Hellolulu’s $100 Caro 15″ Nylon All Day Laptop Bag has a bit of an identity crisis. While it’s more than large enough to hold everything you could need for a day on the go, it has many of the traits of a sleeker briefcase. The result? A large bag with elements I’d love to have in my go-to satchel, but a bag I ultimately won’t adopt for my day-to-day needs.
I took the Tomato (red) bag for a spin; it’s also available in Black Ink, Cement Grey, and Mustard Yellow. At first glance, the carryall looks like a briefcase: The straps are a bit longer than those of most handheld bags, but not quite as long as the average over-the-shoulder tote. The nylon, seatbelt-like handle is thick and sturdy, but it’s not padded, so it can get uncomfortable on the palms. I opted to thread an arm through the handles, though it was a snug fit—those with larger shoulders, beware.
While other bags suffer from lack of compartments and pockets, the Caro has no shortage of storage space. It measures 16 inches wide by 13 inches tall by just over 6 inches thick, and it provides a dedicated, padded laptop space; a back magazine pouch; a spacious main compartment; and a front pocket with two smaller, zippered areas in front of it. Needless to say, this thing can hold a lot of stuff. While only the laptop area is padded, the entire interior is protected with a polyester lining. The waterproof exterior adds to the sensation that the Caro is durable, but uneven stitching and a run in one of the seams in our review model made me question the longevity of the bag.
As for laptop safety, I’m on the fence about the Caro. The laptop sleeve is placed snugly between the bag’s front and back pockets, so the bag itself gives you a little extra layer of protection. The padding isn’t especially soft, but it kept my computer safe from bumps as I trekked around New York City. However, at roughly 15 inches wide, 11 inches tall, and 1.6 inches thick, the laptop compartment is too big for a 15-inch MacBook Pro—old or new—and my laptop bounced around inside.
The Caro brings to mind a philosophical dilemma: Just because you can add more storage options, does that mean you should add more storage options? Before this bag is at even half capacity, it becomes bulky and heavy—quite an issue for a self-proclaimed “all day bag.” While I love the multitude of compartments, the Caro’s clunky stature, awkward handle length, and questionable construction means it needs another round of self discovery before I consider it for regular use.
Stephanie Kent is a former Macworld editorial intern. She now lives and writes in New York City where she works for TED.