Booq Boa Shift splash

There are a few product categories with which I am obsessed – mugs, jackets, and backpacks. Thankfully, my position at iDB allows me to feed one of those addictions on a fairly regular basis. A good backpack is your best friend. While traveling, on the road, or sometimes heading into the office, your backpack is with you on a daily basis.

Proper weigh distribution, materials, zipper quality, and pockets are key features for a good bag. What accessories you choose to use with the bag is also important. Today, we take a closer look at the Booq Boa shift backpack and Booq Viper hardcase 13. The combination is a one-two punch for protecting the items most valuable to you, a MacBook, iPhone, and iPad…

Boa shift

Booq boa shift open

As exampled in the image immediately above, the Boa shift is quite a work horse when it comes to storage. It is a roomy pack with a decent amount of pockets for each little item that may be going along for the ride. The main compartment is extremely roomy, leaving space for larger items like a jacket, sweat shirt or thick school books, even if the smaller niche pockets are completely full. I would almost argue for an additional main compartment with the amount of room that is left open in the given main housing.

A chevron patterned padded compartment is excellent for keeping a laptop stored, even without additional protection. The laptop compartment does not slide all the way to the bag’s bottom. There is about an inch of space left between the compartment and the bottom to prevent any shock damage when placing the bag down on a solid surface.

Nine individual pockets line the bag’s main compartment, one of which is a mesh zippered pocket. Included with the Boa shift is a small accessory bag, which is made of the same exterior material. It is lightly padded and even includes two smaller pockets, each big enough to hold a Magic Mouse and still have room for headphones.

On the open pack, there are side seams that hold the main compartment together. You can see them in the above image and circled in the one below. I wish these were either larger, or did not exist, to allow the bag to be opened almost completely flat while packing. This is more of a personal preference, however, and does not effect the overall functionality of the bag.

Booq boa shift side flaps

The exterior, front facing side of the pack has a slash pocket for items that need immediate access like headphones, documents, or a wallet. Each side has an open pocket for grab items too. I am a little shocked the side wing pockets do not open or expand with either elastic or a zipper. Consequently, it is not an ideal location for a water bottle. Each arm strap has a mesh open pocket, just large enough for a phone. Keep in mind, it is not padded.

terralinq

A top handle is included, like standard laptop bags. This particular handle, however, is the best I have used on a laptop bag, maybe ever. It feels as if a metal rod runs flat along the length of the handle, making it extremely sturdy. Another little detail is a detachable key ring, which rests inside the main compartment. In fact, several details make the Boa shift a desirable bag, like the weather resistant coated external material, premium solid YKK zippers, and a Terralinq lost-and-found bar code service, which is found on the back.

Viper hardcase 13

Viper hardcase 13

For protection directed specifically at your mobile devices, MacBook and iPad, the Viper hard case 13 is a mini fortress of protection. While the external material is pliable, this is not a soft-shell case. Using the term “hardcase” does not ‘rigidly’ apply here either, pun intended. I would trust this sleeve, however, with my precious Apple hardware and took it on a several trips during my testing period.

The best part of the Viper hard case 13 is the ability to store both my MacBook Air 13″ and iPad mini in the same protective gear. Often, my MBA and iPad are stored in separate sleeves, which is nice for specialization, but keeping them both in the Viper made travel much easier.

Inside the zippered clamshell sleeve are two main compartments and two smaller open pockets. One main compartment is lined with a soft yellow fabric, easily holding a folder of important documents. The second main compartment is mesh lined and easily holds your Air. An iPad mini fits perfectly in either of the smaller sleeves. I did, however, take my iPad out of its slim hardshell for storage in the Viper. I simply placed the slim iPad hardshell in the second smaller sleeve.

Booq Viper hardcase 7 zipper

Like the Boa, the Viper sleeve is weather proof, using the same water resistant coating. Additionally, the heavy duty YKK zippers make for easy entry. If you are looking to combine the sleeve and the bag, the Viper 13 fits perfectly inside the Boa laptop compartment.

My biggest complaint about the Viper is the main Air compartment. I appreciate the streamlined, thin design , however, it leads to a particularly tight pocket. When placing my Air inside the mesh lined pocket, it was slightly difficult to remove. Now, I assume this will break-in over time, but it is worth noting. After all, the tight fit allows for the overall thin design.

Conclusion

Both the bag and sleeve are top quality products. While Booq doesn’t have widespread instant name recognition, I would argue they are on the rise. It is hard to be ignored when making quality products with excellent design features. They have been around for several years and their lines continue to become more impressive.

The structured Boa shift is a great side kick. While the main compartment does leave a lot of open space, it is great for touting some extra items. The pockets are nondescript, but with a large number of them, you will still find a space for everything. The padded laptop pocket with little accessory pouch, make the little things important on this bag. The Boa shift retails for $150 and is quite an expensive investment. With many more recognizable brands hitting the same price point or lower, it does come down to the little things that make Booq an option at the higher price.

Viper hardcase 13 is excellent if you have both an Air and an iPad. The ability to stash both devices into a single hard case is quite appealing. Considering it eliminates the need for a dedicated case for each device, I would say $45 is quite a good purchase price. There are iPad cases alone that cost in the same price range.

If you are looking to jump-in head first, you are looking at a combined $200 price tag for your traveling storage system. It is a solid solution if you are really into packs, but someone that doesn’t care for the little details could easily skip and go with something a little less particular. But if you are looking for details, keep your eye on Booq.

  • Marcus

    I’m still using some small Incase backpack from like two years ago. It works well for me though, I don’t think I need anything new.

  • Frank Miller

    Picked up a Booq Viper for my 15″ Macbook Pro a couple years ago. It is by far the best investment for a laptop yet! It’s durable protection and offers much more than a standard sleeve.