by Sarah Meyer
The first time I visited Crumpler’s website I was bewildered, to the say the least. They have creepy monkeys dancing across the front page and a weird red button that says “nerds” and when you push it brown splattered paint fills the page. To clear it, you pull a chain in the top right hand corner of the browser window and a sound similar to a toilet flushing plays while the page cleans itself.
But once you get past all of this craziness, it’s easy to see that Crumpler makes unique, durable notebook and camera bags. I’m reviewing the Chester Squander, one of the strangely named but good looking notebook bags Crumpler manufactures. Will it be as useful as it is unusual?
The Chester Squander Specifications
- Dimensions: 15.6″ x 11.8″ x 4.3″
- Notebook compartment: approx. 14″ x 10.5″ x 3″
- Weight: approx. 1 lb. 12 oz.
- Water resistant 600D polyester exterior
- 150D Ripstop lining
- Brushed polyester lined main compartment
- Adjustable notebook compartment for snug fit
- Storable handles, adjustable/removable shoulder strap
- Limited Lifetime warranty
Design and Aesthetics
The Chester Squander sort of resembles a cloth briefcase.It is made of durable water resistant 600D polyester and comes in four colors.
My Chester Squander is green olive with lighter green accents. On the front of the bag there is a small design that resembles a person, the Crumpler logo.It’s stitched in the color of the inside lining.In my case, it’s stitched in bright orange.The black zipper pulls also have the Crumpler man logo.
On both sides of the bag are large outside pockets that Velcro shut.In the front Velcro pocket, there is a zipper that opens into two smaller pockets, each large enough to hold a billfold, sunglasses, digital camera, etc.Sort of confusing, and be a tad bit overkill but that’s how it is set up.
Both of the handles at the top of the bag are easily storable into their own medium sized pockets. Store your boarding passes or other items you want easily accessible in these pockets or just simply store the handles, it’s up to you.
Past the handles, the notebook and the full briefcase organizer compartments can be found.Both zip shut and are lined in bright orange brushed polyester, which is just a softer polyester material.
The notebook compartment fits a 15″ laptop but also comes with two extra 14.5″ long strips that are about a ½ thick to create a snug fit for smaller notebooks. They Velcro into place and also have two elastic loops attached but I have no idea what purpose the loops serve.
Besides the two strips, the entire compartment is surrounded in a similar ½ thick padding.
The briefcase organizer compartment zips almost the entire length of the pocket for easy access.Inside, there is one large expandable filing pocket for papers, spiral bound notebooks, etc. Also, there are five pen holders, three open pockets, one medium sized Velcro pocket and one large zippered pocket.
The three open pockets are about the perfect size for business cards or be post it notes.The medium sized pocket could be good for keeping cash, MP3 player, IDs or even a wireless mouse.
The large zippered pocket is similar to the outside front pocket. When you unzip the pocket, it actually separates into three smaller pockets. The largest of the three is similar to the medium sized Velcro pocket.The other two could be useful for chapstick, memory cards, extra batteries, etc.
The black shoulder strap is adjustable but only partially removable I came to find out.I could undo the strap on one side and slide it out of the loop but the other side was impossible to remove without damaging the shoulder strap.And while you can store it on the side of the bag, it’s still attached and in view.
Using the bag
After testing a heavy, bulky backpack last week, I enjoyed caring around this lightweight, compact bag. There is plenty of room to store extra accessories as well as a notebook.
I like that you can stow the handles when you are using the shoulder strap.The shoulder strap has no padding to ease the material from digging into your shoulder when carrying a heavier load but is fine normally.
The notebook compartment padding is standard, definitely enough to protect the notebook from the usual beating a bag can take.The brushed polyester lining protects the notebook from scratching or dings.
The Chester Squander is a good looking, lightweight bag that can be carried as a briefcase or messenger.
My biggest concern for this bag would be price, because at $95, it seems a bit expensive.
- Several color choices
- Lightweight, compact
- Briefcase organizer
- Limited Lifetime warranty
- Shoulder strap lacking in padding
Pricing and Availability
The Crumpler Chester Squander can be purchased via the Crumpler websiteor an authorized reseller. The Chester Squander is $95.00.
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