The Targus Gerney backpack is a light-weight, attractive alternative to the messenger bag style notebook case. For those that are looking for an alternative to the messenger bags for one reason or another (for me it would be to keep from exacerbating my back pain by having even weight distribution on both sides of my body), the Gerney is just one of several well-priced ($39.99) backpack options offered by Targus.
Targus Gerney front view (view large image)
Targus Gerney side view (view large image)
- Color: Black/Orange/Grey
- Exterior Dimensions: 14.6″ x 18″ x 5.4″ (37 x 46 x 13.5 cm)
- Notebook Compartment: 14.33″ x 11.81″ x 1.69″ (36.4 x 30 x 4.3 cm)
- Weight: 1.32 lb
- Material: Polyester
- Fits up to 15.4″ notebooks
- Lifetime Limited Warranty
One thing important to note is the difference between what I expected this bag to look like, based on Targus website pictures, relative to how it looks in person. The orange looked very bright in the product shots I saw. But when I received the bag, I was quite happy with the way it looked. The orange is darker than it seemed in the pictures, more of a burnt-orange than the carrot-colored orange I was expecting. It accentuates the bag nicely. Also, one minor aesthetic touch that Targus added was to make each color with a different textured fabric. The black is the usual material found in backpacks, while the grey had a diamond-shaped pattern on it. The orange fabric had vertical and horizontal lines that created a “boxy” (for lack of a better word) pattern.
A look at the fabric patterns (view large image)
However, I did notice that the orange fabric felt a bit weak. If something were to rip on this bag, I would suspect that the orange fabric would be it. One other minor aspect I was not fond of was the bungee cord going across the Targus logo. I would have also preferred if the straps weren’t lined with grey, but instead just solid black.
Back view of the Gerney backpack and straps (view large image)
Compartments and Features
The Gerney is made up of two large compartments; a musical device compartment, and one small compartment near the bottom of the bag. The first compartment has three pen holders and an ID holder, as well as a large mesh pouch. This compartment is meant to hold things like folders or notebooks. I was a bit disappointed that they did not have a smaller pouch in the inside to carry items like my keys, usb drive, or chapstick. In addition, a key clip would have been a nice feature to include.
Pen holder and ID badge holder (view large image)
A look inside the bag (view large image)
The other compartment is where the notebook fits. Inside, there is a padded pouch with a Velcro strap to secure the notebook. My 15.4″ standard aspect ratio notebook fit perfectly inside. When I inserted my notebook, the edge of it was touching the top of the pouch. Also, my notebook is quite thick (2.5″ at the thickest point), so there may be better space inside for thinner notebooks. I noticed that if you matched up the Velcro squares exactly on top of each other, there was some slack on the strap. I assume this is to accommodate widescreen notebooks (which would be taller when placed sideways). This would also imply that widescreen notebooks would also stick out slightly from the edge of the pouch.
A view of the notebook pouch with Velcro strap (view large image)
A view of the notebook pouch with notebook inside (view large image)
The padding felt pretty thick around the notebook. Also, this back compartment easily fit a large biology textbook. Personally, I wish there were space for more (I used to carry around 2-3 large science textbooks), but I think I understand Targus’s logic in making a smaller compartment that fit very little. You probably don’t want to have more than one large textbook bearing down on your notebook while it is in your backpack.
One aspect that I appreciated was that the zippers for the back notebook compartment had holes that could accommodate a lock for extra security.
The Gerney also has a few other noteworthy features. It has a small pouch at the bottom of the notebook. My problem with this is that it would seem to be easier for someone to steal something located at around my lower back, as opposed to the middle of my back like I am used to with my old Jansport bag. Also, it is less convenient to access it toward the bottom of the bag.
In addition, the backpack has two mesh pouches on each side to hold water bottles. Like other Targus backpacks, the Gerney has a small pouch to hold your cd/mp3 player, and a detachable cell phone pouch that attaches to either shoulder strap. Moreover, it has breathable mesh-lined back panel and shoulder straps to make trips on hot days a little more comfortable. One tidbit that isn’t mentioned on the little info tag is that the bag seems water resistant. I tested it by pouring a little bit of water on it. Nothing leaked through the compartments.
Water can be held in a side mesh pouch (view large image)
One useless (to me at least) feature this bookbag has is the bungee cord. It is supposedly used to conveniently carry jackets or sweaters. However, I found it very difficult to shove my jacket under the cords. If the jacket of a very petite female doesn’t fit well, I would imagine that the jacket of an average sized male would be a pain to “conveniently carry” with the cords.
Quick Comparison with an Average Backpack
Targus Gerney next to regular old standard issue Jansport backpack (view large image)
Nevertheless, one may ask, is it really worth getting a special notebook backpack? This is a pertinent question, especially if you consider that you can fit less in a notebook backpack due to its inability to expand as easily because of the rigidity of the padding. Well, I decided to compare the Targus Gerney backpack to my old Jansport backpack. The first thing I noticed was that my regular backpack has more small compartments that give me easier access to my smaller items. The biggest and most important difference, though, would be the rather large discrepancy in padding. If we look at the bottom profile of the notebooks, it is quite noticeable [Note: Half the visible difference in thickness is due to the rigid padding on the bottom of the Targus bag that makes it stand upright, instead of collapsing like the bottom of the Jansport bag]. One thing to take note of was that the padding in the shoulder straps were surprisingly similar between the two backpacks (I was expecting the notebook backpack to have thicker shoulder straps).
A notebook bag will have more protective padding, especially on the bottom and sides (view large image)
Next, I tried walking around with my notebook. Honestly, there was only a slight difference between how the load felt. There was a bit less acute pressure with the Targus bag than with my Jansport bag. I believe that it is due to the wider straps (2.5″ vs. 2.75″) that distributes the load across a larger area. I only tested this out for a short period. It may make more difference over a longer time. One thing I did notice was that I could easily feel the presence of my hard notebook pressing against my back with my Jansport bag, which wasn’t the case with the Targus. When I put my Jansport bag down to unload the notebook, I quickly learned why it was necessary to have a well padded notebook bag. When it contacted the table as I lowered it down at what I thought was a slow speed, I heard a loud thud. Upon removing my notebook from my bag, I found a small crack on my chassis. Luckily, my notebook was already dead, or I would have been severely upset!
If you are planning on carrying your notebook make sure to have a well-padded case, preferably one designed to hold notebooks. If you are in the market for a basic notebook backpack, the Targus Gerney would be an excellent choice. It is nice-looking, well-padded, and affordable. My only reservation about this notebook would be its lack of small compartments or pouches.
- Attractive looks, in general
- Zipper that can accommodate a lock for added security
- Detachable cell phone pouch
- Not enough small pockets
- The only small pocket is located in an awkward area
- Not a fan of the bungee cord
- Orange fabric feels a bit flimsy compared to other fabric
- Dislike the grey trim on shoulder straps
Availability and Pricing