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Crumpler Keith Heist tote/messenger bag review

This post kicks off our series of reviews on the newest Crumpler bags and accessories. Design-wise, the latest batch is a big departure from their well-known models. Read on to find out what we think about them.

My first impression upon pulling the Keith Heist out of the plastic bag it came in was “This is a large, ladies’ tote.” And if it hadn’t come in gunmetal grey, with the name “Keith” appended to it, I probably would have passed on it. But it did, so I carried this tote around for a couple of weeks to see it it could actually pass for a man’s bag and serve as a substitute for my daily bag, the Considerable Embarrassment.

Lots of room to spare
This combo tote-vertical messenger bag has both tote handles and a (removable) shoulder strap. In terms of features, it’s fairly simple: just a single, large compartment sealed by a waterproof zipper. Inside this compartment is a large padded pocket for laptops (just right for 15-inchers; roomy enough for my 13-inch MBP with its sleeve, which is how I prefer to carry my laptop when placing it in a bag), four smaller pockets, and one large main compartment. It also has a smaller, hidden side pocket where you can dump items such as keys, pens, small notebooks, your mobile phone, and other stuff that you need to get to quickly.

Officially, the capacity is 13.5 liters of space. In real world terms, this is what I managed to fit in: my laptop with its sleeve, the charger and a 6-m-long extension cord, a folding laptop stand, several small cables, pens and a few other office supplies, about two and a half inches worth of printouts that I needed to read and review, two thick magazines — enough material to keep me working at home for a week. Which I was tempted to do, but the next day I hauled all of it back to the office, and discovered that while the Keith Heist is quite spacious, you wouldn’t really want to fill it up unless you plan to always carry it as a tote. The shoulder strap is thin and becomes uncomfortable within minutes when the bag is fully loaded. Definitely not something you would want to do when you foresee long walks ahead of you.

Good enough for corporate types
Design-wise, it’s unique; not as juvenile as previous Crumpler designs, but certainly not run-of-the-mill. It attracts attention without a funky-looking design and loud colors. The waterproof zippers are a nice complement to the durable, all-weather material that Crumpler uses. If this was made with the same quality as my Considerable Embarrassment, then expect to use it for at least a few years without a tear in the fabric, or a busted seam, nor even loose thread.

The Keith Heist is a good, no-nonsense laptop bag, suitable for a wide range of environments, from corporate to student life. It’s best used with only a few things tucked inside, but can easily handle a week’s worth of work of paperwork if you need to bring them home.

Still, because of its price point (SRP is Php6,250), I won’t recommend it to everyone. If your approach to bags is utilitarian (as long as it looks ok, and it protects my laptop), you can pass on this. If your wife readily spends ten times as much on a handbag, then by all means get the Keith Heist if it appeals to you. My personal criterion is that if I spent Php60,000 on my laptop, then I wouldn’t mind paying 10% of that cost to get a good looking and durable bag to protect it. To each his own, I guess.


  • Unique design is an eye-catcher without being a screamer
  • Can carry it around like a tote or like a vertical messenger bag
  • Small, hidden, zippered outer pocket for easy access to small stuff


  • No organizer for pens or other smaller stuff
  • No way to hide the tote handles if you prefer to use the shoulder strap
  • Didn’t come with Dr. Srong-Tron or Robo Bob
  • Expensive for its feature set


Jason de Villa is teacher by day and a geek at all other times of the day. When he’s not teaching, he’s reading and writing about technology, looking for ways technology can help in education. His favorite noodles: Pancit Malabon Express.

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    • iamspikee|

      Nice review, looks like an overnight bag

    • Xhitman|

      I don’t think this one is for me. I’d like something more cooler if I’ll be spending something in the range of 6k+

      I still do prefer the backpacks so that it doesn’t strain my shoulders too much.

    • looks cool but i think it is way over priced.

    • sparkymarks|

      it’s quite pricey yes. altho the amount of pockets and stuff you can put into is quite nice tho. regarding thin strap issues, what kind of lock does is use? maybe if its like those mountaineer type of lock, you can opt to use a wider strap with thick pads that has a similar lock design?

