Review: Zafino Saxon women's laptop bag

By danwarne, December 29 2010
Zafino Saxon women's laptop bag
The Good
  • Fits a lot
  • Reasonably priced
  • Looks like leather
The Bad
  • Isn't leather
  • Shoulder straps are not adjustable
  • Heavy to carry when fully packed
  • It's not black nylon


Standard laptop bags come in an overwhelming range of colours -- black nylon, midnight-black nylon, ebony-black nylon and raven-black nylon. If you're tired of having such a broad choice of black nylons, perhaps the new range of Zafino laptop bags for women might suit you.

Zafino's leather-look laptop bags are not available in hard-wearing black nylon. Sorry.

Zafino is a very new brand in bags -- founded by Australian designer Mindi Chisholm less than six months ago. She started the company because she was frustrated by the lack of elegant laptop bags for women, in a market dominated by heavy, black nylon bags and over-funky backpacks.

The Zafino bags are leather-look vinyl and come in a range of styles including faux-crocodile skin, soft pleated leather and full-grain cowhide look.

We tested the full-grain cowhide look ("Saxon" style), which costs $179. The pitch from Zafino is that the bag "will allow a woman to express her individual style in a well-constructed and fashionable yet functional laptop handbag; disarmingly attractive at first glance, but when it comes to function it is all business."

The fact that it doesn't look like a laptop bag is, of course, security feature in itself. On the other hand, since it looks like a quality leather bag, it might be separately appealing to a discerning thief!

If it fits the bag...

The bag can carry a laptop up to 15.4" in size (we confirmed it with a 15.4" MacBook Pro -- it fit well) plus makeup, phone, keys, laptop accessories, etc.

The bag is larger than you might think by looking at a photo of it -- it's very capacious inside, though unexpectedly large under your arm, where you have to carry it if wearing the straps on your shoulder (you can also carry the bag in hand using the straps). The hand/shoulder straps are non-adjustable.

It has a laptop compartment that's padded on both sides as well as underneath, so if you dropped the bag a short distance (e.g. 30cm), a laptop would be unlikely to be dented or cracked. However, there are no special waterproofing features aside from the fact that vinyl is, by it's nature, at least splash-and-drizzle resistant.

Aside from the laptop compartment, the rest of the bag is one big space. On one wall of the bag there's a zipped makeup pocket and some organizer pockets for memory keys/USB modem, smartphone, business cards and pens. There's also a key-hook to make finding your keys easy.

The bag can certainly fit a lot -- as we said earlier, it's a big bag. You can easily fit all of the above things plus a decent sized folder, a change of shoes (e.g. some heels for after five drinks, or your sports shoes for the gym) and your lunch. Be aware, though, that as it's all one big space inside the bag, there's no waterproof compartment for wet gym clothes or a drink bottle that might leak.

What it generally lacks is a separate compartment for papers and notes. Given the internal space is so big, it would have been great to have it divided in two, so meeting notes and documents could be kept separate from all the other 'handbag' sorts of things in the bag.

The other problem is that even though it's quite capacious, you can't put too much in it, because it would be too heavy to carry comfortably on your shoulder or by hand (there are no wheels on this bag), and you might have trouble finding things because the internal space is so big. Put another way, this bag wants to be your handbag, but lacks the enforced discipline of the limited space of a handbag!


The bag weighs 1.2KG when empty. That means on Qantas/Virgin Blue/Tiger Airways, with their 7KG cabin baggage weight allowance you'll have 5.8KG of your allowance left for the bag's contents. Jetstar's more generous 10KG carry-on baggage allowance will leave you with 8.8KG.

It fits airline size requirements, with dimensions of 46 x 37 x 10cm -- total dimensions of 93cm. This fits both the 105cm "small" bag definition used by airlines, and the 115cm "large" cabin bag definition.

For your convenience -- cabin baggage allowance links:  QantasVirgin Blue /  Jetstar  / Tiger Airways

Buying it

Price: $179
Colours: available in chocolate, black and red (burgundy).
Online: Zafino
Warranty: 12 month guarantee covering faulty materials or craftsmanship. Local warranty only (no agreements with luggage repair shops around the world.)
Stockists: Zafino Australia, Madam Charli, The Luggage Professionals.

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