STM Linear Messenger Bag review: a streamlined vertical messenger

Amber Bouman, TechHive
15 September, 2013
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Linear Messenger Bag



Laptop section has plenty of padding; front zippered pocket and rear slip pocket provide a lot of additional storage


Slim profile struggles to contain odd shaped objects

$89.99 (special price at time of review)


They say you can’t reinvent the wheel and most bag manufacturers don’t even try, simply throwing together a collection of black nylon shapes with zippers and Velcro. So when a bag comes along that is somehow different, either in features or in colour or, in the case of the STM Linear Medium, shape, it tends to stand out. The Linear is the second vertically-oriented messenger that we’ve reviewed lately (the other being Ogio’s Covert), and there’s a lot to be said for it. Suffice it to say that we’re quickly becoming fans of both STM, and vertical bags.

Also referred to as a north/south bag, vertical bags such as the Linear are generally taller than they are wider and feature a thin, streamlined profile. In this the Linear is no different. Measuring in at 27.9cm by 39.8cm by 7.8cm and weighing in at 499g, and constructed from 300 denier velocity polyester, the Linear is a good example of a vertical bag done right.

The Linear features one main padded compartment for a laptop; in addition to this, it also has a padded tablet sleeve, and an additional (non-padded) sleeve ideal for magazines, paperwork or notebooks. The front of the bag has a zippered pouch that encompasses two additional pockets, a key ring and three pen slots. The front flap of the bag features a sizeable zippered compartment that would easily fit bus passes, passports, plane tickets or smartphones; the rear of the bag has a slip pocket and a strap that acts as a luggage pass-through so you can hook the Linear over a wheeled bag.

The interior compartments of the Linear.

Using the Linear was for the most part a pleasant experience – I always felt like my 13in ultrabook had plenty of padding (the Linear can fit laptops up to 15in), and the additional sleeves were quite handy. The Linear – which comes in black and grey – is obviously intended to be a professional-looking bag with a slim profile, and in this it succeeds. However, that slim profile will not afford you a tonne of room to cram in wallets, make-up bags, lunches or awkwardly shaped items. Similarly, while the pocket on the front flap was very useful, the other pockets were a bit tight for many of my rounder items.

The rear of the Linear

However, those are some pretty small complaints for a bag that still managed to haul all my day-to-day gear across town easily for a few weeks. Granted, the bag did get pushed into some interesting bulgy shapes when I added in round items, but everything still made it to its intended destination in once piece – this likely wouldn’t be a problem if you kept the contents more minimal. The shoulder strap was always comfortable, even with the bag packed full, and was easy to adjust. It also features the swivel clip that I was so fond of on the STM Velo 2. Overall, this is a first-rate bag that, like most vertical messengers, is intended for those who carry the basics. If you’re interested in a carry-all that’s capable of handling a wide range of gear and gadgets, stick to a traditional, horizontally oriented messenger like the Velo 2 or the Slappa.

The Linear, unpacked.

by Amber Bouman, TechHive

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