Moleskine Metro Vertical Device Bag and Journey Hard Luggage - Long-term review
“Wait, don’t Moleskine make those posh notebooks?” I hear you ask.
Yes, while they are the purveyors of the high quality notepads (many of which I use myself), the Milanese publisher also likes to stretch its legs - making fine backpacks and suitcases as well.
The Metro Vertical Device Bag and Journey cabin-size Hard Luggage case are two new entries into this field, bringing the company’s premium design (and price tag) in spades and built to be paired nicely (more on that later).
And as with any Moleskine product, that leads to one ultimate question. Is it worth the extra cost?
With their notebooks, that’s an easy “yes.” It’s a decent investment in something that is quintessentially premium - the feel of the cover, the visual prestige, the smell of the pages (don’t judge me, it’s a unique aroma) - while maintaining a level of usefulness above other competitors in this field.
But when it comes to laptop backpacks and cases, that question is a tricky one. Good portable storage is not just measured on the quality of its materials - you’ve got the strength of it, the comfort of carrying it, the price, and (most importantly in my mind), the space.
For the Metro Vertical, space is limited, given the skinny profile of the bag itself. However, with compartments built in and the strength of the zips, you can fit more than you think. A fully-padded laptop section is a warmly welcomed addition to a sea of backpacks that seem to ignore the need for padding. Alongside this, you got a slot for your notepad, business card, a couple pens and then the remaining 50% of space in the front. This space managed to fit all the prizes I won on my trip to the arcade, all the cables I needed, sun cream (for the beach) and a couple t-shirts for me and my girlfriend (in case we went in the sea).
This is a rather odd, non-business style test of the bag, I know. But it’s also one with business-level insight, to show you the level of bulk you can fit if the meeting produces a lot of physical takeaways for you!
Also, as with any Moleskine product, we need to address the small-but-brilliant details - the clean design is one that I’m a huge fan of, made better by the additional functionality it brings including water resistance (a God send in British weather), a neatly concealed top-reverse zip and the subtle use of reflective materials both inside and out that help you get seen and see more of what's in your bag at night. As you can tell, that last bit is my favourite.
Of course, this is just two thirds of the picture when it comes to reviewing a backpack. Is it actually comfortable? Mainly, the answer to that is “yes,” thanks to the back padding, but I would have liked cushioned straps - not what you get here, which is basically the same sort of strap as you get on a car’s seat belt. If you have anything heavy, they will start to dig into your shoulders, but of course, you’re not supposed to be carrying anything overly weighty in that bag.
The heavy lifting is where the cabin-size Journey Hard Luggage case comes in, with plenty of room and a nice back strap integration between the Metro Vertical and the case.
At 55x40x20cm, this makes the most of its cabin-size dimensions, to provide a case that is both portable and deep enough in volume to fit a lot of stuff. To put it through another unconventional test, this comfortably fit all of my essentials (and more from the shopping trips) for my nine-day holiday to Weymouth and Cornwall. Plus, the inner removable divider made for really convenient separator of my things - with a mesh construction, so it didn’t contain the stink of old clothes.
Handling is incredible, thanks to its extra lightweight design (achieved through small touches like the hollow 3-step aluminium handle and 100% polycarbonate case part) and four double swivel wheels with 360 degrees of full motion.
Plus, those small details are rather nice here. From the built-in zipper pocket for any need-to-access-quick essentials and elastic belts to keep stuff in place during transport, to the secure in-built TSA lock, they’re all good to have!
Does that make it worth the money though? The Metro Vertical Device Bag comes in at a palatable £95, the cabin size Journey hard luggage case is £235 - a significant price to pay for items in this category.
The answer to that is dependant entirely on your budget and what you need/want from a backpack and a wheelie suitcase.
Before now, I used to use a £12 rucksack from Primark - it could fit so much more stuff in it than Moleskine’s option, but without waterproofing, padded laptop pocket or the quality build, it’s letting me down regularly. Chances are many of you don’t really need to pay the premium here, but if you travel often, you need to make a quality investment. And while the quality laptop bag market is a bit full to the brim, Moleskine definitely stands out as one of the best in this field.
As for the case, that’s a far more difficult question to answer. While there is plenty of carry-on luggage competition at the £2-250 range, you can find far cheaper options with the same feature set as the Journey Hard from the likes of Samsonite and Thule - all with lightweight constructions, full-motion wheels, TSA secure locks and plenty of space.
If you love that Moleskine premium, you’ll be happy with your purchases. However, if you’re not that fussed, do still give the Metro Vertical some serious consideration, but shop around first before looking to the Journey Hard.