by Tim Utecht
What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Switzerland? Most likely you thought of Swiss cheese, the Alps, or a Swiss Army Knife. Sadly, a lot of people have not heard about the amazing notebook products made by Wenger (who also makes the Swiss Army Knife). I got the SwissGear Synergy backpack which can hold a 15” - 15.4” widescreen notebook. This rugged backpack also has plenty of room for all your text books as well as notebook accessories.
My new backpack! (view large image)
Specifications and Features:
When I first got the Synergy the first word that came to my mind was “durable”. From the reinforced handle, to the oversized zipper, this backpack appears to be built like a tank. Thankfully, all this toughness doesn’t compromise the SwissGear Synergy’s comfort. This backpack comes with shock absorbing shoulder straps, air flow back padding and a feature that I have never seen before called the CaseBase stabilizer platform.
This handle is VERY tough. Also notice the durable oversized zippers! (view large image)
I use the Synergy daily to carry my books around at school. Normally I pack around 28 pounds of gear – including a laptop and textbooks. If that wasn’t enough, I have to trek up 66 stairs twice a day. With most other backpacks I would be sore at the end of the week, especially on the shoulders. However, the SwissGear Synergy backpack is extremely comfy. It has shock absorbing shoulder straps which help when walking up and down all of those steps. There is also some very nice padding on the back which helps with air flow.
The Synergy is large but comfortable (view large image)
The very first compartment has some assorted pockets. You can keep some business cards in this section, and of course Wenger included a knife pocket (Swiss Army Knife not included though).
Very nice knife pocket (view large image)
The largest partition holds all my text books for all four of my classes. My previous backpack had trouble fitting everything in there; however the SwissGear Synergy backpack can hold it all (and probably more if I tried). This section also contains the CaseBase stabilizer platform which you can flip up or down to help conserve space when you are not using this area.
Unbelievably large compartment (view large image)
The Synergy can hold some folders, a Chemistry textbook and Human Anatomy textbook and lab manual! (view large image)
The iPod/Music player pocket (as in other backpacks) lacks in functionality. Unless you are double jointed you won’t be able to get at the iPod while wearing the Synergy. If you have a playlist and you don’t need to adjust the volume then the pocket will be fine. At the very least you can use it to hold your portable music player in place.
iPod pocket (view large image)
The notebook pocket on the Synergy is slightly different than my previous backpack. The notebook is held in place by an elastic strap that runs down the middle of the padding. A clip holds the laptop in place. The clip is made out of a plastic but it seems strong enough to withstand some abuse.
Elastic strap is connected with a plastic clip (view large image)
Unlike other backpacks that I have seen, the Synergy holds the notebook against the center wall of the backpack and not against the wearers back. This adds another layer of padding between your notebook and the outside world. However, I was slightly disappointed that the Synergy didn’t have padding running down the middle elastic strap of the notebook pocket. They called this feature COMP-U_FLEX, but I am not sure why you would want that pocket to expand. In my opinion this loss of padding shouldn’t affect your notebook since it is more in the center of the Synergy backpack.
The notebook is centered towards the middle of the Synergy (view large image)
Another view of the notebook pocket (view large image)
In conclusion, the Wenger SwissGear Synergy backpack is an extremely durable product. Thankfully they didn’t skimp on comfort. Although it has a couple of quirks, it is a really nice backpack. The Synergy will be a backpack that I will enjoy for many years to come.
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