Review: STM Impulse Laptop Bag

June 18, 2014

Review by my wife, Gretchen Kinder, who was in the right place at the right time and needed a do-everything laptop bag just as the folks at STM delivered me a sample STM Medium Impulse bag.

The STM Medium Impulse is an ideal laptop backpack for road warriors and other travelers, or commuters who travel efficiently.


Like the best hard-sided suitcase, the STM Medium Impulse laptop backpack retains its shape and size no matter what you put in it, so you count on it fitting in an overhead bin, under the seat in front of you, or inside your desk. You cannot stuff the Impulse beyond its ample storage capacity, so no worries about looking like a middle school student during finals week, groaning under the weight of backpack that is larger than you are.

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Occasionally the finite space┬áhas proved to be a problem – usually on those days when I’ve rushed to leave the office and have not taken the time to be thoughtful about what I *really* need to take home that night or on the next business trip. In these instances I always pack more than I need. The Impulse forces me to think about what I’m bringing, which improves both my efficiency and my focus in the long run.

While the STM Impulse doesn’t have a lot of give, it does have extraordinary storage capacity. The Impulse has six independent storage sections including:

One (1) technology compartment with storage for both a 15″ laptop and a tablet
One (1) secondary pocket for paperwork, books
Two (2) side utility pockets for water bottle, cell phone
One (1) easy access front organization pocket for keys, wallet, pens, flash drives, business cards, etc.
One (1) quick drop lower pocket for charging bricks or cables

Who hasn’t had the experience of accidentally losing a favorite pen or USB drive because it fell out while you were rooting through your laptop bag for a specific file or document? The STM Medium Impulse separates each pocket from the other, complete with separate zippers, so the risk of an accidental loss is minimized.

My STM Medium Impulse replaced a cutesy Oigo laptop satchel – also with padded pockets for a 15″ laptop and a tablet. When the cutesy bag was stuffed beyond capacity (which happened every time I tried to carry my laptop AND the laptop power cord), the one central closure always failed and the bag was unbalanced and impossible to carry.

Ogio Bag beyond capacity!

Ogio Bag beyond capacity!

I’ve had none of these problems with the STM Impulse – whether throwing it in my car or on the train for my daily commute or taking it as my second carry-on on cross-country business trips. The bag is easy to get in and off, with standard adjustable straps and a sternum strap to balance the load if it gets too heavy.

The Impulse also features a luggage pass-through. This allowed me to affix it to my wheeled suitcase while waiting to disembark a plane, so I wasted no time adjusting my backpack while trying to make it to a connecting flight.

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My only issue with the STM Impulse? Touted by some as a “laptop backpack that doesn’t look like one,” the Impulse instead looks like the backpack carried by a 14 year-old boy. There is nothing stylish or modern about the poly-nylon blend fabric exterior (available in black or grey).

The STM Impulse isn’t as bland as the ubiquitous pleather Targus satchels that computer retailers used to give away with every new laptop sold, but it isn’t that far off. One can hope that, as consumer demand increases, so do the design options.

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Is the STM Impulse the right laptop backpack for you? It is if…

You seek utilitarian comfort in your laptop backpack
You need a bag with modular storage capacity that includes both a laptop sleeve and a separate tablet sleeve
You can pare down and control the amount of material you need to carry back and forth between the office or school
You travel enough that you need a bag that can reliably fit in commuter storage spaces and offers travel comfort features
You don’t want a laptop bag that looks like a purse or a piece of athletic gear

Me? I’m a middle-aged commuter who uses public transportation and travels half-way across the country on business at least once a month. The STM Medium Impulse is much more practical than the flirty Oigos laptop satchel I used to carry. Is the Impulse perfect? No. Does it have more than enough storage to meet my needs without breaking your back? Yup. Do I recommend it? You bet!

Where can you get one? Available for prices ranging from $70 to $100 at major retailers like, and