STM Bags is an Australian company, founded in 1998, that is dedicated to making laptop bags that “don’t look like a laptop bag.” They’ve introduced some bags designed for the Apple iPad. Just like their laptop bags, the iPad offerings are sturdy-looking bags that are suitable for business or casual use. STM were nice enough to send three iPad bags to The Gadgeteer for review. I’ll cover the Micro Extra Small and the Jacket for iPad in separate reviews. The third bag, which I’ll be discussing in this review, is the Scout Extra Small Laptop Shoulder Bag. Although the Scout is described as a bag for 11” laptops/netbooks, it is also promoted for use with iPads. I received the Scout in the new ochre color.
Most of the images in this review, including the top image, can be enlarged by clicking on the image.
The Scout Extra Small laptop shoulder bag (called simply the Scout in the rest of this review) is the largest of the STM iPad offerings that I received. This bag has a bit of an Indiana Jones look. The Scout is 9” X 12” X 3.25” and weighs 1.2 pounds. The exterior is 14 oz. water-resistant canvas; the interior lining is 210D water-resistant nylon. Both fabrics are the ochre color. Branding on this bag is a 2” X 1” black label sewn to the front with gray “stm” and the website, and black, rubbery tabs with “stm” on the zipper pulls.
The Scout has a removable 2”-wide woven strap. The strap can be adjusted from 31.25” to 55.25” long. The strap hardware is heavy, black plastic. There is a black clamp to lock the strap length. The Scout also has a large, padded, fairly stiff shoulder pad. This pad is 3.25” wide and 10” long and is embroidered with “stm”. The front of the pad consists of two flaps that close with Velcro, so the shoulder pad is easily removable. I think the shoulder pad might work better if you are carrying a heavier load, but I felt it was overkill for the lightweight iPad and the small amount of stuff that I normally carry in my purse. I would remove the shoulder pad for daily use.
The back of the Scout has a slip-in document pocket that has a Velcro closure at the top. This document pocket isn’t quite wide enough for an unfolded 8.5” X 11” piece of paper, but one fits in when folded in half lengthwise. There is also a grab handle made of a narrow woven strapping material. This strap is placed a little low on the bag, so the Scout tends to tip forward if you carry it by the grab handle.
The Scout has a flap that covers a little more than half the front of the bag. The flap is fastened with a large black clip. The two pieces of the clip are attached to the bag with a narrower version of the woven strap. The strap for the bottom half of the clip can be adjusted as needed for the amount of stuff you have inside.
Under the flap are four compartments. The outermost compartment is a pocket with a couple of darts that give some extra volume to the bottom. The pocket is about 8” deep. Inside this pocket is pouch big enough to hold a phone or an iPod. Beside the phone pouch are three pen loops, which can accommodate my 5/8”-diameter pens. These are all made of the nylon lining material. There is also a removable key fob sewn in to the pocket. I could fit my LG enV3 phone or my iPod touch in the phone pouch, my 2 Levenger pens, a small business card case, and a bottle of ibuprofen inside here with room to spare.
Behind that pocket is a zippered compartment. This compartment is about 5.5” deep and about 6” wide. I put my credit card case, which I use instead of a wallet, in here for security. Unfortunately, this zippered pocket wasn’t big enough to also hold my checkbook.
The zippered compartment is on the front of another open document pocket that’s about 10” deep. I put my checkbook cover in here, and there was still a lot of room available.
Although I had more than sufficient room for everything I carry in my daily purse, I’m not sure my things would be safe in these compartments. Except for the zippered compartment, all the pockets are open. The flap comes down over them, but the clip at the bottom doesn’t keep these storage areas tightly closed. Things could fall out if the bag was dropped or tipped over, and there’s plenty of room for someone to stick a hand in to steal from the bag. I wish all of these pockets had zippers.
The final compartment under the front flap is for the netbook or iPad. This section is covered with a flap with a Velcro closure. There are two little tabs under the flap at the sides of the iPad compartment that will help keep rain out. The iPad compartment is lined with a fleecy fabric to prevent scratches. This area is padded with dense foam to protect your device. Since the Scout was apparently designed originally for netbooks, the iPad only occupies a small amount of the available volume. The compartment is about 11.25” X 7.5”. Widthwise, the iPad doesn’t have a lot of room to spare, and I was very happy to see that the iPad in the Belkin Grip Vue case could fit inside. There’s probably enough room in there to also fit a folding Bluetooth keyboard or a small stand.
The STM Scout is a very nice looking, well constructed bag that should provide good protection for your iPad in its padded compartment. If you only intend to carry cables, chargers, and some papers or a small notebook, the extra storage pockets will work well for you. If you want to carry the Scout as your daily gear bag with all your credit cards, money, checkbook, and other personal items, you may find that the front flap doesn’t provide quite enough security.