As the Red Oxx CPA is essentially a larger version of the Metro, this will be a brief look at the bag; I encourage you to check out my original Metro review:  Red Oxx Metro Briefcase / Daily Bag.

Here’s the CPA in Red Oxx’s “Bordeaux” color (both bags are available in 12 colors):

Red Oxx CPA - front

A quick shot of the rear of the bag; note the zippered compartment which runs its width.  Although this pocket has “no” depth, I’ll occasionally place my T42 ThinkPad in it when the bag’s main compartment is close to full and I’m just commuting between home and work.  The excellent Red Oxx Claw strap is standard:

Red Oxx CPA - rear panel

A comparison of the two bags.  I measured the bottom width of the Metro at 4-5/8″; the CPA is 2″ wider.

Red Oxx Metro & CPA

Here’s a shot that’ll give you an even better idea of their relative widths:

Red Oxx Metro & CPA

Both bags feature two heavy duty mesh side dividers.  One (top in this photo) features a couple of open pockets and several pen slots.  This one is open at its bottom, i.e., it’s not secured to the floor of the bag.  Normally not an issue, if you put something flexible like a magazine in this divider, it’ll slip beneath the divider’s bottom:

CPA - inside mesh dividers

The divider on the opposing side:  this one’s fixed at the bottom.  As you can see, both feature polymer latches.  Those are my frequent flyer cards in the middle pocket below.  Keep in mind that none of these pockets are zippered or held closed in any manner.  In the unlikely event that your bag is upended, the contents will fall out:

CPA: mesh divider

Below:  a comparison of the two bags with the same load, CPA on top; note that the Metro is bowed out a bit as this is about as much as it can handle.  In each case there’s room for a power brick, coffee mug, etc. on the end.  8½” x 14″ documents fit with ease.  Both bags’ length is right at about 20″; I’ll print the Red Oxx specs below. Note also:  the outer walls and floor of the bag are padded with closed cell foam padding, which protects your items and gives the bag structural integrity.

Red Oxx CPA with Think Pad, portfolio, folders, etc.

Red Oxx Metro:  with Think Pad, portfolio, papers, etc.

A few detail shots…

As always, Red Oxx’s attention to detail and the robustness of the materials used is mind boggling.  Mil-spec snap hook, #10 YKK zipper below:

Red Oxx CPA:  hardware and zipper detail

The end of the Claw strap, bearing the Red Oxx web address.  Stitching is uniform and flawless:

Red Oxx CPA:  strap detail; Red Oxx website address

These chain-type YKK’s are even more impressive person, and are pilfer- and tamper proof:

Red Oxx CPA:  #10 YKK chain type zippers throughout

Mil-spec snaps are used on the front pockets and handle closure:

Red Oxx CPA:  Mil-spec snaps on handle & front pockets

One of the zippers and shoulder strap buckle:

Red Oxx CPA:  detail shot

A shot of the two front pockets, which are capable of swallowing a lot of gear; the male snaps are mounted on loops which make closing the flaps a…   well, you know:

Red Oxx CPA:  front pockets

These bags are built to last decades, and are covered by Red Oxx’s lifetime warranty:

Red Oxx CPA:  YKK zipper detail

Specifications

  • Claw shoulder strap
  • Fabric:1000 weight urethane coated, Dupont certified Cordura nylon
  • All zippers #10 YKK self locking
  • Thread: #92 bonded SolarMax nylon
  • All seams double stitched and bound
  • 3250 welded D-rings, nickel plated
  • Stainless steel Mil spec snaps with Red Oxx logo
  • Zip knots on all zippers
  • Heavy duty luggage tag
  • Embroidered patch logos
  • Box stitched on carrying handles
  • 4 lb.closed cell foam padding
  • Available in 12 colors
  • Dimensions: 17″L x 7″W x 11″H  (NOTE:  Metro dimensions, per Red Oxx – 17″L  x 3.5″W  x  11″H)
  • Capacity: 1,309 Cubic Inches
  • Made in USA
  • Lifetime Warranty

You may notice a discrepancy between what I reported above for the bag’s length and Red Oxx’s specs immediately above.  A clarification:  17″ is the width of the front panel.  In actual fact, unless you are placing items which are exactly 17″ long in the bag – and a lot of them, so the bag is packed full – the effective length is greater, given the flexible Cordura walls.

Finally, the dimensions I provided for the widths of the two bags are based on measuring the seam to seam width of the bags’ bottom panels.  They do not reflect extra width from the front pockets protruding a bit.

Which one’s right for you?

If you frequently carry a laptop and lots of folders or other materials, go with the CPA.  If you are mostly carrying a padfolio or portfolio, some folders and magazines, and occasionally hauling a laptop, the Metro should suffice.  Having used both, I’ve stuck with the Metro.

If you’d like to see other photos or details, let me know.

The CPA is made in Montana; $150 (The Metro is $140).  See both at the Red Oxx website:  Red Oxx CPA Briefcase; Red Oxx Metro Briefcase

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25 Comments on Quick Review: Red Oxx CPA Briefcase

  1. MichaelW says:

    Could you use the CPA for an overnight bag – on a pleasure trip with fewer business items but a netbook, toiletries, light travel clothing?

    Can the CPA pass muster as a “personal item” when used in conjunction with a more sizeable “carryon” piece?

    If you were dropped into Manhattan and were going to visit the Metropolitan Museum, ride the subways, try to find some pizza in the village – and wanted to carry a fleece, rain shell, watch cap, PROBABLY iPod Touch for newsreading but MAYBE a netbook –

    Which one would you use?

    Would adding the Absolute Strap to the CPA influence your answer?

    Thanks as always!

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    You could certainly use the CPA as an overnight bag if your trip required casual or business casual clothing AND you’re a light packer.

    You could probably get away with the CPA as a personal item, although you’re always subject to the whims of gate agents.

    As for your NYC question, absolutely.

    The strap’s got nothing to do with it – in this case, it’s probably as much the color as anything else!

    kc

    [Reply]

    Luke Reply:

    Kevin,

    If you were going on a 1-2 night trip, and needed to have a briefcase at your destination, do you think that the CPA wpuld work if you used something like an Eagle Creek Pack-It folder? Or would you use something like the AirBoss and pack the Metro in the center section? I ask becase my most likely travel in the future will be just this, 3 days 2 nights, and going directly to the airport on the final day, with no need for a laptop. Casual or Business Casual factory visits. I’m also looking for a slightly larger bag than the Metro for daily use. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Luke,

    The Air Boss is IMO overkill for quick trips. If you pack light, you’ll be able to make the CPA work, particularly if it’s casual or biz casual and one pair of shoes will suffice. Taking this a step further, no question whatsoever if you limit yourself to one pair of (dark) slacks.

  2. Luke says:

    So have you gone back to the Metro instead of the Maxpedition MPB? How does the compare in carrying capability to the MPB? Last question, will it fit in the center compartment of an AirBoss with what you would consider a normal load?

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Luke,

    The MPB is on the shelf as I search for magnets that are powerful enough for its briefcase handles’ wrap. I like the size of that bag and the plethora of pockets, but as is likely obvious to everyone, I’m a big fan of Red Oxx; even if I fix the MPB’s issues, I’ll likely stick with the Metro.

    The CPA will fit in the middle compartment of the Air Boss with difficulty. It’s just a bit too large.

    [Reply]

    Luke Reply:

    Kevin,

    Thanks. I’ve been debating which bag to get, and this is excatly the kind if info that I have needed. With all three bags in the same price range, its been a tough decision.

    [Reply]

  3. Luke says:

    Sorry about the quick reply before. Thanks for the review, Kevin. I am trying to decide betwen the metro and the CPA, and this will help a lot.

    [Reply]

  4. Michael W. says:

    The published “width” for the Metro – 3.5″ per the stats you include, are quite narrower than your 4 5/8″ measured width from bottom seam to bottom seam – yet the CPA published vs. measured figures are much closer.

    What gives?

    4 5/8″ on a Metro would work for me. I don’t think 3.5″ would. I wonder if your Metro is a manufacturing variation, or if they changed dimensions? Arghh.

    Luke, would you need to squash the Metro or CPA flat to place in your Aeronaut, or leave it square and fill it up? I don’t think either bag will flatten well, due to the foam filled floor. I have an old Land’s End canvas briefcase (Square Rigger?) that WILL flatten out but it’s just unfinished, unlined canvas panels….

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Michael,

    You’re the only reader who noticed (or noticed & commented). My measurements are correct. I suspect it’s just a typo on the Red Oxx site. 3.5″ would be too narrow to be useful.

    [Reply]

    Luke Reply:

    The Metro is sized to fit in the Air Boss, Red Oxx highlights this on their site. I should be able to put a normal load in it, and still fit into the Air Boss. The idea, is that it stays in the bag until I am at my seat on the plane, and then The Metro goes under the seat, and the Air Boss goes in the overhead.

