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back to article Ten backpacks for tech-heads

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 …

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What No...

... 5.11 Rush 24 ?

I've tried so many backpacks to cart around my tech over the years and the Rush 24 is by far the most robust, comfortable and useful bags I've owned.

Looks like it will last forever and although it looks a bit "mall ninja" in black, it doesn't really stand out in a commuter setting.

Fits an X230 in the hydration pocket, a 13" MacBook Pro inside the main pocket and an iPad in the front pocket, along with all the cables, a jacket, umbrella, camera and my lunch. It can even stow a bottle of wine in one of the side pockets too :) That's a bit extreme and I very rarely cart all that around with me (esp. the wine!!), but it can do it if I need to.

The side compression straps make it fairly thin when not lugging much about, but allow it to grow substantially.

I've stuffed it full of clothes and used it as carry on baggage too.

Cheers

Josh

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Devil

Too low rating for swissgear

I have a Hudson (slightly bigger version). However, if the pictures are correct this one has them too:

1. Passport/document pocket on top. Perfect for traveling - you do not spill your overflowing gadget store on the front every time you need to show an ID at an airport check-in.

2. The "document/spare clothes" stores is not big. It is enormous compared to any similar laptop-size/overall size backpack. I used to have a similar size Dicota which could barely fit a few folders there. Here you can fit the spare clothes for a 3 day trip. In fact, there is enough space for documents in the laptop compartment so this one is clearly designed with the techie day trip in mind.

3. Very nice sturdy handle on top - once again, helpful when getting it into and out of luggage racks when traveling.

Downsides: the side braces are a bit fiddly (elastics) and the combination of brace + pocket does not hold a flask very well. That is probably the only area where my old Dicota was better (it had classic belts instead of elastics).

It is definitely the "original" swiss army knife of techie backpacks. You may pay for it, but it works.

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Re: Too low rating for swissgear

Mate of mine came round yesterday with his new 'swiss bag' - it has a generous memory-foam insert that seems to be designed for that moment when you carelessly drop the lappy in the bag.

Just a small but very useful addition.

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Re: Too low rating for swissgear

That quick access top compartment measures up as large enough for a 10" tablet and from experience it certainly copes fine with a 7" tablet even with passport/tickets etc in there as well.

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Re: Too low rating for swissgear

You're not wrong!

Tar for me for a blind fool, but my nexus 7 will fit in that pocket I keep my phone in. My timbers be shivered! How could I have not seen it until now?

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Re: Too low rating for swissgear

the "document/spare clothes" stores is not big. It is enormous compared to any similar laptop-size/overall size backpack

I concur. I have taken to clearing that bag out weekly, because it is entirely possible to forget things in it as it doesn't fill up that quickly. That's also the main disadvantage of this bag - it doesn't stop you sticking half your household in it, you will only notice what you've done when you try to lift it :).

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Re: Too low rating for swissgear

I bought the 'Clutch' model for my wife, and at first she didn't like it (it wasn't pink or have flowers all over), but she takes it to work every night, and loves it. Surprisingly, it still looks brand new, despite her habit of dropping it. Thank goodness for the padding.

We've been on several trips and it's large enough to fit a rather bulky 15 inch laptop, 2 Kindle Fires, 2 MP3 players, and all the accessories and cables to keep them charged and running on the fly. All that and still room for just about anything else we can cram into it's gaping maw.

Here in the states it'll run about $75 USD, I managed to find it on sale for about 64. Worth every penny. Great travel pack.

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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?

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M7S
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Re: What about us bikers?

Water resistant is not the same as rain proof. Technically a sheet of newspaper or a piece of old dishcloth is water resistant. It might only resist for a fraction of a second before succumbing, but it does resist (albeit resistance is in this case futile). It is a meaningless term and should be confined to the marketing bin along with "up to" in broadband offers and suchlike. Buyers of watches etc should be especailly aware if they're thinking of diving. Mind you that's not to say it wont work, I had a cheap water resistant watch that was fine down to over 30m repeatedly. Just that there's no comeback on the vendor if it only performs as described. Caveat emptor.

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Happy

Re: What about us bikers?

Why don't any of thm have high visibility back panels?

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Re: What about us bikers?

I too was wondering how waterproof some of these were. Due to the recent fine weather we've been having a large number of people I work with have discovered that their laptop bags are about as waterproof as a sieve! Even going from the carpark to the office has been enough to kill a lot of them.

