Backpacks for Laptops (1990s-early 2000s)

This is the new home of the non-updated listing of backpacks for laptops. While the listing is out of date, it may still contain information of use to some people.

December 2009 Note:

I’ve updated the Amazon Store section of the site with links to many of the packs available here (or to the current products from their manufacturers).  Feel free to follow those links to updated pack listings and reviews from Amazon’s much larger customer base. I’ll be adding the Jansport, Sumdex and Targus packs and sleeves as I get time.

Keep in mind that some manufacturers only sell directly, and many offer much better information about packs on their own sites than is available on Amazon. I highly recommend checking manufacturer sites for information about any pack you’re considering.

Notice

This page is being kept around for archival purposes, but most of the information on it is close to ten years (or more!) out of date. In that time period I’ve shifted from carrying a laptop in a backpack to using a small laptop case since I’m regularly in & out of offices where a pack wouldn’t be appropriate.

In the time since this list was originally started, laptop computers have gone from a business item usually purchased by a company to consumer products used by a wide range of people, particularly students. With that change, the market for backpacks exploded as did the number of suppliers.

In other words, these days you’ll have better luck finding a good backpack on Amazon or in your local college bookstore than you will from this list.

–Alan Miller, May, 2009

Backpack Cases for Notebooks

Note: As with most web pages, this one is perpetually under construction and may sit idle for a while. Please don’t let that stop you from sending in comments and suggestions.

Changes

October 22, 1999: Added the change listing; corrected a broken link for the Codi ProPack (Thanks B.M.);

May 10, 2009: Converted to a post on the revised website; removed links to specific pages at manufacturers; reviews converted to comments on the post.

August 30, 2009: Removed a few more links to specific pages, removed a variety of dead or bad links.


What This Page Is

This listing started as a list of packs that I came across in looking for a case and has grown from that as other people have sent me information on packs that I missed and reviews of the packs that they have. It includes some comments, but I’ve tried not to put too much opinion on this page – see the reviews for that.

Having said that, most backpack PC cases seem to have a rather blocky or boxy design, due undoubtedly to the requirement that there be a foam box to hold a notebook. This is similar to many high-capacity backpacks, but is more noticeable because of the padding holding the packs in that shape. I don’t care for boxy packs for several reasons (looks, how they ride, whether they appear to have a laptop inside), so that bias is reflected on this page. As a counter to that, boxy packs do have two advantages I can see: they can often stand up by themselves, and they are more likely to have good padding because the laptop can’t move within them.

Unless otherwise noted:

  • The terms “Laptop” and “Notebook” are used interchangably depending on how they sound and on whim,
  • Information on this page is not based on my having examined the packs themselves (see the reviews),
  • Links to manufacturers or retailers will open in a new browser window if your web browser supports doing so,
  • Prices listed are in US dollars,
  • Padded compartments to go in existing packs are likely to be cheaper than most new packs,
  • Measurements are in inches rounded to the nearest half inch (fabric stretches & shrinks anyway),
  • Dimensions are specified as Width x Height x Depth
  • You should look at the manufacturer’s web site for the most up-to-date and detailed information,
  • URLs for particular packs may be out of date due to manufacturer web page redesigns,
  • Using a laptop while it’s in the case probably interferes with the cooling system (generally a fan) and may damage your notebook or cause it to shut down unexpectedly.

Price Categories:

  • Dirt Cheap – Under $25,
  • $ – $25-50,
  • $$ – $51-75,
  • $$$ – $76-100,
  • $$$$ – $101-125,
  • $$$$$ – $126-150,
  • Expensive – More than $150.

Prices are in U.S. Dollars.

A Note on Size for Those who Travel

United Airlines is apparently now strongly enforcing a size restriction of 14″ x 30″ x 9″, and some of the other airlines may follow suit (though most are using other methods to control carryon luggage), so if you may be traveling by air at some point you might want to be aware of that and avoid some of the largest packs.


