This is my review of the eBags Professional slim laptop backpack. I purchased the backpack about five weeks ago to replace a Timbuk2 Commute messenger bag I purchased back in June of 2015. I was never really all that happy with the messenger bag as my gear just tended to float around inside…it was essentially just a big empty compartment.
Since I’ve had this bag it’s been used for my daily commute back and fourth to work and multiple trips to client sites. It definitely fits under the seat when you’re flying coach.
This bag comes in several different flavors; the slim version reviewed here at 1,319 cubic inches, the ‘Weekender‘ at 1,948 cubic inches and the ‘Junior‘ at 1,018 cubic inches. There are also three color options; black, heathered graphite, and brushed indigo (you have to love the folks that come up with these names).
Pricing: With a coupon I picked up this backpack for $79.99. The eBags site has a price breakdown with: “Compare at $199.99”, “List Price $119.99”, “Sale Price $99.99” and a “Final Price $79.99” with a coupon applied. We all know that the “Compare at” price is just marketing to make you think you’re getting a $200 bag for half-price; no one would ever pay $200 for this bag, and even at $199 I probably wouldn’t have purchased it. $80 seemed reasonable and after a month of use I’m generally happy with it.
This backpack is intended for ‘professional’ use, with a very uncluttered look, meaning it was designed so that you can carry it in to meetings with clients without looking like you’ve just come back from a camping trip. Other than a couple of small plastic loops on the backpack straps, it’s free of loops and hooks you’ll find on typical backpacks.
It was a handle on both the top and right side, so that if you want, you can carry it from the side like a briefcase. It’s an interesting idea, but I’ve tried it a few times and it’s pretty bulky to carry it like that.
The exterior is make of black ‘ballistic’ nylon with an orange lining on the interior panels.
First and foremost, this is a ‘minimalist‘ backpack, meaning that if you’re the type of person who tends to try and put 10 pounds of gear in a 5 pound bag, this backpack isn’t for you.
Unlike many other backpack style bags, this one doesn’t have any expansion zones; the advertised 18″ x 12.75″ x 8.5″ outer dimensions is all you’re going to get.
This bag has 5 primary compartments; the ‘garage’ in the bottom, the front organizer pocket, a 4″ deep middle pocket, tablet pocket and laptop compartment. It also has a zip-out pocket on the left side that can be used to hold a water bottle or similar container.
Other features include:
- vented ‘Airmesh’ back panel with removable/adjustable shock-load sternum strap,
- Top-loading tablet pocket fits tables up to 8-1/8” wide x 11.5” tall; located between the middle and laptop compartments,
- A front panel organizer,
- Zippered side-mounted water bottle pocket,
- Vertical zippered “Napoleon” pocket on the organizer pocket flap,
- Luggage handle pass-through panel which allows the backpack to stack on your suitcase or roll-aboard (horizontally or vertically).
The feature I like the most about this backpack is the ‘garage’ feature, which is a compartment under the middle pocket which has a hard crush-resistant shell around it. It sits just below the ‘Middle Pocket’, and if you wish, the garage outer shell can be removed increasing the volume of the middle pocket.
The garage is great for your laptop power supply, cords, and other bulky items you don’t want floating around the inside of your bag and might need some extra protection.
The Organizer Pocket
The outer pocket of the bag has a zippered closure with loops with a luggage lock.
Inside the organizer pocket are three zippered mesh bags, an elastic pocket, two pen holders and two additional zippered flat pockets, one of which has a key lanyard. I use them for smaller items like my calculator, USB cords I use a lot, some thumb drives and similar small devices.
As I mentioned before, this bag doesn’t have any expandability, so if you try to stuff any of these pouches with anything bulky, the only place it has to expand to is in to the cavity of the middle pocket. If the middle pocket is already full, you’re not going to be able to zip the organizer shut.
The Middle Pocket
The middle pocket of this bag is about 4″ thick, and is fine for small to medium binders, books, folders and similar items. It has “L” zipper access, meaning that only two sides of the opening un-zip in to an “L” shape to give you access inside. I haven’t found this to be a problem at all and the solid opposite side seems to add to the structural integrity of the bag. There is an additional small inner diagonal pocket (seen to the right side of the white folder), but it’s very small; it’s really only suitable for a couple of thin file folders.
Again, you don’t want to pack anything too bulky inside this pocket as you simply won’t be able to get the zipper closed.
The laptop compartment has the same “L” zippered opening design as the middle pocket, and can accommodate computers measuring 1.5” deep x 12.25″ wide x 16.5″ long, up to 17.5″ long if you remove cushion in the bottom of the pocket which is held in place by Velcro. I wouldn’t recommend removing the pad in the bottom of the compartment unless you don’t plan on using it for a laptop or you’re positive you’ll always be setting the bag down on a soft surface. Otherwise your laptop could be in for a hard time.
This compartment has a decent amount of padding to protect your computer. This compartment is up against your back where you’re wearing the backpack, and I don’t notice any bumps or lumps through the padding.
Like the middle pocket, the laptop compartment has a thin inner pocket (you can see my clipboard sitting in it in the picture), which you can use for some thin folders, a magazine or maybe an Ethernet cable, but again, you won’t fit anything bulky inside.
Overall I’m happy with this bag. After a month of use, I haven’t encountered any quality issues (no fraying seams, stray threads or burst panels), and it’s definitely comfortable to wear on your back while traveling through the airport. It has a nice ‘clean’ look and it does a good job organizing my gear.
If I encounter any problems with it or have any other thoughts, I’ll update this review.