The booq Boa nerve L ($150 – with included laptop sleeve) is a real beast of a bag: it weighs about five pounds before you even put anything in it, and its main compartment is big enough to fit a 17” laptop, and then some.
BIG TIME STORAGE
The Boa nerve’s compartments are intelligently divided into several sections, each with several specialized pockets. There’s a magazine section along the back of the bag (which zips open so that you can slide the Boa onto the rail of your carry-on luggage), as well as a cleverly designed pocket/handle that is built right into the bag. This handle isn’t terribly comfortable, but it is usable for quickly lifting the bag from one room to another without bothering with the straps. I also really like the little pocket just below the handle, which is a great storage space for tiny items like your earphones or iPod Nano. You could probably even squeeze an iPhone in there, but my current case makes mine far too large.
The front compartment of the bag has a deep zippered compartment for storage of small or flat items, and the front flap of the bag can be triply sealed with a combination of plastic clips, velcro, and a zipper to keep out the elements (it also helps that the Boa is also water-resistant). The plastic clips work just as expected, but I do have some issues with the velcro and the zipper. The former can be quite noisy (I eventually covered it up with packing tape), and the latter has to follow a curved line to close properly, so it can be quite difficult to zip up. However, to say that the Boa nerve is very secure is an understatement that’s about as big as the bag is.
The main compartment features two zippered sections up front for items like pens, chargers, wires, and the like. The main section of the bag — where your laptop will sit in booq’s excellent laptop sleeve — is simply massive. I once brought my bag to school with two paper notebooks, my 13” MacBook Pro, and a 13” Waterfield laptop bag stuffed inside; the Boa nerve took all of these contents without breaking a sweat (I did, though).
WALKING WITH THE BOA
The Boa has a broad, padded shoulder strap and an extra stabilizing strap to help you lug all your stuff around. The shoulder strap is attached to the bag by a velcro seal instead of the usual metal d-rings, but I haven’t found any major problems with this solution. The main problem I’ve had with this bag, however, is that I simply can’t carry it around for very long (despite my being used to pretty heavy bags).
I have university classes five days a week and I walk to every one of them, so I spend around two hours a day walking around with a bag. Some of these jaunts are just 10 minutes between classes, but the walk to school (and vice versa) is around 40 minutes, and I’ve found that I’m always winded by these trips whenever I bring the Boa along.
I’ve tried my best to keep this bag as light as possible because I really want to use it, but 10-12 lbs. is about as light as it gets with just my MacBook Pro and its sleeve, and that’s just too much for the kind of walking I have to do. I have also tried to carry the Boa nerve at different heights by adjusting the shoulder strap, and have tried every single angle I can think of for the stabilizing strap (which simply keeps the bag from bouncing around as you walk), but it really seems as though this bag is meant for stronger people or for shorter trips.
That’s a shame, too, because I really love just about everything else about this bag and I think it would be ideal if a 13″ version were offered (there used to be one, but it looks as though it has been discontinued).
So unless you’re built like a rock and lift boulders for fun, you’re going to want to take a really good look at how much stuff you carry and how long you’re going to carry it before looking into this bag, because it really is quite heavy. If you can give yourself a break by using a bike or public transport then I think the Boa nerve L should be an amazing purchase. It’s spacious, it’s really stylish, and it’s going to last you a good long while.
However, if you do as much walking as I do, I’d suggest looking at a bag that’s much, much lighter (I’d suggest two pounds as a starting weight).
The booq Boa nerve L was provided by the Max Borges Agency for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.