TRAVEL GEAR THAT WORKS
Laptop / Messenger Bag Carry-On
IT WAS TIME FOR A NEW TRAVEL BAG
For most of my past travels, both domestic and international, I managed to handle correspondence, social networking, and even some website writing and photo editing using my trusty iPad Air 2. Yes, it was sometimes a challenge but I managed. Recently, however, I decided to “up my game” and I added a new MacBook Pro to my travel gear. You can read about this shift in my recent review article “Travel Gear That Works – Travel Laptop Computer.” My iPad Air 2 was, of course a bit smaller, and given it’s size it traveled very comfortably in my Classic Plus Tour Bag by Travelon. I previously reviewed that bag as well – “Travel Gear That Works – Travel Tour Shoulder Bag – Travelon.” I love the Classic Plus. It’s very versatile and works great when traveling, allowing me to carry lots of my “stuff” including my iPad in style. But it is more of a shoulder bag and is not designed for a laptop. It was fortunate that it held my iPad. But alas, it was too small for my MacBook Pro – which by the way is the smaller, more travel worthy 13 inch model. The laptop is too large for the Classic Plus. It was time for a new bag – something that would accommodate my new laptop.
Destination New England and Thailand
ENTER THE OSPREY BETA PORT BAG
I been making plans to head off for several new extended journeys – three weeks in New England and then later two months in Thailand. I knew I would be wanting my MacBook on these longer outings. I needed safe transport for my new laptop. I researched and explored various options and never found anything that really seemed right for me. Then one day a friend suggested I take a look at their Beta Port bag. Fast forward several days – I think I found a winner.
The Beta Port is made by Osprey and I think it will work well for my needs. But of course no bag is perfect. So let’s take a look at the “Good” and the “Not So Good.”
Beta Port Bag – The Good ——————-
The Beta Port is stylish and good looking. It has a slim profile and doesn’t have that boxy – bulky look. The adjustable shoulder strap is comfortable and designed to stay put on your shoulder rather than sliding off as many bags seem to do.
The interior has a variety of features including 3 padded slots (one zippered, one with velcro closure, and the main compartment) which can accommodate tablets or laptops up to @ 14.5 inches. There are also several internal organizer slots to keep small items secure. A zippered and padded compartment on the front of the bag is a nice touch – great for easy access to travel items such as passport and tickets or maybe a smartphone.
The back panel of the Beta has a breathable mess screen construction to improve air flow and keep you cool while carrying the bag. A sturdy grab handle on the top offers a hand alternative way to carry or reposition the bag.
Rather than the typical zipper top closure, the Beta has an over-flap design closure which covers the entire top and is held down when closed by quick release buckles at each lower corner. The approach offers a nice layer of protection to bag contents. Opening the flap not only gives access to the interior but also reveals a novel design feature. Hidden behind the padded flap on the front panel of the interior there is a zippered and soft lined compartment with a clear, touch sensitive film. Pop in your iPad or tablet and you can actually use it without removing it from the bag.
Beta Port Bag – The Not So Good ——————–
After discovering and working with the Beta Port for awhile I can report that in most respects it is great. There are, however, two limitations I discovered.
Limitation 1 – The Beta Port is slim, stylish and good looking. It has room for a laptop as well as various other items and accessories. But beyond that, in terms of it’s overall capacity, I have found it to be a bit limited. Previously, when I first got my Classic Plus, I tested it out and found that it could carry all of the items seen in the photo below (Yes, it was a bit cramped but with this load of gear it worked well as my personal carry-on item for airline flights. If you are curious about what all this stuff is you can read about HERE. )
For comparison I decided to test the Beta Port. First I popped in the MacBook Pro, charging adapter, cord, and mouse. After all, that was why I needed a new bag in the first place. Then I attempted to add the same load of gear and stuff that I had used with the Classic Plus. I did manage to get it all in. But to be honest, I had to cram it in. It was a really tight fit, and the bag was a bulging, lumpy eyesore once fully loaded . The items were packed in to the point that it really wasn’t practical or usable. But hey, it did hold my new laptop.
In reflecting on the situation I reviewed the load of gear I used for the test as well as the reason for getting a new bag. The new bag question was easy. I had to have a way to safely carry my laptop. As to the load of gear in the test – I came to the conclusion that there were multiple items in the “test load” which I didn’t really use during flights. I could do without these and reduce the load in the Beta Port – specifically I removed the backup battery, the small tripod and head, the sound recorder, lapel mic, and sound diffuser. With those items removed the Beta Port became much more user friendly. It will work as my personal carry-on item, holding my laptop as well as other items I frequently need during flights.
In reality, the Beta Port is a bag for a laptop with room for a few more items. I think that when I travel it will work well as my personal carry-on item for my MacBook Pro and other items I need during flight. However, I still find my Classic Plus bag by Travelon to be very versatile and it works great as an excellent day bag. So it will continue to be part of my regular travel gear which I use once I arrive at my destination.
Limitation 2 – Having been introduced to the Beta Port Bag I went to Osprey’s website to get information from the company about the bag, it’s features and where it could be purchased. Alas, Osprey no longer offers the Beta Port! Fortunately, they are still available through various outlets but you may have to search. And as with most secondary market outlets – prices vary considerably so shop around. I found a variety available through Amazon as shown in the links below – different colors are available at different prices by each outlet.
The Beta Port Bag by Osprey is a piece of travel gear that works. For me it’s a bag for those times when I need to take my MacBook Pro with me – on the plane to far off destinations or down the street to my local coffee shop. The Beta Port works great with a light laptop related load. However, for non-laptop outings – about town or exploring new locations I’ll still be using my trusty Classic Plus Tour Bag by Travelon.
Get The Right Bag ……………….. And Enjoy The Adventure!