Product Type: Wenger Rucksack
Newest Review: ... of a small, zipped internal pocket for change and other small items) is my main complaint about this Wenger pack. I like to be able to ca... more
Swiss Army Goes to Town
Wenger Swiss Army Backpack
Member Name: MagdaDH
Wenger Swiss Army Backpack
Advantages: very well made, some interesting features, great zips
Disadvantages: no external straps nor internal small zipped pocket, laptop compartment of dubious use
Wenger is a reputable (and thus fairly expensive) brand of luggage and accessories. They also sell kit under the ''Swiss Army'' label. I normally buy cheap to medium priced luggage and I could not imagine spending thirty or more pounds on a small day-pack type rucksack (the RRP on this bag is £39.99). However, during the summer Tesco were running a promotion which gave substantial discounts on a range of Wenger luggage and thus I was able to buy one of these for about £11.
At 22 litres it's a fairly typical day-sack type of thing, and size-wise it would fit into a cabin luggage easily.
The pack has three compartments, of which the main one has an extra padded divider which provides an integral laptop pocket. Initially it seemed like a good idea, but since then I decided it's a bit wasteful of the bag space and I never really use it for a laptop. I like to have the option of leaving the laptop let's say in the boot or wherever I am going, or passing it on to another person and thus I will always take it in its own case. I don't necessarily want to always lug it with me in my day-pack, and using the integral pocket would force me to do just that. It does come in handy for keeping squashable items like bananas a little less squashed though.
The middle pocket is medium-sized and has a cloth holder for all kinds of things (there is a narrower one for a phone, and a wider one possibly for a passport or wallet, as well as place for pens and - a fantastic idea - a clip-in widget which you can attach to your car key (or any other key, obviously, but I tend to lose the car key in my bag most of all) as a key-ring and then clip it in to prevent the thing disappearing into the depths of your bag.
However, there is no zipped small pocket suitable for keeping loose coins, notes, cards or another set of keys. You can put these into one of the cloth holders/pockets, but none of these have zips or even poppers, and thus your only option is to use the smallest compartment (which is still fairly big) or to carry your change in your pocket.
The whole bag is made of rather ugly, thick-woven, plasticky material which, however, appears extremely thick and sturdy. I have not had it enough to make such a judgement but it feels like this pack will last a long time without falling apart. The zips are very good, big-teethed and easy to slide. All this solidity is probably responsible for a noticeable weight of the bag, nothing to terrible but noticeably more than some other good day-packs I had.
The shoulder straps are fairly comfortable, with a bit of padding. They sit well on my back even with the bag full of heavy shopping, but a person of a slight build would find them too wide I think (they slide off my daughter's shoulders for example, and she is a 5-foot tall, well-built 11 year old).
There is no hip belt and no sternum strap which is fine for me for such a small pack, though somebody who wanted to use it hill-walking might want those. This is, however, strictly speaking a town bag rather than a hiking one.
There is also none whatsoever external straps for attaching additional items. This (as well as lack of a small, zipped internal pocket for change and other small items) is my main complaint about this Wenger pack. I like to be able to carry my jacket and if there is no straps, I have to allow space inside the day-pack. With straps, the waterproof can be attached to the bag and there is no need for leaving space for it inside, and this bag lacks such straps. There is a carry/hang up handle which is a Good Thing.
At the price I paid, or anything less than £15 or even £20 this is a great small backpack, particularly for town use. At the RRP or even the normal online price of around £30 it is, in my opinion, too expensive for what it is (and what it lacks), although if you are specifically looking for a well-made day-pack with an integral laptop pocket, it will probably do you very well.
Summary: well made town backpack with an integral laptop compartment