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 Scout and the Jacket for iPad in separate reviews. I’ll be discussing the Micro Extra Small iPad Shoulder Bag in this review.
(Most of the pictures in this review, including the top picture, can be enlarged for a more detailed view.)
The Micro Extra Small iPad Shoulder Bag is made of black 600D micro ripstop water-resistant polyester with a black 210D water-resistant nylon lining in the front and back pockets and a gray fleecy lining in the iPad compartment. The bag measures about 11.25” X 8” X 2.5” when empty. The shoulder strap is 1.5” wide and can be adjusted as short as 28.5” and as long as 51.5”. There is a cushioned shoulder pad that is about 9” long and 3” wide. The pad has a rubbery, textured backing that should keep it from sliding on your shoulder. The bag weighs about 12.5 oz. (The fabric was very difficult to photograph. In pictures, it has a salt-and-pepper texture that wasn’t so visible to the naked eye.)
The Micro is branded with a rubbery gray tab with red “stm” letters on the bottom of the front flap. The double zipper tabs have gray cord zipper pulls with gray rubbery ends with “stm” in red.
The shoulder pad is very big and seems a bit over-kill for a bag this size. Since it’s designed to hold only an iPad and a few accessories, I can’t imagine the bag will be heavy enough to require such a heavy-duty shoulder pad. If you don’t like using it, you could slide it off the shoulder strap.
The shoulder strap is removable. It has plastic hardware, but the plastic seems to be very sturdy. The strap attaches to two loops made of the strapping material. The length adjustment is made by pulling open the plastic clamp, adjusting the strap to the correct length, and then closing the clamp so that it “bites down” on the strap. If you choose to use the shoulder pad, you can pull this clamp through the pad so the pad can be centered on the strap.
There are two grab handles on the Micro bag. They are about 1” wide and appear to be made of a heavy-duty grosgrain ribbon. There is a 5” long slightly cushiony pad sewn into the center of each grab handle. The grab handles can be tucked into shallow pockets if you don’t wish to use them.
The back of the bag has an open, slip-in pocket. It isn’t wide enough to hold unfolded 8.5” X 11” paper. You can see how the paper fits when folded in half, lengthwise.
The main, zippered compartment holds the iPad. The zippers open down to the strap-attachment point on each side of the bag. The inside is padded and lined with a light-gray fleecy fabric to protect the iPad. I was very happy to see that the iPad in the Belkin Grip Vue case fit easily inside this compartment. There was a little room to spare, but I don’t think the iPad in a much bigger case would fit.
The flap on the front of the Micro opens to reveal an organizer pocket for cables and other accessories. The flap is closed with Velcro. The hook side is sewn horizontally to the front of the pocket. The loop side is sewn vertically to the inside of the flap. This arrangement of the Velcro allows the flap to securely close even when the pocket is filled up and bulging.
There is a sewn-in clear plastic ID or business card holder. Beside it is a snap-out keyring. Inside the pocket is a stretchy mesh pocket big enough to hold a phone or larger device. There are also three pen loops made of the nylon lining material. The pocket has gusseted sides, so it can expand to hold quite a bit of stuff. I wish this pocket had been lined with a lighter colored fabric. It’s as dark as a black hole in there, which makes it hard to find small things in the bottom of the pocket.
I tried loading up this pocket with the things I carry in the small purse I normally use. I couldn’t fit everything from my purse, but I could fit all the most necessary things. You can see that I fit my iPod touch in its Belkin Grip Vue in the mesh pocket, my two 5/8” diameter Levenger True Writer pens in two of the pen holders, my keyring on the removable keyring, and I had room for my card case and my checkbook inside the pouch. I used the iPod touch instead of my phone, because it lit up the interior of the pocket a bit for better pictures. My LG enV3 phone fit inside that mesh pouch, and that’s where I would carry my phone if I were using the Micro for my daily bag.
I like the STM Micro Extra Small iPad Shoulder Bag. It’s big enough that I can carry my essentials and my iPad in a small bag, but it’s not so big that I feel like I’m carrying around luggage. I wish the front pocket closed with a zipper. There’s enough open space under the flap that things could easily fall out if the Micro was dropped or tipped over. The opening is also big enough that someone could get a hand inside and slip your valuables out with little trouble. If you don’t intend to carry your wallet and checkbook inside, or if you aren’t as paranoid as me, you’ll find that the Micro Extra Small makes a great shoulder bag for your iPad.