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Booq Boa Flow review: Booq Boa Flow

Booq Boa Flow

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read

Last year, one of our favorite laptop backpacks (and really, it still is) was the Booq Boa Squeeze. More of a padded gear tube with arm straps and plenty of pockets, it managed to be stylish, compact, sturdy, and roomy all at once.

8.0

Booq Boa Flow

The Good

Eye-catching design; plenty of compartments; rock-solid feel and build.

The Bad

Very large and bulky size makes this bag unsuitable for normal city commuting; it's best as a weekend or carry-on bag for plane trips.

The Bottom Line

Though it's far too large to be used as an everyday laptop backpack, the sturdy design and numerous pockets on the multipurpose Booq Boa Flow make it a great buy as a weekend or carry-on bag that can handle most laptops.

For something a little bigger--no, make that a lot bigger--Booq's sizable Boa Flow might be what you're looking for. OK, honestly, the bag's gigantic. A large reinforced black-and-orange curved shell-shape lined with some useful pockets and plenty of interior room, the Flow will resemble nothing so much as a giant Koopa shell or neon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume. It's not light, either: at 4.5 pounds for the medium-size Flow and 4.9 pounds for the XL-size, this bag's heavy even when empty. It also isn't cheap: $199 might be too steep for many bag-buyers. It's twice the price of the Boa Squeeze.

To its credit, however, it keeps its shape and stays strong. A large interior, nearly enough space to be called a weekend suitcase, can hold clothes, small packages, and whatever else you can think of. Laptops actually slide into a separate rear-zippered compartment, which has very thick and rigid padding. Even semithick 17-inch desktop replacements can fit here, no problem, providing you've bought the XL (which, incidentally, happens to be same price as the M).

The ergonomic back padding is generous to say the least: three big orange slabs of foam provide ventilation, and the curved arm straps are comfortable, though lack smartphone pockets like the Squeeze had. There is a padded sleeve below the thick, padded top handle to the Flow where an iPhone, MP3 player, or other smartphone can be tucked in, but its placement while wearing the Flow could leave your treasured gadget vulnerable to being stolen.

The Flow can also be used as a camera bag: a zippered pocket oddly located on the front-bottom of the bag has expandable space that can fit a large dSLR. We're not sure we trust having a camera on the bottom of the bag, but the padding at the bottom is as thick as it is everywhere else. When it's not in use, the pocket collapses via adjustable Velcro straps inside to make more room in the interior. It's a neat idea.

This is not a city commuting bag. We tried wearing the Flow to work in New York City using the subways and found ourselves nearly bowling over fellow travelers. Wearing the Flow feels like wearing a small suitcase on your back. It does handle its weight well, but it has a feel that's less like a standard backpack and more like armor. The Flow's bulbous size makes it prone to tipping over when placed on the floor, but its excellent thick handle on top is great for carrying short distances.

We'd recommend the Flow, instead, as a fantastic airline carry-on backpack, or a general gearbag for weekend car trips. Roomy and sturdy side pockets, lined with slightly elastic neoprene, are useful for everything from water bottles to bundled power cords (just don't put them in the same pocket). We never lacked for pockets on the Flow. And, again, we appreciated that all of these compartments never interfered with the laptop sleeve tucked away--nearly hidden, in fact--against the back. It's definitely one of the most useful and well-designed large bags we've seen, but we don't have an urge to use it every day, like we did with the Squeeze. It will remain with your luggage, not your jacket and keys.

The Booq Boa Flow comes with a limited five-year warranty covering defects from "normal use," and won't apply for damage that Booq deems was caused by physical abuse or negligence. The bag will be replaced, or if the Flow isn't available, be substituted with a percentage value of store credit based on lifetime ownership of the bag.

8.0

Booq Boa Flow

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 0