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Red Oxx Slimline Padded Brief/Laptop Compatible Aka Metro

Whew! For a company who’s other products have names like C-Ruck, Gator, Air Boss, and Chica, that’s a real mouthful. Slimline Padded Brief/Laptop Compatible. It’s also a pretty nifty briefcase.

Red Oxx Slimline Padded Brief/Laptop Compatible

Red Oxx Slimline Padded Brief/Laptop Compatible

I received mine a few days ago, and have even had a chance to try it out. I got it in Saffron, both to match my Air Boss, and to help thwart any theives out there. It’s hard to sneak when you’re carrying a bright yellow object.

I agonized a bit over the size. I’ve got a Travelpro laptop bag that measures 3.5″ wide, and it is too small. It’s able to hold the usual amount of paper I’d carry, but forget putting a computer, or any of the usual other junk like a small camera, iPod, notebooks, etc. I also got a Tumi 6″ expandable, which is the exact opposite. I’ve actually gone on overnight trips with just it, with a spare shirt, underwear and toiletries without even expanding it. Of course, when it’s less than full it’s a floppy mess, and not very easy to zip open or closed.

I wanted something in between. I wanted something big enough to hold my computer, some legal pads, a folder or two, along with a host of small items. Maybe also a birding guide, and a small binocular. I kept wondering if the regular briefcase or the slim was what I wanted. I decided to err on the small side, and I’m not disappointed.

I had considered Tom Bihn’s Empire Builder and Zephyr, which appear to be a better value, but both have things I didn’t like.

  • First, they have flaps covering a large open pocket on the front, with zippered pockets on the flap. Those kinds of pockets are great for really small stuff, but they tend to make the flap heavy, which makes it a pain to get into the large pocket under the flap.
  • That flap has a buckle, the mating half of which will dangle because I will mostly not buckle it, which will annoy me.
  • Second, they have the shoulder strap connections on opposite sides of the bag, which tends to hold the bag shut while it’s on my shoulder. The Red Oxx design tends to hold the bag open, and I prefer that because I can always zip the bag shut.
  • They’re an inch taller than the Red Oxx, which is wasted space for the things I carry.
  • They do sell colors, but it’s really a black bag with a colored flap.
  • The Empire Builder is 7″ wide, the Zephyr is 6.3″ wide. Both are really too wide for me.

Still, they’re only $10 or so more than the smaller Red Oxx, but have more padding, more zippable pockets, splashproof zippers and a few other features. I decided I wanted the size, color & features of the Red Oxx.
As I said, I’ve had a chance to play with it, and even use it a bit. Here are my observations:

  • It’s 3.5″ wide, same as the travel pro, but Red Oxx’s bag is 3.5″ on the inside. That extra inch is huge in a bag this size.
  • The inside dividers are covered with pockets – more than you can use. It’s also got slightly over-sized pen holders – large enough to hold screwdrivers or a tire gage.
  • The outside pockets are narrower than I thought they’d be, although the snap is on a strap (see the photo) so you can both fill them up and close them more easily. I think they’re too narrow, but I suspect they’re the same pockets you’d find on their Gator bag, which is smaller. They’re big enough for 2-3 pocket Moleskine notebooks, plus a small item like a deck of cards.
  • The padding is a great idea. It really helps give the bag shape, and it makes it much better behaved when standing. Yep, the bag will stand, you don’t have to lay it down.
  • The handles are curiously long. On my Air Boss they’re so short that if you over stuff the bag at all you cannot get the handle wrap to snap shut. I actually like that feature because I don’t like floppy handles. They catch on things and hang over the opening. I’m surprised they’re so long on this bag.
  • I haven’t used the outside zip pockets, as they’re suited mainly to flat items like air tickets or a magazine or two. But there’s one on either side, with heavy dual zips.
  • The water bottle pockets are thankfully not too baggy and have tight enough elastic to keep small items from falling out. I know that many people must have water bottle pockets, but after the DHS outlawed an entire phase of matter I decided that since water is available pretty much everywhere I go, usually for free, I would stop hauling around a bunch of extra weight. So if I must have water bottle pockets on my bag, it’s nice to be able to use them for something else.
  • The red interior helps make it easier to find things.
  • I like the fact that the zippers don’t go all the way around. I used to carry a Lands End briefcase that would zip flat. One time I hooked the zipper (that case had big metal hoops on the zippers) and dumped most of the contents all over a factory floor.
  • It has the standard “Claw” strap that hangs on like it’s glued to your shoulder.

