These days, mobility in tech carries its burdens. Sometimes we don't just need a way to carry a laptop--we need a bag for our SLR camera, our charging cables, our HDMI cables, and our rechargeable adapters. Traveling can often require a separate gear bag. That's exactly what the $129 Slappa Ballistix Aura is: a travel bag for lots of gear. Serious gear, the sort of stuff that needs dedicated compartments. If you're that candidate, then this is perhaps the bag for you.
But if you're traveling light, then stay away. At 18 inches long, 10 inches deep, and boasting 1,700 cubic inches of storage space, this bag definitely doesn't lay low. The chief appeal of the Ballistix--its reinforced open center compartment, with a removable 10-inch by 15-inch by 4.75-inch gear bag--is also the greatest percentage of its bulk. With no other pockets or zippers on the inner compartment's walls, to not use the inner gear bag is to relegate the Ballistix to a being a glorified tiny suitcase with an outer laptop pocket.
With an exterior made of water-resistant ballistic nylon and 5-millimeter padded walls on the inner gear bag and most compartments, the Aura feels sturdy enough for airplane travel. The J. Peterman-by-way-of-"The Matrix" futuristic khaki exterior grew on us the more we used it, and the buckle-down outer flap provides a modicum of extra weather resistance, as well as keeping the outer laptop zipper out of sight from would-be thieves. The laptop pocket holds laptops up to 15.4 inches. We tried fitting a 16-inchinto it, and it just barely cleared the zipper.
The interior gadget mini-bag is made of a more lightweight padded nylon, and looks like an insulated lunch sack. Its use might be limited to specific needs: while its adjustable sections can contain anything from toiletries to camera lenses, the effort required to slide the bag out the top and unzip it makes this more of a travel bag than an everyday use gear bag.