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Crosskase Fusion/Solar

You disappointed me there. I was thinking: "who'd get a bag with a solar charger when you can have a portable fusion reactor instead?".

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Boffin

Re: Crosskase Fusion/Solar

Yes, the fusion reactor is much better, because the solar panel is a bit of a giveaway that you're carrying tech.

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Comfort

One of the big criteria for me was comfort. I'm out and about most days and I didnt want something that made me feel like I was about to go trekking (i.e. not too big) and had decent shoulder strap padding. Whilst most of the bags reviewed have sneaky little pockets for this that and the other, they are all on the large side or dont have well padded shoulder straps. The only bag I've found that works for me is the medium Samsonite Pro-DLX. Not cheap, but I've had the equivalent model for 5 years plus now and its still in great shape. It had the best padded shoulder straps I could find, wasnt too big and could get a decent amount of stuff in. I think its well worth a look. And no, I dont work for Samsonite. :)

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Anonymous Coward

How about Pacsafe?

How about Pacsafe?

http://pacsafe.com/www/index.php?_room=3&laptop_bag=1

Good article though.

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Stop

Crosskase Solar

That appears to be a re-branding of the Infinit Solar backpack I bought last year.

The quality was terrible. One of the interior zips wouldn't close (the zipper moved, but the zip stayed open.), several of the seams have come apart and the solar cell was rubbish.

The battery would charge up, but would be flat again in less than a day. It seemed like the solar cell was draining it. I added adaptors to charge my PowerMonkey from the solar cell (It holds it charge perfectly well, normally) and that was flat a day later.

So I'd recommend you avoid this like the plague.

On the other hand, we bought a Wenger backpack for our accountant's birthday, a year ago and that is still a fantastic piece of kit. I think that'll be my next choice.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Some nice designs here. Shame most of them are in dark colours, something a bit brighter for the cyclists amongst us certainly wouldn't go amiss.

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Anonymous Coward

It's ok.....

you don't need to be seen from behind when riding on the pavement and cars tend to stop at red lights, so again, not needed when jumping them.

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All they need is a little pouch

To hold your Apple.

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Crumpler...

...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.

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Crumpler FTW

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...

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Facepalm

Wot no...

Deuter GigaOffice? Roomy, comfy (really nice back system) and you can pick it up for about £55

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I have an old Targus CLC1 Leather Convertible Backpack.

I've packed this pack completely full (Toughbook, portable Canon BJC-50 (sigh, since discontinued), spare printhead, the very nifty IS-12 Scanner printhead, inkjet paper, notepad, pens, mouse, plus all the other usual paraphenalia. The zippers still hold well.

The leather is good quality and the pack looks good. I've gotten compliments about it (and the Toughbook) from the Commissionaires at airport checkpoints. The dividers and pockets are all handy and useful. And the price was reasonable - in 2001, I paid 169$CDN. Bonus: it holds up to 9 floppy disks!

I guess that's why they had to discontinue it.

It'll be a long time before I get another Targus product - their 'lifetime replacement warranty' policy replaces your 'I finally found a case/back/pack that has everything that I want' with a clearly inferior model... (Even when you'd accept having it repaired. When this one breaks, I'll find a good shoe/leather cobbler. Or perpaps get a Rush 24.

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And I have a 12 year old Targus CDB1 backpack.

One of the best items I have ever had. Been all over the world with me. Loads of space and pockets. Still holding up well. Have looked at other bags like in this review but they all look like they are designed for 11 year older or hipsters.

I wish I could find another new CDB1 for when mine eventually gives up the ghost. No chance.

Hohum.

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Headmaster

CompuDay Photo 250 is a seriously snazzy backpack and for under £50

Technically, "£50" is not "under £50"

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WTF?

DSLR?

It's a bit odd that a review of backpacks for computers has as the Editor's Choice "a bag for photographers that ... features a pouch ... for your DSLR". Are all notebook users supposed to own a DSLR and carry it wherever they go? It's a bit like reviewing bikes for commuting and recommending delivery bike because it features a container for your groceries.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: DSLR?

Fair point, but the LowePro is a great bag for your other kit too, it just has the added bonus of a DSLR pocket. That wasn't what skewed the rating by any means. It's compact, well designed, has pockets for all tech and even has a backplate for attaching to suitcases. It is a really impressive backpack either way.

