Ten backpacks for tech-heads
Carry on computing
Product Round-up Whether its kids heading back to school, businessmen smartening up for the autumn slugfest, or campers scraping out the remnants of various summer picnics, there are punters aplenty on the hunt for new travel apparel this month.
And while the traditional shoulder-strap design for laptop bags still adorns the city streets, those with any aspirations to look cool or thwart thieves had better opt for a backpack. Who cares if it invades the personal space of other traveller and sends small children flying with a quick about turn? Your gear needs protection, right?
Here's a look at what's out there and a handful of different designs. I don't have quite as much to pack in my bag as our man with the bananaguard, but I don't want to look like a Mutant Turtle either with a massive bulge on my back. With that in mind, let's offload some baggage.
Acme Made Union Pack
This minimalist backpack from San Francisco-based outfit Acme Made, is unlikely to satisfy teenage fashion cravings, but it's certainly compact enough for everyday use. Made from Acme's exclusive "Bombshell technical fabric" – which is apparently used for protective shelters and truck tarps – the bag definitely appears to provide suitable protection in treacherous conditions.
It'll fit laptops of up to 16in, which slot into the main pocket in a sleeve at the back. There are gaps at the side and bottom of this sleeve, though, so all it'd take is one accidentally-popped Walkers pack and you'd be left with a crummy notebook in need of de-crisping. Other than that, and the chunky plastic zips, it's hard to fault Acme Made's Union Pack, which appeals as one of the more subtle in the roundup. The pocket on the front, lined with felt for smartphone comfort, and the similarly soft tablet sleeve inside, are nice touches too.
Unfortunately, whether due to pricey rugged material, or high-esteem within the field of tech-protection, the Union Pack is rather pricey.
Reg Rating 70%
More info Acme Made
Booq Mamba Daypack
The first thing to strike me with the Booq Mamba Daypack is its sturdy shape retainability, a result of the thick side walling. This means it does stick out a bit more than others, but it's unlikely to bump into commuter faces that much when travelling on packed trains.
The natural-fibre fabric provides a stonewashed appearance, but the Daypack does look like it could get tatty quicker than your average bag. Still, coated in waterproof dye and complemented with YKK zippers, it's well constructed and shouldn't give the bag bullies much scope to pick on little Johnny in the playground.
Inside you'll find a nylon-lined encompassing sleeve for up to 15in laptops, alongside a smaller slot for tablets, a couple for mobile phones and cables, and a spacious void for anything else. A roomy pocket on the front completes the rout.
The back and shoulder straps are lined with airmesh padding, which helps towards minimising sweat patches on sticky days. It's a comfortable fit, and while the design won't appeal to everyone, the price shouldn't be overly off-putting.
Reg Rating 75%
More info Booq
Next page: Crosskase Fusion/Solar
I bought a Crumpler half-photo about a dozen years ago when going on a long trip. I wanted something that could take a fair amount of gear, some knocking about and was waterproof. The only thing I could find was a Crumpler and I haven't regretted it.
They are expensive but do come with a 30yr guarantee. Mine has been sailing trips to Far East, on safari, a round-the-world and Cape-to-Cairo. I've carried laptops, cameras, phones, ext HDDs and accompanying paraphernalia without one item getting damaged or wet. Even when I'm drenched, the insides stay dry.
I cycled for years in London in all weathers and went over the handlebars a few times without any damage or damp.
I was leery of the price when I bought it, but now it seems a bargain, particularly as it's barely marked, has retained its structure and still gets the job done.
No, I don't work for them - it's just nice to get what you pay for and then some...
...worth the money. Mine has been all over the world and is absolutely bulletproof. The Pakuma I had before it fell to pieces in about three months.
What about us bikers?
I've found the kriega ranga to be actually waterproof, as have done long journeys with their tail units (I have a US-20 plus the side attachy bits whatever the model is) in torrential downpours - you know the type that gets your goretex kit thouroughly soked, yet opening the bags I find 100% dry clothes and laptop.
My mate has their backpack jobby and his kit was also dry. Would any of the listed bags be trustworthy in a similar downpour? i.e.: is water resistant the same as actually rain proof?
Re: No Timbuk2?
I'm still rocking a 10+yo Dee Dawg messenger bag. None of your fancy padded backs or a gazillion little pockets to search through when you can't remember which one has your change/notepad/pen/commuter pass. Just a big honkin' waterproof bag with a proper strap. No mesh, no elastic, no apologies and no prisoners. I have a sleeve for my laptop and a pencil case for fiddly bits. My power brick has its own rubbery band thing, and any other cables just get coiled up and tossed in. Works a treat, and since I'm only about twenty years from retirement I don't imagine I'll ever have to replace it.
I see the Swiss pack a lot but personally I use an older Timbuk2 Swig backpack. This is a fairly basic hauler which meets my needs of being big enough to haul an HP 8530W and small enough to fit in a BMW motorcycle saddle bag. Mine was out of date and thus cheap, the newer ones have a nicer back panel and a sternum strap.
Their especial dos and tres are also well regarded.