At a Glance
STM’s Scout Extra Small Laptop Shoulder Bag is well-built, but since it was originally designed for comparatively thicker netbooks, its main compartment is too deep for an iPad. It also suffers from some odd design choices.
While I like STM as a manufacturer, and I’ve owned a few of the company’s bags, I didn’t like the Scout Extra Small Laptop Shoulder Bag (Scout XS, for short) on my first pass. The pocket configuration seemed all wrong, and the padded device pouch, actually designed for (comparatively) thick netbooks, is wide enough to hold three to four stacked iPads. However, the Scout XS is a solid bag, and after some real-world testing, I warmed to it a little more.
The Scout XS is a casual bag. The material looks and feels like lightweight, giving the bag a unique aesthetic and cool texture. The bag is also compact, designed solely for the smaller form factor of netbooks and the iPad, although it’s just large enough to fit a few magazines or a thin book in the bag’s document pocket. An open-top front accessory area has pockets for a small gadget and pens, and a zippered compartment just behind that can fit small items such a wallet, a phone, charging cables, or other personal items. The Scout XS’s padded strap can be detached in favor of a basic carrying handle.
Still, though, the Scout XS suffers from some odd design choices. For example, while there’s a main flap to close the bag, via a large, plastic buckle, a second protective flap on the inside covers the iPad/netbook compartment, securing with velcro at the top of the document pouch. But if you place a couple magazines in the main pouch area, they make it difficult to fasten and release the protective flap. Perhaps it would have been better to move the document pouch to the back of the bag to leave the main compartment’s protective flap unhindered. (There is a slim pouch on the back of the bag for small things like airplane tickets, but it offers almost no slack, making it tough to store even one magazine in it.)
The main compartment also has two padded “wings” at the top that seem utterly pointless. There is no way to fasten them to ensure that the compartment’s contents cannot fall out, and the aforementioned main flap already provides plenty of security and protection from the elements. These wings serve only as a minor nuisance when inserting and removing an iPad.
Overall, though, the STM Scout XS is a decent bag. It’s light, feels sturdy, and has decent space for extra storage. If you own a netbook in addition to an iPad, the Scout XS could serve well as an all-purpose bag.