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The Best Backpacks That I Can’t Buy

Published on June 5, 2013, by in Etc.

Yesterday I realized that my trusty old IGN-branded Ogio Mastermind backpack is literally falling apart. Zippers broken, holes in pockets – it’s only a matter of time until it collapses completely. So I put out a call on Twitter for replacement recommendations.

 

 

But then my wife, the murderer of the joy of buying things, reminded me that we have another of the same backpack.

 

 

However, I did receive some cool recommendations, and have been asked to share them. This will also serve as a handy reference for when my new old backpack has an…accident…with a wood chipper.

 

 

5.11 Rush 12 (via @snakpakk) – $85

Image via 5.11 Tactical

Image via 5.11 Tactical

This one tops my list because it’s a military-grade pack recommended by a former military guy. I work in production – I need something that I’m not going to destroy. Plus it’s covered in mount points so I can hang any gear I want off of it.

Downside: no laptop pocket. I really like having a separate laptop pocket so it’s easy to remove for TSA screening. I was thinking maybe my Air would fit in the hydration pouch, but now I’ll never know.

 

 

GoRuck GR1 (via @jerffinerff) – $295

Image via GoRuck

Image via GoRuck

Ms. @jerffinerff is a consummate traveler. She’s constantly flying around the world, so when she recommends a bag, I take her seriously. The GR1 seems like a mix of the Rush 12 and some other bags below – it’s got mount points, a laptop/hydration pouch pocket, and decent organization. This bag is also (apparently) used by military personnel, so it’s durable.

Downside: Price. This is probably more than I’d be willing to spend for a backpack.

 

 

Ogio Squadron (via @kyledej) – $108

Image via Ogio

Image via Ogio

I’ve been really happy with my current Ogio bag, so of course looked at Ogio for replacements. Kyle notes that the laptop pocket in this Squadron has shock suppression so that the computer doesn’t actually touch the bottom of the pack. The drink holder on the side is also nice – I find myself constantly wanting a convenient place to store a bottle of water.

Downside: Ogio packs tend to not have enough organization for me. I carry a lot of small things, which tend to become disorganized piles.

 

 

Booq Boa Squeeze (via @brianmhite) – $130

Image via Booq

Image via Booq

This one is a very different style from the rest of the bags. It’s got lots of little pockets – seems much more designed for the urban startup guy than the great outdoors. It’s also a top-load rather than lay-flat like some of the others – whether or not that suits your needs is up to you.

Downside: I like my bags to be a bit crushable, so they’re only as big as what I put in them. This one is a more rigid design that doesn’t lend itself to that.

 

 

Kriega R35 (via MRSallee) – $209

Image via Kriega

Image via Kriega

This one’s a motorcycle pack – but as Mark Ryan said, “Who doesn’t ride a motorcycle?” Also, a backpack designed to be worn by someone flying down a highway has to be pretty solid. It’s also got extensive compression straps, so it’s never much bigger than what’s in it.

Downside: it’s more of a travel pack than a walk-around bag. Fewer outer pockets and no water holder mean you have to open the main bag to get to most things – it’s designed for traveling rather than access.

 

 

Focused Space Interspace (via Shelley Trask) – $99

Image via Apple

Image via Apple

An Apple exclusive, it’s not hard to see why – in addition to looking cool, it’s got padded compartments for both an iPad and a MacBook. Lots of organization, with good exterior pockets – I like quick access to all my stuff.

Downside: it’s nice. Even if it’s durable, I’d have a hard time hucking around something made of custom fabric. It’s also got that structured body, which I personally am not a big fan of.

 

I also got recommended Timbuk2, but not a specific bag, so I didn’t include them in this list. Have a favorite backpack? Let me know and I’ll add it.

 

 

 
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One Response

  1. Tim S

    Hey Chris, good article. In regards to Timbuk2, I personally use:

    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/commute-laptop-tsa-friendly-messenger-bag/2503646

    It’s been fantastic for me since I got it as a Christmas gift. Super durable, looks good (I think), lots of compartments with easy access, yet despite the ease of access everything feels secure and not easy for a pick-pocket to just yank something out. I had a ginger-ale leak (unknowingly) in one of the side drink holders, yet everything in the main compartments remained dry. The large size easily holds my giant gaming ASUS laptop with it’s power cord, mouse, keyboard, iPad, various chargers and still has room for folders, books, clothes etc. The best part is Timbuk2 has a lifetime warranty. My sister got me this as a gift because she had one for six years, some of the seams finally came undone, and when she wrote into the company they happily gave her credit to purchase an equivalent new bag (since hers had been discontinued).

    Obviously, however, this is a messenger bag and not a backpack. But I’m sure their backpacks are just as good.

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