I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect bag for years. In that time, I’ve used a number of different styles and shapes. I’ve even dipped in to some fashionable messenger bags. But for my needs, a backpack really is the only way to go. I need something durable, lightweight and spacious enough to carry everything I use on a daily basis. That means my MacBook, my iPad and my camera as well as all the usual accessories: USB cables, a mouse, pens, notepad, keys and more. It may have taken me some time, but I think I’ve finally found it.
Booq is a company well-known for making fantastic bags and cases. It’s also well-known for not being the cheapest. But to get the best equipment, you need to be willing to invest. At $150 (£120 GBP/€150 EUR), the Boa Shift is a fairly hefty outlay, but it’s worth every cent.
Size-wise, we’re looking at a backpack that measures 343 x 457 x 203 mm, with a spacious interior. Empty, it weights 1.35kg (3 lbs). And immediately, when I picked it up for the first time, I felt the quality. All the stitching, the folds, the weight all combined to create something which felt great. The 1680 denier nylon exterior has been coated with a water-repellent agent, ensuring that you not only have a durable bag, but one which won’t allow your gadgets to get ruined if it happens to rain a little. Even the interior herringbone nylon lining is water-repellent. And the company has opted for performance YKK zippers to ensure that opening and closing the bag – no matter how many times you do it – is a great experience.
With backpacks, I only ever have two frustrations: Shoulder/neck ache and back-sweat. If I wear one for long enough – at a trade show for instance – I can guarantee that I’ll end up with a wet shirt and sore shoulders. With the Boa, those problems are minimized, even if they’re not completely gone.
The back has an Airmesh padding which not only makes the backpack really comfortable to wear, but also helps heat escape more easily from your back. In turn, this helps reduce the amount of cooling your body has to take care of = less perspiration. Granted, while running around a trade show floor all day I’m sure I will still perspire, but not as much as if I was using my old bag.
When it comes to comfort, the Boa Shift really delivers. The aforementioned back padding feels great on the back, and combines wonderfully with the thick, padded straps to ensure that even if I’m carrying a few Kgs worth of tech, I still don’t feel any discomfort. Of course, the true test will be when I get to MWC in a few weeks in the warmer climate in Barcelona.
With all my previous bags, despite them having compartments specifically made for laptops, I still wasn’t bold enough to go case-less with my MacBook. With the Shift, I can be.
Booq’s backpack has a heavily padded compartment for laptops separate from the main compartment. It’s extremely protective and even has a water-repellant zipper designed by YKK. What’s more, it will fit all size MacBooks from 13-17 inches. And it’ll protect your Chromebook/Windows machine up to around 16.4-inches. This added protection means that it’s easier to take my MacBook out and slip it back in again, since I don’t have a case to deal with. It definitely makes press events more convenient. And that’s just the beginning of the Boa Shift. This thing has compartments galore.
The main compartment is accessed by opening a zipper which opens all the way down to the base on both sides. And this is where the bag gets its “Boa” name from. It’s designed to open like a snake’s mouth: Really wide. So there’s no wrestling to squeeze stuff in to the bag. What’s more, the main compartment has 1 large, document slip pocket (which I found perfect for the iPad Air) plus 5 smaller lining slip pockets, 1 large mesh window pocket and 4 pen slots. And – as if you need them – there’s also two more slip pockets on the exterior, 2 elastic pockets on the shoulder straps and a zipper pocket on the front of the bag for quick-access. I tend to use mine to carry my wallet and prescription inhalers. But it really can be used for anything you need to be able to grab in a hurry.
In short, the bag is spacious and has enough pockets and compartments to carry a whole range of things. Whether you’re a student with tons of books, paper and pens to carry around or just a tech nerd who likes to carry multiple devices and accessories.
It has a few bonuses too: First off, it’s equipped with a Terralinq bar code, with the idea being that it’s easier to recover your lost bag if someone finds it. It also comes with an accessory pouch, which I found perfect for carrying around multiple USB cables. And there’s a custom keychain clip to secure your keys to the inside of the main compartment.
Having owned it for a couple of months now, I can’t imagine my life without the Booq Boa. It has made carrying around all my gear so much more convenient, and more comfortable. It really is invaluable. It has so much space inside, it opens easily and is very lightweight.
If you’re a photographer, and would rather have a rucksack with space for your camera and other accessories, it’s worth looking at the Booq Boa Flow which comes with a specific compartment for your DSLR. It’s available to pre-order now for $225 in the U.S. and available to buy in the UK for £180.