We had the opportunity to get our hands on the STM velo laptop shoulder bag this month thanks to STM. Link: HERE
STM describe the velo as follows:
“The perfect solution for the everyday commute. Travel by bike, car, plane or train, the velo completely organises even the most complicated day.”
They sum it up pretty well in their description, the velo keeps all your things organised and with the adjustable strap, you can carry it over the shoulder like a conventional laptop bag or across like a satchel. The features as advertised are outlined below along with our thoughts:
|Front fleece lined drop pocket for phone, iPod or sunglasses||This pocket is located right under the handle on the front flap – it’s really easy to get to and we will see how much use it gets in the road test. The lining makes for good protection of sunglasses or a phone but that is under the assumption that you only have one item in the pouch.|
|Comfortable top grab handle||The main handle also has a plastic “D” ring for attaching tags, keys, etc. The stitching around the handle feels solid and secure. You would need to load the velo with an unreasonable weight for the handle to fail.|
|Main flap secured with two quick release buckles||These are easily managed and I was able to manipulate them with one hand. It would have been nice to see some kind of buckle/clip to manage the excess in the two straps that hang down but this isn’t a big issue.|
|Two zippered side pockets for water, umbrella, etc.||Standard cans / water bottles should fit fine, larger bottles might prove to be too big for the pockets. They are a practical size in a practical location, easy to get to and have a supporting liner at the bottom so that when you unzip the pocket, your water bottle is still held in place and won’t fall out.|
|Back slip pocket for paperwork and zippered option to slip over a luggage handle||If you travel through airports etc this is great. I often attach my laptop bag to my luggage so I can get through narrow turnstiles, escalators, taxi ranks etc. The firm zip in the base makes the pocket appropriate and it looks unlikely to snag or come open by accident. We will watch for that during the road test.|
|Comfortable, padded and adjustable shoulder strap||One of the easier shoulder straps we have used and does exactly what it is supposed to do. There is a single swivel that helps to eliminate tangles and the shoulder pad is both comfortable and understated with just the red “STM” logo on it. We had the strap adjusted perfectly in literally seconds without any fiddling around. The underside of the shoulder strap is a grippy rubber that is also well stitched and unlikely to wear quickly – it stays in place and the strap slides through it as you would expect. I with the same could be said for most of my previous laptop bags.|
|Unique side-entry laptop protection compartment lined with super plush corduroy and high density foam||The zipper for this compartment sits protected by one of the water bottle pockets and you could miss it if you weren’t looking for it. Thankfully, STM draw your attention to it by way of a tag and it’s on the instruction/features booklet. This could be one of the best laptop pocket implementations I’ve used but with one qualification. My laptop is a 13″ MacBook Air and I don’t usually get it out when I’m moving around – so the side opening is great for me but it could be awkward for people who are constantly pulling the laptop out of the bag when on the move.
The compartment feels rigid enough to protect the contents from general hustle and bustle. The corduroy interior makes sliding a MacBook Air in and our of the bag almost effortless and is unlikely to cause any scratches or wear on the surface of the equipment.
|Large main compartment for paperwork with soft nylex lined tablet/e-reader pocket||Although I have a cover on my iPad, you could probably get away without one using this pouch but personally, I always recommend a screen cover for tablet devices. The iPad 2 fits perfectly in the back of the main compartment against the laptop section and when both the MacBook Air and iPad are stowed away there is no sense of the gear sliding around – it all seems secured in place.|
|Multiple organiser pockets for chargers, cords, memory devices, keys, wallet, travel docs, etc.||There is no shortage of places to secure chargers, a mouse, USB keys, phone, business cards, pens and other loose stuff that would normally rattle around in a bag. The downside is that there are more places to square things away and depending on how many knicknacks you have in your bag, you might forget where you stash an item.|
The benefit of the velo’s many compartments, pockets and zippers is that:
• that all your bits and pieces are squared away securely and won’t shift when you move around,
• the space is more efficiently used so is seems like you get more room than you really do
• items are easier to find,
• things are less likely to get broken or scratched in transit
• if you use the bag properly, we can’t see how anything can fall out
There is no mistaking that this is an STM bag – there are “STM” toggles on most of the zips. Some people may not like the grey toggles with red STM emblazoned on them – which is fine because they can be easily removed. We noticed them straight away and found them to be good for a number of reasons:
• It’s a clear visual indicator of when a zip is open or closed
• Finding the right zip/compartment should be easier
• People with “fumble” fingers like me can just grab the toggle for easy access.
The issue of branding of aesthetics will be an individual thing but personally, I didn’t have an issue with this.
The velo is available in 2 different sizes, small and medium. Our review sample was the small version on the recommendation of STM after I outlined what it would need to carry. There are 2 colours available for the Velo – black and mushroom.
The specifications for the small velo are:
main material(s): 300D water resistant micro ripstop polyester
lining: STM plush power corduroy lining
device space: 9.6 x 13.2 x 1.6 in / 24.5 x 33.5 x 4 cm
outer dimensions: 13.8 x 18.5 x 6.7 in / 35 x 47 x 17 cm
weight: 2.4 lbs / 1.1 kg
We found the velo Small online for $119.95 but in-store prices may vary.
When empty, the velo weighs in at a smidgeon over a kilogram so it’s pretty light and my initial impression was that despite being small, it was a little bulkier than I expected when empty. What surprised me was that as I added my gear from my existing laptop bag, the velo didn’t seem to be ‘bulking out’ much more than empty – rather it looked like it was holding it’s shape. My other initial concerns that I’d have to cram my stuff into it turned out to also be misplaced because I found that with the myriad of compartments and pockets available, I seemed to have room to spare.
If you are wondering what size would suit your needs, I was able to comfortably accommodate the items below in the Velo with room for even more.
- 13″ MacBook Air
- Apple MacBook charger
- Apple wireless “Magic” Mouse
- iPad 2
- Iphone charger and cable
- USB keys
- Business cards
- A4 notepad
- Lunch (wrap or sandwich container size)
Bags/satchels/backpacks are the sort of product that can often look great in the store and it isn’t until you get it home and use it for a little while that you either feel good about your purchase or experience the dreaded buyers remorse. So in the interests of being thorough, we will be ‘road testing’ the velo throughout March and publishing a report after using it every day for a month.
Look for an update in April but if you’re looking for a bag/satchel now and can’t wait that long, seriously consider the velo from STM – it’s well thought out, light and holds more than you might expect.
Check out the full range at the STM website