I've been looking into getting one of these for quite some time, dithering about price and colour, etc. I knew this was the size I wanted because I needed it to, at the very least, carry my 15" MacBook Pro for travel. So I had to get a black, non? I mean, it was a computer bag, after all, and was going to be dragged through all the elements -- rain, hail, sleet, snow, mud and, if lucky, a little sunshine to boot What other colour could stand up to this abuse? But there was this price issue thing -- how much money was I willing to pay for what was essentially going to be a travel computer bag? (Ignore the fact that I could have gotten a fantastically perfect that would carry my computer and all my lenses for less than a quarter of the price -- I'm a girl and wanted my work bag to be decidedly different.) On the way to realising black was my only choice, I turned down other colours at decent prices and missed out on the one black that Erica (HG Bags) had at a price I could swallow sigh. It just wasn't meant to be. Fast forward a few months when I had just traveled with a truly loathsome computer bag (trams, trains, airplanes, and endless walking as my gate always seemed to be the furthest away) and HG Bags had another sale I was to leave in two days to go visit my father in Hawaii and was dreading lugging my computer and lenses once again when voilà, there it was Not black, mind you, but another colour I had been eyeing -- Smoke. Would Smoke hold up to the elements? Was it really a grey or that putrid colour I'd seen on countless websites? Would I get it in time? Was I mad to spend so much money? The answers: Yes, if you're not fussed by perfection. Not that I could see except the edges, though much better a taupe than I saw on the internet. Yes (have I mentioned how much I adore Erica?). Yes, but no (keep in mind there was an element of retail therapy to this as well). What I didn't realise at the time was that this bag, this monster heavy XL, would be my trusty companion for a lot more than just travel Though for travel, it exceeded expectations and then some. If I'd gotten the black, I doubt I would have done what I did, but my brand new to me (and barely used) Smoke was carried around in Hawaii. There's nothing I hate more than have my hands full of shopping bags when I need them free to photograph if something takes my fancy. The XL took care of this and I was truly amazed at the amount I could pack into it whilst still being able to find my essentials. Back in L.A., I thought my bag would languish Wrong. I ended up having to lug my computer and/or hard drive with me to the service bureau several times and was then stuck carrying it the rest of the day. The XL (and, dare I say, also the fact it wasn't black) was brilliant for this because it never once looked like a computer bag. I never felt silly carrying it, even when I had to take it into an expensive restaurant. In fact, I even started carrying it even when there wasn't a computer to lug -- it was just so functional! I was in love. And everywhere I went, my bag was commented on (including, lol, next to the PS display at Neiman's). My bag, less than a month old, looked as if it had been with me always. It has character beyond belief. Travel back to Paris, and then two weeks across the UK, it was always by my side. I do not think I have ever had a more useful bag in my life! And that lovely little pocket in the back for quick access to boarding tickets and passport, wow! At first I was a bit mistrustful of things falling out but, no, they stayed in place and made for easy access. Now about the weight... There is absolutely no way to lie -- it's heavy. Heavier than I usually care to carry, to be honest. Strangely enough, you can put a lot into it, though, and it never really feels all that much heavier... And, on the plus side, it is so sturdy and well made that I never worried about needing to protect whatever was inside -- be it computer, lenses, camera, or whatnot. It could withstand heavy knocks and the elements. And the colour? I love Smoke and it goes with everything I own -- it's just so neutral. Would I have preferred to be more grey (like the colour I saw in the display)? Yes and no. The colour I have is just so unique that it can go with both warm and cool tones in my wardrobe, winter through summer. A true grey, not so much... On the negative side, after two weeks of non-stop rain (I got off the plane and immediately went on a road trip and so didn't have a chance to change bags), the colour is finally turning. It's getting browner (which I don't mind) and a bit yellower (which I'm not so fond of -- anyone know of a conditioner that will darken the bag or take the yellow out?)... Whatever. I am sure it has many more shades it will go through before I'm done Excuse my babbling, but I know a lot of people want to know about the XL and yet few people get it (or talk about it much)... It's brilliant! Perhaps it's a bit much as an every day bag but, as I can't afford to get all the sizes, I couldn't have asked for anything more.