Nov 252014
 
The Ogio Newt 15 backpack has six compartments,

The Ogio Newt 15 backpack has six compartments,

There are some things we travelers always need to compromise on, and how we transport the things we must travel with is perhaps one of the greatest compromises of all.

Ideally, we’d travel like the ruling classes in the nineteenth century, with steamer trunks full of everything we might possibly need, and a retinue of servants to carry it all for us.  But, in reality, we take only what we can personally carry.

A business backpack is a convenient double-duty item.  We can use it to hold things while traveling, and then, when going to a meeting at our destination, it is something we’re not embarrassed to go into a meeting with and haul out papers, laptops, etc.

I’ve written about two potentially suitable backpacks about a year ago – the ECBC and the Everki backpacks.  Both sell for right around $140.

I liked both backpacks, but as I said in the reviews, both are a little short of perfect.  In particular, sometimes they are a bit too big, and start to give more the impression of my being a multi-day hiker who just happened to stumble into a business meeting, with all my worldly possessions on my shoulders.  So I was interested to try out this new backpack from Ogio, their Newt 15 (ie designed to hold a 15″ laptop).  There is also a Newt 13 for smaller laptops, but I don’t have laptops that tiny.

This is clearly a product that has been designed from the start to carry electronics.  The other two products felt more like good general purpose backpacks that had been slightly modified to accept a laptop.  The Ogio product however has not just a padded protective compartment for a laptop, it also has a padded protective pocket for a tablet and two other padded protective pockets – perhaps one for a phone or two, and the other for an MP3 player or up to 7″ tablet/eReader, a camera, or who knows what other portable electronics you are traveling with.  With so many glass screened devices these days, having a range of protective pockets to safely store them all is very helpful.

The Newt backpack is a bit slimmer than the other two, and when being worn looks more like a business computer carrying backpack rather than a general purpose backpack that just happens to have a computer in it, as well as who knows what else.

There are six main sets of compartments.  From the front to the back, the first is a large pocket that has a single zip that slides across the top and then down one side, opening up a space about 7.5″ wide and 9″ deep.  Inside are typical ‘organizer’ type compartments for pens, but no business card storage, but a larger space suggested for a wallet or checkbook.  A key clip is also inside so you can safely store your keys while traveling.

The next compartment has a single zip that travelers up one side, over the top, and down the other side, revealing a soft padded compartment with four pockets – some of which could be used for your business cards and for those of other people you are collecting, as well as of course for electronics,

The third compartment is the ‘main’ front compartment, again with an inverted U shaped zip although this time with two zips.  Inside is a soft lined sleeve for a tablet, two other pockets, and of course, the main storage space as well, which is probably about 2″ thick, depending on what else you have in the compartments on either side.  This is the compartment in which I put my presentation folder and note pad; it would be nice if it had another divider in it to help keep documents sorted, but it works fine without it.

The fourth compartment is a small one at the top, with a 6″ zip opening and about 3″ deep – good for stuffing your phone and a few other things in, perhaps, when going through airport security.

Compartment five is an imaginative one, but alas inexplicably fails at what it is probably intended to do.  It is on the side, with a 7″ vertical zip, and a compartment depth of about 7.5″.  It is intended as a travel document storage space, but fails abjectly.  Paper is 8.5″ wide, so to get any paper into this compartment you’d have to fold it in half both lengthwise and widthwise, which is too much and totally unnecessary.  If the designer had just made the compartment another couple of inches long, to say 9″ or more (the width of the backpack at this point is 11″ so it seems it would be very easy to widen this pocket), then documents folded in half (5.5″ x 8.5″) or tri-folded in three would fit in easily.  Instead, this is sadly a disappointing fail.

Lastly, after the disappointment of compartment five, compartment six is another ‘good’ one.  It has a similar inverted L single zip that goes along most of the top and down one side, and this is the laptop compartment.  Rated for a 15″ screen laptop, my 15.4″ screen laptop with an extra-capacity battery that sticks out the back of the laptop case managed to fit in there just fine, as of course did my smaller 14″ laptop.

All but one of the compartments are single zippered rather than double zippered.  I like this, because it makes the backpack look less cluttered and more like a functional piece of equipment rather than a flashy ‘design statement’.

The backpack has two adjustable straps, and a cross-chest strap to hold them together, including a nice extra feature – elastic on part of the cross chest strap, helping it to flex while staying secure as one bends and turns and twists.  Carrying it was reasonably comfortable.  It also has a useful carry handle on the top.

The backpack weighs 2 lb 5 oz, making it slightly lighter that the other two bags, and in one’s constant struggle against airline weight limits (even sometimes imposed on carry-on items) every ounce saved does count.  It comes in two ‘textured grey’ colors – a lighter and a darker grey, and with a lighter gold sort of color for the inside pocket linings (making it easier to see things in the pockets).  It looks generally nice and reasonably business-like, being functionally sophisticated but not ostentatious.

Another nice feature of the bag is its price – $100, either directly or via Amazon, whereas the other two both sell for around $140.

Overall, this backpack has been designed to carry a laptop, accessories and power supply, some other electronics, and one or two other small essential items such as you’d formerly have had in a briefcase (why does no-one seem to have briefcases any more, I wonder?).  It isn’t as roomy as the other two backpacks formerly reviewed – if you consider its ‘slimline’ profile to be a plus, then this would be a good choice, but if you prefer to be able to carry more items in the one backpack, then you should consider one of the two larger backpacks.

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