    • hidburn|

      It looks to me this KH’s main compartment is deeper than what I’m used to, and I think I’ll have much difficulty strutting around and pass it for a man’s bag. No go. I’ll take Considerable Embarrassment any time. Unless you can post a picture of the same actually worn, then I may take a second look. *may*

    • stealthsniper07|

      It’s too pricey for me. I would go for some other types of backpack bags, rather than buying this one because of its price. Even though it is pricey, there are some things which I liked about it. The main thing I liked about the bag is that it does not look like a laptop bag at all. It looks like a bag with office paperworks, and the like. Also, the number of pockets are right for the corporate types.

      I really think that they can do better, but if you got the money, then this is good for you.

    • bad_boy|

      Jason, you bring too much stuff around. Heh. Anyway, nice review. Does it come in other colors?

      As an aside, this thing is way pricier than the older models (is that a sign of things to come?). I got my Considerable Embarrassment from Digital Hub and never regretted it (I do regret that my 15in MBP ways a ton, but that’s another story).

    • aimee|

      Great review but contrary to what you said about it being a ladies’ tote, i don’t agree with you on that. Looking at it, it actually looks like a bag made for men. But maybe there’s a difference between seeing it in person and in pictures i suppose. Now i think that this would be a good bag if you want to splurge but personally the price is a big factor for me and this is pretty much way over. But if you really have money to buy one then go ahead but if you’re on a budget, then there are a lot of shops in malls that offer bags with a much affordable price.

    • fink|

      If not for the label on the strap, I wouldn’t think this is made by Crumpler. The SRP is also surprising, I initially estimated this at around ~3-4,000 basing on the first photo. Wouldn’t mind receiving this as a gift though!

    • minanget|

      . .it will be better if there is another straps for backpack style. .pero dapat pwede i-hide para hindi hassle. . i think its too expensive. .

    • talkintech|

      Expensive? I think not. Unless you want to have your Php 30,000 laptop “protected” by a Php 250 bag from the “writable optical media royalty”… not that there’s anything wrong with it but you’ll have to risk having your gear kept in a bag that may break up everytime you use it.

    • bad_boy|

      talkintech: It’s expensive even for a Crumpler. The Considerable Embarrassment would be a significantly less expensive option that provides about the same safety features (not too sure about the capacity).

    • mobiusmike|

      I would definitely buy it for its unique design. Very classy for my taste. I wouldn’t thought that it was a laptop bag at my first look. But being a budget conscious consumer, I thought it was a bit expensive for a bag.

    • @Xhitman: I prefer backpacks as well. You might want to take a look at the Nhil Heist review:

    • @sparkymarks: Fortunately, the shoulder straps are detachable, and can be replaced by a wider strap of your choice. I prefer the one from the CE, but it is fixed and can’t be removed.

    • @hidburn: I’ll try and take a pic of the CE and KH side by side, and maybe of me wearing it. The main compartment is deep — you’ll have to stuff papers inside in portrait orientation. But the main compartment is roomier; my main complaint with the CE is that I can’t really stuff too many papers in it when I need to bring home work.

    • @aimee: Haha! I guess because tote bags for ladies are much more common when you take a look at the people in a shopping mall that the first thought that came to me was “tote bag = ladies’ bag.” But the design and color is masculine enough. I have a friend, though, whose wife insisted on getting one, over her husband’s objections (because it looked like a man’s bag).

    • @bad_boy: Well, you’re familiar with the work load we have here ;-)

    • @mobiusmike: That’s what I like about the new line — classy but understated. The prices, though, make you think twice, or thrice, before making an actual purchase.

    • Verde9|

      I LIKE this…”If your wife readily spends ten times as much on a handbag, then by all means get the Keith Heist if it appeals to you.” You gave me a very good idea. thanks man!

    • It’s a bit different from the Crumplers I’m used to. Does this mean I need to upgrade?

    • patrickstar88|

      I like the bag but the price is very expensive. Waah. But the design is great and you can use it for everyday use without others knowing your gadgets is inside the bag. :)

    • extreme_aljii|

      Crumpler Keith Heist tote/messenger bag :)


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