The Knomo Stirling Messenger bag is a premium laptop carry case available in 13, 15 and 17″ sizes. The version reviewed here is the 13″ and it has been tested with the current 13″ MacBook Pro.
I won’t discuss the aesthetics of this bag. If the design of the bag initially appeals but you’d like to be sure if it is for you, I’d suggest visiting your local Apple store as the majority of UK stores stock this item.
Knomo are a premium brand and any doubt over the pedigree or the attention to detail they lavish on their products is dispelled the moment you open the packaging of the Knomo Stirling. Furthermore, the quality of the materials used in the construction of the Knomo Stirling and the manufacturing finish are also beyond reproach.
Quality evident throughout
Two examples that exemplify this are the succinct ‘Knomo’ branding etched onto the strap buckles and the ability to register your bag with Knomo. On the off chance your back is lost and found, the ID number on the bag can be used and Knomo will provide your details for its safe return. It’s not a geo-tagged solution like some carry cases provide but it’s a welcome (un-advertised) addition.
Not entirely waterproof – but close.
The front leather section of the Stirling Messenger is quite waxy and repels water well, whilst the main body and inner is constructed of a tough canvas. Whilst the canvas sections aren’t waterproof, given that the large leather area covers almost the entirety of the case when worn, I’d imagine your belongings would be safe in all but the most torrential of downpours.
Closures: great aesthetics but questionable practicality
The large front leather flap fastens shut with magnets, sewn within the body of the case and flap. Visually this is very appealing as there are no visible buttons and it’s also great for the extremely lazy as there is no need to buckle your case shut. However, on the down side the magnetic closure doesn’t give you the security of a true physical buckle; gymnasts and Parkour proponents should perhaps look elsewhere.
Perfect protection for your MacBook Pro
Internally the Stirling enjoys a large padded envelope section to safely stow your MacBook (or any other laptop of similar size). It’s a sturdy thick divide that keeps the laptop snug and it eliminates the need for a separate laptop sleeve to keep your laptop protected. With this 13″ version I could happily fit my MacBook, an A5 diary, some A4 documents, MacBook charger and some odd bits and pieces (pens, earphones etc).
Aside from the aforementioned laptop holder, within the main storage area there are two open wallet sized pockets (120mm wide x 120mm deep). On the outside, under the main flap, there is then a further, almost full height open pocket (270mm wide x 270mm deep) on the front with flaps sewn in for a pen and wallet/ID card and a half height zippable pocket (270mm wide x 145mm deep). On the back of the Stirling there is another open full height pocket (270mm wide x 310mm deep), again with a couple of smaller pockets (120mm wide x 95mm deep) sewn in.
One notable omission from this bag is any sort of specific phone pocket. For most this will be a non issue as the majority of people tend to keep their phone closer to hand but a separate section would be nice to keep it from scratches.
The strap is a thick canvas, almost like seatbelt material. That’s not meant as a negative, as it’s incredibly sturdy material but some sort of padding for the shoulder area would have been welcome, especially on longer commutes. There’s also a handy little carry handle at the back of the case for carrying the case closer to. When not in use it simply tucks away within the open rear pocket. Neat and functional.
At a retail price of £89 (15 and 17″ variants slightly more) the Knomo Stirling Messenger is hardly a snip. However, for users looking for a premium product, designed and manufactured to exacting standards, it actually represents great value for money. I have no reservations recommending the Knomo Stirling Messenger to anyone looking for a stylish and functional MacBook carry case/bag. The only considerations for potential buyers are the lack of a physical closure buckle, absence of a dedicated phone pocket and the slightly uncomfortable shoulder strap when used under full load for extended periods of time. These reservations aside, the Knomo Stirling Messenger is top class product.