Targus Flare Backpack Review

by Reads (14,974)

by Sarah Meyer

This summer, Targus launched a line of five new notebook bags that are suppose to be geared towards students.  Targus’ goal for the line is to not only put out a great notebook case but also protect all the “staples in an active student’s daily routine."

We received one of the bags, the Flare backpack.  Would this bag really appeal to a student’s sense of style and be functional?  With a name like the Flare, can this backpack live up to the hype?

The Flare Backpack Specifications

  • Dimensions: 17.72” x 13” x 5.91”
  • Weight: 2.22 lbs.
  • Durable nylon materials
  • Water-resistant case bottom
  • Locking metal zipper pulls
  • Hidden rain fly
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty


(view large image) If you are like me – sick of all the solid black bags – the Flare also comes in blue.

Design and Aesthetics

The Flare is an attractive black backpack with metal zippers, grey accents and a green bungee cord.  The Flare also comes in blue and grey color combination. The Targus logo is placed in three prominent positions on the front of the Flare: at the top of the bag and on both of the side flaps holding the bungee cord in place.


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Targus added two large zippered compartments to the Flare along with the main compartment where the notebook is stored.  The first compartment has the bungee cord attached to the outside for when you need a little extra space.  It’s also where the headphone/ear bud port is located.


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Inside this compartment there is another zippered pocket handy for keeping money, a checkbook, a wallet, keys, a digital camera, cell phone, etc.  There is also a smaller Velcro pocket that would be perfect for a cell phone or an mp3 player. There are three pen holders in between the smaller Velcro pocket and a CD sleeve.

Beyond these smaller pockets, the front compartment is large enough to hold most notebook accessories such as an external mouse, power cord, small speakers, a USB hub, etc.

The middle compartment is just one large compartment.  While it’s also perfect for notebook accessories, this compartment is large enough for textbooks, file folders, spiral bound notebooks, etc.


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The main compartment of the Flare is where the notebook is stored.  The outside of the compartment has two “locking zippers,” that you can secure a small lock through to keep people out of your bag.


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Inside the main compartment, the notebook sleeve is pretty well padded.  There is about a half inch of padding on all sides except the back, where there is about a full inch.  The notebook is secured by a Velcro strap and can hold up to 15.4” notebooks (Targus has a case compatibility wizard on their website).  On the outside of the sleeve there are two semi-large mesh pockets for more storage.  The main compartment is by far the largest and can hold the most stuff.  Besides the notebook, you could fit extra large textbooks or other items equal in size.  I fit a one-piece speaker system in along with my Dell Latitude notebook with no problems.  This really is an extra large bag.


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On each side of the Flare there are elastic mesh pockets for carrying water bottles or other beverages.


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On the back of the Flare backpack, there are three large mesh cushions to help ventilate and provide the user with ergonomic support.  The shoulder straps have the same mesh padding and are adjustable (they even have loops on the end of the straps that make adjusting them easier while wearing the backpack).  There is also an adjustable waist strap to help keep the user from straining his/her back.


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The bottom of the bag is made out of a water-resistant material and hides a rain-fly in the small zippered pocket. 

Using the bag

The Flare Backpack is the largest backpack I’ve reviewed to date; I didn’t come close to filling it up. And while it might not have all the small organizational pockets that some of the other bags have, it did include some of my favorite features: the media port, water bottle pockets, extra back padding and tons of space.

The Flare was very comfortable to wear.  Like many backpacks, you could adjust the straps to fit your body and the ventilation feature is important for students walking to class.

The two features that I hadn’t seen on other bags were the “locking zippers” and the rain-fly.  The zippers are a great idea in theory but aren’t full-proof.  Anyone that was interested in stealing a notebook from the locked main compartment could easily cut through the nylon fabric.  But still the zippers are a nice touch.

The rain-fly to me would be far more useful. Wet weather is often unpredictable and with the rain-fly over your bag you get the added sense of protection.  Then again, it takes away from the style of the bag so I’d be selective about pulling out the rain-fly.

As always, I am not a fan of bags that use Velcro to secure the notebooks in the padded sleeves.  Maybe it’s because I know that Velcro inevitably loses its “stick.”  I just prefer buckles and zippers to the Velcro. 

I also noticed some loose stitching inside the front zippered compartment.  It wasn’t falling apart but it looked sort of cheap, like it could rip very easily.

The Flare didn’t come off too “manly” to me.  I carried the backpack around in public and felt comfortable.  I’m also not a current college student and I still liked carrying it.  I would like to see more color combinations though; I like unique looking bags.

Conclusion

The Flare Backpack was huge and it had some great features. It would truly be a great backpack for students and useful in any weather. The Flare combines style and functionality … while making a few minor compromises on both. I wouldn’t recommend it for those of you looking for an ultra trendy bag, or that just want a spartan bag to protect their notebook while transporting it. But at only $60, this bag would be great for those poor, struggling college students!

Pros

  • Comfortable straps, back padding
  • Extra large, carries a ton of stuff
  • Hidden rain-fly
  • Very affordable
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Velcro strap on notebook sleeve
  • Some loose stitching inside pockets
  • Lack of color options

Pricing and Availability

The Targus Flare Backpack can be purchased via the Targus website, or through an authorized vendor. The Flare is $59.99.


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