by Niki Breese
Wenger or Swiss Gear comes to mind as an exclusively masculine brand. Best known for making Swiss Army Knives, Wenger also makes a nice line of Swiss Gear notebook computer bags. Surprisingly, this line includes bags with more feminine appeal. One such bag is the one I am reviewing today, the Rhea Computer Tote. The Rhea is a large laptop tote bag targeted at the business woman.
In the packaging still (view large image)
A look at the tags (view large image)
- Features: Padded laptop compartment, Matching Accessory Case, File Divider, and Business Organizer
- Color: Black
- Dimensions (WxDxH): 17 in x 7.5 in x 12.5 in (43.2 cm x 19 cm x 31.8cm)
- Notebook Compatibility: Up to 15.4
- Materials: Vinyl, Nylon, and Polyester
Front of Rhea bag (view large image)
Back of Rhea bag (view large image)
The Rhea Computer tote has a plain and minimalist design which translates into a stylish chic look for the fashionable business woman. This tote bag is a big, black, rectangular bag that tapers to a narrow top. The top quarter of the bag has a simulated leather look via vinyl. The end of the vinyl is outlined by pale stitching that contrasts against the rest of the bag. At the top and center of the bag sitting within a gap in the vinyl is a little trademark red and silver cross logo. The relatively short straps are also vinyl with pale stitching along the edges. The rest of the bag is nylon. On the bottom of the bag are four metal legs that prop the Rhea off of the ground when it is set down. Weak zippers are one of my peeves, and I am glad to see tough, shiny metal zippers on the Rhea. Each zipper ends with a little Swiss logo.
When you unzip the Rhea and open it up, it greets you with soft, brightly colored polyester. The design is a pleasing random assortment of pink, orange, white, light green, and dark green stripes.
Over all the bag feels like it will resist rips and tears. However, after a few weeks of use the bag has developed lumps and wrinkles. The pale stitching also frays easily and a few black strings are hanging off in various places.
Notice the frayed stitching. (view large image)
The straps are made of thin, hard vinyl without any padding. For the purposes of this tote the straps don’t have to be very long. When carrying the bag it will rest against your side. The walls of the bag are moderately thin so you easily feel anything you are carrying in the pockets. When carrying a light load the bag is comfortable enough to wear. But heavier loads do take a toll on the shoulder.
(For the purposes of review this bag was extremely over packed. I don’t recommend you try this at home.)
The main stuffed full of goodies including a 15.4 Dell Inspiron 6000D. It is a very tight fit for the Dell.(view large image)
A look at the main pocket loaded with a HP dv2000z but otherwise empty. The HP fits much better.(view large image)
The main pocket is a deep but narrow space where the purpose-built notebook sheath resides. A vinyl strap with polyester on the underside that will face the laptop inside the sheath, serves to secure the notebook in place with Velcro. The sheath is supposedly able to hold up to a 15.4 notebook, however my Dell Inspiron 6000D 15.4 notebook barely fits into the sheath, and must be worked into it. The 14.1 HP dv2000z fits much better and the fit is pretty snug. While this bag work better for thinner 15.4 notebooks like the widescreen Lenovo ThinkPad T60 and the MacBook Pro, I think the Rhea would be better suited for use with a 14.1 or perhaps a standard ratio 15 notebook. The padding is also a little on the thin side, particularly on the inside wall of the sheath, so it would be a good idea to use a sleeve with this tote bag. There are three mesh pockets (two small and one large) and a zipper pocket on the wall opposite the notebook sleeve. The detachable accessory pouch goes in the space between.
Front pocket (view large image)
The front pocket has enough room for a few loose items. However, to keep things in order you will want to put most of your things in the handy organizer grid and your keys on the provided hook. There is one large pouch and seven smaller ones. Two of the pouches are covered. There is even a pouch tailor made for a Swiss army knife; this also works well for a nice thumb drive. Lastly there is a window ID with a provided name card inside.
Back pocket (view large image)
The back side has a two slot portfolio that is great for storing spiral notebooks, loose papers, small binders, and be even a textbook.
Accessory pouch, this is fully detachable and stores inside the main pocket (view large image)
Inside the accessory pouch (view large image)
The detachable pouch is a Mini-Me of the Rhea Computer Tote bag. The detachability of the pouch does come in handy. The pouch attaches to a hook in the middle of the main compartment for storage. There is enough room in there for the business woman to store some lipstick for a quick touch up before the big meeting and a few pens for when she gets there.
Notice the black marks left behind on these two notebooks when the vinyl rubs against their surface.
One interesting occurrence I had while using the Rhea Computer Tote was what happens when the bag’s vinyl parts rubbed against my notebook. It is easy to get a strap caught inside the notebook sheath while loading the notebook inside or to rub the notebook against the securing strap which sometimes snaps back closed before you realize it. When this happens the vinyl leaves behind black grease marks. Fortunately these come off with a little elbow grease. Nonetheless, it was a little disturbing to see when it happened for the first time.
The Rhea Computer Tote will fit the bill if you do not have much to carry with your 14.1 notebook and minimalist black is your style. This tote will not carry everything you need to class and it won’t carry all your accessories to the airport. It is best suited to the duties of a light briefcase.
- Professional feminine look
- Reasonably sturdy
- Large main pocket
- Lots of pockets for organizing
- Detachable accessory pouch
- Plain looking
- Prone to getting lumpy and the stitching fraying
- Uncomfortable straps
- Will not comfortably carry much
- Padding in the notebook sheath is inadequate
Glamor shot of the Rhea Tote bag by the pool (view large image)
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