Speck PortPack Review

The Speck PortPack is a stylish notebook shoulder bag from Speck, also known as Speculative product design, LLC, who make cases for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, MacBook and other notebooks, smartphones and tablets.

Technical details of the Speck PortPack

The PortPack itself caters for MacBook Pros up to 15” specifically but any laptop 1.5″ (3.18cm) thick, 9.5″ (25.4cm) deep and 14″ (38.1cm) wide or less will fit in its notebook pocket. The Speck PortPack’s pocket isn’t like the ones you find on cheaper notebook bags which are just a bit of padding with a horrible feeling material inside, not by a long way. The Speck’s pocket is padded with approximately ¼ of medium density foam and has an extra plush micro-fleece interior; this is very soft and smooth. As for the colour of this pocket, I can’t fault it. It’s a fresh and summery lime green colour which is consistent with the lining of the rest of the bag, it is immediately obvious that Speck spent a lot of time making sure that the colours of the materials match. Surprisingly, even though the pocket is for 15” MacBook Pros, my 13” late 2008 polycarbonate MacBook fits in nicely with almost no movement of the MacBook.

The Speck PortPack’s Aesthetics

On some notebook bags I don’t feel safe carrying around my precious MacBook due to thin and seemingly easily breakable straps and strap attachments. This is not the case with the Speck PortPack. Its seat belt style nylon webbed strap screams quality; it is not abrasive and is actually smooth.
As you would expect the Speck’s strap is adjustable but a feature I really like is that the strap can be removed by undoing the Duraflex high-performance buckles on each side. This isn’t easy and can only really be done while the bag is laying down on a table; I see this as a good thing because if I can’t unclasp my bag containing my MacBook and other valuables the chances are I’ll notice if a thief is attempting to. To make the strap more comfortable Speck have added on a padded section that can be slid along the strap. Although better than a bare strap I feel although they could have added more padding to make it more comfortable.

Got your Speck PortPack dirty? Hopefully it’s not too dirty, your Speck can only be cleaned using a soft towel and water. That means no bleach, no detergents, no machine washing and no ironing.

The Speck PortPack has one main flap that secures over all the external pockets and the MacBook compartment. This is held down by hook and loop and an adjustable UTX-flex stealth buckle. I carried out a few tests to see if I could remove my MacBook from the PortPack while a friend was wearing it without them noticing. After half an hour of trying I gave up, I managed to conquer the buckle but as soon as I got to the hook and loop my friend noticed immediately.

Hidden by the main flap is a plentiful supply of different sized and shaped pockets. There are two iPhone/iPod pockets, both secured with hook and loop. One of them is more of an iPod pocket, it has a reinforced opening to trail your headphone cord through and a neat mesh pocket on its flap to tuck your headphones away in when you are finished with them. Although this is a cute idea I would like it to be slightly bigger to accommodate higher end in-ear headphones.

The third pocket is larger and secured by a zipper rather than hook and loop like the other ones, it contains a key ring attached to a ribbon lead. The key can be taken off of the ribbon lead but it is unlikely that you’ll have to due to its long size.

On the inside of the Speck PortPack, beside the previously mentioned MacBook compartment is a perfectly sized pocket for your power adapter. I would usually be reluctant to keep a power adapter right beside my MacBook but because of the MacBook compartment’s superb padding I have no concern about it. Beside these two pockets there is plenty of room for several textbooks; perfect for college students.

The colour scheme of the Speck PortPack is in no way understated, the bright lime-green quilted nylon interior could be used to signal a rescue helicopter if you were ever stranded on a desert island. On which there is a pretty patch with washing instructions, the Speck logo and URL; it’d be great if instead of the URL there was a QR code. That would make it much easier to visit their website, though QR codes are starting to die out somewhat.

The Speck’s swing tag is wonderful; perhaps even the best I’ve ever seen on a bag. It is white and orange with some mat spots and some gloss spots. Inside are product facts in a variety of languages.

Speck PortPack swing tag

Although the Speck PortPack is shipped with a shoulder strap it also has a tuck away carry handle. The tuck away carry handle tucks away into a pocket on the top of the PortPack and zips away. It also features a mesh bottle holder on the side of it, this zips away in a similar fashion.

I test all products thoroughly and this one was not an exception; I have now walked over 50 KM around Exeter carrying my MacBook, iPad and Moleskine among other items. It’s still as comfortable as ever if not even more comfortable now that it has been given time to mould to my shoulder. Along with that, I have also tested this bag over the course of eight weeks for durability and it’s still holding up strong

Speck Portpack Conclusion

If you own a laptop and take it outside further than a few meters you should without a doubt consider the Speck Portpack. Its elegance fun nature and colours makes for a great looking bag that is great at what it does. Sound sweet? You can pick up a Speck Portpack for yourself over at the Speck website.

Craig Lackie

Craig Lackie ()

Former Vice President of Previous Magazine, Clikyz and Split An Atom. Avid photographer and keen to adopt the latest technologies. Circle me on Google+.

  • Jasmine bokajob

    Urgh! I just purchased an incase a couple of days ago and now I wish I bought a speck instead…

  • Lou-Lou

    Pretty photos,can you teach me? The Speck sounds awesome… Bit over my budget but i can deal with that

  • I may just have to get this for myself for when I walk around town! I’m very impressed with your review; Craig always tests products thoroughly. Do you think I could fit my 15″ MacBook, iPad, iPhone and 3 A4 moleskine notebooks as well as a few books in this? I’m a lecturer at Aberdeen university. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Horrace. I just tried and I could indeed fit all of this into it. Thanks!