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Brenthaven Notebook Bag Roundup

Ardjuna Seghers


Brenthaven Notebook Bag Roundup

US-based Brenthaven is no newcomer to the notebook bag market and it's fair to say that - as long as you like black - it has something for everyone. It offers a huge selection of shoulder cases, backpacks, sleeves, wheeled cases and messenger bags, in almost every size and configuration you could think of even if, as already noted, choices of colour are infrequent. So, is offering the consumer prodigious amounts of choice enough to stand out in a crowded market?

Well, there are good reasons Brenthaven products are among the most expensive non-designer notebook storage you can get. Not only are its bags extremely durable, but according to their maker they offer the best protection for your notebook out of any comparable product. In terms of build quality, Brenthaven lays claim to such highlights as the "highest stitch count in the industry {using} high tensile strength thread", bar-tacked stress points and surged or bound seams. The best durability feature is that all Brenthaven bags are constructed using Ballistic nylon, a high-quality rugged material which is one of the factors that lets Brenthaven confidently offer its comprehensive international lifetime warranty. Of course it's hardly the only company to do so, but it does suggest a degree of confidence in the life-expectancy of its product.

Another thing that sets Brenthavens apart from the competition, especially for the environmentally conscious, is its 'Zero Impact' guarantee. This is divided into three claims, the last of which is the most interesting, so let's get the others out of the way quickly. First, there's "zero impact on your computer", which I've discussed above. Secondly, we have "zero impact on your health". This claim is somewhat extraneous, since carrying extra weight may always have some small impact, no matter how comfortable the bag. Last is "zero impact on our environment", where the company promises to offset any negative impact the process of making its product has on our planet by investing in Green Projects. Unfortunately, for now Zero Impact applies only to Brenthaven's newer bags.

However, the protection of your valuable notebook remains the company's main focus. It designs most of its bags so that laptops should be able to survive being dropped from a moderate height or submitted to various bumps and scrapes. Premium Core, its highest level of notebook protection encloses your valuable slab of fragile technology on six sides with two inch-thick high density foam, reinforced corners, and rigid 'wall' inserts to protect against punctures. Furthermore, most of the non-notebook compartments are also padded in the Brenthaven range, meaning things like mobiles or portable gaming consoles should also be kept free from harm.

It is, however, very annoying that Brenthaven does not make it obvious - either on its website or on the bags themselves - what level of protection you’re getting with a specific bag. Come on Brenthaven, we expect better from a “market leader”! Even more aggravating is a lack of any decent waterproofing. When a £25 piece like the Belkin Ceylon Messenger Bag can manage it, why can't bags that cost over four times as much? What good is it that your notebook can survive falling down stairs if a long walk in a proper British shower can send it to the recycling?

Anyway, in terms of looks, most of the bags have a fairly chunky, industrial yet understated design that should appeal to anyone with a professional disposition or anyone who just likes black, like me. Going on to prove that tastes differ, some of my colleagues remarked that the bags we received for testing were visually somewhat unremarkable. Still, you should never really judge a book by its cover, so it's a good thing we're here to tell you what these Brenthaven bags are like to use.

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