When it comes to gadget bags, I'm like a woman with purses: I have a selection to choose from. Not because I just love buying new bags all the time, but because I'm always on the hunt for something better, though ninety-five percent of the time, I have no idea what that "something" is. So I'm always open to new options.
Thus, when SPIGEN reached out to me to take a look at the newest member of their backpack lineup - the Coated Backpack ($99, SPIGEN, Amazon) - I was all in. Plus, I thought it would be good to see how they improved on the Kalasden series that I reviewed back in May.
In short, they improved on their previous backpack model in nearly every way. The Coated Backpack not only retains, but enhances, a lot of what made the Klasden so great in the first place, and they also changed the design up a bit to "fix" the primary flaws with the Klasden, too. For instance, the Coated Backpack still has the ultra-soft faux fur lining for the laptop area, but it also has it in the tablet section, which is found at the front of the bag. That way, you're getting the best protection for your most important (and probably expensive) gadgets. Otherwise, the design has been opened up, with three distinct areas for stuff: the very front, fur-lined pocket for tablets; a larger area for accessories, and another, equally sized area for a laptop, charger, and the like. This one is also waterproof.
The most impressive thing about this bag is undoubtedly its size to stuff held ratio. The amount of crap you can fit in this bag is actually kind of crazy, given its relatively reasonable footprint. The rectangle-ish design really opens it up to create a lot more room than the "traditional" shape. While I was at the Big Android BBQ, this is the bag I carried. Here is a list of contents:
- Samsung Series 7 Laptop with charger
- Nexus 7
- Galaxy Nexus
- Wireless mouse
- ZAGGKeys Flex Bluetooth keyboard
- Canon ELPH 500HS Camera, extra battery, charger
- SGP Kuel f60Q portable charger
- Two or three microUSB cables and a couple of chargers
- Bluetooth earbuds, wired earbuds
- A couple of pens and a stylus
- Knife (which fortunately was not needed)
- Toothbrush, toothpaste (good hygiene is important, kids!)
- Glasses case
- Odds and ends: eyedrops, glasses wipes, device cleaning clothes, keys, wallet
- Mt. Dew
- ...and as the day went on, a few T-Shirts that I scored from the various booths.
The crazy part is - I could've actually fit more in there if I needed to. It would've been a stretch at that point, but it's possible. I honestly think I could live out of this bag for a weekend if I absolutely had to. It's just that roomy.
It's not just about how much still if holds, either - this bag looks good. It almost has a leather look to it, given its "coated" nature. As you can see, my review unit is black, but it's also available in orange-brown, gray, khaki (which looks green to me), and navy. Out of all the choices, though, I think the black one looks the best, and I absolutely love the red accents.
Sure, it has looks and tons of space, but how comfortable is it? Quite, actually. I was able to carry it around at the BBQ all weekend without any shoulder or back pain. It's definitely well padded.
Of course, like with everything else, this bag has its negatives. Namely some of the pockets are just in awkward places. For instance, in the "accessories" compartment, there's a large pocket at the bottom that is nearly impossibly to get to when the bag is full. It's just in a weird place, which makes it almost unusable. Likewise, there's a small zippered pocket in the laptop compartment (shown in the last shot above) that is nothing short of a pain in the ass to get to, even when the bag is empty. This is where I kept my smaller items in the above list (keys, eyedrops, etc.), and ended up having to take the backpack off and put it on the ground to get to the stuff in that pocket. It's pretty annoying, because that's actually a really useful pocket. It should just be in a better location.
Overall, though, I think the Coated Backpack is an excellent choice if you're looking for a new bag. At $99, it's reasonably priced for everything it offers: ample storage space, a sophisticated look, and a waterproof coating. The black version is currently out of stock on Amazon and SPIGEN's website at the time of writing - but they should be getting more stock in soon.
Update: By request, here are some images with stuff in the bag: