Booq Boa 3 Backpack Review

by Reads (24,613)

by Jerry Jackson

The Booq Boa 3 Backpack is a notebook backpack designed for creative professionals and business travelers looking for a durable backpack with a deceptively large amount of storage. The attractive black and red design and rugged construction conceal your mobile office, and Booq even offers a way to help you locate your lost bag. We took a closer look to see if this premium business backpack is worth a premium price.

The Booq Boa 3 Backpack comes in several sizes: the Boa 3L (designed to fit most 15"-17" laptops) and the Boa 3M (designed to fit most 13"-15" laptops). We tested the smaller Boa 3M for this review and I spent several weeks putting the bag through some torture tests, including a few trips.

Booq Boa 3M Backpack Specifications

  • Exterior Dimensions: 17" x 15" x 5.5"
  • Compartment Dimensions: 14.2" x 10.9" x 1.6"
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs.
  • Black ballistic nylon with water-repellant coating
  • Oversized YKK high-performance zippers
  • HD foam laptop compartment
  • Adjustable laptop compartment size with two removable padded inserts
  • Side pockets for phone, music player or water bottle
  • Bag carries a unique ID number used for Booq’s Terralinq Service
  • Limited 5-year warranty
  • MSRP: $215


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Design and Aesthetics

The Booq Boa 3 is an odd mix of innovative design and conservative styling. The exterior is made out of black 1680 denier ballistic nylon and waterproof coatings which – while extremely durable – isn’t the most pleasing fabric to touch. Many other bag manufacturers have started using materials such as rubberized polyurethane, suede, and other materials with softer or smoother textures to make backpacks feel less like a military rucksack. Not so with the Boa 3.

In fact, the design of the Boa 3 actually has a lot in common with older rucksack style backpacks used by militaries around the globe. That’s not necessarily an bad thing since this design helps the Boa 3 accommodate an impressive number of storage compartments and maximize the total storage capacity in a very small footprint. What makes the Boa 3 more aesthetically pleasing is the combination of attractive stitching and red accents.

Starting at the front of the bag, there is what seems to be an ordinary, average sized accessory pocket. When you unzip it, however, it reveals one of the trademarks of Booq Bags … an individual Terralinq number for the Booq website. Terralinq is an online service where owners of Booq bags can register their bag. Should a registered bag be reported as lost and found, Terralinq will attempt to contact you with a bag’s location and the finder’s contact information.

Of course, in order for Terralinq to work you have to register your bag and the person who finds it has to contact Terralinq.

Above the larger storage compartment on the front of the bag is a smaller one perfect for smaller items like pens, business cards or USB flash drives. Both the upper and lower storage pockets are great for smartphones, wallets, checkbooks, a mouse and other small accessories. I keep mentioning a range of accessories because these pockets are well designed and aren’t very restrictive regarding what you can or can’t place inside. There is also a small key ring for holding your keys in place when inside the bag.


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After these smaller pockets comes the main storage compartment. It is a zip-down pocket and has multiple zippered mesh pockets and an elastic sleeve. This is also where the expanding dual file folder is located. This section is perfect for storing large computer accessories, books, folders, or anything that you can fit within the main storage pocket. I even stored a digital SLR camera with a large lens inside another camera case inside this compartment. Again, the Boa 3 is deceptively spacious despite the modest exterior dimensions.


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What would a laptop backpack be without a laptop compartment? This compartment can hold up to a 15.4" widescreen notebook comfortably. It lacks a Velcro strap to secure a laptop in place, but the surrounding padding provides excellent cushion thanks to high-density foam padding. The laptop compartment also features two removable side inserts to help give your laptop the perfect fit.


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On each side of the bag are two additional zippered pouches, perfect for bottled water, power adapters. These two massive side compartments are largely responsible for giving the Boa 3 its "rucksack" appearance. Like the rest of the backpack, these storage pockets are spacious and well designed.

The back of the bag exceptionally well padded and features excellent ventilation. The shoulder straps and waist/stomach strap are also quite comfortable. One minor omission is the lack of a luggage trolley pass-through.


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In Use

The exterior material is tough so it can stand up to a lot of traveling and the extremely durable, oversized YKK exterior zippers provide smooth pulls. The zippers don’t interlock so you cannot add a small padlock for safety.


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There are two convenient storage pouches located on the shoulder straps, both of which can accommodate a cell phone or music player. Although, I typically prefer removable mobile phone pouches, I must confess that I really like the design of these pouches.


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The bag has fantastic padding on both the shoulder straps and back. The padding was both well-cushioned and breathable so sweat didn’t accumulate after hours of wearing the backpack. The stomach strap was likewise ergonomic and well padded.

The laptop compartment is big and well padded. The only thing I really didn’t like about this bag was the lack of a retention strap inside the laptop compartment. Yes, most people don’t use them, but I like the added security of a retention strap for my expensive laptop.

One of the "good problems" I ran into while using the Boa 3 is that there are so many storage pockets (more than you typically see on a backpack of this size) that it’s easy to forget where stuff is. I let my wife borrow the Boa 3 for a business trip and she called me to tell me she forgot her laptop power adapter … only to discover she had packed it inside one of the storage compartments she forgot about.

Of course, another thing to consider is price. At a starting price of $215, it’s safe to say there will be quite a few people who have trouble justifying the purchase of this backpack. The Boa 3 features some of the best construction and design I’ve seen on any backpack so the price isn’t too bad for what you get, but $215 is a little more than most consumers are willing to spend on a bag.

Conclusion

The Booq Boa 3M backpack is perfect for a road warrior. It’s not too flashy, it’s comfortable to wear and it has a ton of pockets for organization packed in a relatively compact bag.

If you’re looking for a stylish backpack with excellent build quality and tons of storage space, the Booq Boa 3 could be for you.

Pros

  • Roomy, easy to stay organized
  • Perfect for traveling
  • Durable fabric, solid hardware, smooth zippers
  • Excellent padding
  • Terralinq service is nice … if used

Cons

  • Laptop compartment needs retention strap
  • One color option
  • So many storage pockets you forget where stuff is

Pricing and Availability

The Booq Boa 3M Backpack can be purchased via the Booq website, or through an authorized vendor.


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