Why I returned the Hard Graft Flat Pack for 15″ Retina MacBook Pro

by Sam Barillaro. 14 Comments

This post was originally going to be my review of the Hard Graft Flat Pack for 15″ Retina MacBook Pro. I’m not sure I used the bag long enough to warrant this being called a review, but at £235, the Flat Pack is an expensive bit of kit and I would like to have known a little more about it before I went ahead with the purchase.

A review by Ben Brooks praising this very product spurred me to write this post. This is an expensive product and most people will (should) do some research before biting the bullet. Ben mentions what he calls, “minor sticking points…” that in my opinion are major.

Let me clear up a few things before I go on.

  • I had been eyeing out Hard Graft products for months. These are great looking products and the materials are premium, hence their price.
  • What was I looking for? A nice looking, slim bag that would carry my laptop. One that would last me for many years to come.
  • This isn’t a review on Hard Graft or their other products.
  • I had my Flat Pack for less than a week. Hard Graft’s return policy meant I had to make my decision briskly.

The 15″ Flat Pack is all about form, not function.

Shoulder Strap & Carrying Position

The shoulder strap is attached to the bag at a ninety degree angle. There is no hinge, so the strap can’t move around depending on where your holding your bag (the bag does have a hinge, please see update below). The bag seems to be designed to carry along your back, not to your side. This may be suitable for the 13″, but I found the 15″ too big to sit along my back comfortably. With the ends of the bag sticking out too far for my liking.

This is the 13″ being carried.

The bag looks great. But looking great doesn’t always mean it’s going to be comfortable. There’s a lip along the edge of the bag. This lip sticks into you when you’re carrying the bag. This is probably the most minor point I’ll make, as the leather would wear in eventually and you would feel this less.

Interior Lacks Some Essentials

The bag is very simple on the inside. There is no padding. No separator, just one big space. There are two smallish open pockets along one interior wall of the bag. Not the most useful of pockets as things can easily fall out if the bag is tipped to the side. No separator also means you have to worry about your laptop getting scratched if you start to put other items in along with it.

Those sunglasses aren’t going to be lasting too long in there.

This is all fair enough. The bag isn’t designed to carry a lot. Only the essentials. This is what I was looking for in a bag. Or at least what I thought it was.

I don’t like carrying my charger with me when I can avoid it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t consider it to be essential. You cannot comfortably or safely fit a charger in the Flat Pack along with your laptop. The only safe place I could put the charger was in one of the open pockets, so as not to scratch the laptop. This would cause a huge bulge out of the back of the bag. Meaning it would stick into your back when trying to carry it. I couldn’t help but feel this would also put pressure on the expensive Retina screen, as it was quite a tight fit. If I’m going to spend this much money on a laptop bag, I need to be able to carry my charger.

I don’t like the look of that zipper on the back of the iPad.

The Zipper

The biggest issue I had with the Flat Pack is the zipper. It’s a big steel zipper that looks nice and works well. The problem is that you have to be extra careful not to scratch your laptop every time you put it in and take it out. You have to ensure the zipper is open the whole way before taking the laptop out and still be careful not to scratch it along the open zipper. This is not acceptable in a laptop bag. Especially not one that costs this much. This was the nail in the coffin for me. A great looking bag that just isn’t functional.

There’s nothing separating your laptop from the zipper.


When I was first looking to purchase the Hard Graft Flat Pack 15″, I looked over these images countless times. Yes, all the images used in this post are from the Hard Graft site. It was all right there, yet I didn’t see what I see now, not until I was able to try the bag out in person. I wanted to love this bag. I guess that’s normal when you buy an expensive, premium product. You sometimes convince yourself it was worth it. In the case of the 15″ Flat Pack, I’m glad I didn’t.


Ben Brooks has featured this article as an alternate view to the Hard Graft Flat pack, of which I am grateful. This was the very intention I had when writing this article. To give people an alternate point of view on what is a subjective matter.

Ben mentions I had made a mistake in my article in regards to the hinge of the bag. I must have missed that the strap does turn away from the hinge. It must be quite tight at first, as I had tried several times to move the bag into different positions and move the hinge around. This is no doubt something that will loosen over time. In my opinion, I still don’t think the bag is designed to be held to your side. Even if the hinge turns, the part connected to the bag is at 90 degrees and will still pull at the bottom. However, I can’t speak of this in certainties as I no longer have the bag.

Update 2

I think I’ve found my ideal laptop bag: The Knomo Kobe Messenger Bag.