Review: Speck’s CorePack Messenger Bag - Macenstein

Review: Speck’s CorePack Messenger Bag

Speck CorePack

Those of you who have been long time readers (you have my apologies) know that I have been searching for the ultimate laptop bag for some time now. Well, I realized the other day that I have been using Speck’s CorePack Messenger Bag exclusively for about 4 months now, and have pretty much stopped looking at bags, so I guess I have found my ultimate bag without even realizing it.

When I first got my new MacBook Pro, I decided I was going to get rid of my giant, bulky laptop bag and streamline my life. I started out trying to make do with a cool laptop sleeve, then moved up to a thin bag, then a medium sized bag, and I have since come to realize I need a big honking man-purse of a bag that can hold tons of things I never use. I am apparently not happy unless my bag weighs around 30 pounds or so, so why fight it? I guess my “always be prepared” boy-scout mentality (that I think I picked up from the Jetson’s episode where Elroy and George went camping on the moon, as I was never a scout myself) is responsible for me wanting to always lug around every possible computer and iPhone cable, disk, and accessory I own just in case anything unexpected should arise.


Well to start, the CorePack is BIG. While you don’t have to overload it the way I do, it is still on the large side of the laptop bag spectrum, so if you are looking for dainty look elsewhere. Currently Speck offers the CorePack in two patterns, the somewhat effeminate Coffeehouse brown plaid, and the slightly manlier Speakeasy black pinstripe (which I have). If you’ve ever seen a laptop bag before, there aren’t any HUGE surprises here, just a couple nice touches. Like most bags, there is a large and very well-padded rear zipper compartment that holds your MacBook Pro (up to 15-inches) secure and safe from most collisions. A big velcro and buckle-held flap covers the rest of the bag’s treasures. When opened, you have 3 velcro exterior front pockets, suitable for iPods, phones, business cards, thumb drives, etc, plus the always included small-mesh pocket, suitable for… nothing? Chapstick? Gum maybe? There is also a large zipper pocket on the outside good for things like firewire cables, a disk or two, maybe an iPhone external battery or two.

Speck CorePack

The interior of the bag is broken into 2 larger compartments, the thinner section is good for holding about 4 magazines I’ll never read, and the larger section is the “pit of doom”, where I throw everything else – my external portable hard drive, my power cables, wallet, Aspirin, a couple iPod cables, deodorant, two more iPhone external batteries, and a bunch of small odds and ends that have just basically settled at the bottom.

Lining the side of the pit of doom are three more good sized pockets that can be zippered shut to keep contents from spilling into the pit.

Speck CorePack

There are a bunch of nice little features that I never use, such as a “media player pocket” with an ear bud cable pass through hole, and a water bottle holder on the side of the bag. The shoulder strap is made from durable seat-belt like material, and the foam shoulder pad is one of the most comfortable I have ever used. The straps have two positions, allowing you to treat it like a regular messenger bag, or more of an over-the-back type thing for bike riders and such. The good news for bike riders is if you get hit by a car, the CorePack will likely cushion your spine quite nicely, as I have actually used the soft padding as a pillow in an train station.

Speck CorePack

I got a little lazy here and found a video on Speck’s site that shows the bag in action which gives you a better idea of the size and features than a couple still photos can. I apologize in advance for the female host (“Shaggin Waggin’ Velour!”).


There really aren’t any. At about $99, there’s not even much to gripe about in the price department, although I suppose high-end bag lovers could complain about the lack of rich materials, like leather and such. However, this chosen materials are all very durable, and the bag looks more or less brand new after 4 months of use. While everyone has their own personal tastes when it comes to sizes and styling, I have no issue with the way anything on the bag is handled, nor have I noticed any glaringly missing features.

Speck CorePack


If you are looking for a durable, large-sized bag with a touch of style to carry your laptop and a bunch of things you do not need, the CorePack is a great choice. I have no idea what I have in my CorePack at the moment, but it sure is heavy, and I like that. Sometimes for fun I go through the pockets and say “Oh, THAT’S where that is!” Sure, overstuffing a bag is not for everyone, but if you are a pack-rat like myself and like the secure feeling of knowing you are carrying the solution to every conceivable technological problem at all times, get the CorePack. It also makes a great pillow.

Price: $89.95
Pros: Huge, lots of pockets, storage, great laptop protection, custom shoulder strap placement, nice styling, durable doubles as a pillow
Cons: None significant

8 Responses to “Review: Speck’s CorePack Messenger Bag”
  1. Chris Leither says:

    Seems like a nice bag to me… though personally I’m not gonna buy another one any day soon. Am still happy with my Crumpler Sticky Date, which I believe can house even more as it even fits a 17″ MBP (or a 15″ with a hard suit on it).
    And as I also tend to overpacking my bags to alyways be prepared for everything I love my Brenthaven Expendable Back Pack. If you don’t carry around as many things you can convert it to a pretty small backpack… or… like I do… have the 2nd compartment full of everything imaginable ^^.
    These two are also very reasonable priced at least if you take the durability and materials into account. But anyway… just my 2 cents…

  2. Ahh, does look like a nice bag, not sure about the pattern on it though. However, I also am in search for the ultimate laptop bag, and I think I’ve found one but it’s very pricey, some may say too pricey.

    Nevertheless I feel it is my duty to inform you of it. It’s all the bags you want it to be 😛

    What you think of it?

  3. shannon says:

    This is cool, but anything that’s single strap winds up hurting my neck or my back. I’ve been looking for a BACKPACK for 3 years now – why are _all_ laptop backpacks so ugly?

  4. roy says:

    lol laptop bag packs rule who doesn’t want to look like a teen age mutant ninja turtle

  5. Chris Leither says:

    @shannon take a look at THAT… the backpack I mentioned in my comment…

  6. Aldo Johnson says:

    There’s also the bumbakpak.

    Am currently scraping the sofa for funds to purchase one of these bags.

  7. Paul says:

    Nice bike, Doc. You’re much more tough looking than I pictured you to be. Maybe it’s just the angle in that photo!

    I’m a fan of my Lowepro Messenger bag. Then again, I recommended it to a friend and he returned it for being “too big”. *shrug*

  8. Chris says:

    Is “originators” a word?

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