Brenthaven ProLite II SC
Shoulder-bags like Brenthaven's new ProLite II SC are probably the most popular way of carrying around your notebook. And, though personally I prefer a backpack, I can definitely see the attraction. For one thing, its easier to keep an eye on your belongings, steering them out of harm's way where necessary. For another they're easier and quicker to tuck out of the way when taking a seat on the bus or train. Perhaps most importantly, they don't leave your shirt plastered to your back with sweat like even the best breathable backpack on a warm day.
The ProLite II SC has a slightly different look than the other bags in this roundup. With its different textiles (the underside of the shoulder pad and the inside of the carrying handles are finished in a pleasant fake leather material) and multiple compartments and zippers, the bag's front can only be described as 'busy'. The back is plain though, with only a single zipped magazine or newspaper compartment and, similar to the Mobile Trek WC, a handy strap for attaching to wheeled luggage.
Perhaps more noticeable than the bag itself is its massive shoulder pad. Unfortunately, this is also where the problems start. First of all, while the strap is adjustable on both ends (bravo Brenthaven), the pad is not. This is probably in the interests of stability, but combined with the 'anti-slip' leather, means it's more difficult to move the bag around while leaving it hanging from you shoulder. Then there's an unfortunate little fault I discovered with the one part of the pad's stitching where it leaves the yellow foam filling exposed - hopefully this is a glitch unique to our sample, as it's hardly the kind of thing you'd expect on such an expensive bag. Last but far from least, though, the pad is comfortable enough when used with a jumper or other thick material, it is almost literally painful with just a T-shirt or shirt protecting your skin from the rough anti-stick fake leather finish.
Luckily things improve from here on out. Restoring my confidence in Brenthaven quality somewhat, the detachable clasps joining the shoulder strap to the bag are made of metal rather than plastic, though coated with soft-touch black material that makes them feel more like the latter. The clasps are on diagonally opposite sides of the ProLite II for extra stability and unlike some bags I've used the system keeping them closed isn't likely to unclasp itself accidentally.
The twin handles, meanwhile, are very comfortable. Though the leather-like finish feels slightly sticky, which may come across as a tad unpleasant, it will also prevent sweaty fingers from slipping, which with a bag like this can be a life-saver.