I needed a laptop backpack to slap(pa) around my brand new 17 inch Dell Studio 1735 and being such a thorough consumer, you know, the kind that drives shop staff crazy with endless question, I absolutely had to do some thorough research on the topic.
Laptop backpack versus laptop bag
If you move around a lot and don’t care much about that business look that the laptop bag bestows upon you (at least you think so, with your imitation leather crappy bag), the backpack is definitely the way to go. Easier to fill with things, easier to carry when heavy. The only downsides to backpacks are the poor accessibility when you have them on (you have to strip them off to go inside) and the fact that a lot of them are not designed for real urban business style, with their sometimes flashy colors and bulky metal things all over them. I also found that 17 inch laptop backpacks are kind of hard to find, they’ll be more widespread along with the increase in popularity of 17 inch laptops.
A good 17 inch laptop backpack‘s must-haves:
- proper size; it has to accommodate the laptop properly, not too tight (usually), not too loose, plus it should fit many more things to carry around, since it’s a backpack, duh!
- proper padding; ideally, the padded laptop compartment would completely envelop the laptop in thick, solid padding, instead of just two-thirds of it
After proper research that discarded Targus, The North Face and the likes, I ended up with two models to choose from: the Pegasus from Swiss Gear by Wenger and the Swiss Gear Ibex backpack 17 inch. Good build quality, solid, large, but… a few major issues such as the incomplete height of the padded compartment and the way too touristic look. I wasn’t going to carry my laptop through the mountains.
I don’t know how I got to the Slappa website. Thorough web research has this strange effect, you end up in places you REALLY didn’t know existed, and that’s the truly best part about the net.
The Slappa Velocity Matrix
Slappa has long committed to delivering gear for the gadget enthusiasts, starting with CD/DVD wallets ans finishing with laptop backpacks.
There are four models under the “Road Warrior” pseudo-under-brand they’ve put their backpacks in: Velocity Matrix, Velocity Snyder and Ballistix Aura Pro-Tour.
The Matrix instantly caught my eye, with its almost black, sober appearance and its aura of stuff that’ll endure the ages. It looks elegant, yet perfectly fit for a Navy S.E.A.L. to wear and not look like a pussy.
Materials, build quality
Slappa claims the Matrix is made of “water-repellent/tear resistant BuckBlast z-suede”, they used to call it “scubaprene” when I got mine. Well, it certainly is water-repellent and it sure looks tear resistant.
The interiors are made of really soft materials, supposedly to protect your electronics from scratching. It certainly does, as it lines absolutely all compartments of the backpack.
The handle and straps are rock-solid. The handle seems incredibly comfortable in the hand and the particular shape of the straps seems to increase comfort a lot. Not suitable for women, though, due to… um, their breasts, which these straps will most probably not agree with. The bottom is protected by two pieces of tough plastic material, only there for protection, since they are too narrow to give it vertical stability. The zippers seem of “industrial strength”, indeed, and have small rubber caps at each and of their track, to prevent them from going loose.
Laptop compartment, other compartments
That’s the main thing, right? The Matrix has it well padded, large enough to hold my 17 inch Dell full height (and this is one big laptop) and it has an actual padded lid on top, instead of just a strap. The best laptop compartment on any backpack I’ve seen so far. So comfortable I don’t even feel I carry a big bulk rigid thing and I’m able to easily move the laptop in and out of it, due to a perfect fit, not too tight, not to loose.
This rucksack has many compartments, all lined with that soft material, enough to please any taste, I think, and as seen in pictures above, it even features a separate, detachable pouch for you to carry your mp3 player or phone. A nice touch.
There’s one compartment right on your back, which is supposed to keep things cool, since it has thermal insulation. Never tried it, though it can’t hurt having it.
On the road
I’ve really slapped this bag around, city, trains, plains, cars, rain and snow, hot and cold. All I can say is that it is perfect for my needs. I always fill it up to the limit, yet it still feel comfortable to move around with it, and the straps and handle don’t seem to feel the strain at all. This one should last ten years :).
Pricing and where to buy
You can get this from Decks if you’re in the UK, for a fair price given the quality you are buying, around £77. I would advise against getting a cheap 30-50$/£/Euro backpack if you care about your expensive equipment.
- excellent build quality, waterproof exterior, very soft interior
- rugged yet stylish and interesting looking, sober
- well compartment-ed, plenty of space
- great 17 inch laptop fit, well padded laptop compartment, great laptop protection
- great value for the money
- no real ones; some more nature-going folk would probably like bigger exterior pockets for their bottles
Great 17 inch laptop backpack, really glad I decided to go for it. If you need a backpack that has an almost army standard strength exterior, while still looking slick and elegant, a smooth interior and plenty of protection against shock and elements, all of these at a decent price, the Slappa Matrix should be among your best options. Kudos, Slappa!