Tech gear: backpacks

I was thinking of getting either an Arc’teryx Arro 22 or Patagonia Authority backpack for my commute.

Any recommendations or steer clears?

I’m interested in if there is a hydration backpack (e.g. CamelBak) that is intended for exercise but can double as a slim laptop bag. I have been using this for biking and hiking, but am frustrated to find out it is about a half inch too tight to fit my Thinkpad. Would really like to consolidate into a single backpack in this size.

Osprey Katari 7 Men’s Bike Hydration Backpack

Timbuk2, LL Bean, Columbia, Eddie Bauer, TomToc, Eagle Creek, REI, North Face, DSPTCH are among the brands that aren’t weird ShenZhen portmanteau brands that I’m looking at.

For laptop sling backs I already have some from Tucano, STM, Thinktank, PacSafe.

I think Timbuk2 makes an Authority bag, not Patagonia.

I own a couple of Patagonia bags and absolutely love them.

Tom Bihn is another to look at, they have a range of different bags, including backpacks. My main backpack is a Synik 30. They aren’t the fanciest bags, but they are extremely well built. I have used their bags for years and never had so much as a zipper break. What I especially like about their bags when I commuted by bus was that they have little O rings in all the pockets that you can attach straps to. Anything important that could fall out, I had a strap on it.

Tom Bihn doesn’t make stylish or flashy bags, but he does make extremely practical and quality bags for work and travel. Plus, all his bags are made in his Seattle factory, and he really takes care of all of his employees.

I’d look at Sierra Trading Company. You might find a good deal there.

I recently got one of these for my commute/going to conferences. It’s overpriced, but it basically was the only one with the features I wanted in the size and style I wanted. At least that was available in the UK.

It’s extremely spacious inside without just becoming a hole you lose stuff in. The side pockets can expand out to hold a water bottle, and the sunglasses holder is very handy.

I used to use a Tom Bihn shoulder bag but it suffered from that hole problem and was not in great shape after a decade or so of use. It was also a bit of a pain when the bag was heavy.

I used to live right down the road from their HQ in Cheyenne. The store was always packed in the summer as tourists would stop there. Never heard anyone ever mention them outside of Cheyenne, How did you discover them?

This is a bit of a tangent, but when did backpacks become $200 - $350? What are the features that folks are looking for that justify that sort of price point?

(my everyday backpack from ~1995 - ~2015 was an old Jansport, which wasn’t amazing, but cost $40 in 1995 and did the job – and was replaced for free by Jansport in ~2015 under the lifetime warranty)

Another vote for Everki. I use the Atlas which has been a great backpack.

For me, build quality, you get what you pay for.

It wasn’t really any one feature, more trying to get as many desirable features as possible in the right size and style. I did find a model that I would have liked for about £100 less, but I’d have had to import it from the US and all the savings would have been eaten up in shipping and taxes. And I did very nearly go with a £50 model anyway, but I figured I could afford it and I might as well get the one I really wanted given I’ll be using it almost every day.

The ones that drew me to the one I bought were mainly - business friendly styling; cushioned laptop compartment; clamshell opening to avoid the aforementioned hole problem; spacious interior but relatively compact overall; sleeve to attach to suitcase handles; hardshell sunglasses case; passport pocket; side pocket capable of holding bottle; multiple compartments, including zipless exterior access one.

Heh, my backpack was an Outdoor Sport bought for about $60 back in 1991, and replaced for free in 1996 under the lifetime warranty.

But the ones linked here do seem considerably cooler than simple backpacks that we’re talking about.

Is the lifetime warranty on backpacks still a thing in 2022? That really tickled me back in the 90s, how I used and abused a backpack every day in college until it finally tore the strap, and after all that use and abuse, they replaced it for free. That just seemed so crazy to me at the time, that people just have to buy one backpack in their lifetime and it would just keep getting replaced for free for life.

I completely agree – I’m getting serious backpack envy! And, to be clear, I’m not saying backpacks aren’t worth what people are paying for them, but I’m curious about the features that take a backpack from $100 territory to 2x or 3x times that.

As for lifetime warranties, I’m not sure if they’re still a thing, but we have three or four backpacks in the basement with lifetime warranties, and damn it, I plan to get them replaced if/when we abuse them into non-usability! :-)

I think full feature backpacks are worth up to around $100, and beyond that you’re mostly paying for prestige or reputation.

Personally I wouldn’t pay full price for most of what is linked here (even the link I shared - I got that at half price). There are very frequent sales of last year’s inventory, if you are patient (I am).

Everything I own/use is so old the model is no longer made. Currently I am commuting (bike/bus) with an REI Traverse 30 which has been great for 8ish years.

After about 8 years, a surprisingly sturdy and functional backpack I got at work as part of a larger donation from one of our at-the-time sponsors, Lenovo, finally died. It was huge and had tons of great compartments/solid layout, and I stuffed it to the brim and carted it around with me daily for a mixture of work and RPG GMing purposes.

So, I bought a Targus Drifter II for about $80 at Best Buy; it was the only thing I found that wasn’t from a random-letters Shenzen shop, was under $100, had a huge primary compartment, and had tons of sizable extra compartments layered atop that with well-cushioned straps. I like to be ready to rock a 17" laptop with numerous 3 ring binders full of game crap in the primary, essentially, and lots of solid backpacks are just too short or lack the depth to stuff all that into them.

Sadly, the Drifter II is already on its way out after 3 very light-usage years (bought it a few months before the pandemic, so it’s only being lugged around 2-3 days/week at most versus 6-7 like the olden times). One strap got closed in a car door and the little plastic cinch thing that lets you tighten/loosen it shattered, so now the strap is just tied together in a knot with itself. And a month ago, a hole started developing around the zipper on the main compartment. I think GenCon this year finally did it in.

In any case, I’m very much on the market for “giant-ass, many-compartment, well-padded/comfortable under $100” backpacks to break my back with, and am watching the thread with great interest.

I just want a bag I can stuff things into. For travel I want it to hold my Chromebook, iPad, and Kindle and the necessary charging components. Extra room will go to the whatevers that don’t go into my suitcase. It needs to be the size that works as a carry-on for air. Being as lightweight as possible would be nice. It would be fantastic if there was some magical backpack like a Bag of Holding that I could use for travel and eschew suitcases, but I don’t see that as possible.

I did order an Amazon basics travel backpack about 4 years ago for grad school (note that it was $40 when I ordered it, not $85 like it is now). I used it daily for two years until covid came along and screwed things up. It has been a decent bag – holds a laptop, kindle, phone, and chromebook relatively easily, along with a couple books, etc. It doesn’t have stuff like a dedicated sunglasses compartment (which I would have loved!), but it was fine for grad school and the travel I’ve done over the last 4 years.

I think the Amazon basics line of backpacks are all basically rip offs of other backpacks. The one I got was a clone of a k swiss/wenger backpack, if memory serves.

However, seeing the stuff others are posting, I’m getting serious backpack envy!