Review: Rothco MOLLE Tactical Briefcase
I’ve had an old shoulder bag for years now and it’s served me well, but alas, it’s time for a new one. This time I figured I’d go for something a little sturdier than a shoulder bag—something I could beat up a bit, hold everything I needed, and have an extremely sturdy handle. That’s when tactical briefcases came into the picture. The trick is finding one big enough to hold a 17″ MacBook Pro, cooling fan (because my computer overheats like crazy), and everything else I need for my portable workstation. That’s where Rothco came to the rescue.
This bag measures in at 17.5″ x 12.75″ x 6″ according to their website. These are the outer dimensions of the main body of the bag, not its internal carrying capacity. The section made for laptops is 17″ x 11″ x 2.5″, and comes with a removable padded case (my 17″ MacBook fits in the case, and then snugly inside the pouch). If my computer breaks while in here, I’ll only have myself to blame.
Then on the other side of the bag is another section with pockets galore (I count at least 8). Pens, paper, CDs, charging cables, wallet, phone, notebooks, and even a flask or three will all fit in here no problem.
The fun really starts on the outside of the bag, though. There’s a ton of velcro straps, buckles, loops, and MOLLE webbing. The bag came with 3 5″ x 5″ x 3″ MOLLE bags, which fit perfectly side by side on the front of the bag.
Pretty much, if you want to carry your portable workstation with you, you can do it with this bag.
Design and Aesthetics ★★★★
From a civilian standpoint, this bag looks pretty schnazzy. It’s definitely categorized as “tactical”, with all of its straps and buckles. The pictures of it do it justice. There’s no space unusable on or in this bag, especially if you’re resourceful. And the shoulder strap is attached via heavy-duty buckle, so you can easily remove it and haul it around with the handle.
Using the exact terminology, this bag is made of “600 Denier Polyester, PVC coated lining”. This translates to super-durable, knife-proof body (slashing, not stabbing), water-resistant (just from rain, don’t be an idiot and take it swimming), and wear-resistant (so far, but I haven’t had it for years yet). The part I’m most excited for is the PVC lining. This means that you can’t crumble it up into a ball, because it always keeps its rectangular shape.
The only thing that’s not fool-proof are the zipper pulls. Half of the little plastic bits on the end of the strings came off within a few days. This isn’t a make-or break thing, as I just threw them away, retied it, and melted the knot a bit. Works just as good as new.
The handle is the only part of the bag that has done some funky things the longer I’ve had it.The plastic guard around the curved, molded internal handle slides around, making it kind of awkward to carry (I’m sure if I sew it in place it won’t move, but it’s more of a nuisance than a usability issue). And it’s slightly stretched out now due to how much I haul it via the handle instead of the shoulder strap.
Clocking in at $125 MSRP, this bag is definitely in the upper-dollar range for these kind of bags. But, it’s totally worth it. All the straps, MOLLE system, and durability built into this thing make it well worth the money. Plus it’s one of the bigger models out there, considering I prefer to haul around my desktop-replacement version of a laptop.
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