Commuting to University needs a trusty companion to store away books, stationary essentials and space to allow easy transport of a laptop. Although there are over the shoulder style laptop cases, they make for very little room to store other equipment along with the impracticability of heavier laptops putting too much strain on one shoulder alone. Therefore a backpack laptop case After making demanding use of this backpack for over 15 weeks, I feel that it is time enough to give an accurate review of the 16 inch laptop backpack by Port Designs.
I was first attracted to this backpack by its low price for a 16 inch laptop along with its regular backpack appearance. My friends wouldn't have guessed this was a laptop backpack, which is a major selling point considering the decreased chance of being a target of theft. It isn't exactly the most attractive looking backpack, but I assure you it looks slightly better than in the image. I've definitely grown to like the appearance of the backpack and actually find its minimalistic design to be quite smart. In terms of size, the backpack is quite tall so it might not be as suitable for children. The image makes the backpack look to be made from a shiny soft material, this is gladly not the case. The backpack is a matt jet black with a rigid outer fabric that does not give off much shine. The zip tags are of the same material and not in a metallic casing which I first had the impression of in the image.
Starting with the exterior of the backpack, the back is composed of a black soft material of almost sponge like properties which is also on the underside of the shoulder straps. This provides a cushion against your body for more comfortable carrying. Apparently there is a secret pocket on this area of the backpack, but it I've yet to find one, so if it does exist; its doing a mighty fine job at being secret. The strap adjusters aren't perfect, I've found them loosening ( very occasionally ) when under strain of a very full backpack, but are about standard in any case. The Port Designs logo seems to be firmly in place and is about the depth of three 2 pence coins. The handle is a tough fabric, but I always have my doubts when lifting by it of the durability of the fixing of the handle to the backpack. Luckily, it is still in tact despite very heavy contents in the backpack. The bottom of the backpack is a textured hard plastic which helps it stand upright. Unfortunately I've not had much luck with keeping this backpack upright on it own, but the material on the bottom does make for a little extra grip when attempting.
One of the nicest features of the backpack is located on the bottom. Detaching a velcro strap reveals a pocket which contains a rain jacket. Not a rain jacket for you, but for the backpack! It sits crushed up and compact in this little pocket whilst being still connected to the inside of the back by a stretchy material. The idea is that the jacket covers the front half of the back, but not the back since this is where your back would be when wearing. Great for sudden downpours when you have your laptop or pieces of paper you'd like kept dry inside. To my disgust the jacket is a florescent yellow which is great safety wise at night, but at the same time not very stylish having what looks like an oversized glowing sports bag. It does its job well though and in the situations where I've had to use it, I don't feel too silly considering the conditions. The jacket won't stretch over your head too ( I've tried ), so do remember to pack your own rain jacket! Despite this feature, the backpack itself is fairly water resistant itself.
Pockets, pockets, pockets. One of the more exciting concepts of backpacks is the number and variety of pockets. Starting on the exterior, there are 4 zipped pockets. A couple of pockets on the base of either side of the bag were initially just a little small for my liking. You'd just manage to squeeze a can of coke in them at least if that's a good measure of size. I find they are useful for keeping my tissues or occasionally my mobile phone power adapter. There is a very narrow pocket under the Port Designs logo which is a great quick access pouch which I often keep the train timetables along with a few folded up documents, it would accommodate a passport. Below this pocket there is another which is primarily for the likes of stationary. There are 3 slender pouches for storing individual pens and a plastic hanging hook to clip on a set of keys. Three pouches can be used for other kinds of stationary such as markers, rubbers or anything else with a width less than about an inch and a half. The backpack has 2 different compartments each accommodating a surprising amount of contents. The first of the 2 is slightly more narrow but is ideal for documents, notebooks and text books. Inside there are 3 pouches with an elastic edge which keeps the item in place. I've used these to hold a calculator, a glasses case and a bottle of water, for unfortunately there is no dedicated place for a bottle. Further up there is yet another pouch, again elasticated but also with padding to help protect fragile objects. As for the main compartment, this is where the laptop sits in a sectioned off padded part of the compartment. I found my 16 inch laptop to fit very nicely without coming into contact with the zip. There are a couple of pouched on the other side of this compartment which are ideal for storing a power adapter (unfortunately I have to split my adapter into the 2 parts for it to fit correctly) but I'd have liked an extra pouch for the battery or mouse.
This laptop has definitely served its purpose well and with its relatively low cost it has been a great investment. For those wondering just how much you can pack into this backpack, this was the contents of my backpack one day. My heavy 16 inch laptop at 3.51kg, its power adapter, a wireless mouse, a 1000 page textbook, my lunch, bottle of water, ipod, glasses case, calculator, stationary, cold stuff ( throat lozenges, ibuprofen etc. ), a notebook, several sheets of paper and various timetables. Its a fairly spacious backpack which should provide ample room for your needs. I've yet to see any signs of wear and have been extremely pleased with my purchase.