capsule review

Stash Messenger Bag for 11-inch MacBook Air

At a Glance
  • Stash Messenger Bag for 11-inch MacBook Air

    Macworld Rating

Beautifully crafted, Stash's $115 Messenger Bag for 11-inch MacBook Air emanates class, charm, and durability. The bag combines a custom, vintage-fabric exterior; leather accents; and canvas interior to provide a sturdy-yet-fashionable accessory for working professionals, students, and consumers alike.

Although we received the gray tweed wool version of the 11" Messenger, Stash also currently offers the bag in darn denim, black vintage herringbone, brown and gray cotton plaid, blue and black plaid, black and white houndstooth, and black and gray cotton plaid. Stash also produces similar bags for the iPad, the 13-inch Air, and all three MacBook Pro sizes (13, 15, and 17). Gray tweed wool is the default for most of Stash's bags, but owner, designer, and crafter Mari Forssell regularly experiments with a variety of limited-edition vintage fabrics; customers can request their bag be made in any fabric the company currently has in stock.

The Messenger is a horizontal bag that features a single large flap to protect the inner cargo. That flap is fastened shut by two snaps on thin, black-leather straps that thread through metal clasps. Despite the delicate look, these snaps and straps hold the flapt snugly and securely closed, with no worry of rips or tears. Indeed, the entire craftsmanship of the bag is immaculate—high-quality stitching not only makes the messenger look like something off a runway show, but it keeps your belongings safe and comfortable, too.

Two small, pouch-style pockets are riveted to the front exterior of the bag (under the flap), and are suitable for holding small, thin item—an iPod touch, a wallet, a pair of keys, a small Moleskine notebook, or perhaps a few pens. The interior of the bag, meanwhile, is lined in sturdy, cream-color canvas and features four pockets on the rear wall: three small vertical pouches, along with a large sleeve for the MacBook Air. The 11-inch Air, sans case, fits the sleeve like a glove. (If you're the type to encase your Air in some sort of always-on shell, or if you keep it in a protective sleeve, you'll probably want to instead store the Air "loose" in the main compartment. While encased in Waterfield Designs' new Suede Jacket Sleeve, I was able to squeeze an Air into the Messenger's sleeve, but it was a tight fit.)

Despite the bag's relatively small size and dimensions—just 13.5 inches wide, 8.5 inches tall, and 2 inches deep—you can cram a surprising amount of stuff into it. I was able to fit my 11-inch Air, a sleeved iPad, the Air's power adapter, a sunglasses case, a Moleskine reporter notebook, my iPad's charger, some pens, a compact digital camera, and my wallet without bulking up the bag too terribly—the leather straps still threaded through the outer flap and snapped closed.

I also found the Messenger to be useful as a pseudo-purse during lunch hours. I shortened the bag's adjustable, nylon strap and just kept my sunglasses, camera, wallet, and a book inside for a perfectly respectable jaunt around the city. The strap is thin, but, like the rest of the messenger, sturdy—whether packed to the brim or barely weighed down, the bag felt light and comfortable on my shoulder. For those who wish for more padding, Stash offers a black leather shoulder pad for an additional $25.

My only major complaint about the Messenger Bag has to do with protection. Neither the internal MacBook Air sleeve nor the bottom of the bag are reinforced or padded, making me slightly concerned about dropping the bag to the floor or banging it against a stray corner. Additionally, because the sleeve is so svelte and such a perfect fit for the MacBook Air, I would ideally prefer some sort of neoprene or felt padding on the inside to better protect my laptop from scratches and bangs.

Overall, I was impressed by the level of quality from Stash, especially for a one-woman operation. The bags are made with the precision you'd see from a large design firm, but with the care and dedication of a small, homegrown company. I'd easily recommend the 11-inch MacBook Air bag to anyone looking for a fashionable laptop messenger without the bulk of other offerings. It's not the best for those on bikes or who need the storage capacity of a large backpack, but then again, if you're using a MacBook Air, you're likely traveling light for a reason. For my uses, the Messenger Bag is a perfect pairing for Apple's most compact and stylish laptop.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Immaculately crafted
    • Stylish
    • Lightweight and comfortable

    Cons

    • Could use more padding overall
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