The construction is as expected – heavy duty. I especially like large zippers, as the small ones on my Tumi, while “self healing” have to heal themselves pretty much every time I zip the bag around the upper corners. Heavier zippers are more tolerant.
Red Oxx Slimline Padded Brief/Laptop Compatible

Red Oxx Slimline Padded Brief/Laptop Compatible

Red Oxx Slimline Padded Brief/Laptop Compatible

For a “Slimline” bag this case holds quite a bit – there’s room for more, although it would start to require taking things out to get to other things. If I was a student or someone who had to haul a lot of binders, I’d definitely get the regular size that’s 7+” thick, but with what I need today, it’s a great fit.

7 comments… add one
  • Rick Monroe September 2, 2007, 3:52 pm

    This was timely. I’ve been trying to decide between the regular and slimline. In addition to the stuff that you packed in, I would want to carry a small pc, bose headphones, and a light sweater. Think that would fit?

  • Steve Duncan September 2, 2007, 8:57 pm

    Okay, I’m not sure how big Bose headphones are, but a laptop (my MacBook, specifically) and a thin sweater will fit fine in addition to what I had in there, as long as the sweater can be stuffed into one end or rolled along the top. Because the bag is a full 17″ long, there’s usually dead space at the ends. If the files are really pads of paper or stacks of paper, and if the laptop is fairly short there will be a few inches above the computer & files in a space maybe 2″ x3″ x 17″ along the top the bag – an excellent space for an umbrella or rolled sweater. If you expect to keep the sweater folded, I don’t think so. I had maybe 1.5″ of paper in the case when the photos were taken, and another inch of sweater would make it pretty tight.

    Back to the Bose. If they fold up fairly small, like 2x3x4 or there abouts, I’d say no problem if you can put them in one end, or in an outside pocket. I use Etymotic ER4 earphones, which block more noise, don’t take batteries, and are very small so I’ve never looked at the Bose.

  • Rick Monroe September 2, 2007, 10:48 pm

    Thanks, that helps. One more question if I may? Is the case compressible, i.e. could you flatten if if you had to? I fly to England several times a year, and on flights in and out of England, only one bag is allowed for carry on. So I have to repack, emptying by briefcase, and tucking the various odds and ends into nooks and crannies of my carry-on. And then somehow, I squeeze the briefcase in there too. (As soon as you get through screening, they let you take it out again) Some briefcases (like Targus) don’t lend themselves to being flattened. How about the Redoxx?

  • Steve Duncan September 3, 2007, 2:53 pm

    I think it would flatten fairly well, because neither the ends nor the top are padded. However, that would make the bottom of the case less flat. I think the trick would be to get the bottom to fold inward when you flatten it. If you fly out of England often enough, it might be wise to get the bigger bag, or to get one of their tote bags which at 12x17x6.5 should hold an 11x17x4 briefcase and then some, and tuck neatly back into the case when not in use.

  • rick monroe September 16, 2007, 12:15 am

    I finally bought the Redoxx slimline bag, but I also bought a Tumi bag at the same time. I thought I was going to like the Tumi better. But after loading each of them up several times, I decided that the RedOxx bag was more to my liking. It’s lighter and less structured so you can pack it however you want. The Tumi is going back to the store. Thanks for your help.

  • John Heckendorn October 9, 2007, 7:21 pm

    Like you were, I’m considering both the Red Oxx Slimline/Metro and one of the Bihn bags. Wondering if you’ve had the chance to compare the candidates firsthand to see how each works in practice.

  • Steve Duncan October 10, 2007, 9:39 am

    I’ve been tempted by the ID, and the Zephyr, but I haven’t ordered either. The empire builder is just too big.

    The brain cells I have are very well constructed, although the first I received is slightly better than the second. I would say they are slightly better than the Red Oxx bags I’ve gotten, but it’s not a difference you’re going to find unless you’re looking.

    The two manufacturers really have different styles. I think Tom Bihn is far more tech friendly, but it’s really aimed at technophiles, students, IT people and other folks carrying a real boatload of gear. The Slimline is a more manageable size than comparable TB bags.

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