With notebooks getting thinner and lighter, it doesn't make much sense to carry one in a heavy backpack. We're on a mission to bring you reviews of the sleekest and lightest notebook backpacks on the market and the first entry is the MT Speed Pac from Sumdex. At 2.2 pounds it's one of the lightest on the market and fits a 14" wide screen laptop with ease.
The MT Speed Pac comes in black or blue water repellant nylon. Our review pack is the blue color, but it's very low key, more like blue-tinted silver. When I pulled the Speed Pac out of the box, I was immediately stunned by the weight. When buying a notebook it's easy to get wrapped up in which one is heavier than the other, but if the pack you're carrying it in adds a bunch of weight, that's another problem that's often overlooked. Sumdex has managed to maintain a surprisingly high quality, seemingly cutting no corners to drop pounds.
The sides of the pack have two mesh pockets, both with plenty of room to store a bottle of water, or your beverage of choice. On top is a large rubber handle, great for picking up or hanging the pack. The shoulder straps are thin but nicely contoured, making for a very comfortable fit. They're easily adjustable, but I found the most comfortable setting to be the shortest.
The back of the pack is lightly padded, but still appropriate for the purpose of the bag. The bottom has a great padded lumbar support, probably the most comfortable of any pack I've reviewed. Since the pack sits a little higher on the back, this extra padding fills the natural curve in the back quite well.
The pack has four compartments, one large one for the notebook and three smaller pockets for accessories and such.
The main compartment houses the notebook pouch. As noted, it comfortably holds a 14" wide screen notebook and nearly swallows my tiny Fujitsu P7010. The pouch is fixed in the bag and secured by a wide Velcro strap. It also features Sumdex's ImpactGuard material on the bottom, which is great. Many backpacks neglect padding the bottom well, which is a shame, since that's where most impact damage will occur. The Speed Pac is light on padding everywhere else, but they got the most important spot. The main compartment also has plenty of room for a few text books, magazines, files or cords/accessories. There's also a slim compartment that is secured with a Velcro patch and is deep enough to hold a few CD cases or other accessories, like my headphones and Verizon air card.
Moving toward the front, the next pouch unzips to reveal a compartment about six inches deep. I use it to hold gum and other essentials, but it will fit CD's or other electronic gadgets like an MP3 player.
The next pouch unzips like a horseshoe, revealing several smaller compartments inside. A clear pouch for business cards is on one side, with pen holders, mesh zippered pocket, small Velcro covered pocket, larger Velcro pocket and clip lanyard. I used this area to house my digital camera, USB drives and other small electronics. It's also a great place to store school supplies or whatever else you carry about that's small.
The last pouch on the front is small and narrow, less than five inches deep and four inches wide. I can't fit my entire hand inside, so I just used it for change. It would also be fine for things like memory cards, USB drives or whatever else you can easily fish out.
I'm a big fan of Sumdex's clean design and the light weight of the MT Speed Pac won me over in the first 30 seconds. I just despise carrying a ton of weight, especially at trade shows where I'll wear a pack with all of my gear for an entire day. The reality is, the longer you carry a backpack, the more a pound here and there makes a difference. The Speed Pac is the first very lightweight unit I've used that doesn't make many sacrifices. They've offered padding where it's needed, and given users plenty of room for storage. It's also comfortable, especially with the lumbar support. Large people might feel a little out of place with such a small pack, but at 5' 10" I felt very comfortable with it.
There's really not much to dislike about the Speed Pac. Sure it could have more padding, bigger pockets and extra features, but it wouldn't weigh 2.2 pound either. For the minimalist who wants a backpack that's not heavier than their notebook, this is a great choice.
If you want one of the lightest backpacks on the market that will accommodate notebooks up to 14" wide, then the Speed Pac should be on your short list.
The Sumdex MT Speed Pac has an MSRP of $129.95. More information can be found at the Sumdex website.
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