STM Bags Velo 2 Shoulder Bag Review


I have a confession: I am mildly addicted to bags. Now, I’m not saying I run out and buy any cool bag that I see, but I do have a closet filled with various backpacks and messenger bags, and I spend an inordinate amount of time lusting after various new bags. We have been debating starting up a bag section on t3chniq for a while now, and when STM asked me if I wanted to check out any of their products I figured this might act as the catalyst I need to get this bag section going. So, for the last few weeks I have had the privilege of testing out one of STM Bags most popular products, the Velo 2 Shoulder Bag. This bag comes in two sizes: small and medium, designed to hold 13″ or 15″ laptops respectively. Since I have a 13″ Macbook Pro, I got the small bag. The Velo 2 comes in 3 different color patterns: grey with orange highlights, black with grey highlights, and blue with neon yellow highlights, I chose the grey with orange.
My daily carry has been flip-flopping between a Timbuk2 Classic Messenger from 2009/10, and a T.H.E. Pack  backpack from Spec Ops that my cousin sent to me from Iraq back in the day. I can’t say I prefer one style over the other, which probably contributes to the daily indecision. In any case, since I  started using the Velo 2, I haven’t even considered using the other two bags.

Design

Velo 2 Front-AngledThe design of the Velo 2 is what sets it apart. While the overall footprint is quite small, much smaller than my Timbuk2, but I find that it holds more items more securely. This is due to two factors: 1.  I probably never fill my Timbuk2 since it lacks structure inside, and 2. the Velo 2 has far more useful pockets, such as a dedicated (and padded!) tablet pocket.
The internal pockets of the Velo 2 really put it in a class above its competitors. In the main compartment, there is the aforementioned padded tablet pocket (something I think I will always look for now in a bag), another full width pocket (with an elastic to keep it shut), several smaller accessory pockets lining the sidewalls of the bag, and then finally a substantial main storage area. You may be wondering where your laptop goes if all of the main bag space is given to other objects, the answer is pretty awesome: there is a side-accessible padded laptop pocket entirely separate from the main compartment located along the back of the bag. Also along the back of the bag is a thin back panel pocket that can be opened on the bottom to provide a passthrough for a roller-bag handle. Along the front of the bag is a smaller pocket designed to hold your phone and keys, complete with key-hook and pen holders. Flanking the main pocket on either side (leading up to the shoulder-strap) are some pretty oddly shaped pockets that are great for a bottle of water or an umbrella. Along the top is a pocket for sunglasses and a really nice, substantial carrying handle.
Velo 2 Unpacked
As far as carrying capacity is concerned, the Velo 2 excels at providing usable space. my typical carry in this bag is the following: 1 iPad Mini in whatever case I am reviewing at the time (not in picture), 1 Moleskine quad ruled notebook, 13″ Macbook Pro (not pictured) and charger (as well as 6′ extension cable), a Sony NEX 3N(not in picture for obvious reasons), a pair of Shure SE215s in carrying case, a USB hub, a TI-89 Titanium Calculator and various pens and flash drives.

Build Quality

So far, the Velo 2 has held up really well. It took a couple of days to get the zippers broken in, but after that it has performed admirably. Every zipper pull has just the right amount of resistance to inspire confidence, and all of the stitching seems strong. The attachment points for the shoulder strap are well done, and there is even a rotating bracket that allows for the strap to swivel, which helps mitigate any tangling. I have not yet taken the bag out in the rain (too cold here for rain right now in Boston), but STM says the bag is made of water resistant 200 Denier Polyester. Also, the unique layout of the top flap allows for it to cover the zippers to the main compartment.

Comfort

Velo 2 Carrying StrapThe Velo 2 is probably the most comfortable bag I have ever used. The pad on the shoulder strap is the perfect width to keep my shoulder from getting fatigued, a problem that plagues the Timbuk2 bag. It has a waist strap if you want to use it (I haven’t needed to). I typically wear this bag just like a messenger bag (going across my body), but I suppose it would also be alright just over one shoulder (with a vertical path), but I don’t typically wear a bag that way, so it felt unnatural.
One area where Timbuk2 has a clear edge is usefulness while cycling. The Velo 2 isnt designed with as many pockets that are accessible at odd angles as the Timbuk2 has. The main pocket that I miss having is the horizontal access pocket at the front of the Timbuk2 bag. This is mitigated a bit by having the large pocket in the front of the Velo 2, but I don’t think that that pocket is quite as nice as its Timbuk2 counterpart.

Wrap Up

The Velo 2 is a great bag. It is a bag that I would be more than happy to carry around without hesitation. As I said above, I have not looked longingly at the my normal daily carry bags since I started using the Velo 2, and that is a huge accomplishment. I would recommend this bag to anyone looking for an over the shoulder/messenger type bag without hesitation. You can find the Velo 2 for $100 from Amazon

Pros: 
-Lightweight
-Comfortable
-Priced competitively
-Offers good protection
Cons: 
- Not as cyclist friendly as some other bags

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