Cases and Carrying Gear

Saddleback Leather Macbook & Laptop Sleeves

Saddleback Laptop Sleeve

A mole deep inside Saddlebook Leather (cough Jonathan) let us know that they are going to be releasing notebook sleeves on July 20th.   The sleeve is lined with neoprene padding between the pigskin and the leather. The sewn outside edges really act well as buffers. 

Saddleback Leather Gadget Sleeves for iPads, Kindle, iPhones and Blackberries

Saddleback Leather has a fanatical following for their products. Recently they started offering sleeves for electronic products in three sizes. The small sleeve fits the iPhone and Blackberry, the medium sleeve fits the Kindle, the large sleeve fits the iPad.   The cases are not specifically made for these device--they do not have specific holes/cuts for those specific devices.   Saddleback intentionally did not make the pouches device specific so that you would continue using the pouch after you'd tossed the gadget.  For that, you give up a bit of functionality.

A favorite travel bag: Domke F-6 A little bit smaller camera bag

Over time I've collected a closet full of travel bags.   The one I reach for, when I'm not carrying a laptop, is Domke F-6 Little Bit Smaller Bag (Sand) .  The original Domke F-2 shoulder bag was designed by Jim Domke as a photojournalist's bag.

Tom Bihn's Checkpoint Flyer - Airport Friendly Laptop Bag

I was excited to be invited to present at DEMOFall 2009 for a new product we launched (EthicsEd).   My old laptop bag was on its last legs so I started looking around for a new bag.  The bag had to carry the laptop, brochures, materials for my speech and some camera equipment.   

I hate being delayed at security lines at the airport.   To prep for them, I make sure that I've packed everything I can into the carryon bag--the watch gets put on the strap, cell phone in the pocket, even the belt gets put away until I'm through security.  It made sense for me to look for a checkpoint friendly bag.  The Checkpoint Flyer from Tom Bihn Bags was my first choice.  

Kata 3N1-30--A thoughtfully designed sling style camera bag

Kata 3N-30 Camera BagWhy did I buy the Kata 3N1-30?

I've given up on the quest for the perfect camera bag and now realized that I need several camera bags just like I need several lenses.  For a short day trip a small camera bag suffices.  However, I needed a bag that let me safely carry multiple zoom lenses, a camera body, battery chargers, and a GPS for a 10 day trip to Maine.  The Kata 3N1-30 got great review, looked well built, and was a sling bag style I like.

Does the bag hold the equipment safely?

The bag's dimensions are 12.6" x 7.5" x 17.7"--it conforms to current FAA airline carry-on regulations.   On our full flight it fit easily under the seat.   There are basically two compartments in the bag.  The interior main compartment is 11.6" x 6.3" x 11.8".   The manufacturer claims that the bag will hold  A D/SLR with battery grip & long-range zoom lens attached as well as, 5-6 lenses, flash + personal gear.  Will it?  If the 5-6 lenses are prime lenses--definitely.  It is a bit harder if the lenses are professional zoom lenses.  However, I did manage to get a nice long (400mm f4) zoom and a wide angle in the bag along with a couple of prime lenses.  Of course with a bit of creative packing I also got a GPS and a couple of chargers into the main compartment.  The equipment is protected by padded dividers--Kata calls this its Modi-Vers System.  The system allows you to create compartments that meet your requirements. The divider can be cut with scissors to any desired size. Attach the newly cut divider to another divider or the walls of the bag with a Velcro connector. The top compartment is quite roomy and can hold chargers, memory cards, and even a paper-back book or two for the plane trip.  The two side pockets are easy to access and can be used to hold filters, and an extra set of batteries.  They do bulge into the top compartment and steal space though.  I truly wish Kata had put an easily accessible external pocket big enough for the paperback book, plane tickets, and maps.  I hate opening the top compartment everytime since I'm afraid I'll spill all the other items in that compartment.

A really neat feature is the removable Media Kit.  You can use it to store memory cards or batteries and remove it from the bag (it's attached with Velcro) when you need it. 

The Kata 3N1-30 does include a rain Cover is included to protect against rainy conditions.  The rain cover folds away into an integrated pocket.   Without the rain cover the bag is not 100% sealed against moisture.  There are a number of points where the zippers do not meet and leave a small hole through which rain could enter. 

Is the bag easy to carry?

The bag weighs 3.3 lbs--fully loaded a lot more.  It is made easier to carry by the well padded straps and the option to carry it three ways.  It can be carried as a sling bag on either the left or right shoulder or as a backpack to spread the load.   Frankly, getting in and out of the plane I used another option, grabbing the bag by it's top handle and walking along the narrow aisles.  I just had to be a bit careful about not tripping over the dangling straps.  In backpack position and "X" position you can comfortably carry your equipment for long distance walking when needed. The included chest belt and balancing hip strap helps take the load of your heavy equipment off your shoulders.

OtterBox Defender for iTouch

OtterBox DefenderThe OtterBox for iPod Touch Defender is a rugged case to protect your iTouch from bumps, shocks, and scratches.  It does add a bit of thickness and takes away the glamor from the iTouch but provides protection.  I recently tested it on a trip to Maine and it allowed me toss my iTouch into my camera bag with confidence. 

The OtterBox Defender for the iTouch offers three levels of protection for your device.   

  1.  It offers a high impact polycarbonate shell that snaps together to safeguard the device and an interactive
  2. A scratch-resistant polycarbonate membrane to protect screens from dust and light water intrusion.  The Touchscreen remains easy to use.  It did seem to decrease the screen sensitivity just a bit in the corners but overall it didn't change the functionality of the iTouch.  
  3. Rubber silicone outside that slips off.

The Otterbox Defender comes in three separate pieces: a front and back hard shell, a silicone sleeve.  I have to admit it took me a bit to figure out how to open up the case for the iTouch.   It does take a bit of time to place the iTouch into the case. 

Once this case is on your iPod, you shouldn't ever need to take it out. This design allows you to sync and charge your device right through the case via convenient Silicone plugs. This case allows for use of any headset with a standard 1/8" mini stereo plug.  The case provides access to the buttons, earphone jacks and ports.  All these sensitive openings are protected by rubber seals.  Do note that despite it's rugged looks the case is not protected against water intrusion.  When we went sea kayaking--the iPod Touch stayed behind. 

A nice little design detail, OtterBox crafted a crafted a small window just large enough to reveal the Apple logo on the rear of the iTouch. 

I have to admit that this has become my favorite case for the iTouch (even over the Longhorn Orange leather case).  I feel more confident using the iPod Touch in difficult environments with this case.

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