My old, cheap backpack is getting worn out, and one of these days it's going to be replaced when money permits. So I've been window shopping. ( I also use a Kensington Saddlebag laptop backpack, which is showing signs of age as well.)
Of all the backpacks I've looked at on the web-sites of USA bag makers, my two favorites are the Brain Bag and the Airborne Carry On Ruck Sack. Both of which come close to meeting my needs...
I want a large, extremely high-quality backpack that offers:
- an upright compartment for a laptop and file folder
- other compartments for things like a camera or camcorder, GPS unit, flashlight, binoculars, walkie talkies, iPod + charger + cassette adaptor, hand sanitizer bottle, business cards, and a plethora of other goodies
- excellent shoulder straps
- top quality and tough-as-nails USA hand construction with an outstanding warranty, able to take a beating in the outdoors
- offers a sternum strap, or waist strap
There is another backpack out there, from Tenba, and it could've been my fantasy backpack. Tenba's Shootout backpacks offer an extra-thick top carrying handle, a quick-access comnpartment for cameras, a tripod carrying holster, rain cover and a waist strap. Unfortunately, it also weighs between 5 and 10 pounds, depending on configuration. And Tenba's costs range from about the same as Tom Bihn's Western Flyer to more than a TriStar. (!!!)
After looking all these backpacks over, I find myself wanting more than one bag. One would be a "street pack", for carrying on hikes or for other activities outdoors or on the road. This would be a lightweight backpack. The other bag would be the heavy-duty photographer/videographer's "pro pack", heavy enough for serious protection on serious missions. Too bad they both can't be found in one bag.
For both the Brain Bag and the Airborne Carry On Ruck Sack, the top handle is too thin to pick up and carry the bag comfortably, even for short distances. I wish the top handles were more padded; even my current cheap backpack has a beefier handle, more like the Tenba.