Companies:

  • CODi
  • Day-Timer
  • JanSport
  • Kensington
  • Outdoor Products
  • Port
  • The Protector
  • SpireUSA
  • Sumdex
  • Targus
  • Tenba
  • Terrapin
  • Travel Tools
  • Willow Design

Other Packs
Plea for Information
Thanks
Reviews


CODi, Inc.

ProPak

Dimensions: 13 x 16 x 6.5
Weight: 1.5 pounds
Colors: Black
Padding: Foam, variable thickness (insert)
Max. Laptop Size: 10×12.5×2.5
Compartments: Single divided and outside
Opening: Top drawstring/cover
Price: $$$$
URLs: http://www.codi-inc.com/

CODi has recently redesigned this pack with the goals of making it both less boxy and lighter. While I’m not certain of the “less boxy” aspect (the dimensions are the same, but that doesn’t mean much), I am certain that they managed to make it lighter – at a pound and a half, it may be the lightest pack listed here. In addition, before the redesign this appeared to be one of the less-boxy packs available due to the use of a removable padded box (their FlexPak, described below) rather than a fully-padded pack. The major changes appear to be the removal of the side opening for the laptop and a switch from metal fasteners and buckles to high-impact plastic. The FlexPak may also be gone, with the padding incorporated into the pack itself (The ProPak page no longer mentions the FlexPak by name, but the FlexPak page also doesn’t mention the ProPak as one that has the foam padding built in.).
Overall this pack appears to be based on a fairly standard backpack design with some modifications to allow it to work better with a foam-box notebook protector. Since the pack itself isn’t padded, the result is a fairly standard-looking fabric pack, however given the relative dimensions of the FlexPak and the backpack it may be necessary to remove the FlexPak from the backpack to get to the computer (however, see speculation above). A small internal accessory bag is also included, along with the external pocket. CODi does have an air suspension/padding system, but it is not available with this pack.

FlexPak

The FlexPak is a foam-box laptop holder designed to fit within the ProPak and various other CODi cases. It appears that the foam thickness in the FlexPak is variable, with thicker foam (up to an inch?) at impact points. CODi does not sell the FlexPak separately from its cases.


Day-Timer

Day-Timer sells one backpack of their own, plus the Kensington Saddlebag pack.

Stealth Notebook PC Backpack

Dimensions: 14 x 17 x 4.5
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight: not specified
Colors: Black
Padding: Present, but no details
Compartments: Double? and accessory
Opening: Clamshell
Price: $$
URLs: http://daytimer.com

There is one photo on the web site, showing how a notebook is stowed within the pack. There are others in the catalog, but I have not seen a picture showing the whole backpack. From the pictures, it’s difficult to tell how many compartments the pack has – they could be showing different compartments or they could be showing different ways to pack a single compartment.


JanSport

JanSport is a widely known manufacturer of backpacks, and has one models designed for notebook PCs (As of November 24. In the past, they had two additional models known as the Byte Pack (with a sneaker-like rubber bottom) and the Megabyte (with few details available)).
JanSport sells only through retailers, not at their web site, but they do have a search engine that will tell you what retailers are in your area. Not all retailers carry the full line of products, particularly for lower-demand items like this, so it’s a very good idea to call call first before visiting them.

Laptop Transit

Dimensions: 14 x 18 x 10
Max. Laptop Size: Uncertain, but won’t hold a large laptop well (see reviews)
Weight: 2 lb 5 oz
Colors: Black, Navy, Sunflower, Chili
Padding: Present, but no details
Compartments: Single? and accessory
Opening: Top half zipper?
Price: $-$$ (see retailers)
URLs: http://www.jansport.com
Reviewed?: Yes

The Laptop Transit looks more like a traditional backpack than like a notebook backpack – from the single photo, it seems less boxy than most packs but with a (maximum?) depth of 10 inches that photo may be deceiving. How bulky this pack depends on how much padding there is outside the computer pocket, the back and the bottom. This pack is fairly widely available in stores, and if you have a large system you should probably check it to confirm that your notebook will fit.

