s also a little strap near the top with a snap so you can hang your keyring, or the included collapsible bag.
The extra bag is like one of those compact shopping bags—it’s pretty thin, folds down to a small package, and has an elastic loop to hold it all together. While I was at Gen Con, it came in really handy because I could easily pop it out for all the extra stuff I was picking up, and then empty it out at the hotel and stuff it back into the backpack for the next day. The only problem with it was that, with some of the heavier things I was carrying, the straps did get a little pulled thin, which wasn’t as comfortable on my shoulder by the end of the day.
There are two side pockets, each going halfway across the bag, and these can be accessed without opening the flap. That was also really handy for the convention, because I could keep a few things like my camera, gum, and a package of cough drops ready for easy access without having to open up the whole bag.
The flap itself uses velcro to close, and then the elastic strap to hold it in place. The downside to the velcro is that it can be kind of loud, but it does the job. I didn’t always find the elastic strap necessary, but my wife has been using it for her bike commute and said that the strap is great when the bag is full. During the convention, I didn’t even always zip the main compartment shut since there was a flap over it, although once the bag gets full then the zipper helps hold it together.
You can also see the ring in the photo above: there’s one on each side, and the luggage tag (see photo below) came attached to one of them. For my trip, since there’s also a luggage tag sewn into the interior, I did away with the larger luggage tag. I got one of those travel Purell bottles with the strap on it, and attached it to the ring, so I had some hand sanitizer available throughout the convention. No con crud for me!
There’s a large rectangular clip on the side where you can hang things—I used mine to hold my water bottle, which worked pretty well most of the time. (Sometimes I whacked things with the bottle, and I wouldn’t advise trying to run with a full bottle attached to your side.)
You can use the bag either as a backpack or a shoulder bag. When not in use, the backpack straps are covered by a zippered flap which also functions as a luggage pass-through if you want to hang it on a roller suitcase handle. The shoulder strap is in two pieces with a buckle, and the strap tucks into pockets on either edge of the bag. I used it exclusively as a backpack for Gen Con, but my wife says she switches it back and forth frequently as needed.
The backpack straps also have a chest strap, which is really nice when you’re carrying a lot of stuff. I hadn’t really used one before but I discovered it was really handy during the convention. The backpack straps also have a touch of reflective piping on the edges.
There’s also a handle on the top between the backpack straps if you just want to carry it that way, too.
The Moleskine backpack is square-shaped, so despite its capacity it fits easily under the airplane seat. And it holds its shape well enough that I didn’t have things getting squashed and lost in the folds. The body of the bag is made of “water-repellent polyamide” with a “coupled polyester” base. I didn’t know what that meant without Google, but it’s basically like a nylon body with a tougher, stiff base. The base helps it keep its shape and gives it some extra protection.
As a bonus, the bag is just about the perfect size for your large square-box board game, as you can see from the photo above. I was able to pack a game box (with several more smaller games packed inside), to have a small portable game library wherever I went—and then the spare bag for anything I collected throughout the day.
One last note: the “myCloud” name is a play on cloud storage—the idea is that the bag is your analog cloud, where you keep your things. Kind of silly, but if you’re into that sort of thing, you can go to MyAnalogCloud and play the little personality game there, print it out, and stick it in your luggage tag, proclaiming that you’re an Analog Utopian or whatever you turn out to be.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with the Moleskine myCloud backpack, and I’ll definitely be using it for future trips. And so will my wife.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a sample of this bag for review.