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The Booq Mamba Shift bears more resemblance to a turtle than to its long, lean reptilian namesake. The bulk of its 2.7 pounds is the durable shell-like exterior and heavily padded back panel. Personal items and computer stay protected on one side of the thick cushioning, while your upper body stays cool and comfortable on the other. You can migrate from coffee shop, conference room to campsite without ever getting a sweaty back or a funny look – the Mamba Shift is professional, yet simple enough to be appropriate in any situation.
Or weather, for that matter. The water-proofed nylon exterior and rubber-coated zippers keep out moisture – including a relentless shower with the garden hose.
Nineteen pockets – 20 if you count the removable zipper pouch – mean there’s a home for nearly every item needed to carry. The zipper closest to the shoulder straps opens to the padded, fleece-lined 15-inch laptop compartment. A second zipper on the Mamba Shift arches from one side of the bag to the other, which allows for easy access and clear visibility into a roomy interior that’s lined with pockets on both sides yet big enough for lunch items and a few books.
A lean sleeve protects an iPad or important papers, and other receptacles include pouches for power cords and flash drives, a mesh hammock for sunglasses and two pencil holders. There’s even a buckle near the top for your keys, which means you’ll never waste time fishing them out from the bottom of the bag.
Elastic areas on the shoulder straps cradle cell phones or iPods. A smaller pocket on the front of the pack is convenient for quick-access items, such as a wallet or small camera. And although the Booq Mamba Shift is more a work bag than a workout bag, you can stash strategically folded gym clothes and a pair of running shoes inside. The only thing missing is a water bottle holder.
This Booq Mamba Shift was tested mainly for bike commuting, and although it gets it done, the Mamba is not designed for two wheels. There’s nothing reflective on the black exterior, and the shoulder straps are set a bit wide – they push into your arms as you roll along.
The Mamba Shift is a travel backpack – just the size to fit under an airplane seat, easily lifted by its sturdy handle, and perhaps most importantly, after several weeks of hard use, it hardly showed signs of wear. Make sure to register yours online – each product comes with an ID number to help recover lost bags. (MSRP $150)
After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2005, Whitney Dreier spent two years living out a Harry Potter-esque fantasy – teaching history and coaching lacrosse at a boarding school in England. She finally realized she couldn't survive another British winter or face the thought of having potatoes served at every meal, so she ventured to the Midwest to earn a master's degree in journalism at the University of Missouri.
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