- Buyer's Guide
There’s no denying the Crumpler Vis-à-Vis Attaché Briefcase looks badass. Its shell is black and sleek and might have been constructed from the same stuff as Darth Vader’s oxygen-sucking helmet – and like Vader’s iconic headgear, it’s awesome, but could do with a few slight adjustments…
Who it suits
This is Crumpler’s laptop cabin briefcase, a carry-on or overnight case, aimed at suave business-types who like to appear just as polished as the cases they carry – if you want to make a statement, this is for you.
Who it doesn’t
If your wardrobe consists of heavy knits and corduroy then give this case a wide berth – you really need to have that banker/spy look to back this up. Also, it’s on the heavy side, so if you’re covering serious miles on foot it will weigh on you like a double mortgage. So you pack light or look elsewhere, unless of course you’re planning on strapping it to your rolling luggage – then it’ll definitely do the job.
The shell is pretty, damn pretty, made from a polycarbonate and ABS blend, and when inserted into your already stylish ensemble it makes you feel like James Bond’s little brother.
There are two nicely lined exterior pockets that are great for access on the go. The first takes an iPad and has a small Velcro pocket on its front, perfect for the little things like keys or pens.
On the opposite side sits the elasticized luggage sleeve. It fits snugly over the handle of your chosen spinner and doubles as a cool place to stuff your newspaper, umbrella or latest issue of GQ or Monocle.
But the thing is: both are fixed to the case. It would have been great to be able to remove at least one of the exterior pockets and sling it over your plane seat, but no dice. It’s definitely something to think about for phase 2.
There are good fixed zips (beefy number 10s), attached to a TSA lock system. The collars look like PVC, a little bit cheap but that’s fine.
A word of warning: crooks can still have their way with this case using the famed ‘pen puncture’ technique, but at least they can’t just slide the zip heads back over the puncture to hide their dirty work when they’re done. But it’s unlikely you’ll be checking this case in anyway, so this isn’t that big of a deal.
The interior is well finished and fun with a nice green-pop lining, we kinda dig it. There’s really nice bracketing too; it does catch and get in the way a little bit, but we’ll let that slide.
The lining is awesome; it’s thin, lightweight and light in colour, making it easy to spot your contents – more crew should rock lining like this.
Organising is a highlight here and works well for this type of bag. There’s a separate zippered clothes space, a central divider featuring 2 slip pockets (1 padded laptop sleeve), 3 Velcro compartments and two pen loops.
The Velcro pockets are a good size and big enough to fit an extra EDC or tech case that you can take out and use in the office.
If you want to reach in to the main compartment and get to your stuff quickly, there are some cool G-hooks that latch along the edges and keep the case a quarter open, just the right sized opening to stick a hand through without having to open your case completely.
The Crumpler Vis-à-Vis Attaché is probably a little big, say about 15% too big, making it heavier and sometimes cumbersome to lug around. If it were shrunk down to a classic attaché size it would be awesome.
And no matter how really good looking the sleek, black shell is, the reality is it scratches up and marks easily. It’ll look great when it’s brand new, then you’ll go through the awkward middle stage where you’ll probably squirm at the idea of taking it outside, and then when it’s really beat up it’ll start looking great again. So stay strong and persevere.
The laptop sleeve fits a 15″ and is padded and has a strap to secure it, yet it’s still a little wide for our liking. If you’re rocking thinner types of laptop, like a Mac Air for instance, there will be some float space on both sides. You wouldn’t want to check-in with your laptop because if it does get thrown around it could go upside down and pivot out and slap up against the internal shell.
And speaking of the shell, there’s a bit of flex between the two halves, it doesn’t fit perfectly together like a Globe-Trotter case (that costs eight times as much), but it’s sufficient.
The shoulder strap anchors don’t align perfectly, but they work okay.
The major issue here is the size and weight of the Crumpler Vis-à-Vis Attaché. Shrink it by 15% and you’d have something really special. The shell looks great but its facade can’t take a hit and marks easily, and unfortunately Crumpler’s lifetime warranty doesn’t cover the scratches, dints, scuffs and airline abuse that this case is destined to attract.
On the plus side, it’s a lot better than most. When it’s new this case will make you feel great about yourself when you’re swaggering through the airport and it offers up solid pocket choices for the organisers among us.
So, if you can stand the messed up middle years when this case is scuff-ugly and don’t mind lugging weight or plan on running a spinner too, this is something that will work well enough for you.