Last month, we reviewed the STM Velo laptop satchel. Whilst we were initially impressed with the design and build quality, we wanted to hold off on any awards until we had time to “road test” the bag. I swapped my standard issue Dell Laptop bag for the velo and ran the review sample through its paces on public transport, domestic air travel and various weather conditions for the months of March and April.
Image courtesy of STM (it does the velo more justice than our shots)
To set the scene, I carried the following items in the velo:
- 13″ MacBook Air
- Apple MacBook charger
- Apple wireless “Magic” Mouse
- iPad 2
- iPhone charger and cable
- USB keys
- Business cards
- A4 notepad
- Lunch (wrap or sandwich container size)
There were some features that I was really keen to try out in the real world after the initial review, I’ve listed them below with my thoughts after almost 2 months of getting to know the velo.
|Front fleece lined drop pocket for phone, iPod or sunglasses||I used this pocket at least 2-3 times a day but not for my phone. Initially, I used it for my sunglasses but then moved them to one of the side “drink bottle” pouches. I get a lot of calls so having my phone in this pocket wasn’t as convenient as leaving it in my jacket or trouser pocket. I found the drop pocket great for coins, train pass and chewing gum/mints. It’s so easy to get to and the coins didn’t seem to jingle around in there like I expected.|
|Main flap secured with two quick release buckles||The zip for the main compartment under the main flap has a single zip that does up from right to left as you look at the bag from the front. The buckles were fine and easy to manipulate with one hand. The zip took a couple of days to get used to and I found that there is a slight knack to opening it in a single fluid motion. I also found it useful to be able to open the zip just enough reach into the main compartment without having to unbuckle the main flap. It’s tricky enough to be secure but easy enough that you can easily reach in to grab a wallet or something quickly.|
|Back slip pocket for paperwork and zippered option to slip over a luggage handle||Many laptop bags have the capability to slide over a luggage handle, when travelling interstate and going through turnstiles it’s much easier to drag one bag rather than manage a satchel and luggage. This feature was great and nice to see that it wasn’t overlooked.|
|Unique side-entry laptop protection compartment lined with super plush corduroy and high density foam||This compartment is probably one of the best things about the velo. It’s easy to get your laptop out without opening the main compartment and the plush liner makes the laptop slide in and out with ease no matter how full the bag might be.|
|Large main compartment for paperwork with soft nylex lined tablet/e-reader pocket||The main compartment never seemed full or crowded. Everything seems to have a place to live so in the end, I just had a couple of device chargers and a notepad in the main section of the velo. My iPad 2 was firmly secured in the lined ‘tablet’ pocket where it never felt like it was going to fall out or move around at all.|
|Multiple organiser pockets for chargers, cords, memory devices, keys, wallet, travel docs, etc.||If there is one thing that defines the velo its the number of places where you can stash your gear securely. This bag is one of the best I’ve seen in terms of efficient use of space. The compartments are easy to get to. With the exception of the potentially vulnerable drink bottle compartments on the outside edges, the rest of the bag seemed very secure from the less honest people in crowds with sticky fingers.|
I’m over 6ft tall and I was able to fit the velo under the seat in front of me and still have leg room on my domestic flights – I have not been able to do this with any of my previous laptop bags.
Wear and tear – at the end of the road test, there were no noticeable signs of use. I couldn’t find any stretching, pulled threads, untidy stitching, marks or damage to the zipper. The shoulder strap/pad also looked as good as new. This is what you would expect from a $120 bag after 2 months of everyday use.
At PCGamers.net.au, we take build quality seriously – in every review we write, we check out the quality of the materials and the assembly. In the case of the velo and the upcoming STM Convoy backpack review, we were pleased to see that the high quality of both the stitching and the fabrics used was consistent across both products we received.
So, after actually using the velo every day rather than just giving it a ‘once over’, we consider this laptop bag to be a very worthy offering and well priced at around $120. It’s light, practical, well made and available at a very reasonable price.
Check out the full range at the STM website