Vantage Points

When I first met Ka, he had this hideous backpack that I secretly hated but couldn’t tell him because we were still too early on in our relationship. I didn’t want to be “that girl” too early on and criticize his choice in accessories… yet.

Then came a time in every couple’s relationship where you settle comfortably in and everything suddenly becomes fair game. You know what time I’m talking about? When you can offer your opinions without being asked, allow yourself to 💩 in your significant other’s bathroom for the first time, maybe even toot 💨 in their presence?

Well, I crossed that line long ago, since Ka and I have been married now for over three years (time flies!) – but I didn’t actually do anything about that darned backpack until last November when I was thinking about what to get him as a Christmas present. To understand my choice in the gift you have to understand 1) Ka is practical to a fault and 2) his old backpack was really, really ugly. It was kind of a mystery to me why he liked it so much, since he’s a design guy and visuals and design mattered a lot to him.

I finally asked him why he liked the backpack so much when it was such an eyesore, and his response was “it has a lot of pockets.” Then I understood – the practical side of him was willing to sacrifice looks and carry that thing on his back because things were easy to reach and accessible. He also hates shopping for stuff, so he probably just bought the first thing that matched his (only) criteria: must have many pockets.

I’m the opposite of him – I love searching for stuff to buy 😃

So I set out to look for a backpack that not only had a ton of organizational features, but looked good as well. He’s been using (and loving) his backpack for a while now, and he gets asked a lot when traveling by strangers and friends alike about where he got his backpack, so I thought I’d share it and you guys can consider it as a gift, Father’s Day present, or a replacement for an old backpack.

eBags

So, here it is – the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack ($99 at Amazon.com)

I found this laptop backpack after searching high and low for a professional, slick looking backpack that had all the organizational features that Ka could possibly want as a busy professional. He travels often to New York, so needs something sturdy and light while keeping his laptop and gear protected at the same time. I chose this backpack for a couple of different reasons: One, he definitely did not want a backpack that made him look like he was about to go hiking. It needed to look professional and office appropriate. No crazy colors, patterns, unnecessary straps. From a design perspective I knew he would like the gray finish, clean lines, and thoughtful features that lets you hide straps when not needed to make the profile even more sleek and work-appropriate. Two, The organizational features is impressive. He has a place for everything, and he loves that about the backpack.

Let’s get into the details:

Here’s the backpack front side – the bag measures 18″ x 12.75″ x 8.5″ (there’s a Slim Junior version that is slightly smaller as well)

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Here’s a side by side comparison of Ka wearing the backpack, versus me:

eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

There are 4 zippered compartments just in the front of the bag alone: 1) Side for water bottle 2) Front Bottom for AC Adapters/Sunglasses 3) Front small flat pocket for documents, passports, boarding passes 4) Front panel organizational compartment that opens up to reveal a wide array of mesh, zippered pockets for more secure storage for keys, pens, charging cords, business cards, makeup, whatever else you may need that should be easily accessible.

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For larger items – file folders, laptop, binders, sweater/jacket, there are 2 “L-Shaped” compartments on the backpack. The first one is a laptop compartment fits laptops as large as 1.5” thick x 12.25″ wide x 16.5″ tall. The second one measures in at 12.25” width & 13” height so you can fit 3-ring binder, documents, or a light sweater/jacket without a problem. One of Ka’s favorite features is the dedicated i-Pad sleeve in between the two compartments that is fleece-lined and measures 8-1/8” wide x 11.5” tall.

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In short, Ka loves the backpack and uses it all the time, and definitely when we travel – for business or pleasure. We took this bag on multiple trips since buying it – to Las Vegas, New York City, and internationally to Taiwan and Japan recently on vacation. It’s sturdy, high quality, and has withstood multiple trips already.

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Here’s a list of Ka’s favorite features of the bag:

  • Sleek, low-profile professional design
  • Many, many pockets that are well though out and secure
  • Dedicated, fleece-lined iPad/tablet sleeve
  • Luggage handle pass-through panel on the back allow you to stack the backpack on your suitcase both vertically or horizontally
  • Can be used as a backpack or as a briefcase on its side handle – backpack straps unclip for storage for a cleaner dangle-free appearance
  • Good padded protection for laptop

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Note: the AC Adapter garage is an isolated compartment at the bottom of the bag that protects adapters or other fragile items like sunglasses. Can be removed fully to add more space to the laptop compartment if needed.

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Some items to consider/improvements:

  • This laptop bag isn’t intended for other purposes like recreational or photography. I wouldn’t take this backpack on a hike, for example. The compartments are also too slim to carry DSLR camera bodies, lenses, etc.
  • The size, profile and color of the backpack is more masculine – although there is a smaller size and other color options available for ladies.
  • The orange contrast is nice, but it’s definitely a pop of bright color. It’s meant to allow for finding things easier.
  • I was surprised to find there isn’t a dedicated, easy to reach phone pocket.
  • The eBag logo is featured quite prominently – I wasn’t too thrilled about this (I think it can be more discreet or better branded).

Other bags I considered for Ka that you may want to look at as well –

Peak Design Everyday Backpack available in two sizes 20L and 30L: Peak Design started on Kickstarter and have many, many positive reviews online by both consumers and tech/gadget websites and publications. The key thing that deterred me from getting this bag for Ka is the fact that it was designed for photographers in mind – so the hero benefit of compartments personalized for camera gear was lost on me. Ka has no need for 50% of this bag, so it would’ve been an expensive purchase that didn’t really meet his needs. The 20L bag starts at $260 and the 30L size is $290.

_full_diagram-backpack-pd30Mancro Business Laptop Bag w/ USB Charging Port: The idea behind this is nifty – that it comes with an external charging port for phones. The price is also attractive at under $30 and has a 4-star rating on Amazon. The organization pockets, however, is a little less easily accessible and Ka already has portable battery charger for phones so I decided to get him a bigger bag that was better suited for his needs.

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