The Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag for Surface Book is outstanding

When it comes to carrying your Surface Pro or Surface Book, there are many choices depending on your needs. For long trips or where you need to take multiple items, there's the backpack. Around the office, you may need a folio.

I needed something to hold my Surface Book with Performance Base when heading out for a few hours. Something light and slim. The brand new Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag is the perfect tool for the job.

What it is

Think of the Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag as a light travel bag. You can fit in a Surface Pro or Surface Book even with Performance Base with no issue. Toss in a Surface Arc Touch Mouse, some papers or a magazine and maybe even a Kindle and you're ready to go.

This is not a generic bag, but built for Surface

This is not a generic bag, but built for Surface

Oh, and since this bag is made for the Surface, there is a dedicated pen holder, so you don't lose it in the inner sleeve. Perfect!

The bag features a shoulder sling that can tuck away in the rear pocket. That's neat because there is also a standard carrying handle too if you prefer that style.

Regarding pockets, here is what you get:

  • Small zippered pocket (top flap)
  • Medium Velcro pocket (front of the bag) with key laynard and mouse pocket
  • Main compartment
  • Large Velcro rear sleeve (also can tuck in shoulder strap)

The top flap hooks to keep the bag shut, which I prefer over some vertical bags that just flop closed (dangerous if the bag tips, obviously). It's a secure hook too, and I feel confident when it's latched.

For materials, we're talking durable chambray exterior with "vegan (fake) leather" (i.e. pleather) accents for the bottom and pen holder. It's good quality, especially for the price. I have no complaints about the way it feels. I suppose I could argue that the should strap could use a small pad, but between a Surface and the bag itself, this is hardly a heavy setup requiring reinforcement or padding.

The bag is cushioned for the exterior and a bit at the bottom. Again, for most little bangs or accidents it will protect your Surface. The cushioning also helps to keep the bag rigid, so it doesn't collapse like a loose sack.

Who should not buy this

The downside, if any, to the Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag is also its virtue. It's thin and light. If you want to pack your AC power brick (especially the ginormous 102W version for the Performance Base), you may want to pass on this bag. The pockets are slim and flat. They do not expand for thick objects.

I can hedge here a bit: for Surface Pro owners you can slip the smaller AC charger into the back compartment, but will cause a slight bump in the bag, It's very doable though.

Surface Book with Performance Base fits perfectly with some wiggle room to spare

The best way to think of the Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag is like an envelope. It's good for mailing a letter, not a book.

Of course, this drawback is why I like this bag. With the Surface Book with Performance Base, I can easily get eight to ten hours of battery life. I want a bag that holds that computer, my mouse, and nothing else.

If you want to take any large accessories e.g. Surface Dial, it's best to skip this bag.

Wrap up

Priced at $46.99 (Graphite) and $54.99 (Indigo) on Amazon (the Microsoft Store sells it too for $69.99 for some reason) the Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag is precisely the bag I wanted for the Surface Book with Performance Base. Even Surface Pro 4 users who want to pack light will want this bag.

Check out the custom Surface Mouse graphic and compartment!

If you don't have a Surface this Vertical Messenger Bag also works for most Ultrabooks that I tested, including:

  • Razer Blade 14-inch
  • Dell XPS 13
  • HP Spectre x360
  • Samsung Notebook 9 15-inch

Just remember the same rule as above: Slipping in an AC charger may be tough (especially for a Razer); same applies for any bulky objects.

Overall, I love the design, the quality, the pricing, and it's exactly what I was looking for in a bag. For those who want to pack light and not feel guilty buying a secondary day bag, the Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag should be on your list to check out. My favorite thing is how this bag is made for the Surface including that Surface Mouse graphic and Surface Pen holder.

See at Amazon

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.