We had a look at several models in the Dicota range, with our favourites being the Bounce and the Mission. The Dicota Bounce Backpack is a basic case that comes in a variety of sizes depending on your laptop. These slot in a dedicated pocket at the back of the main compartment.
There's a thin pocket opposite it that'll hold tablets, while the front pouch has a couple slots for mobile phones and stationary. Mesh back padding and such compact form makes it a comfortable carry too. The Bounce may only offer minimal protection for tech, but it's fantastic value for money.
Meanwhile, the BacPac Mission, which comes in a variety of sizes, has a more conservative rucksack style. It offers slightly greater comfort than its aforementioned sibling, with thicker mesh padding on the back and straps. There are also two main compartments here.
The rear-most pocket has a single elastic strap for holding laptops in place against the middle wall, rather than the backplate. It doesn't feel like the most secure of fits, but its placement is thoughtful for avoiding contact with the soft sides of the bag itself.
While there's no slot for a tablet, there are plenty of crannies in the front compartment to keep smartphone-sized devices, as well as two smaller pockets on the front face. The BacPac Mission is quite the all-rounder, walking the middle line with masterly balance. It's competitively priced too.
Reg Rating 80%
Price £22 (Bounce) £50 (Mission)
More info Dicota
Lowepro CompuDay Photo 250
Here's a bag for photographers that not only features a pouch for your notebook, but one for your DSLR too. A zip on the side opens to reveal the dedicated snapper pouch, which takes up some room within the main compartment, but is easily squashed aside when there's no camera in place.
The CompuDay Photo 250 has space for 15in lappys, which is quite remarkable considering its compact size. There's also a convenient slot for tablets and a couple that are ideal for phones.
That's just the main area too - there's a secondary pocket with heaps of slots for tech, as well as a zip-pouch on the front. Construction feels of a high standard and with padded straps and backplate, it's a very comfortable carry. As the pic shows, the backpack'll even slot onto your suitcase due to its innovative design.
If you're someone who often brings an expensive camera with you on your travels, then the CompuDay Photo 250 is a seriously snazzy backpack and for under £50, you can't go wrong. By far my favourite here.
Reg Rating 95%
More info Lowepro
Next page: Pakuma Akara K1
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.