By David Ponce
Slappa’s motto is “Protect Your Digital Gear”. For the last few weeks, I’ve been using their Bulkhead PRO 2:1, and I have to say, they do live up to that motto, to a T. And that’s a great thing, really. Although, like a cop wearing three bulletproof vests, it does come with a bit of a drawback.
This particular bag is made from BuckBlast suede, and its most notable feature is that it is really two bags in one. An industrial-strength zipper runs down the middle, and what is a nifty travel bag quickly turns into a dandy laptop bag. There is room for a 17″ laptop in the front, and well, as they like to point out, a second laptop in the main compartment.
And then, there’s padding. Lots of it. See, that’s the secret behind the protection. The padding. So, before I give you all the details inside, let me make this clear out here. It’s a great bag. Solid, well built and above all, provides really great protection to whatever you might put inside. But the protection does come at the sacrifice of some space. If you travel light, and don’t pack your entire office in your laptop bag, then this will not a problem for you. And, let me really emphasize this: your stuff is safe inside. Really safe.
It’s $130, and available at the Slappa website.
So, for my regular crappy pictures, and a ton more details, come inside.
The bag itself itself is rather large. In travel bag mode (with the two bags zippered together), it protrudes a good 12 inches and looks squareish. Not so big that it wouldn’t fit in an overhead compartment though, so it’s fine. The material it’s made from, BuckBlast suede, is waterproof and feels very thick and solid, though you’ll want to keep it away from dust as much as possible. The stitching everywhere is top-notch, and the zippers,
though plastic, made out of metal, feel like they’re made to last.
There are a couple of very nice design elements here and there that make using the bag more enjoyable. First, the simple use of two zipper pullers per compartment, and then a very neat SmartClip system for the shoulder strap. The way this works is a little hard to explain. On each side of the strap, there are three clasps, placed one after the other. The strap loops around a metal hook attached to the bag, and clasps back into itself. Simply attach the strap at a different height on each side, and you get up to, what, 6 different length combinations. Hell, I’m not too good at figuring out just how many combinations, so take that number with a grain of salt, it’s likely more. The point is, it’s very easy to adjust the strap, which, incidentally, is also very comfortable.
The middle zipper, that unites or separates the two bags, is very easy to use. It didn’t take me much more than ten or fifteen seconds to either unite or separate the two.
The Slappa logo is everywhere. As a matter of fact, it’s also used as a padding element, on the back of the laptop bag.
There is a five-stage collapsible trolley-puller for when the two bags are joined together, and the wheels it rolls on don’t make any noise.
So, what about the protection? Well, as I mentioned, there is padding everywhere, even on top of the bags. It’s some sort of foam, and it doesn’t give in too easily, which is a good thing. But it’s this very padding that gives these bags their biggest drawback. Since the design called for both bags to be equally as protective independently than when joined together, padding had to be included right in the middle (since the middle becomes the front and the back of the separate bags). And, unfortunately, this extra padding takes up about two inches of linear space. The collapsible trolley-puller (which tucks inside) takes up another inch or so, leaving about 8 inches, or 4 per bag (if you subtract yet another inch for the front padding).
Now, I’m not saying there’s no room. There certainly is quite a bit. As pointed out, enough to fit two laptops. Matter of fact, you can probably even fit two 17 inch and one 15 inch laptop without breaking a sweat, though I’d have to ask you why you’re going around with three laptops. The point here is, you do have a lot of room, though not quite as much as you’d be led to think there is from the bag’s look on the outside.
Still, for this price, you’re getting a great piece of luggage. I like to think of it as “getting a laptop bag along with my travel bag.” Kind of like a two for one, which, well, IS the name of the bag. The padding makes me feel very comfortable that no matter how hostile the environment (think crowded bus), my stuff is safe.
- Two bags for the price of one.
- BuckBlast suede is waterproof.
- Heavy amount of padding provides digital gear, or anything fragile, with superior protection.
- Extra padding comes at the price of some room.
- BuckBlast suede fabric gets easily dirty with dust, chalk, etc.