Writerly Christmas Gifts

…For your friends who are more, erm, successful than some other writers may be:

The Writers Workbench – Hit the Road, Jack
by Robert J. Elisberg

Technology today has widely expanded the concept of one’s office. While the home base will always allow for certain advantages, the ability to take your office on the road has become a godsend for many. This month we look at a variety of devices that help bring some of the comforts of home to the portable office when traveling.

GOLLA FRISCO CABIN LAPTOP BAG

One of my missions in life is to find a laptop bag that fits all of my demanding requirements. The core of these is a lot of inside pockets, Velcro-covered pockets, outside pockets (I like pockets, if you haven’t noticed), pen slots, deep enough for books, thin enough carrying, and in a perfect world, TSA-approved for airports. The Golla Frisco doesn’t match that – but it’s come the closest so far, and has become my bag of choice at the moment.

There’s a good and bad to this. I’ve just told you the good. The bad is that this particular model is not only not sold in the U.S, but Golla doesn’t seem to have it on their own website right now. But there’s another good – thanks to the Internet, you can buy something just as easily overseas as you can on Amazon. In fact, you can buy the Frisco on Amazon – just Amazon UK. You’ll pay a little more for shipping, but hey, that’s life. At least you can get it.

(Or if you know someone going to England, you can always order it online and shipped to where they’re staying. As a laptop bag, they could simply use it as their carry-on when they return and then give it to you, free of shipping.)

Anyway, back to the bag. Golla is a very nice company out of Finland that makes a huge range of cases for laptops, phones, cameras and more. Their website is worth checking out for their wide products, many of which are sold in the U.S. (You might even find something there similar to this Frisco bag that catches your interest.)

The main compartment of the Frisco is impressively spacious, a major plus, though it only has two big pockets and one zippered pocket. The pockets are open, no Velcro to close them which is my preference, in case of jostling. But at least there’s the big, zippered pocket. (The zipper, oddly, is slightly blocked by a sewn-on Golla label, so it takes a little bit of maneuvering, though it’s simple to do, just odd placement.) There are no pen holders, which even the Golla rep I spoke with thought was surprising, but you can just clip them over the edge of a pocket. Also inside, there is fairly good padding in its separate, laptop compartment.

On the outside, there are two big zippered pockets, front and back. The one in the front has several small, inside pockets, which I like, ideal for sliding in a phone, MP3 player, digital camera or such. Again, unfortunately, they’re all open, and I’d love to have seen something that could close at least one of them. The back pocket is quite big for easy access to large documents.

Happily, I do get my Velcro fix in a couple of places. There are two hidden pockets at the top, one on either side, both closable with Velcro. Oh, joy! (In fact, they’re among my favorite features on the bag. I find these great to use when going through an airport line – you can take out your wallet, watch, pens, and notepads and stuff them in there, and then just grab them easily after you make it through the x-ray.) That said, the Frisco bag isn’t TSA-approved, so you have to pull out your laptop, rather than fold down the compartment.

The bag itself is a blue-gray polyester on the outside, with cotton padding in the laptop compartment. It’s 17 x 12.2 x 6.7 inches, and fits comfortable under an airplane seat.

As I said, the Golla doesn’t meet my ideal needs – but no bag has yet, and it comes closest. It’s a spacious, light, well-designed bag that offers a lot, and I look forward to them adding some nice touches in the future, like more small pockets inside, and…well, you know, more Velcro. But for now, you can find it at Amazon UK, where it sells for 71 Euros, which comes to $92

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