STM Haven laptop bag review: high functionality packed into a minimal design

By , May 17, 2016

haven-moroccan-blue-front-angle

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a closet edc/bag nerd. The more zippers and pockets, the better. There’s just always been something oh-so-satisfying to me about discovering new ways to pack and travel with things more efficiently. So naturally I jumped at the chance to try out STM’s Haven laptop bag.

The Haven is a backpack-style bag, equipped to fit most 15-inch laptops, that incorporates a minimal design constructed of great materials. It also offers features like pass-through holes for USB cables that help keep your stuff both organized and accessible while on the move. Read on for my full review.

Exterior

I wish STM had sent me a different color. As you can tell from the photos, my review bag is like a dirty-teal color—they call it Moroccan Blue—and it’s not very attractive (to my eyes anyway). This made for a bad first impression, which is really a bummer because the gray and black bags I’ve seen in photos look very sharp.

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Looking past the color, however, I really like the design of the Haven. Despite all of its organizational features, the exterior has a very minimal, understated look. When the bag is completely closed, all you see are 3 large zippered compartments, a small zippered pocket on the side, and a pouch on the front. STM uses 300d water-resistant dobby material and YKK zippers—highly regarded as the best in the business. I’ve encountered nothing in my testing thus far that suggests this bag won’t hold up against heavy usage.

haven 4

Perhaps the most important part of any backpack, the straps, also passed my initial testing. They’re curved, padded, and like the back of the bag, they feature a mesh-like material that promotes ventilation. They’ve proven comfortable in my short, light trips, and should do fine on longer outings. There’s even a sternum strap for good measure.

Interior

There’s obviously a lot more going on inside the bag. The first thing you notice when you unzip the front compartment is a great-looking geometric pattern, and a group of smaller pockets. There are 3 open pouches and a zippered pocket that features both a cable pass-through hole, which would allow you to discreetly charge a device (when carrying a battery pack), and an attached clip for keys.

haven 2

Situated behind all of this is a larger compartment. It features a single zippered pocket that’s lined with microfiber, making it a great place to store sunglasses and other scratchable items, and a sizable netted pouch that I imagine could be used for small clothing items or loose cables. On the reverse side there’s a slot pocket that’s large enough to hold documents, folders or an iPad Pro, and there’s enough space in the rest of this area to store something like a change of clothes.

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In the final zippered compartment, there’s a padded pouch for your laptop, a tablet, or both. Since this area backs up to the rear of the bag, you get the benefit of some extra padding. For that same reason, you’re not going to want to store any non-flat items in here because they’ll end up poking you in the back. Like the middle compartment, this area could also be used to store a change of clothes in a pinch, and there’s another pass-through hole here for wired headphones or a USB cable.

Conclusion

To give you an idea of what this bag is really capable of, I was able to pack in my 13-inch MacBook Pro, a 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 (with Smart Cover), a wallet and keys, an iPhone 6, two t-shirts, two card deck-sized battery packs, two 1gb portable hard drives and about a half dozen USB cables/chargers, with room to spare. Plus, I can charge my phone without removing it or the battery pack from their respective pockets, and I can listen to music from my iPad via wired headphones, without taking it out of the bag.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like the Haven a lot. Hopefully I’ve provided enough information in this review to help you decide if this bag is for you or not. For those of you who are interested in the Haven, it’s available on Amazon for $99.95.

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  • abazigal

    The main problem I have with STM bags is that mesh-sponge-like padding material they use on the backs of their bags. It looks great, but starts to quickly wear out after a few months and looks all frayed and horrible after that.

    Mine was the messenger bag, and the padding quickly wore out after the bag repeatedly rubbed against my back and buttocks, which should be typical everyday usage. Which is a shame, because the rest of the bag is actually pretty high-quality and durable stuff.

    The last time I owned a STM bag was in 2013. Has their quality improved since then?

  • Thanks for telling me what EDC is, now I know in not crazy for obsessing over daily pocket items!