ProLite II SC

The first compartment from the back unzips nearly all the way down on both sides and opens like a file folder offering three partitioned sections for storing papers, in addition to several mesh and elasticised pockets. It's a nice surprise to find it protected by thick padding, though a very minor annoyance is that the placement of one of the clasps makes the shoulder strap likely to fall into this compartment when it's open.

Sensibly, the middle compartment is for your notebook, and will hold any model up to 15.4in. You only get Brenthaven's standard (rather than Core) protection, meaning you notebook is only protected on five sides, but keep in mind that this is already two more than with most shoulder bags. The padding on the bottom and the bag's sides is over an inch thick, and though it's not quite as voluminous at the front or back, that is somewhat mitigated when you take into consideration that on both these sides there is another padded compartment in addition to the notebook one.

Moving on to the front of the bag, there is a shallow, felt-lined and single zipped pocket for things like sunglasses or an inexpensive mobile phone that require quick access at the top.There's another normal shallow pocket at the bottom meant for your notebook's AC adapter. The third main compartment resides between these two. Its double zips again open most of the way down, making for really easy access. Inside are a variety of mesh and cloth pockets, including pen and card holders, and a single pocket with yet more padding to fit your iPhone or similarly-sized PDA.

A last niggle is that like Brenhaven's backpack, the ProLite II SC doesn't seem to want to stay standing on its own, which is a pity after the much thinner and lighter Belkin Ceylon Messenger Bag, which actually looked like it was guaranteed to fall over, managed it so easily. On a more positive note, like the Mobile Trek WC, this bag is new enough to be manufactured under the company's Zero Impact policy.

Also, this is the cheapest bag in this roundup - which admittedly isn't saying much. Available from Brenthaven direct for £69.95, you can find it online for a much more palatable £56


The first Brenthaven bag that I would hesitate to recommend due to a few minor glitches in its otherwise excellent build quality and ergonomics, at less than half the price of its siblings, it still offers good protection for your notebook.

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