I’ve seen several reports recently saying that Apple leads the PC market if you count iPads as a PC. Most people won’t count them as PCs; I certainly don’t, but there is a market for which the iPad represents all the “PC” they need. So, if your iPad is the only PC you need, you certainly don’t need a typical laptop bag to carry it around. There are several iPad bags on the market, and you’ll find reviews of many of them on The Gadgeteer (see related posts at the end of this review). There’s always room for one more bag review, and today we’ll be looking at a bag from STM. This Australian company makes beautifully-constructed, efficiently-appointed laptop and gear bags. Today, we’ll be looking at their cache for iPad bag.
STM’s specifications for the cache state it’s made of a lightweight, water-resistant canvas. The look of these bags reminds me of those old military flight bags or helmet bags. The difference of course is that the STM bags have a retro look, but with modern features to hold and protect tech gear.
The STM cache includes iPad in the name, but it can hold tablets up to 10 inches. The bag measures 10.75″ wide X 8.75″ tall X about 1″ thick (empty). It weighs 7.8 ounces on my digital kitchen scale.
The bag is available in Black or in Olive. I asked for and received the Olive. (It matches the STM bag my husband uses for his 11″ MacBook Air.)
In the lead image, you can see the two snaps that hold the front flap closed. Each snap is color-coordinated to the bag’s fabric and bears the STM logo. Although it looks as if two straps extend below the snaps, these are folds in the fabric and are not free.
The back of the cache has no external pockets. There is a small grab handle sewn into the flap’s seam. Although the strap is small, it’s big enough for me to fit all four fingers under. Even if your hands are too big to completely fit under, you’ll still be able to lift or carry the bag with the grab handle.
There are also two belting loops for attaching a shoulder strap to the cache sewn into this seam. You can see from the back photo that the strap is attached with two locking hooks. These hooks are plastic, but they are thick and sturdy. They are held closed with a metal loop. You won’t have to worry that these hooks will pop open unexpectedly.
The strap itself is seen in the lead photo. It’s made of 0.8″-wide belting material. A buckle allows the strap to adjust from about 27″ to 51″ long, so you can wear it as a shoulder bag or as a cross-body bag. The belting material is soft and pliable enough that it’s comfortable against the neck while the bag is being worn.
The underside of the flap is lined with an olive water-resistant polyester material. Also, notice how the top of the biggest pocket curves up where it’s attached to the flap. When the flap is closed, the top of the pocket folds over and helps keep water out of the main pocket where the iPad is stored.
You can see the snap sockets on the flap and the snap posts on the front of the bag. The posts are attached to little strips of belting, the ends of which have been sewn into the two folded areas on the front. These snaps aren’t magnetic, and they do require some force to close them. However, I just slide my finger under the loose strap with the post side of the snap so my finger – and all the material between the iPad and the snap – absorbs the force. I don’t worry about my iPad being damaged by the snaps in the cache bag.
On the left side of the above image, you’ll notice a fabric zipper pull just to the left of the snap.
That zipper opens up a phone pocket. It’s plenty big enough to hold my iPhone 5. The interior is lined with a velvety Nylex fabric to protect against scratches. Unfortunately, there’s no padding in this pocket to protect the phone from bumps to the front of the bag.
The front pocket is lined with what seems to be the same polyester found under the flap, but it’s in a light gray color that will make it easier to find small items at the bottom of the pocket. The front wall of the pocket shows the back sides of those folds on the front of the bag. The back wall of that compartment has two large pockets and a pen sleeve sewn in. There’s enough room in here to hold your charger and cables and some other accessories. There’s no padding in the front wall of this pocket; the back wall is padded with a thin layer of dense foam.
The large, tablet pocket is fronted with the thin, dense foam wall. The back wall is also padded with a dense foam. The back layer may be a tiny bit thicker than the front wall. The interior is the same velvety Nylex fabric used in the phone pocket.
You can see the STM label sewn into the top of the tablet pocket. Branding on this bag is limited to this label and the front snaps.
Here you’ll see my iPhone peeking out of the front phone pocket. It fits easily inside, even when wearing its new Musubo Retro case.
My uncased 3rd-gen iPad fits easily inside the back pocket. I found my husband’s iPad in a KHOMO Dual Case also fits. It’s a pretty snug fit with the KHOMO, so bigger, thicker cases won’t fit.
Of course, I tried my iPad mini with its KHOMO Super Slim Smart Case. It fits with room to spare, and I think you’d have no trouble fitting the iPad mini in this pocket even wearing bigger, thicker cases. You could even fit in other accessories in this pocket with the iPad, if you trusted the accessories wouldn’t damage the iPad by rubbing/pressing against it. I’ll just let my iPad mini luxuriate in the extra room.
I think the STM cache for iPad is perfect for times when you need to take just an iPad and a cable/charger. If you’re lucky enough to need only an iPad, you’ll find you have room in the front pockets for a few accessories and maybe even a few folded papers. Ladies, you could fit a wallet and your keys inside the front pocket so you don’t need to carry another bag. Although you shouldn’t need them with an iPad, you might even fit an eBook reader or a small paperback in the front pocket with your other gear. The bag is sleek and simple, and it should fit in casual or more formal atmospheres. I think both colors will work well for any situation, but the black may work better in the more formal environments.
My husband has already called dibs on the STM cache. It coordinates beautifully with his current STM bag, and it will be perfect for those times when his Air is more than he needs!