Laptop Sleeve

Dimensions: 10 x 13 x 2
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Colors: Black
Padding: Present, but no details
Compartments: Single and accessory
Opening: Top flap
Price: Dirt Cheap-$ (see retailers)
URLs: http://www.jansport.com

The Laptop Sleeve is not actually a backpack, but is instead a padded sleeve that holds a notebook inside a backpack.


Kensington

Kensington is a manufacturer that does not sell directly to the public, but they do provide a list of retailers for physical, phone, mail or online ordering.

Saddlebag

Dimensions: 12.5 x 13.5 x 4.5
Max. Laptop Size: 11.5x13x2.75
Weight: Not specified
Colors: Black/Brown, Black/Black
Padding: Present, but no details
Compartments: Two-section split interior and accessory
Opening: Flap
Price: $$$ (see retailers)
URLs: http://www.kensington.com/

This pack is designed as a versatile case rather than as a full-time backpack, but it does include backpack straps (possibly unpadded) along with a shoulder strap and a top handle. The target market appears to be business casual users, who may be able to use this as a casual briefcase.
This pack is available from the Day-Timer online store under Technology Products, Computer Cases.


L. L. Bean

Campus Computer Organizer

Dimensions:
Max. Laptop Size:
Weight:
Colors:
Padding:
Compartments:
Opening:
Price:
URLs: http://www.llbean.com/
Reviewed?: Yes, see comments

(not looked at yet)


Outdoor Products

Outdoor Products is another manufacturer that doesn’t sell directly from their web site, providing pointers instead to retailers in your area that carry their products. They have two packs for laptops. (One earlier product, the PC Traveler, appears to have been discontinued; the Einstein takes its place.)

As an editorial note, it’s not easy to go to a particular pack. To get to the packs listed here, go to Products, then Work Cases, then use the “Next” link at the bottom of the page twice to reach the “Laptop Carriers” page. It’s probably a good thing they’re selling these through retailers rather than online, because nobody’d ever find them on their web site if they didn’t already know they were there.

Einstein

Dimensions: Unknown
Max. Laptop Size: Unknown
Weight: Not specified
Colors: Black
Padding: Present, including “hammock” to hold laptop off bottom of pack. No thickness details.
Compartments: One plus accessory
Opening: Drawbridge
Price: See retailers
URLs: http://www.outdoorproducts.com/

From the picture, this looks like a fairly standard pack, unlikely to stand out as holding a laptop. The presence of both a chest strap and compression straps on this pack may make it a good choice for more active laptop carriers.

Bytepack

Dimensions: Not currently listed, probably 13 x 16 x 6 unless it’s been redesigned since July 1998.
Max. Laptop Size: Unknown
Weight: Not specified
Colors: Navy, Black
Padding: Present, but no details
Compartments: Two main, no accessory (one main is smaller)
Opening: Top half zipper
Price: See retailers
URLs: http://www.outdoorproducts.com/

This pack is much more like a traditional backpack than many of the others listed here seem to be – from the photo there’s nothing that would make you think there was a computer inside. In addition, from the description it sounds like there is a separate sealable pocket inside the larger main compartment to hold the laptop.


Port, Inc

Port appears to have dropped most of its backpack carrying case lines – as of November 24, the only backpack case reachable from Port’s home page is the Sony backpack case. The other manufacturers no longer have backpack cases listed.

Sony BackPack

Dimensions: 12 x 16 x 9
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight: 3.2 lb
Colors: Blue, Green
Padding: SafePORT Elastic Sling and foam
Compartments: Two, one with dividers, plus accessory
Opening: PC: Top-half zipper; Other: Clamshell
Price: $$$
URLs: http://www.port.com/ (Now part of Targus)

From the pictures, this pack almost defines “boxy,” though much of that is probably due to its use of the SafePort sling system rather than foam padding. Not much else is remarkable about it.


The Protector

Back Pack Plus – Onyx Collection

Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 7
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight: 2 lb
Colors: Black/Green
Padding: 6mm, but see below
Compartments: Two
Opening: PC: Clamshell, Book/Accessory top half zipper
Price: $$
URLs: http://www.theprotector.com/ (apparently now gone)

This seems to be a fairly compact pack, though that may just be the way it’s drawn – there are only two actual pictures of it on the site.
My biggest concern with this pack is that the described padding seems awfully thin at just over half a centimeter – about the same thickness as a standard mouse pad. Since that figure comes from a more general page about the entire collection, there may very well be more padding around the laptop itself – something to that effect is mentioned with the diagram of the pack.
Photos of this pack are here and here.


Spire USA

Zoom

Dimensions:
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight:
Colors:
Padding:
Compartments:
Opening:
Price:
URLs: http://www.spireusa.com/
Reviewed?: Yes


Sumdex

BackStar

Dimensions:
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight:
Colors:
Padding:
Compartments:
Opening:
Price:
URLs: http://www.sumdex.com/

PortaBack

Dimensions: 13 x 15 x 7
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight: Not specified
Colors: Maroon?/Navy Blue
Padding: Present, but no details
Compartments: Two plus accessory
Opening: PC: Clamshell; Book: Top half zipper
Price: $$$
URLs: http://www.sumdex.com/

This is a nice versatile pack, but like the Kensington Saddlebag it’s as much a travel bag with backpack straps as it is a backpack.
A picture of this pack is here.


Targus

Convertible Backpac

Dimensions: 13.5×15.5×9
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight: Unknown
Colors: Unknown
Padding: Unknown
Compartments:
Opening: PC: Clamshell
Price: Varies by vendor; not available directly from manufacturer
URLs: http://www.targus.com/
Reviewed?: Yes

Targus offers one notebook pack, the Convertible Backpac. This is another somewhat blocky pack, with dimensions of 13.5×15.5×9. No details on the padding around the computer are provided, but if nothing else the back of the pack is padded. The straps on this pack can be tucked inside a special pocket to keep them out of the way or make the pack slightly more briefcase-like. This pack is not available directly from Targus, you must go through a retailer instead. CDW lists this pack as a Targus Compaq case at US$79, along with a US$99 leather version not included on Targus’ web site.


Tenba

http://www.tenba.com/


Terrapin

Terrapin Laptop Backpack

Dimensions: 14x15x9.5
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight: Unknown
Colors: Leather: Natural or Black
Padding: Unknown
Compartments: Unknown
Opening: Clamshell
Price: $$$
URLs: http://www.terrapinpc.com/ (apparently gone)

Terrapin offers two leather packs, one black and one natural. These appear to be the same design, despite the different model numbers. This is another clamshell pack. Again, this is a somewhat blocky pack (most leather backpacks are anyway) at 14x15x9.5. There are no real details on the padding other than the fact that it is present. This pack lists for US$87.


Travel Tools

Travel Tools is a vendor of travel supplies and luggage.

Computer Backpack

Dimensions: 12.5 x 18 x 9
Max. Laptop Size: ?
Weight: ?
Colors: Black (Leather)
Padding: unknown
Compartments: Two, plus organizer and cell phone pocket
Opening: Clamshell
Price: $$$-$$$$
URLs: http://www.skymall.com
Reviewed?: No

I spotted this in one of the Skymall catalogs – I’m sure it’s made by someone other than Travel Tools, but I have no idea who – if you know send me a message and I’ll go ahead and simply add a note to the other entry.
There don’t seem to be any real distinguishing features to this pack – it’s rather boxy, and in the one picture that shows a glimpse of the straps they appear to be fairly thin. This pack includes a removable accessory pouch that might be usable as a belt pack, though there’s no mention of that in the catalog description. I’ll scan in the pictures from the catalog as soon as I get access to a scanner.


Willow Design

Willow Design was a Canadian company producing good backpacks in North America. They ceased operations some time ago.


Other Packs/More pages to add:

www.uphill.com

www.Goodhopebags.com

www.tombihn.com

www.lapsack.com?

www.allsop.com

www.knomads.com

www.headmost.com/computerbags.htm

www.tacreations.com/computer_cases.htm

www.iomega.com

www.respectus.com

Eddie Bauer

Samsonite

Tumi

Brenthaven


Definitions

Clamshell
Opens out to at least to 90 degrees, “hinged” at base.
Drawbridge
Opens only partway down, but opens to at least 90 degrees as far as it opens.

Plea for information

If you know of other backpack computer cases, have corrections for the information on this page, or have a backpack case and would like to comment on it, I’d love to hear from you. Reviews of packs are particularly welcome. I’m likely to put most reviews I receive on the review page, but I will try to contact you before I do so and please look over the “Not-Quite-Legalese” note at the bottom of the review page. If you’re certain that it’s OK for me to put something up, please say so in the letter.

Comments to: Fencepost Software Contact Page.


Thanks

My deepest thanks to the people who sent in pointers to new web pages and reviews of packs that they’re using – the page would be a lot smaller and a lot less interesting without their contributions. Basically, I couldn’t have done it without you – thanks for your help.

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8 comments to Backpacks for Laptops (1990s-early 2000s)

  • David Hiebeler

    JanSport Laptop Transit
    I had to remove the padding from inside the bottom of the actual laptop pocket, but fortunately there is room for it inside that compartment of the bag, beneath the laptop pocket itself, so it still protects the bottom of the laptop as it’s supposed to. But it’s a snug fit, a laptop any bigger than mine wouldn’t really fit in the pocket. Other than that, I like the bag a lot.

  • Ong Beng Hui

    JanSport Laptop Transit
    The pack has a few compartments which is very useful for travelling. It has a laptop compartment which holds the laptop in a pouch. The pouch might be too small for large notebook like Digital Ultra 2000 but fits my [Toshiba] Tecra nicely. It also has a separate compartment for the power adapter and cable. Be careful with the compartment for adapter; it is not padded at all. I guess the most useful feature is a huge normal daypack compartment which I can put documents or possibly, clothes. for travelling.
    In short, I am an extremely happy owner of the pack. It is very useful not just a regular laptop pack but also as a backpack for short trips.

  • Lisa Cozzens

    L.L. Bean Campus Computer Organizer
    I have a Campus Computer Organizer from L.L. Bean. It’s just a normal L.L. Bean backpack (which means it’s tough as nails — my previous backpack made it through all four years of high school, and this one has survived the first year of college with no signs of wear), but it’s got a special
    padded laptop compartment inside. While it doesn’t have as many computer-specific pockets and crevices as other bags might have, it does have plenty of space for whatever you need to bring along. Also, from the outside it looks *exactly* like L.L. Bean’s non-laptop backpack, so it doesn’t scream “Expensive laptop inside, please steal me!”

  • Walter Lefmann

    L.L. Bean Campus Computer Organizer
    I got the LLBean pack today, and was quite disapponted: The dimensions of the laptop compartment are *not* what was advertised in the catalog (print or web). There is also a design flaw for water protection.

    The specs as given here, state dimensions as ‘Computer compartment 10″H x 131/2″W x 21/2″D’. Well, the compartment is only 9″ high, which leaves fully an inch of my Dell Inspiron 7000 exposed at the top (Dell I7k dimensions: 10″x12.5″x2.1, which is pretty typical for the newer 14+” display notebooks, such as the Apple G3 PowerBooks).

    In addition, the 13.5″x2.5″ measurement is also a bit off: it is 13.5″ across the back section, seam-to-seam, but only 12″ across the front section seam-to-seam. The effect is more like a “D” shape than a rectangle. That did not cause any fit problems, though.

    The top flap will wrap over the exposed inch of computer, and fasten somewhat (it has both velcro and a fastbuckle strap, the velcro is nowhere near closure but the strap can be lengthened to just fasten). Unfortunately, the top flap is considerably less padded than the rest of the enclosure (a generally bad thing in and of itself, even if it did fit properly; the original LLBean computer backpack had a very thick top flap pad), and it still leaves the corners of the computer exposed with nothing other then the thin backback cordura shell between it and the outside world. Since the computer compartment is in the front of the pack (i.e., the pack compartment furthest from your back), and the corners of the computer are exposed just next to the zipper closures, I wouldn’t trust this to take any amount of moisture exposure at all.

    Aside from not being suitable for the newer big notebooks, I would worry about water protection in this design even if the computer fit completely within the padded pouch, since the top flap does not seal at the corners.

    Very disappointing, since the original LLBean computer backpack was a very good product, and I still have it, but it is just a hair too small to fit the newer big laptops … sigh.

    Methinks the LLBean Campus Computer Organizer will be on its way back tomorrow …

    I saw one positive review of this product on your web site … perhaps Lisa has a smaller computer, and has not taken it out in the rain yet!

    Here’s a precis of my findings:

    o Dimensions of the computer compartment are not as advertised: true dimensions are 9″x13″x2.5″
    o The shorter height of 9″ means larger notebooks (with 14+” displays) don’t really fit.
    o Top flap of the computer compartment is not well padded (hardly at all, actually).
    o Top flap does not seal at corners, exposing the computer corners to the compartment zippers, which worries me with respect to water protection performance.

  • Michelle Bazie

    Spire USA Zoom pack
    Well, I think I might have struck gold! I ended up ordering the Zoom backpack from the folks at spireusa.com. The bag was delivered today, so I may be speaking too soon, but it looks good. Its design appears to be well thought through by people who were mindful of the challenges of mobile computing.

    The shoulder straps are ergonomically designed and really well-padded. The bag itself is lightweight and not too big. As soon as I get home, I’ll try it out on my heavy laptop and see how it holds up to the test!

    One of the most interesting things about the bag is that the laptop isn’t held directly against your back. The laptop “sleeve” is suspended and attached to the back of the center compartment divider. It’s difficult to describe, but it looks like a good product.

  • Dave Hiebeler

    Targus Convertible Backpac
    I have the Targus Convertible Backpac. Yes, it does open wide (180 degrees) so in principle you could use the laptop without taking it out. But I never do that — I adjusted the holding strap inside so the compartment is just the right size for the laptop; so if I used the laptop without taking it out, the fan vent would be blocked by the side of the backpack, and I’m afraid it might get too warm.

    I haven’t used other laptop backpacks so I have nothing to compare to, but I’d say this backpack is reasonably well-padded on all sides. It also has 4 small rubber feet, so if you set the backpack on a damp surface or even about 5mm of water, it should probably be OK (as long as it doesn’t tip over). However, the backpack is not water-resistant – I have had some papers get damp inside after I rode my bike through heavy rain for about 10 minutes while wearing the backpack. (I wrap my laptop inside a plastic bag when I think I’m going to get caught in rain). I may apply some waterproofing to the bag.

    Besides the laptop compartment (which I also keep the power brick and PCMCIA ethernet dongle in), it has another compartment for books, which has a divider splitting it into 3 sub-compartments. The laptop compartment also has an extra half-size pocket on the front wall, and the whole bag has another half-size pocket on the outside which is held closed by velcro.

    Overall it’s a good bag, but I have 2 main complaints: it is really blocky (which I think makes it look ugly), and it says Targus on it, which in addition to the blockiness just advertises the fact that you are carrying a computer. (Once when I went to a doctor’s appointment and happened to be carrying the bag, the doc took one glance at the backpack and said “have you got a computer in there?”)