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Pakuma Akara K1

I liked the sound of the K1 but clicking through to Amazon the reviews are abysmal. Most reviews seem to agree that it looks great, is practical, comfortable and will fall apart inside three months.

Might have to be the Swissgear for me then. Thanks Reg.

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Anonymous Coward

My vote went to...

IKEA and their UPPTACKA 2 piece rucksack.

Splits into 2 backpacks (not that I've used that), and is well padded room for two 15" max laptops.

Good internal volume takes loads of gear.

Cheap as chips with a family Card.

http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/60228788/

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Kata

I use a Kata 3n1-22 to carry a laptop and SLR equipment. Very comfortable indeed and it has plenty of high-tech cleverness including the ability to turn into a sling bag for quick access to a camera. It comes with a funky yellow rain cover and the interior is finished in the same bright yellow so no blundering around in the gloom looking for a lens cover.

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rho
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North Face Recon

I've used the North Face Recon for a couple of years now, carrying far more widgets and gadgets than probably should. I've used it as a daypack while camping several times as well.

It's comfortable, it does a pretty good job of keeping my back from sweating too much, and it's absorbed quite a lot of abuse. The big mesh pocket in the front is amazingly useful for oddities of all sorts. The waist strap is useless, as in most daypacks, unless you're five feet tall, but the sternum strap is adjustible vertically, which is helpful for the ladies.

I'd say that I'd buy another one again, except based on the current condition of mine I don't think I'll need to buy another one for a long, long time.

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£50 to £80 for a bag?

Maybe i'm a cheapskate but that just seems crazy money for a rucksack to hold a sarnie, flask and laptop.

TK Maxx did me a Jeep branded thing, full of neoprene, waterproof, rugged, laptop slot against the back that holds my work 15" laptop and, another slot for my personal netbook. Plenty of other room for cables, grub and random tools that i forget about (anyone else got a never used krone at the bottom of their rucksack!?)

£19. Does me fine on the tube and motorbike too.

Reg, any chance of a spread of the cheaper ones for the realists please?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £50 to £80 for a bag?

FYI, LIDL have a nice 'day pack' type rucksack in at the moment for £14.99

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Too many pockets

These things all have too many pockets. I've recently acquired a Cocoon Grid-It to corral the loose stuff so all I need is 2 compartments: one for the lappy/tablet & one for the Grid-It.

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Re: grid-it

Thats genius. Not seen those before, but now I've seen it I want one.

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Angel

Dakine

Nobody has mentioned this company, which does surprise me.

Although what I have would appear to be no longer a current model, and it's got no tag to identify it, something similar is their Duel 26L.

I bought mine in 2008 for £70 (I think - it is 4 years ago), and it's still giving sterling service, having accompanied me all over the country since. It's capable of carrying a Thinkpad T60 (1680 x 1050) with all the bits, all the junk I carry around with me (and that's a lot) and 2/3 days worth of clothing. Only one thing I can fault it on, it only has a carrier for 1 water bottle, otherwise I couldn't recommend it highly enough.

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Pint

No Timbuk2?

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.

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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.

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Stop

Boblbee

and no other.

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Backpacks

An interesting piece. However, I should point out the Kata range. Especially the DR467i. It's much like the Swiss backpack, with a large, padded section for a 17 inch laptop, a good sized section for lunch box, clothes etc, and several pen and iPod pockets. Obviously a thread-hole for earphones. Three small front pockets for necessary items. The big thing, though, is the bottom compartment that will hold a DSLR, lenses and flashguns. Everything easily to hand, and because the whole interior is bright yellow material, it's easy to find things in low light. Apart from that, there is a rain cover to protect the whole bag. Comes with a five year guarantee, and when my handle started to tear away after three years I received a replacement almost immediately. This bag travels with me everywhere as an overnight bag.

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Anonymous Coward

Another "what, no...?"

I would have been impressed to see the inclusion of the laptop variants of the classic Fjallraven Kanken. Bombproof classic Nordic backpacks with more quirky, minimal class than any of the bags you tested, excellent value despite the apparently high prices. Amazing bags.

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Outdoor Products Power Pack

... is my favorite. Easily holds a 17" MacBook Pro. Has plenty of roorm for everything. Is absolutely covered with pockets and spiffy features. The best I've ever found.

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