- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: STM Sequel Small Laptop Shoulder Bag
It was a shock to me, but some people don’t want their bags to be bespoke leathergoods with the raw animal magneticism of Jim Morrison. It doesn’t make sense.
Some people want an efficient laptop messenger to get them to work and back with nary a fuss (and they don’t want to drop half their weekly pay packet on it).
I don’t understand those people. Thankfully STM does and they released the Sequel to service their ungodly desires. I decided to abandon my suspicions and see how they’ve done.
Who’s it for
Anyone after an affordable and reliable office workhorse, especially those who prioritize organization over sex appeal.
Who isn’t it for?
People who like natural materials or need to carry things that aren’t laptops or paper.
The bag’s internal layout is thoughtful – there’s a nice variety of pocket sizes (including one foam-filled sleeve for a 12–14″ laptop and another for a tablet, which, to me, signals the bag’s target market more than anything else STM could have done) and each is easy to reach without looking. But, if you are having a gander, you’ll find that some of the pockets have small symbols to guide your gizmo placement. That feels slightly unnecessary but I appreciate the thought.
The external zippered pocket is a standout here. It’s a simple thing but, since it sits sideways, it can be accessed without opening the rest of the bag. This made it easy to get my keys when all I want to do is get into the house and go to the bathroom.
So… A+ STM.
Beyond that, the Sequel is a well constructed piece of kit. The clasp has a nice weight to it and the aforementioned zipper is a hefty YKK piece – good luck breaking that. The strap is easy to adjust, which is one of those things you appreciate after struggling with tricky (but more aesthetically pleasing) straps.
It’s also comfortable and light. It’s not especially ergonomic when sitting on your back but that’s not a significant problem when the materials are this lightweight. More often than not, I didn’t notice I was wearing the bag.
Well, I wouldn’t have, if I didn’t choose the “obnoxious red” color (there’s much more subdued options by the way). But, since I have a thing for ostentatious accessories, I’m okay with that.
What doesn’t work?
The Sequel doesn’t lend itself well to first impressions. The materials, while efficient, aren’t appealing. This goes double for the inner lining: it has a pale grey color that’s reminiscent of a B-grade sci-fi movie (the laptop padding is the same color but furry – so it’s B-grade sci-fi crossed with a shaved muppet).
The bag is utilitarian – function comes first – and it works. If you want something to complement your swish suit you’ll have to look elsewhere.
But that feels unfair: STM seems to know its market and they’ve provided a bag for them (and the synthetic materials may be appealing to some).
Point two isn’t particularly a “this doesn’t work” but it’s a limitation you should be aware of: the bag isn’t well-suited to anything that isn’t thin and shaped like paper. The front pockets will handle your minutiae and cords and such (and they admittedly have quite a bit of give) but, realistically, it’s best suited to a laptop and a few papers. Any bulges will do a number on the bag’s profile in the worst way.
One last questionable thing: there’s a back pocket for reading materials. That features a “quick drop pocket” for your phone. Now, this is a nice idea, but I was never confident putting my phone there for two reasons:
1) The back pocket isn’t secure so your phone could, theoretically, pop right out if you break into a brisk stroll.
2) As mentioned above, the bag didn’t always sit well on my back – that is, it bounced around quite a lot. I didn’t want my phone banging into my hips or spine all day.
Now, this might have worked well (and I have a sneaking suspicion STM have given this a lot more thought than me) but, still, I wasn’t completely sold. Given how well considered the rest of the bag is, this felt spurious.
But it does have a little phone symbol on it and that’s adorable.
And, yeah, the red may be a turn off – it was called “very red” by multiple people in a somewhat disapproving tone. Me, I like it. There’s always the graphite or olive versions for the more low-key amongst you.
At the end of the day, the Sequel is well-made and well-suited to its goals: it’s a mid-range bag that does what it says on the tin. It’s less a question of “Is this a great bag?” and more “Is this the kind of bag you need?”.