Upon first sight, Ogio’s Monaco messenger bag tells you everything you need to know. The design makes no attempt to shy away from the bag’s construction: Small metal rivets staple on strips of nylon reinforcements, silver zigzag stitching stands out all over the exterior, and sturdy, uncovered zippers seal away four outer pockets.
It looks like a semi-industrial bag that can take a bit of thrashing, and it is. I took the Monaco with me from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, on buses, trains, and through Disneyland. It was a good companion. The Monaco has the features you’d expect from a modern messenger bag and, for the most part, it handles all the things you can throw at it without trouble.
The Monaco comes in a single size that fits most 13” laptops—including my own Macbook—nice and snugly. The bag weights in at just under two pounds (but felt lighter than it looked) and at 15 inches by 12.5 inches by 5 inches, it’s roughly the size of two shoe boxes placed side by side. You have three colors to choose from: black, deep purple, and a teal blue. As mentioned earlier, the Monaco has four exterior pockets for easy access to your stuff without having to open the main flap.
One of those pockets, sitting quietly on the bag’s backside, is actually a padded sleeve perfect for any tablet or reader you throw in it. Because I don’t have a screen protector, and because this pocket is located closest to the body, I was worried about pressure from my hip on the screen.
The bag’s front pocket is large enough to fit a variety of smaller gadgets. The remaining two pockets—one on each side—are great for water bottles, but aren’t tall enough to zip up and over the cap. The zippers themselves feel solidly made, and although they didn't kink or snag anything, they don’t exactly slide like lotion.
Unbuckle the bag’s front flap and you’ll find the main compartment inside—which can fit an Xbox 360 or PS3—along with a stitched-in soft shell laptop case. An organizational compartment contains another zippered pouch, sleeves for passes and cards, and three slots for pens (which I personally didn’t find very necessary).
The Monaco has a fairly standard selection of storage to tote your daily supplies and electronics. Of course, there are some areas where the bag could have impressed a bit more. I packed this thing to capacity, and it certainly felt that way; I had hoped it would maintain its shape better. I also would have appreciated a rubberized underside of the shoulder strap. My current bag grips like sandpaper and with the Monaco, I quite often had to hike the sliding strap off my bony shoulder and back up onto muscle. On long days, that tendency of movement caused soreness.
What’s more, the padded strip that sits on your shoulder is free to slide back and forth along the strap, without any way to fasten it in place. Which meant that, somehow, my gait was vigorous enough to push the precious padding forward, leaving bare strap to dig into my shoulder. You should also be aware that, like many nylon bags, pet hairs will do their damndest to cling to the Monaco, which means either regular cleanings or carrying a bag that resembles a Furby.
All in all, the Monaco is a bag that does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It has room for everything you’ll want to carry, and it manages to do it while avoiding a visual bloat of zippers and sleeves. If you’re like me, comfort might be an issue on long trips, but there’s plenty of space here to keep your items organized and within reach.
This story, "Review: Ogio's Monaco can take a bit of thrashing" was originally published by TechHive.