STM Scout Tablet Bag: Tough as the Outback, More Pouches Than a Troop of Kangaroos [Review]

We reviwed the STM Velo earlier this year, in our first encounter with the Aussie-based outfitter, and came away with the distinct  impression that, wow, these guys really know how to make a great bag.

Our time with the STM Scout ($50), a tablet-specific, heavily-padded canvas satchel, proved that the outfit can make a sharp-looking protective bag for your Thrive, Galaxy Tab or iPad too — though it didn’t blow us away like the Velo did.

Lots to Like:

With the notable exception of Timbuk2’s old waxed canvas messngers, bags crafted from canvas (however cool they are, and I know many out there who’ll disagree with me) aren’t really my thing. But the Scout actually sports the (surprisingly soft) fabric well; I never felt too hipster walking around with the Scout slung around my shoulder. Part of that might have been the fact that our sample was black and not the other available color, olive green. Also nice: The canvas is water-resistant — droplets from a light shower rolled right off its surface.

It seemed like half the girth of the Scout was devoted to padding and protection — thick padding surrounds the main compartment on all sides and the bottom. I had no worries about dropping it or setting the bag down in the footwell of a car and having my feet accidentally kick it. Probably the highest protection-to-size ratio of any bag in existence.

There are pockets galore in this satchel. There’s the padded main compartment, which will fit up to a ten-inch tablet, and swallowed our Thrive or Smart Cover-equipped iPad with room to spare; but there’s also a pouch on the outside of the main compartment, another pouch outside the second one (with pockets for small electronics and pens), a zippered stash, and finally a pouch in the back that remains accessible when the flap is closed.

There’s an astounding level of attention to detail for such a small bag. The little stick-and-rip flap that closes the main compartment has little wings at the side to keep the elements out; the strap pad is perfectly padded and coated with an anti-slip material that kept the Scout firmly planted through extreme maneuvers; and there’s even a quick-release strap adjustment cam.

A Little Perplexing:

The main compartment was perfect, but all the other pockets are more or less the same shape — tablet sized — and we felt four pockets with this configuration was a little overkill. The zippered stash inside the main flap was a little difficult to access, and could have been more shallow, as small stuff at the bottom was sometimes difficult to retrieve; would probably have been more useful relocated to the outside of the main flap.

The main compartment was also unable to accomodate a tablet with anything but a relatively thin case. Got a keyboard case for your iPad? Good luck getting it in and out without a fight.

Verdict:

The Aussies have shown us how to make a tough, stylish tablet satchel; all they need to do now is refine the pocket situation.

Rating: ★★★★☆