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Looking for a Backpack

Today’s spoiled consumer rant … I’m looking for a new backpack. My old one is around 10 years old and fraying. I got it at Uniqlo back when they used to carry backpacks (they don’t anymore). It’s been great and I still use it. But, I carry my notebook PC more and more and it’s less than smooth getting the PC in. It’s got an inside pocket for a notebook but if the bag is full or if the area is cramped, like when I’m on a bus, then it can by hard to get the PC back in. Sometimes I end up just carrying it outside the bus until I have room to force the bag straight to get the PC to fit the pocket.

So, I’m looking for a new one and it’s surprising with just a few, I would think, common sense requirements it’s hard to find a bag.

The requirements

*) Must have a separate notebook area.

Some bags, like my current one, have a main area and inside that area is a pocket. I want a bag that separates those 2 areas (separate zippers) so I can always very quickly put notebook back in the bag with no fuss.

This bag has an inside pocket like my current bag which can make it frustrating to put the notebook in when the back is not straight or when it’s full or when you’re in a cramped area like a bus or plane

Where as this pack, though it’s a camera bag, has a distinct separate area for the notebook so even when it’s full it’s easier to take the notebook in and out

*) The separate notebook area must not have a zipper lip.

Some bags have a cloth lip the covers the zipper. To open the bag you need to peel back the cover. This makes it slightly harder to open and close the back. Also if you do it wrong the lip scrapes across your finger nail cuticles which is no fun. Here’s one with a zipper lip

Those zipper lips probably prevent rain and snow from getting through the zipper but I don’t need that.

*) There must be an easy access area on the front for flat stuff

In my current bag there are 2 pockets in the front cover were put flat things and they are super easy to access. Things like a kleenex pack, wet tissues, my passport, etc..

*) A front pocket for smaller things like pens, batteries, iPods.

That’s pretty common but there are some bags that put some kind of organizer in the main pocket instead of having a separate pocket. That makes all those small things unreachable if the main pocket is full.

*) The bag should be a normal size.

North Face appeared to have some bags I might like which I saw on their website. I went to their store though and the bags were giant. At least 30% larger than my current one. I guess being North Face they were designed for hiking not commuting.

*) The bag can be flattened for packing.

I found a few beautiful bags that meet the above requirements but they are padded to be stiff. In other words I can’t put the bag in a suitcase as it won’t flatten. That may or may not be important but there are times when it’s nice to be able to limit your bags. Like coming back from vacation you might have your new loot bag and you’d like to carry one less bag so you pack your backpack. But you can only do that if your backpack is packable.

These 2 are both padded

*) At least a little style.

Of course that’s subjective but that’s just to say I’d like a bag I find attractive.

Here’s two from Victorinox. The first one has this strange front flap. It’s held up by 2 zippers and 2 buttons. If the bottons come undone the entire front of bag opens. Sounds like an easy way for everything to fall out and doesn’t meet my criteria for a smaller front area.

Here’s another that’s also missing the small front area. It has a tiny area in front which so too small for anything but maybe a few pens.

Sigh…. I’ll keep looking.