After owning a JanSport laptop backpack that fell apart within a year I was on the hunt for a new laptop backpack. My dismal experience with a “reputable” brand left me looking for something with lasting, superb quality. I was also disappointed with the JanSport laptop sleeve as it did not provide enough padding around the laptop. I frequently bike around with my notebook so shock protection and padding is essential. I own a 15.4″ Asus Z70V, here’s a review if you haven’t seen it yet. I am a University student and so generally am carrying books around so the backpack I was looking for needed to have plenty of space available. I also extensively use an iPod and so wanted a pouch for that.
In summary what I was looking for in my hunt for a laptop backpack was the following:
- Hardback and good laptop protection. Enough to easily withstand any bumps I encounter biking around.
- MP3 player pouch
- Lots of space.
- Around $100
I started by checking out most, if not all, of the retailers mentioned in a great compilation of notebook bags, sleeves, and their respective retailers put together by sonicdivx in the NotebookReview.com forums, props to him.
From that research the ones I felt were the best were:
- Mobile Edge’s Premium Backpack
- Victorinox’s Menash Backpack
- Some of Booq’s products were good, but pricy…
I in fact ordered Mobile Edge’s backpack as it was one of the few with a review, something I hope this remedies, but it seemed to be low quality in terms of durability and the laptop was not fully covered by the sleeve. There was however a lot of space. So depending upon your needs this might suit you. If you have a very small notebook it may fit your notebook completely and thus have good protection. I however, returned it.
I was then browsing around town and walked into a backpacking / hiking store and stumbled upon several amazing packs and realized that maybe I need to look into laptop packs from similar hiking-based manufacturers.
The best I found in this vein were:
I looked at all of them and finally decided on the Osprey Focus. It exuded durability, is backed by a lifetime guarantee, and fulfilled all the criteria I was looking for. The Dakines were very nice though but didn’t have the hard back or have the same level of laptop protection. They had cool CD sleeves though.
The Osprey Focus
The bag consists of two primary pockets. The first contains the laptop sleeve and plenty of space for books etc. The sleeve is also suspended above the bottom of the bag by a mesh lining that extends around its sides as well and provides a snug fit. Above the sleeve there is the mp3 player pouch that feeds into an opening on the back. It also doubles as the closure for the laptop sleeve. The second pocket has ample space and has an organizer pouch with a zipper that may be useful.
The laptop sleeve (view large image)
Organizer pouch (view large image)
Mesh support (view large image)
(view large image)
(view large image)
The bag has a hard foam back and a mp3 pocket opening above it. There are waist and chest straps. The waist straps can be removed if desired. The front sports two pockets and on the left there is a pocket for a water bottle and the right has a small pouch for a cell phone or an item of similar size.
Having several laptops around I thought I would show the different fit. Specifications state it is able to fit 15.4″ and below.
Apple MacBook (view large image)
Toshiba Tecra S1 (view large image)
Asus Z70V (view large image)
in the bag (view large image)
(not in the bag) (view large image)
in the bag(view large image)
The MacBook fit with plenty of space to spare. The Tecra would not fit. The Asus fit snugly but with an inch above the sleeve, however the back of the sleeve rises above that inch and keeps it padded from the back.
iPod with headphones(view large image)
You can see the loophole for allowing headphones to come out of the bag (view large image)
I also wanted to use my mp3 player in the bag and the pouch that the Osprey Focus has is great. It has a water proof zipper and the wire exits from a covered hole, conveniently located right behind your head.
Above and Beyond:
This bag has definitely outdone any other pack I’ve owned in terms of the little add-ons. There is an opening for a camelback hydration pack, which is great for any outdoor activity. The pack lies in the laptop compartment and is thread through a opening that comes out above the right shoulder. There is also a surprisingly powerful whistle built into a buckle. Something I didn’t even notice for about a week until surprised by its bizarre shape, I blew into it. The chest straps are also adjustable, and slide easily along the white band you see in the picture.
The only real gripe I have with this bag is that it is not THAT big, which could potentially be a problem if I ever have to carry a huge amount, but I doubt that will really be a problem and the 1800 cubic inches of space should be adequate for my needs at least. I cannot recommend this bag enough and I was surprised not to have found it earlier.
- Comfort: 5/5
- Durability: 5/5
- Organization: 5/5
- Protection: 5/5
The Focus and Flux are designed with the rigors of an active business day in mind. Laptop sleeves, panel zip pockets with internal organizers, cell phone and 32 oz. water bottle pockets all make these packs the durable choice for day-to-day work life.
- Front side water resistant zip slash pockets
- Cell phone side pocket and one-liter water bottle side pocket
- Panel zip pocket with deluxe internal organizer
- Deluxe padded sleeve fits many 15.4″ viewable screen and smaller laptops
- Safety light clip-ins
- Zippered CD/MP3 pocket on top of backpanel
- Foam padded bottom
- Price: Retails for around $130 Canadian Dollars
Colors available: Crimson, Black, Oasis, Saguaro
Osprey Online Dealers: