A growing pen and paper obsession can only be accompanied by one thing: a reliable, everyday bag.
I bought the Booq Mamba Courier long before I had a “stuff” obsession. I don’t remember doing any major research or any testing prior to purchasing the bag either.
Which means I got lucky. This bag has treated me pretty well. It has a weird design quirk that I’ve worked around. Other than that, I’ve enjoyed this bag enough to recommend it.
The Mamba Courier comes in three different sizes and the colour you see here has been discontinued. You can purchase the Mamba Courier in 11”, 13” and 15” sizes. I purchased the 13” bag in black, but I personally think the grey option looks better.
The Mamba Courier’s strap is truly second to none. The shoulder strap and the buckle loops are made of the same material as vehicle seatbelts. This material is incredibly strong and durable and fits the overall aesthetic of the bag nicely.
The buckles mimic the shoulder strap in terms of material, but I have found the buckles to be less than stellar in staying closed. When positioned at certain angles — say, if the bag was laid flat on its back on your lap — I’ve found the buckles to slide out of a secure position. This became most problematic when riding the bus home after class — my bag would be positioned off kilter and the main clasps would unsecure themselves.
Despite this flaw, the Courier’s buckles are well made, sturdy and secure when the bag hangs from your shoulder. They even age well and look like a brushed metal after a few years of use.
Sliding the buckles into and out of the seatbelt clasps can be aggravating at times. Although secure when held from your shoulder (and despite their inherit ability to unsecure themselves when not hanging from your shoulder), opening the bag is difficult, especially if you need to quickly open your bag and snag a pen for a quick note.
These buckles are even more difficult to properly secure when the Courier is full. The bag’s fibre material isn’t overly stretchy or flexible, so pulling the sturdy seatbelt clasps over the buckles can be tedious and annoying.
Overall, these buckles are too secure when walking, unsecure when rested on your lap and frustrating to use when the bag is full. If you find yourself outside of these situations, the buckles are well made. The rest of the time, their design is terrible.
The Courier’s zippers are high quality and haven’t caused any trouble in my two years of ownership. The zippers are lined with fabric and not some sort of waterproof material that would protect the pocket’s inhabitants from the rain. Both of the Courier’s main zippers are made of the same material and have been as solid as the shoulder strap in my experience.
The top of the Courier’s flap has a nice handle for carrying the bag in your hand instead of over your shoulder. The handle is made of the same fibre material as the rest of the bag.
The friction at the intersection of the bag and the handle would inevitably wear greatly over time, and I appreciate Booq’s use of metal to line the flap’s handle cutouts. This metal wards of extreme wear and prevents the handle from ripping from the flap. It also matches the same metal cutout lining found around the seatbelt clasps on the lower part of the bag, maintaining the design element throughout.
The Mamba Courier is part of Booq’s “Fiber Collection”. This fibre lends the Mamba Courier an elegant, yet rugged, look that is matched by few messenger bags.
Best, the plant-based fibre material looks awesome after some extreme wear. The top flap has begun to fray slightly, but it doesn’t affect the durability of the bag. Like a well worn leather jacket, the visible wearing of this fibre material only gets better over time.
Moreover, this fibre material is very lightweight. When empty, this bag is a featherweight.
With the buckles, clasps and handle out of the way, we can move to the Courier’s insides.
The Mamba Courier has a healthy number of pockets, the first of which is found by opening the flap. I find myself keeping computer or tablet peripherals and earbuds in this front pocket most of the time, but it can also be used for a place to stash a notebook.
The back of the Mamba Courier houses another pocket for quick access to your phone or a magazine. This pocket doesn’t flex whatsoever, so you are truly limited to thin and narrow objects in the back pocket. My keys would be the bulkiest objects I put in this back pocket and digging around for them can be quite a pain.
The 13” Mamba Courier is made specifically for 13” notebooks and fits the Retina MacBook Pro perfectly. The notebook sleeve is made of a soft material and I’ve never felt apprehensive about sliding a naked MacBook into the bag.
As mentioned, the front pocket is best left for quick access materials or for peripherals. It’s the only accessible pocket. As a result, I find this pocket’s catch-all nature to be a go-to for storing leftover knick-knacks.
The little research I did when scouting out the Mamba Courier led me to its ability to house an iPad. This specific model was designed to hold the first to fourth generation iPads. A special sleeve next to the notebook sleeve is slightly too big for an iPad Air, but I would never hesitate to use the sleeve because of the larger size. The iPad Air fits very nicely in the sleeve and the positioning of the sleeve allows for quick access to your tablet.
As with any messenger bag, the Mamba Courier has a few pen slots which I’ve never truly used. I’ve left a few pens in the sleeves from time to time, instead choosing to store them in the front pocket.
Even with my limited use of these pen sleeves, the stitching that separates each sleeve has begun to tear as of late. Although the bag has seen its share of use, I hope this stitch tearing doesn’t set a precedent for the rest of the bag.
A lucky coincidence inside the Courier are the last two sleeves stitched in front of the iPad sleeve. These sleeves seem to have been created for a quick stowing of small memo books. These sleeves fit my trusty Field Notes books perfectly and are even big enough to slide the Hellbrand Leatherworks cover into as well.
When loaded up with a few notebooks, a MacBook, an iPad and some pens, the Mamba Courier manages to stay fairly thin and light. The inner storage sleeves allow for proper organization of your belongings and they keep the bag narrow at your hip.
Anything more, such as a camera or larger computer peripherals, makes the Mamba Courier too chunky for comfort. As mentioned, the bag becomes hard to close when a bulky object is stored in the wrong spot and the narrow form factor can be quickly lost depending on your daily carry.
Despite the shortcomings of the buckle and clasp system and the inevitable stitch tearing, I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Booq Mamba Courier. The fibre material is extremely light and extremely durable. The shoulder strap is of the highest quality and the clasps are very secure when the bag is held on your shoulder.
Best of all, the bag looks better the more you carry it with you. The fibre material is elegant when new and ruggedly beautiful when frayed and used.
The bag’s imperfections can be tedious and tiresome to deal with as time goes by and this is the main reason I find myself researching bags these days. The clasp system is annoying and poorly designed, but the biggest setback for me is the bag’s narrow profile. This bag is meant to carry thin and narrow objects such as books, laptops and iPads. There is no room for a camera or lens whatsoever, and I’ve been left wanting a bag that is more versatile.
As a messenger bag goes though, the Mamba Courier is a solid option. It’s hard to beat durable, lightweight and stylish in a bag that you’ll never have to worry about when carried on your shoulder.
Take it off your shoulder and, well, things may change a bit.