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Ful Brooklyn and Joint Venture

A couple of quality bags with a fashion edge

by Daniel Rasmus (02/28/2012)

I have been using these two Ful bags for a few days now, and I am mostly impressed, but a bit disappointed when it comes to my personal preference to carry the preverbal digital-kitchen-sink with me on trips. These are high quality bags, made of 1680 Denier Nylon (and a bit of neoprene in the case of the Brooklyn), heavily stitched, well-padded and attractive. Both bags offer the unique capability of detaching an iPad case from the bag.

Of the two bags, I am most impressed with the Brooklyn backpack, which sports good airflow over the back, a cross-chest clip to ensure that the backpack doesn't slip as backpacks occasionally do, and a hidden water bottle net that folds unsnaggingly away on the side. The handle is well-padded and reinforced, though a bit short of gripping space for large hands. There is no doubt that the handle will hold up to much more weight than it will likely to ever carry. Little details include a clear business card slot on the back of one strap, a phone/MP3 player holder with a rubber hole for feeding in headphone and a couple of neoprene pouches with covers for various other items in need of quick access. And if you're out at night, the main shoulder straps offer a bit of reflective material to make you more visible.

The Brooklyn's tablet bag is the better of the two detachable bags, with an internal neoprene slot that firmly holds a tablet even if it is already in a reasonably slim case, increasing protection and security for the device. The tablet bag comes with its own straps and also a strap across its back so it can slip over the handle of a roller bag (something that well-traveled travelers wish was standard on all message bags, briefcases and backpacks). It also includes a little pouch which I wondered about until I left the detachable bag's straps on, tucked them into this little pouch and then zipped it back on to the backpack. This solves two issues: what to do with the straps when the tablet bag is attached and how to quickly convert from one to the other with minimal fumbling.

The Joint Venture is aptly named with its notebook and tablet personality. This messenger bag is more traditional and more egalitarian than the Brooklyn backpack. The bag is smart looking with clean lines. It will accommodate the basics but not much more. It is a bag for the nearly-purely-digital, not for those who combine a lot of paper with their online browsing and word processing. If you have a small enough footprint notebook or ultrabook, then you can include a fair amount of files and folders in with the computer, but that is clearly not the design intent. If you carry a power supply, I suggest putting it in the zippered pouch on the outside, under the tablet case. Not the most convenient unless you travel sans-tablet, but better than having the electric contacts scratching your computers shell.

The tablet bag on the Joint Venture offers good padding, but it lacks the extra storage and protection of the Brooklyn's detachable case. Like the Brooklyn tablet case, it comes with its own straps. It also includes a zippered back pouch (where I keep the straps when not in use) and a lightweight handle that tucks under a flap, out of the way.

My one disappointment with both bags is their lack of compartments. For me, these are more urban work companions than travel partners. I carry a lot of stuff, and I just can't find enough places to put things in the bag for a long air flight, which is especially true of the Joint Venture--if your need for stuff runs more Mary Poppins than Neo, this probably isn't the bag for you.

NOTE: A word of caution about the detachable iPad cases. Because they use zippers, don't detach them with the hopes of quick reattachment while running toward a late airport gate. Reattaching the iPad cases involves detaching their own set of straps and lining up the zippers, as would be imagined. It only takes a minute or two, or a lot longer if you are in a hurry. For a jaunt around a convention floor, however, with iPad and business cards in tow, the detachable tablet bags make great sense, and that they are outside, makes accessing a tablet easy under any circumstances.

Ful Brooklyn
Dimensions: 18.25in x 12in x 5in
Full retail: US$200
Full details online

Ful Joint Venture
Dimensions: 10.25in x 14.75in x 1.25in
Full retail: US$140
Full details online

Both bags are regular available at a discounted price from various web retailers and during sales at Ful.

Daniel W. Rasmus is an independent analyst and strategy consultant. He is a former Vice President at the Giga Information Group and Forrester Research. Dan is the author of five books, including Management by Design (Wiley, 2010) and Listening to the Future (Wiley 2008). He blogs regularly at http://danielwrasmus.wordpress.com. Additional information can be found at http://danielwrasmus.com.