    [Reply]

  5. Sunny says:

    Regarding the different measurements, when I look at the picture of the Metro it appears that the bottom is wider then the top. Could this be where the difference of measurements comes from? I recall from reading a customer review somewhere – I believe it was for the Metro – that they were impressed at how well the slim Metro would not fall over when placed on the floor or table. That was one of the things that stuck in my head when I was looking at different bags before choosing the Metro to put on my wish list for Christmas.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Sunny… great thought. But… I just measured the top of both bags. The Metro has a few file folders with papers, a few magazines, no laptop; the CPA is empty. The Metro’s top, side to side, measured in the middle of the bag, is ~5″; the CPA, same measurement, ~6″.

    And I should clarify my answer regarding whether the CPA would fit in the middle compartment of the Air Boss. If loaded, it wouldn’t. Empty, and you were to compress it with a strap or something like a bungee cord so that the bottom surface folded in on itself, it would.

    [Reply]

  6. Bob says:

    How does it compare to the Gator?

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Bob,

    I have no direct experience with the Gator; perhaps someone else can comment. To my knowledge, the Gator is more of a gadget or utility (camera, perhaps) bag; it’s only about 12″ long. The CPA and Metro are intended as briefcases which can also handle laptops. The photos at the Red Oxx site are excellent (check out the “Additional Photos” on the Gator page) — they’ll give you a pretty good idea. Like the CPA and Metro, the Gator does include closed cell foam padding on its walls and base.

    Kevin

    [Reply]

    MichaelW Reply:

    I own the Gator – actually I bought two, the first one was begged off me by my wife’s niece who wanted to use it as a small travel bag – and I used mine as a “daily carry bag” for over a year.

    It’s about the size of a classic airlines’ flight bag; maybe like a large lunchbox; fatter than a typical briefcase, but also shorter and not as long.

    It’s a very nice size for travel and daily carry (if you don’t need to carry a large computer – although it will take a netbook; or folders, although it swallows up my mail). The only negative is it is a little fat, and juts out a little when you carry it.

    I found it to be a very useful, handy, well-organized alternative to that old standby, a small daypack.

    [Reply]

  7. Bob says:

    I bought the Air Boss and the Gator gator after reading the reviews here and at Doug Dyment’s onebag.com and I love both of them. I use the Gator as a daily carry. It’s a little chunky and too small for all the crap I want to carry in it, but oddly this is an advantage since it makes me reconsider what I really need to carry. My netbook (EeePC) just fits and leaves enough room for a notepad and a book.

    Both the Metro and the CPA look like a good size but I worry that either will encourage me to cart around a lot more junk than I actually need. Maybe I’ll get one when my Gator wears out. ;)

    [Reply]

    MichaelW Reply:

    According to RedOxx spec’s, the volume on the Gator and Metro are remarkably similar, about 600 c.i. for the main compartment only. But the Metro is thinner, longer, taller, the space is laid out differently. Better for a larger laptop or legal pads, worse for fat water bottles.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    I think I’m going to buy a Gator and use it as a camera bag for my Nikon D80.

    [Reply]

    Michael W. Reply:

    Did you ever get the Gator?

    Kevin Reply:

    MW: nope. Too many bags on hand already!

    Michael W. Reply:

    Sorry for the delay in this update. I did order the Metro. My Gator was packed. I transferred everything from the Gator to the Metro expecting to gain some space. NO! Red Oxx is correct. Although visually the Metro seems larger than the Gator, in reality they have the same volume, just laid out differently, as my transfer of contents confirmed.

    [Reply]

  8. Luke says:

    Kevin,

    THanks for the reply. One question that I meant to ask earlier is under the conditions that I described above, would you pick the Western Flyer or the CPA for the trip? Not having either, I will most likely be in the market that scould serve that purpose, and if the CPA would work, I’d be inclined to get it as something that I could use almost everyday over the more specialized Western Flyer. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Luke, given your description, I’d go with the CPA – of course, I’m assuming that you won’t be bringing along a ton of paperwork or books.

    [Reply]

    Luke Reply:

    I’d be going very minimal on the paperwork and the books. I’ve recently picked up a Dell Streak to try to replace my personal laptop while traveling, and if it would be a rare for me to have to take my laptop for work on one of these trips. The Streak, my Nook and work issued Blackberry would be the electronics, with a magazine for the beginning and ending of trip, and I would have my notebook for taking notes while at my meetings. I’m thinking about adding a portable bluetooth keyboard to the the electronics just to make email easier. The only possible second pair of shoes would be a set of shower shoes so that I could wouldn’t have to alk around the hotel barefoot.
    If I would have to take a bunch of paper with me, I’d probably just take the AirBoss with the Metro tucked in the middle, and take the hit on the extra weight.

    [Reply]

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