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Crumpler's new look: a laptop bag icon grows up

Crumpler's offices on the top floor of a nondescript Russell St building is a quintessentially Melbourne space. With exposed ceilings over polished concrete floors, large co-working benches, and a plethora of perfectly groomed beards and sleeve-tattoos on display, it felt like a place I'd never be cool enough to work in. And of course, for a company that started out making bags for bike couriers, there's a wall for staff to park their two-wheelers.

I've got a lot of love for Crumpler. Having tested countless laptop bags over the years, I keep coming back to the delightfully named Considerable Embarrassment, one of the company's signature messenger bag designs. After six years of daily use, the bag still looks great and doesn't have a thread missing, even the velcro is strong enough to wake up the neighbours when I tear it open.

Earlier this month the company unveiled a bold new logo design, bidding farewell to the wiggly little man that has been the company's icon for over twenty years. It's a sign that Crumpler is growing up, and it's reflected in the new design choices in its bag line up. That incredibly loud velcro has been phased out in all but the bags made with bike couriers in mind; the modern Crumpler bag can be silently opened in meetings.

Marketing Content and Community Coordinator Patrick Regester explains the company's thinking behind the new look. It's trying to tone down the logo and even the name on the bags, so the brand is "less in your face".

"We're trying to add a lot more colour, and a lot more fashion, to the label. A lot of our early bags were function over form, and while function still matters, we want our bags to look awesome. But we're still focused on making bags that can last forever."

Regester explains the bags are still heavily inspired by Melbourne, and the commutes of the local design team. That means pockets that are easily accessible from a bike, or when squeezed onto a crowded tram, backpacks that can convert into totes on the weekend, and messenger bags that "don't feel too breifcasey", that can move from the office to a late night wine bar and not look out of place.


I've been road testing the Mantra, a new lineup of laptop backpacks that come in three sizes; compact, regular and travel. Thedesign is clean and modern with a dark black outer, wand only splashes of colour inside to separate the many compartments.

The bag is as tough as I'd expect, and after a week of use I still don't feel I've broken it in. It features a quick access side pocket for laptops — handy at airports — as well a cavernous main compartment complete with organising pockets for computer cables and accessories. The space is big enough to fit a jacket, your lunch, a water bottle and an umbrella comfortably. On the regular and travel versions, that main compartment can be expanded even further, to convert the bag into an overnighter.

The front section is protected from the elements with an overhanging zipper, with space for an iPad, passport, documents, chargers and portable batteries. Again, it's all well organised to keep everything safe, protected and separated.

The only thing missing is a small, easy to access pocket for glasses or a wallet. But I'm sure as the bag wears in a little, that front section will become easier and faster to open, for quicker access.

I'm hoping to get another six years at least from this backpack.