Most messenger bags fall into one of two camps: gigantic shapeless sacks on the one hand and precious, overorganized, zipper-encrusted man-purses on the other. Spire’s Nova bag is neither: It provides plenty of carrying capacity and organizing space in a shoulder bag that looks professional. As a bonus, it’s easy to carry and use.

Inside, the Nova has plenty of room for files (legal or letter-size), books, and magazines. A divider (with a drawstring on top) holds a removable internal sleeve (12 x 10 x 1 inches) for toting a notebook. This sleeve handily fits around ultralights such as the IBM ThinkPad X31 or 12-inch Apple PowerBook. It’s got its own handle, slash pocket, and a pair of rings into which you can clip a second shoulder strap (not included).

If you’ve got a midsize notebook, you can skip the sleeve and drop your computer right into the Nova itself; the pocket that accommodates the padded sleeve will hold naked notebooks up to about 12.5 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep. But if you do, set your bag down with care: The Nova has decent protective padding on the back but none on the bottom.

The Nova sports a variety of organizer pockets inside and outside. And if it’s raining, you can close off the inside pocket with its drawstring. Overall, the Nova is functional, well-designed, and equally appropriate in both chemistry class and the office. -Dylan Tweney

Best Feature: Well-organized interior pockets
Worst Feature: Awkward vertical zipper on flap pocket

Spire Nova
Weight: 1.9 pounds
Size: 15 x 10 x 5 inches
Specs: Ballistic nylon exterior; shoulder strap with removable, nonslip shoulder pad; waist belt; removable padded notebook sleeve

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Link: Spire Nova

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