The Mamba Shift sports a glimpse of bright red fabric under its black exterior. That’s a fashion choice rather than a practical one – part of a pattern that keeps the Mamba Shift from being a great product. It’s a solid choice in the laptop backpack market, but it sacrifices too much function for style.
The Mamba Shift is about as well-constructed a laptop backpack as you’ll find. We slung it around on a weekend hike and a cross-country flight without so much as a loose thread. The isolated laptop pocket should become standard in this product line – it holds up to 17-inchers, but its snug padding kept our 15½” Lenovo Y550 safe, even through a tumble off a hotel dresser. The product claims to be water-resistant – no moisture was evident after a 20-minute jaunt through steady Seattle rain backs that up.
The reinforced bright red handle on the top of the bag is an more-than-welcome feature – it’s comfortable to carry for several minutes, a welcome change from many backpacks where carrying it at your side is an afterthought due to a flimsy handle that makes it feel like you’re coming back from a trip to the grocer.
Straps are snug and stay tight, and the stuffed bag felt good on our not-so-broad back – a frequent concern of laptop backpacks as that they’re so necessarily wide it’s not a comfortable carry for skinnier folk.
The best outside feature might be the two ‘iPhone’ pockets – one on each strap along with small loops that you can snap a carabiner through. You’ll probably never use both pockets, but it’s a secure way to have a smartphone close at hand – there’s no way it’s falling out. Two steps forward are followed by a step back – the Mamba Shift sports attractive side pockets, but good luck wedging more than a Clif bar in there.
Here’s where the Mamba Shift comes up a little short. The regular amenities abound, along with some welcome goodies, but the design feels small. The outside pocket should be bigger, and we sense that sentiment extends to the whole design.
You’ve got eight pockets on the inside, one on the outside, with two pairs of parallel small pockets presenting Mamba Shift’s best marriage of attractive design and necessary functionality : two stretch mesh pockets that you could tuck average-sized grapefruits into gaze across at diagonally angled pockets that seem there for hipster cred, but held our pocket camera and mp3 player snugly.
It’s also got a separate zipper pocket that we didn’t use, and a long pocket that closes with two velcro dots that seemed out of place.
Here’s the full list of what we could cram in comfortably:
2 changes of clothes, a paperback book, a journal, the laptop cable, a pocket camera and mp3 player with cables, some snacks, our keys.
Booq products come with a cool feature called Terralinq. Register your product online, and then if your pack ends up in the hands of a good Samaritan, they can visit Terralinq’s site and enter the code hard-pinned into the inside of your bag to find you. Better than a luggage tag? Maybe. At least it’s a minor hurdle to pawning your bag.
The Bottom Line
It’s a great everyday bag for those of us hacking our way through concrete jungles. If actual jungles are more your speed – and you need a laptop – you’ll be packing light with this bag. It’s more Clark Kent than Indiana Jones, but it’ll keep your laptop safe and look good doing it.