Luggage Week: New Spire bag for TiBook, iBook

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2001, 17:15
Category: Archive

What better way to celebrate Luggage Week than switch bags? I’ve been road testing Spire‘s new Icon bag in the Bag Capital of the World: New York City.

What better way to celebrate Luggage Week than switch bags? I’ve been road testing Spire‘s new Icon bag in the Bag Capital of the World: New York City.

Yes, it’s true: no one shlepps stuff like New Yorkers, and we’re always in search of the perfect bag . . . which means we have a bag for every occasion littering our apartments. But this bag may change that for me. So far, my new Icon has hit the subway, the street, a cab, and as I type this, my personal favorite workplace: window seat, Metro North Railroad Harlem Line.

Spire’s Icon in black & graphite.

In the competition with my previous bag, a Kenneth Cole computer backpack, the Spire backpack is winning handily. I like the sporty black and red all-ballistic nylon design of my test model, which has the advantage of not being ostentatious — or suggesting there’s a $3,000 computer inside. The Spire is slim and tall, built specifically for the PowerBook G4 and 2001 iBook models. An included removable padded sleeve is just the size for a Titanium, but also includes a 2″ foam “ShockPad” which you can use to accomodate the smaller iBook.

Das Boot. The modular design of the Spire Icon is one of my favorite features. The sleeve (Spire calls it a “Boot”) is the best I’ve seen yet. It’s solidly built and has a strap on top so you can carry it alone. You can toss the sleeve into another bag (remember what I said about New Yorkers and multiple bags), or it fits snugly into a special compartment inside the Icon. Likewise, you can remove this padding if you want to use the backpack sans PowerBook. Spire also points out that the Boot is included in the purchase price, unlike some of its competitors, who charge US$30-40 extra.

Your life, to go. Because it was designed with PowerBook G4 proportions, the Spire Icon expands up before it expands out — a much more comfortable proposition, especially squeezing onto crowded subways. I’ve been amazed how much I can stuff into it without even noticing the weight on my shoulders or running out of room in the Spire’s seemingly endless pockets. Right now it’s carrying my PowerBook, a bulky pair of closed-ear headphones, a Roland UA-30 USB audio interface, the power yo-yo, a few CDs, the full New York Times, and a sweater for potentially chilly air conditioning, without balking or looking externally bulky.

The Icon has three main compartments: two large compartments for gear, one of which holds your `Book, plus a third, smaller compartment for easy access to airline tickets, passport, little black books, etc. There are a number of other interior pockets, including a thin pocket Spire calls a ‘Spaghetti Pocket’ for cords and cables. Despite these features, though, the design is kept clean and simple.

Spire has shown particular attention to detail on the shoulder straps. Both the backpack packing and straps are entirely covered in mesh — a welcome feature for those who have suffered from “PowerBook sweaty shirt syndrome” in warm weather. (Believe me, I know.) The straps are the most comfortable I’ve used, well-padded without being heavy and ergonomically designed to take pressure off your back. The bag also features a waist belt. And friends of mine have already complimented the bag’s rubber carrying handle.

The only potential downside is the price, US$130, although that is actually lower than many of Spire’s specialty computer bag competitors. The bag is made in the US, in Colorado. I find the craftsmanship well worth the price: even if you’re on a budget, you’ll thank yourself later on. The Icon has just begun shipping, and is available in red & black, graphite & black, blue & black, and all-black.

All in all, I’ve found what I believe is the ultimate PowerBook G4/iceBook bag. Not to be too graphic, but I’ve noticed an extra spring in my step, and less sweat on my back! And isn’t that what Luggage Week is all about?

Better go . . . this is my train stop!

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