Review: House of Marley Lively Up Leather Scout Pack laptop bag
House of Marley’s Lively Up Leather Scout Pack is a good-looking, eco-friendly laptop bag that adjusts to fit all sorts of goodies—including a full-sized iPad and a 15-inch MacBook Pro. But after using the Scout Pack for a week, I was less enamored with the bag than I thought I would be. It needs a few tweaks to make it great for everyday use, and I was expecting more comfort given its price.
The Scout Pack is a standard backpack made from the company’s signature Rewind fabric, which is a blend of recycled hemp, recycled organic cotton, and RPET (fabric spun from recycled pieces of plastic water bottles). The company prides itself on its Earth-friendly and cause-minded values—every item in the House of Marley collection is made from sustainably sourced materials, and a portion of all purchases go towards the charitable organization 1Love.
I tested the $200 leather version of the pack, which features camel-colored leather accents on the straps and around the stitching on the main flap. The Leather Scout Pack is also available, through the Apple Store, in Saddle Grey or Harvest Black, with the latter actually closer to a charcoal grey. The bag is also available without leather as the $130 Scout Pack, which is available in Midnight (dark grey with black trim), Military (dark green with black trim), or Mist (light grey with tan trim). The non-leather Scout Pack lineup features red, green, and yellow stitching—House of Marley’s bags are inspired by Bob Marley, after all.
The Scout Pack is coated in weather resistant TPU, which nicely repelled small splashes of water when I tested its durability. Paired with the swishy, jacquard interior lining, your gear will likely stay dry if caught in a quick rainy situation.
As far as storage goes, the Scout Pack has one large compartment with two built-in sleeves: an unpadded one for a naked or Smart Cover-clad iPad, and a padded one for a MacBook. Though the sleeve can accommodate a 15-inch MacBook Pro, a 13-inch model is equally secure, as the sleeve provides a snug fit for both sizes to keep your MacBook in place. MacBook Air users will want to consider an additional sleeve or cover for a snug fit; iPads with a case thicker than the Smart Cover won’t fit.
The rest of the main compartment has ample room for chargers, adapters, cables, and a few larger personal items. I crammed a book, sweater, snack, and bike lock into the main compartment, along with my 13-inch MacBook Pro, third-generation iPad, and their respective chargers.
The front of the Scout Pack sports a smaller pocket with a double-button closure that’s ideal for a wallet or a point-and-shoot camera. You’ll find two smaller, single-button pouches along the sides of the pack; I used these pouches for my iPhone and keys.
One incredibly useful feature of the pack is its adjustability. The top flap that keeps the main compartment secure has two metal hooks, and two sets of loops run down the front of the pack; you just slip the hooks into any pair of loops to keep the pack closed. If the main compartment is full, you’ll need to use the loops at the top, and the Scout Pack will offer its full size; if you’re using the pack for just, say, an iPad and a few other items, you can use a set of loops further down the bag to make the pack more compact and keep its contents secure.
Although the Scout Pack is cleverly designed, I found using the metal hooks and button closures to be a little tiresome. The rugged Rewind fabric of the pack doesn’t easily budge, so working the metal hardware into and out of the proper loops takes some effort and can put a bit of strain on your fingertips. None of the compartments are designed for easy access, which is great for security but annoying when trying answer a phone call.
The backpack’s straps are also a little uncomfortable due to the rough material. Each strap has thin shoulder cushions, but they aren’t quite supportive enough for extended wear. I also wish the iPad sleeve had the same padding as the MacBook’s, especially because the sleeve doesn’t leave room for an iPad with a protective case.
You don’t need to be a Bob Marley fan to enjoy the look of the Lively Up Leather Scout Pack—apart from the hemp-based material, passersby will be none the wiser. I wouldn’t recommend it for every day use due to the compartment design and roughness of the material, but as a travel backpack—or even a bike bag, where you don’t need fast access to any of your items—it’s a fashionable choice.