Four Tips to Buying a Gadget Bag

Written by Jayvee Fernandez


As a general rule, buy a bag that’s 10% the cost of what’s inside
Have you ever wondered how much a bag should cost? Well, take the total cost of the gear you plan to put inside and get 10% of that. The formula works for most (read: not all!) cases: my Crumpler Whickey and Cox costs close to P10,000.00 and holds about P100,000 worth of gadgets including my MacBook and camera. A hefty bag price should only mean that your gear fits comfortably inside, likewise both your hands are still free.


In the case of laptop sleeves, a good sleeve should not cost you more than P2,000.00 or $40.00. In fact, one of the best laptop sleeves ever invented retails for only P1,500.00: this is the Zero Shock Laptop Sleeve. You can literally drop a bowling ball on top of the memory foam and your notebook will still function afterwards. *


Get a messenger bag that doesn’t destroy your pants
Not all messenger bags are created equal. Have you ever wondered why the side of your pants near the pocket area is faded? That’s due to the constant swaying of your laptop messenger bag. Good messenger bags should not sway side to side when you’re walking. Rather, they should be fastened tightly on your side. Timbuk2 is known to make the best messenger bags.


There are two types of bags: “transit” bags and “holster” bags. Know which one you need
Will you be taking your gear on long trips without pulling them out? Or will you be constantly pulling out your laptop or camera every hour? This applies mostly to photographers, which is why the Lowepro SlingShot design is popular.

When looking for a bag, go through the mental process of putting stuff inside. Will your laptop be easy to remove when you need it immediately? Or will you need to sift through your other junk first?


As much as possible your bag should not stand out in public
This is perhaps the rule that people tend to break because by nature, we succumb to vanity. When toting a colorful bag, the allusion is similar to holding up a steel pole in the middle of a football field during a storm. The truth is, it’s hard to trust yourself keeping watch over your gear. That’s why things get stolen in the first place. The bright colors tend to stand out from the rest of the paraphernalia, screaming “expensive things inside!!”

*Dramatic emphasis on the bowling ball test is guaranteed to work. But I’d really just take their word for it.

Do you have bag buying tips to share? The best tip wins a Timbuk2 4th Gen iPod case. Delivery applies only around Metro Manila.

About the author

Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.


  • A very good read. Incidentally, I just bought a camera bag this morning. I love it, It looks good but doesn’t scream “camera or expensive things inside”. 🙂

  • Simple but useful tip: best to try and fit your gadgets first before making a purchase! This goes especially if your gear is not standard-sized. For instance, it’s easy enough to buy bags for the more popular brands, say, MacBooks or MacBook Pros, since manufacturers carry bags that are made to fit these 13.3″ or 15″ widescreen wonders.

    But for those with other-branded gadgets, then you might not be 100% sure of a great fit.

  • We live in the Tropics a bag should at the least be (i) Water-resistant or water proof. Also since you will be carrying the bag often and will often carry heavy stuff – the user-center designed of a bag should be considered. (ii) It should be designed so that its uses will encounter least physical strain over a projected long period of use.

  • Very informative. I didn’t know how important bags for gadgets are.

    Might as well throw in a tip based on my experience. This one is more for females.

    Choose a bag that will go well with ALL your clothes. Something you can take from casual, business, and maybe even formal occasions. I suggest that you buy a neutral-colored bag. Lastly, since the bag can possibly be a huge investment, choose wisely in terms of design. You will be using the bag for 3 or more years so choose a design you won’t get tired of.

  • Don’t buy the bag because of the price, but get it because of the function. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be of good quality, neither does it mean that it’s made of poor material when its cheap. Some bags do cost a lot more because of the material and technology they put into it, but there are also some affordable bags that are made by lesser known companies that produce well performing bags that can compete with the best of them.

    Of course, financial constraints do limit our choices, but remember, it’s always good to invest in a worthy bag and in order to do this, one should always balance monetary value with over-all quality. 😀

  • This is really useful stuff. I appreciate the homespun practicality of your 10% rule, though I think I’ll pass on the bowling ball test. Question though: I went to the Zero Shock site and they don’t seem to have one for my 13.3 MacBook. Are they rolling one out?

    I’m more partial to backpacks, but I guess that’s just a sad comment on the deplorable state of my aging bones. I like to distribute the weight evenly across my back. Any good tips on backpacks?

    Again, great stuff. 🙂

  • I say buy a bag on how much it’ll cost you over its lifetime. A 10k bag that lasts you 10 years is cheaper than a 3k bag that falls apart before the year is over.

    I know I’m holding on to my Slingshot (the one shown above) for quite a while.

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