I’m happy to splurge on personal technology and buy the most expensive system with the best spec sheet and optional features, but never when it comes to notebook bags and backpacks. The way I see it, a cheap bag holds my laptop just as well as an expensive one. And while the convenience of added pockets or the appeal of a sturdy zipper is not lost on me, I’ve always thought my money is better spent on more RAM or other features that makes the system better.
So it’s with that preconception I approach the OGIO Renegade RSS laptop bag, which, if not the top of the line, is near it as evident by its $160 price tag and OGIO’s reputation as your boss’s golf/ laptop/ travel bag brand of choice.
At a glance, t’s obvious the OGIO Renegade RSS is a quality item, but is it quality enough to justify its premium price? Read this full laptop backpack review to find out.
Build & Design
OGIO got its start with hard-shell and sleek street-bike bags, and that aesthetic carries over to its Renegade RSS backpack. It comes in one color, black, and sports red and grey accents with very few superfluous design elements, sans the occasional OGIO logo.
The exterior is a combination of 840 denier junior ballistic polyester and 600 denier polyester, which basically means it’s as tough as travel luggage or a suit case (the number refers to the number of threads per inch, with higher numbers reflecting higher qualities; junior ballistic is essentially a lighter version of “senior ballistic,” which is found in body armor). So it’s tough, and I don’t expect any rips or tears, even with constant abuse.
The stitching is also very tough and none of it is exposed. After two long international trips, one demanding tradeshow lugging approximately 10 pounds of gear, and more than 100 miles biking to and from work, I noticed only the slightest tugs on the strap stitching. I’ve had cheaper bags (like the kind they pass out to reporters at tradeshows) have outright ripped following similar abuse.
The OGIO Renegade features five front-facing and dual zippered compartments, two zippered compartments on each side (four total), and one hard-shell zippered compartment on top reserved primarily for glasses. None of the zippers has yet to stick or break, and they all feature a combination of either extended metal and plastic tabs or tabs with sturdy nylon pulls.
The adjustable dual yoke-style shoulder straps also feature an expandable zippered nylon pocket, which OGIO touts for cell phones (though I found it too small for my BlackBerry Curve and 4.3-inch HTC Thunderbolt) as well as an adjustable (vertically and horizontally) clipping sternum strap for extra, and often-times needed, support.
Of course, the Renegade is a laptop bag, and as such has a dedicated laptop compartment that OGIO claims can fit most 17-inch notebooks. I don’t doubt it, as I was able to fit a 17-inch MacBook Pro with room to spare, though the stiff compartment is a bit too snug and thin for older notebooks. Indeed, my work-provided Dell is just under an inch and half thick (it’s also eight years old), and it just barely fits. That said, I also used the compartment for my iPad plus a keyboard case, it was tight enough to keep the jostling to a minimum.
The laptop compartment has two features that really set it apart from the cheap bags, at least I my view. First, it’s lined with red screen friendly-fabric with light foam padding, and it features a suspension system that absorbs shock and protects the laptop in the case of accidental bag drops. I would not check this laptop-loaded bag with TSA on my next flight, but it might be the first that I would actually expect my laptop to come back in piece thanks to the protection.
The red screen-friendly fabric also lines the hard glasses compartment, making it acceptable for unprotected specs storage, as well as an iPad/tablet/eReader pocket in the second section from the front. The main section is a tad bit small for such a large bag (the glasses compartment juts in from the top and takes up space), and I have just enough room for my gym clothes and sneakers. When overstuffed, the main compartment warps the tablet pocket, making it difficult to slide in a rigid and flat device.
Of course, there are various panels, pockets and straps in the other segments, with handy-dandy device icons serving as OGIO’s gear storage suggestions. At first I had trouble filling them all, but eventually found use and now I don’t know how I ever traveled without my antacids, aspirin, three pens, two smartphones, netbook, mouse, tablet, magazines, Kindle, light change of clothes, DSLR, Snickers candy bar, water bottle, tissues, wallet, glasses, passport, and no fewer than three device chargers; all of which I actually all took on my last flight abroad.
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