April 26, 2010 at 7:52 pm
All of the netbook bags that we’ve reviewed to date have come from well-established companies with leading brands in this segment. This time we have something a bit different. A small startup company called Two23 recently got in touch to tell us about a premium handmade leather messenger bag, designed with netbooks in mind.
Unlike many other leather bags, the Two23 bag uses some of the finest top grain leather. This makes the leather both heavier and thicker than other bags and provides greater protection for your netbook. The Two23 leather netbook messenger bag is currently only being sold in the United States at a price point of $189, reflecting the quality of materials used. Click through for our impressions.
The Two23 netbook messenger bag uses natural materials such as leather and canvas. As you can tell from the pictures, the bag is manufactured from very thick leather. Most leather bags are made from thin leather, around 0.8mm in thickness, to keep costs low. This Two23 bag uses 2.75mm thick leather. The bag goes through a 5 day dying process to add colour all the way through the thickness of the vegetable tanned leather. This means it stays looking fresh even after many years of wear.
The Two23 netbook bag is made from vegetable tanned leather, rather than a chromium based tanning process. Whilst this is more expensive, it results in a stiffer leather that holds its shape better. This compares to softer leather from a chromium leather process. Vegetable tanning also leaves the pores of the leather open that allows the surface to oxidize and absorb hand oils to take on a sheen.
There is a strong strap on the back of the bag that allows it to be attached to the handle of a suitcase. A small Velcro strip on the underside keeps the strap flush with the bag when not in use.
The Two23 bag has been designed to maximise the space on the inside without adding bulk on the outside. The small size enables it to be used with ease when travelling, allowing it to be stowed under the seat on a plane. The approximate exterior dimensions are 11.5” (W) x 10” (H) x 5.5” (D). The internal dimensions measures 10.5” (W) x 7.5” (H) x 2.5” (D).
Two small leather loops are attached at the bottom of the bag to enable it to stand upright on its own. Even when fully loaded these ‘feet’ do a great job of keeping the bag standing.
The picture below gives you a good idea on how thick most of the leather in the bag is. The edge of the leather is not a trim piece sewn over the edge, but the actual edge of the leather. The edges of the leather were intentionally unfinished to show the quality of the leather. The thick chrome buckles are attached very securely, showing a high level of craftsmanship.
As the bag is made by hand, every one is different. They are not guaranteed to be perfect because of this and the leather may have slight imperfections and marks on it. The bag is double stitched at all of the stress points. There may be places where the stitching doesn’t look uniform, as it is not machine sewn. Two23 says that if the bag received is not perfect, it will replace it free of charge. However, each bag is inspected and insured to meet high quality standards. There were no issues with our sample bag.
The bag has a simple flap held together by two chrome magnetic fasteners.
Two23 has used some high-quality fasteners that have a catch area that means the flap should stay securely in place, even when the main compartment is stretched to the limit.
The flap system used means that the main netbook compartment is very easy to open. This gives you quick access when needing to get your netbook out in a hurry (for example when screening at airports).
As well as the robust stitching used, the bag comes with a solid metal zip and large metal zippers. These zippers allow for good grip, making opening/closing the front zipped compartment very easy.
Unusually, the Two23 netbook bag’s handle comes in two parts. The shorter part has buckles on both sides that allow you to use it to carry the bag in your hand, much like a handle. There is also an extra long strap that can be fed through the shorter part. This makes the strap adjustable from 49-62-inches. With the longer strap attached you can use it as a shoulder strap or you can strap it to the extended handle of a suitcase when travelling.
As with other areas of the bag, high quality metal buckles are used on each of the straps.
The shorter strap allows the bag to be carried in the hand comfortably.
Attaching the larger strap works like a typical belt and has a number of holes to adjust the length to your desired need.
Another small loop is included to make sure the loose part of the longer strap is kept together with the rest of the strap. This can be seen on the very right side of the picture below.
Most other leather bags are made using only surface colour. This means that any wear and tear shows up as a sharp contrast to the leather as the thin layer of colour is worn through. This is most apparent at the edges and corners of these types of bag. As the Two23 uses premium leather material, this bag will not suffer from the same effect.
There is one main zipped compartment at the front of the bag. This is mainly for smaller devices such as phones, MP3 players, cameras, memory cards etc. There is also one pocket designed to carry a mouse. The compartment also includes a pen holder, a leash and clip for keys and room for 6 USB devices. There’s no nylon in this bag, the lining and pocket material uses a warm-feeling canvas material.
This bag can easily support other gadgets apart from the netbook itself. We were able to test this out by sticking a Blackberry, mouse, phone, MP3 player and a couple of SD cards without any issues.
Inside the main compartment, there is a leather strap towards the bottom that has a Velcro strip on the top.
The bottom of the bag can be used to store the netbooks charger and cord as seen below.
This flap is then folded over and attached to the Velcro strip on the case. The idea is that it separates these cables and the netbook can be placed on top without worrying about scratching the netbook. It keeps the main compartment nice and tidy.
Two23 says that the bag will accept most netbooks with display sizes of 12-inches and under.
Here you can see a Toshiba NB200 with 6-cell battery inside the bag. This netbook probably has one of the largest protruding batteries out there, hence you can see it sticking it out slightly at the top.
Not that this is a problem. There is plenty of room inside the bag and the flap is easily large enough to cover the bag. The bag is certainly very stylish and should appeal to business people or those who frequently travel.
We estimate that the Two23 bag weighs 1.66lkg (3.7lbs) with both straps included. This is heavier than other bags out there but reflects the quality of materials used.
Overall, it was a real pleasure reviewing the Two23 leather netbook messenger bag. It is not as refined as other bags we’ve reviewed in the past, but it has a distinct charm of its own. It is quite clear that a lot of thinking has gone into the bag and this shows through in some innovative design decisions.
We really liked the fact that you could hide a netbooks power cables and plug adaptor in the bottom of the main netbook compartment and cover this with a leather flap. We also liked the innovative strap that allows you to use the bag with a handle or shoulder strap.
The quality of materials and high levels of craftsmanship are evident throughout the bag. The bag is intended for many years of use, as the leather wears it will inherit a unique character of its own. Some people will rightfully say that the cost of the bag is nearly as much as some netbooks. However, considering the dearth of luxury netbook bags on the market, we are sure that there will be quite a few people who this appeals to. Whilst the $189 price point may be a sticking point for some, for those that want a stylish and premium netbook bag, the Two23 netbook messenger bag is well worth considering.
Many thanks to Two23 for sending through this very unique bag for review! Two23 currently ships to all locations in the Continental U.S.