For women who constantly haul around a laptop, I’ve found few laptop bags that are both practical and fashionable. Kempton and Darrow is trying to change that. The New York City-based designing duo has created a line of chic, multi-function bags that aim to please the techie girl on the go. Having decided that I fit that bill, I spent a week using the $425 Rough Night Deceiver Bag as my only purse/bag.
Kempton and Darrow designs its bags to take the place of two different bags—a laptop bag and a purse. As a result, these don’t look like traditional computer bags. The Rough Night Deceiver is one of the smallest of the collection and basically looks like a laptop sleeve sandwiched between two medium-sized purses. The sleeve can hold up to a 13-inch laptop (or an iPad, of course) and the rest of the bag has plenty of room for chargers, cords, and whatnot.
Since I don’t personally own a 13.3-inch MacBook, I borrowed an appropriately sized notebook—a 3-pound Asus U36—for the week. It fit snug in the central sleeve and was well-protected during 7 days of toting it around San Francisco on MUNI Metro, in the basket of my bike, and even to a beach barbecue. Over the course of those urban travels, I regularly received complements on the Rough Night Deceiver from friends, coworkers, and even strangers on the street.
If you’re a fan of leather—give me the smell of fresh leather over a cotton/hemp blend any day—Kempton and Darrow’s black cowhide is very nice. I could see it breaking in nicely over extended use. The leather straps are decorated with metal rivets and tie neatly around a round, metal carabineer on either side of the bag. I do have a couple complaints about the bag’s construction. First, the rivets-and-sturdy-leather design makes the bag itself somewhat heavy. Second, the bag’s metal hardware seems a little on the flimsy side given the price.
The sections of the bag on either side of the laptop sleeve are held closed by magnets. This is a neat feature because it allows for quick access to your stuff while keeping the bag’s contents secure. The downside is that this magnetic closure can be opened subtly—a theft concern for someone like me who gets around primarily by bus or on foot. Also, the magnets are weak enough that they don’t always keep the bag closed—for example, when I stuck a water bottle and a paperback book inside.
The purse areas have plenty of pockets. There’s one zippered exterior pocket on each side of the bag that’s big enough to fit a phone. On the interior of one side is a 16-inch key tether and two big pockets—described as “bottle cozies,” but I used them to hold my inhalers and iPod—and a small pocket that’s ideal for pens. The other side’s interior has a large, zippered pocket. The laptop sleeve also has a pocket that’s perfect for a power cord. These features add to the bag’s practicality, as I could easily fit and organize all of my stuff.
Where all this hyper-practicality turned me off, though, is in the bag’s size. Sure, you can’t expect a purse that can hold a laptop, a book, and a six-pack to be petite, but the bulk of the bag made it difficult to carry at times. When it was full and resting on my shoulder, I couldn’t carry anything else with that arm, and I couldn’t even put that hand in my pocket. My arm just kind of hung there like a penguin’s flipper—but it was much less adorable. As a result, I think this is a great bag for traveling from home to work and back, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an everyday, everywhere purse.
I’m not the type of person who spends a lot of money on clothes and purses, so I find it a little hard to justify $425 for a laptop bag. But if you’re a laptop-toting fashionista with some cash to spare, the Kempton and Darrow Rough Night Deceiver bag will protect your laptop and hold more stuff than you know what to do with.