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Looking For Backpack Recommendations

By my best count, it has been more than 13 years since I adopted my beloved Spire Meta backpack as the best way to tote my tech (and more). Even now, though showing a bit of wear, it is completely intact, with not a broken zipper or popped stitch anywhere. Sure, a few signs of age and hard wear here and there, but still way more than usable.

However, times and needs change, and I’ve started looking for a new pack, one with more dedicated pockets and some features that I see being added to newer models. Packs can be expensive to buy, and are something you’re going to live with every single day, so a more than average amount of research is in order. Unfortunately, it is all but impossible to see a decent selection anywhere in person, so I’m looking for experiences, recommendations and input.

What I carry
The items that tend to reside permanently in my pack for day-to-day activities include:

  • A 15″ MacBook Pro Retina
  • Power Brick for said MacBook Pro
  • A full-size iPad in a ZooGue Genius case
  • Power brick for said iPad
  • Lumix point-and-shoot camera in a small padded case
  • Battery charger for the Lumix (a small plastic device about the size of a pack of cigarettes)
  • Sync cables and video adapters for all devices
  • Two to three external USB hard drives
  • A Monoprice external battery to act as emergency power supply for iPhone and iPad
  • Earphones
  • Misc. thumb drives
  • Pens
  • Note pad

When I hit the plane or train, add to that:

  • Noise canceling headphones in hard-shell case
  • Light jacket

Since the pack goes with me whether I’m going casual or in a suit, it needs to have a professional appearance i.e. no significantly bright colors, minimal hanging straps. Black is always best

General use
I seldom, but occasionally, hang the bag from my left shoulder, so the straps need to be adjustable and well-padded.

Desired features

  • Lots of pockets to keep all those cables and adapters separate
  • Suspension system to keep the laptop and/or iPad from hitting the floor when I put the bag down. (Too many packs pad front and back, but not the bottom, so your hardware can come in for a crash landing.)
  • Glasses pocket that is crush-resistant or crush-proof

These are the bags that I’ve been seriously looking at, but am wide open to suggestions, so don’t hold back.

SwissGear ScanSmart Backpack

Swiss Gear Ibex 17 Inch Backpack

These two bags are very similar, so I need to look at both in person Lots of pockets in these, but the straps seem a little thin, especially for a lengthy trek between airport terminals.

Ogio Renegade RSS Laptop/Tablet Backpack

I saw this bag at CES in Las Vegas and talked to the Ogio folks about it (MacVoices #1314). It meets many of my requirements, but is a little on the expensive side. It is also a little heavy because of all that padding.

STM Jet Medium Laptop Backpack

I’ve had the STM model that is now discontinued for some time and really like it as a secondary, special use pack. Great quality, great durability, but just not enough separate pockets to make it an ideal choice. The Jet strikes me as just a little small for my needs.

What do you think?
If you have thoughts on any of the above or other recommendations, please leave a comment below, drop me an email at or hit me up on Twitter, or Google+. (OK, OK, Facebook if you absolutely must).

Thanks for your help!

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