by Ben Stafford, Ohio USA
The Kensington Contour Backpack won’t be pushing any envelopes of fashion or edginess, but it’s a high-quality, very usable, and comfortable backpack. The Contour has a ton of space and rides very comfortably on your back, thanks to an adjustable lumbar support panel. This bag’s design is so comfortable and wearer friendly that is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association.
This backpack has plenty of space. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to take it on a long trip where I would fill it up quite a bit more. My daily load is an IBM ThinkPad T40, a couple magazines, old pay stubs, a PDA, business cards, and some miscellaneous wires. Even with that list, I’m still under-utilizing this bag. There are three zippered main compartments — small, medium, and large; and two zippered compartments at the bottom of the sides of the pack. On one of those outside pockets, there is an expandable sleeve for a water bottle.
The large zippered compartment has the notebook sleeve in it. It has adequate padding, a Velcro strap, and some elastic panels to allow it to accommodate many sizes of notebooks. (Kensington has a nice “compatibility search” to find which of their products will accommodate your notebook. You can find it here: http://www.kensington.com/compApp/ktgSearchCases.jsp?siteId=2). There is also enough room left over for some papers, magazines, file folders, etc. One minor thing that took a bit of getting used to is that the outside of the bag obstructs the notebook sleeve, so to extract the notebook, you have to “clear” the outside panel of the bag. This could also be a good thing as the obstruction would prevent the computer from sliding out (if you had left the bag open and the Velcro strap undone).
The medium compartment has 4 pockets, of various sizes, in which I store my PDA, cell phone charger and some cables. If you need to, there is more room for flat items (like file folders).
The small compartment has many pockets inside it. This is the only pocket that, when unzipped, opens all the way. The pockets in this compartment are of an “organizer” style — there are tubes for writing tools, small flat sleeves for business cards, etc. There is also a mesh zipper pouch that is good for holding change, keys, or a USB flash drive.
Exterior 15.75″L X 19.5″H X 9.0″W
Computer Compartment 11.5″L X 15.8″H X 1.9″W
The Contour Backpack really feels sturdy. The 1680 denier nylon holds its shape and won’t be flopping over in a corner. The zippers are large and the pulls are plastic coated metal, allowing an easy grip. The straps of the backpack aren’t just attached to the main bulk of the bag — the straps connect seamlessly with the rest of the bag, leaving no seams to rip out. The bottom panel of the bag is a textured flexible plastic panel, resistant to scuffing and absorption of whatever exists on airport bathroom floors. There is also a carrying handle underneath where the straps join the bag – which is always a nice feature to have. To back up the nice build quality of the bag, Kensington attaches their Lifetime Warranty.
The backpack is also very comfortable to wear. The highlight comfort feature is the adjustable lumbar panel. Behind the padded mesh panel (for keeping you cool) on the human side of the backpack, there is a slit down the center of the pack to let you adjust the lumbar panel. This panel consists of a wide panel (the width of the backpack) with a convex curve to match the curve of your lumbar area. Depending on your height, you should adjust this lumbar panel to rest in your lumbar curve. There are 4 numbered positions, with 4 being the tallest position and 1 being the shortest. The adjustment slides the wide plastic panel up and down a little track in the middle of the bag.
Even without this lumbar panel, the bag would still be very comfortable. The shoulder straps are padded nicely and are curved to allow the upper portions of the straps to rest parallel to your body and the lower portions to curve out and back around your body. There is also a waist strap for those long hauls with a heavy load.
The Kensington Contour Backpack is a very comfortable backpack with lots of storage. With all that storage, you can really load yourself down, but the adjustable lumbar support distributes the weight well. The build quality of this bag is also excellent. At a retail of $69.99, it’s not the cheapest bag, but well worth the dollar amount, especially with a lifetime warranty from Kensington.
- Comfortable to wear, even with heavy loads
- High quality, durable construction
- Plenty of storage space with many pockets to help organize
- Too much bag for light loads
- Not terribly trendy (then again, this is part of Kensington’s “Executive” line, so what did you expect?)
You can buy directly from Kensington for $69.99 (click Buy Now) or from other online retailers (click Online Retailers) from the product page: http://www.kensington.com/html/4727.html