In a dim and distant past, I remember that wearing a backpack with two straps on the way to school, no matter how much it weighed or cut in to your shoulder, was a surefire way to get beaten up by the big kids. It just wasn’t cool. And whilst in some circles the fashion has changed to make 2-strap backpack wearing more acceptable, the weight of the books which kids have to schlep around is still pretty backbreaking. And then there’s us old-folk with our incessant need to carry around computers and gadgets, weighing ourselves down with Tech.
And that’s the thinking behind the Airbac range of backpacks – to both protect you from the weight of your backpack, and to protect what’s in the backpack from the outside world.
We have on test the AirTech Backpack, which is a wolf in commuter-sheep’s clothing. It’s a pretty conservative design, with a few homages to outdoorsyness in the shape of a daisy-chain webbing and buckle-down rain flaps, but in essence it’s a commuter pack.
But more than a commuter pack, it is comprised of a whopping great air chamber which rests on the small of your back, just above your butt, which forms itself around the shape of your hips and dissipates the weight of your books/laptop/stuff straight in to your pelvis – in much the same way that a bigger backpack is designed to send most of its weight through its waiststrap.
The amount of padding in the AirTech Backpack is insane. They’ve turned up the padding dials to 11 and it’s foam o’clock in the shoulderstraps. The bag oozes comfort from every pore. But it’s that enormous air bladder which is the party piece. Its over 4 inches deep at the bottom of the bag, and you kinda just want to put your laptop in the thing and drop it to watch it bounce around the room.
Does it make things feel lighter? I’m not sure about that, but it does spread the load over a wide area of your lower back, which in quite a comfortable thing once you get used to it not being a standard backpack.
The air bladder will stay inflated, they say, for years. But in the event that you need to fine-tune or top it up, you can do so via a funky looking valve.
The AirTech Backpack which we have on test is part of Airbac’s Business line, and as such it comprises of more pockets than a shop full of coats. I’ll list them, so brace yourself!
Outside there’s 2 mesh bottle pockets, and two zippered ‘small stuff’ pockets. There’s a rain-flap covered third pocket big enough for iPad mini or Kindle, and in there a padded, zippered pocket for, er, stuff. The first of three main zippered sections contains two mesh pockets, a phone pocket, a mesh document pocket and a separator pocket. The 2nd main section is large enough for a laptop, and contains (you’ve guessed it) a pocket. And finally (phew) the largest section, closest to your back, is a dedicated laptop padded pocket. I need a little lie down.
The construction and finish of the Airbac pack is top notch. The zippers are big and chunky, and the stitching is well done. The thing exudes an air of bomb-proof-ness which means that even the clumsiest commuter (or average child) will get home safe with gear unscathed.
The price of this particular pack is £68 rrp, which is pretty damn good (works out about 50p per pocket!) for the quality of product you’re getting here. If you’re looking for the ultimate in knock-protection for your gear, without resorting to something like a Peli case, then give Airbac a look.