There are a multitude of gear and laptop bags on the market, but most of them are unisex or styled for men or hip young things (or whatever the kids call themselves these days) - or seemingly anyone other than the professional woman. Levenger has several bags that are designed for women and sized to hold just a few things or gear for the day. Their Raffinato Color-Block bags are designed for women who want a stylish gear bag but don’t require the utmost in formality. They have three bags in the Raffinato line: the Wallet that can hold a smart phone, the Organizer that can hold a tablet and your other “pocket stuff”, and the Satchel, which I received. The Raffinato Color-Block Satchel looks like one of the over-sized handbags that are so popular now, and it can be used as just a handbag if that’s what you want. I found it has enough room for much more than just a wallet and a cosmetic bag. Let’s see what all it can hold.
Most images can be clicked for an enlarged view.
The Satchel is made of lightly textured, full-grain Italian leather that has the softest, most luxurious hand I’ve felt in a bag. That doesn’t mean it feels flimsy or like it won’t hold up to use, though. The Raffinato Color-Block bags are only available in the tan/caramel/orange leather combination shown here. The bag measures 16″ wide X 12″ tall X 6″ deep and weighs 1.8 pounds. It’s a big bag, but certainly not as big as some purses I’ve seen women carrying. (What do they carry in those things, anyway?)
In the lead photo, you can see the front has an organizer pocket with a twist-lock closure. In the above image, you can easily see the decorative, orange corner reinforcement patches that are located on both the front and back of the bag. You can also see the little goldtone metal studs that reinforce stress points. Both the front and the back of the bag have external pockets under the strap attachment points.
The sides and bottom seams have orange leather piping. It’s an attractive accent and gives the seams a bit more structure. You can see other seams, like in the bottom of the bag and the exterior of the back, have double stitching for strength. The stitching is even and straight. I saw only one loose string on the bag; it was at the top of the front. I nipped that string off with my Swiss Army knife scissors after taking these pictures.
The bottom of the bag doesn’t have any metal feet to keep the bag lifted off the dirty floor, but I don’t put my bags on the floor anyway. However, because the leather is soft and flexible and the bottom has no reinforcing panel, the bag won’t stand up by itself. This is especially true when you have a laptop inside the bag. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me, though.
The straps are made of a double layer of orange leather that’s been stitched together at the edges. You can see from earlier photos that the straps are securely sewn to the body of the bag. The middle of each strap has been rolled around thick cording and sewn together to make a comfortable grip for hand-carrying this bag. The straps have a 7″ drop, so they are long enough that you can wear the bag on your shoulder. There is no other shoulder strap and no attachment rings for one. I wish it had one; I prefer bags that I can wear cross-body to keep my hands free and to spread the weight of the bag and its contents more evenly across my back.
You can see the main compartment of the bag is secured with a nylon zipper. The zipper only extends about 3-3.5″ down the sides of the bag. While this keeps the small items in your bag from falling out the sides when you open your bag, it does make it a bit more difficult to see and reach the things on the bottom of your bag. That said, I was able to put things in and take them out of the bag with little to no trouble.
There’s an open pocket just under the twist-lock mechanism. It extends the full width of the zippered pocket. You can see it’s lined with a tan twill fabric. The fabric protects the contents of the pocket from the back of the metal lock, and the light color makes it easier to see what’s in the pocket.
The zippered pocket has a sewn-in pen sleeve and two pockets. The pen sleeve easily held my Levenger True Writer ballpoint pen. The other pockets held my iPhone 5 and a bottle of hand sanitizer and a tube of Advil. There was also room for my two Tom Bihn wallets. I could have fit a few more things in there, too.
This is the exterior pocket on the back of the bag. It’s actually just like the one on the front of the bag at the strap attachment point. Both pockets are held closed with magnetic snaps for a little more security than an open pocket. The pockets are only about 8.5″ wide X about 7.25″ tall, so they aren’t big enough for files or magazines, but you could keep a phone, gloves, or sunglasses in these pockets.
Inside the bag is a pocket to hold a tablet and protect it from the contents of the bag. It’s about 9.7″ long X 7.5″ tall. It’s held closed with a leather strap and a non-magnetic snap. The actual tablet can be a bit taller than 7.5″, because the strap does extend above the top edge of the pocket.
The interior is lined with the same tan twill fabric. It’s pretty easy to see into all the corners of this relatively deep bag because of the light interior.
The pocket easily accommodated the full-sized iPad in a Khomo Dual iPad case with front and back covers. This was a bit snug, so I don’t think a case much bigger than this would work with the full-sized iPad in this pocket.
The other interior wall has a zippered pocket. It also has a nylon zipper, goldtone hardware, and the large leather zipper pull. The pocket opening is about 8.25″ wide, and it’s about 6″ tall. This would be a good place to keep your keys, charging cables, backup batteries, or other small items.
There was more than enough room inside the bag to also hold my daily-carry Vera Bradley purse. (See my Everyday Carry Bags post for more info on this bag and on my Tom Bihn Wallets.) I could pack gear for a day in this bag – laptop, tablet, cables, chargers, external disks, backup batteries, etc – and still have room to put my daily bag in there. I could just pop out the daily bag and go to lunch or run errands and leave all the gear behind in my office.
Here are the items shown in the interior compartment in the preceding photo. That purse alone is about 9.5″ X 6″ X 5.5″. The MacBook Air’s neoprene sleeve is 12.25″ X 9.25″ X 1.4″.
The Satchel even holds my daughter’s 13″ MacBook Pro, and there’s a little room to spare. If I’d had one, I could have certainly fit a neoprene sleeve on the MBP, too. I don’t have a larger laptop to try with the bag, but I can see there is some room on each side of the MBP in the bag. Something to consider is that the sides of the Satchel do taper a bit at the top, so the zippered opening is narrower than the bottom of the bag. This might impact the size of the laptop that you could carry in this bag.
When you aren’t using the Satchel, you can store it in the included dust bag. It’s made of a heavy, suede-like fabric and has a drawstring closure at the top to keep dust away from the leather when the bag is stored.
Levenger’s Raffinato Color-Block Satchel is a beautiful bag that could serve as your daily purse, if you like large handbags. When you need to carry about your gadgets and gear, the Satchel can hold most everything you’ll need for the day, plus your purse contents – even in the purse itself. At $300, it’s an investment, but Levenger goods are built to last, and you should expect years of service from this beauty.