  • Erick Reyes

    Targus Convertible Backpac
    I have a Targus Convertible BakPac myself and I love it. It’s the hunter greeen one (trying to not draw to much attention to my high-priced contents) and it’s great. It’s big enough to put my Canon BJC-70 portable printer into also. The hide-away straps are also a good feature (which was why I bought this particular bag).

  • Michelle Godfrey

    Spire USA Zoom Pack
    Last month I bought what is probably the heaviest and largest notebook computer available, a Dell Inspiron 7000 with a 15″ monitor. When it arrived, I found that sophisticated carrying equipment was an immediate need. My primary concerns were camouflage (i.e., insurance against theft), size accommodation (both mine and the computer’s) and weight distribution. The computer shipped with a fabulous standard Dell carrying case (which will make a good flight bag), but it is terribly obvious, bulky, and “briefcase” style (one shoulder strap) that nearly pulled my arm right out of its socket just walking to the train and back.
    Now I’m a rather large, height deficient woman (5’4″ and 180 lbs.), so I’m confident of my strength, but concerned about dimensions of many packs that seem to be made for skinny six-footers. But the Zoom fits me beautifully and is adjustable in every conceivable way. The shoulder straps are ergonomic, curving inward to sit squarely on the chest instead of the shoulder blades. Spire also puts a snap-buckle on the shoulder straps to keep the straps in place, and which is adjustable to any position between your neck and waist — a thoughtful consideration for women. The straps themselves are very easily adjusted “on the fly” — to tighten, simply pull down on the cords; to loosen, lift up on the buckle tabs and *zip* you’re out. There’s a separate, thicker waist belt to keep the pack from bouncing — not for daily use (too much to unbuckle), but I had the occasion to use it on a trip through O’Hare and Denver airports recently and felt the wisdom of the feature. (I had the belt nearly all the way extended, so if you’re thicker than me, you may not be able to use the belt.) There are two buckles on each side of the pack itself as insurance for the zippered compartments, helping to cinch in contents. I find I leave these loose or unfastened in my daily routine, but they were really helpful in keeping the pack tight when going through security checkpoints at the airports.
    The pack’s construction seems suited to years of weight-throwing and wear and comfort. I’m impressed with the heavily padded and stitched straps, and the fabric is the same as that I’ve seen on quality outdoor gear. I’m a hobby seamstress and can see that this is a well made bag with superior thread, double stitched compartments and heavy-duty seam bindings.
    The special “floating” pocket of the Zoom fits my 13″ wide computer like a glove (the pocket has a drawstring to snug against smaller models). Padding is significant but not bulky. I appreciate this floating design which prevents the weight from thwapping against my spine during a typical brisk Chicago walking pace. I also appreciate the mesh lining against my back which breathes and feels comfortable against thinner summer clothing.
    The compartments are roomier than I expected… with my computer, I can also pack a desk-size DayTimer AND a large hardcover book in the back of the pack, plus my pouch containing cords and mouse fits on top of all that. It would have been nice if Spire included or sold separately a special pouch to stow cords neatly… I use the zippered tube that was included in the case that came with my computer, but I suppose any dime store pouch would work. The front compartment has slots for pens and two slots for disks or papers (my cell phone fits in one of those), a stretchy mesh pouch, and a large zippered pouch inside the flap. The zippered pouch holds contents of a decent-sized purse, including my large checkbook wallet. With all the pouches full, you can still throw stuff loosely in the compartment such as a paperback, magazines, CD wallet, tape player, etc. And the double zipper lets you unravel it without spilling stuff everywhere. (I’m living up to the old adage — give a woman a bag of any size and she’ll stuff it to the gills!) There’s a mesh pouch on the outside of the pack which will hold your boarding passes, reading material, etc. that you want to access without getting inside the pack.
    I ordered Spire’s gray color to be neutral with my backpack ‘fashion statement,’ and was disappointed that it looks more army-green than gray. But in context, I could care less. The thing could be purple with pink polka dots and I’d wear it with joy. It’s that comfortable, and that functional. And worth every bit of the $100 I paid for it — in chiropractor bills alone.