It was a couple years ago (literally, two) that I was walking around SHOT Show and, as I usually do several times during the course of a show, wandered into the BLACKHAWK booth. Having enjoyed long friendships with several of the employees there, I make it a point to stop in and give them grief. It’s the only friendly thing to do. As a result – and as is required – they give me grief back. On this one occasion I was wearing a pack that wasn’t a BLACKHAWK product. From another manufacturer, it was designed for urban usage to carry a laptop computer, pens, phone, etc.; the usual stuff you carry day to day – but it also had pockets that would hold water bottles and was fitted for a hydration system if you wanted to put one in. One of my BLACKHAWK friends gave me grief for wearing another manufacturer’s pack into their booth. My reply was that if I had a BLACKHAWK one that would do all the same things, I’d be wearing/carrying it. A month later I got a BLACKHAWK Laptop Backpack in the mail for test & evaluation.
As I said, that was SHOT Show two years ago so I’ve had the pack now for about two and a half years. The same day I received and unpacked it, I took everything out of the urban pack that I had and loaded it into the BLACKHAWK Laptop Backpack. For those of you wondering, yes – that’s actually what it is called: the BLACKHAWK Laptop Backpack. The designers at BLACKHAWK specifically set it up to carry a laptop and the miscellaneous other stuff you typically need day to day in a working environment, but they also made it big enough that it serves well as an overnight bag. In fact, if you know how to pack and what you’re doing, it can serve well as a three day bag.
Looking at the numbers – it has just over 900 cubic inches of space in the four main compartments (not including the side pockets) – it seems like it’s just not that much. But because of the way it is designed, cut and stitched, it has a lot of functional room. Before I get into the subjective observations, here is a list of the features published on the BLACKHAWK page for the product:
• Constructed of 500 denier nylon ripstop with reinforced stitching
• Breathable closed-cell foam padding protects contents
• High-quality YKK® zippers with easy-grip pull tabs
• Removable, adjustable sternum strap with side-release buckles
• Adjustable, padded shoulder straps with non-slip material
• Top grab handle
• Removable hook & loop ID window
• Media player pocket with external port for cord routing
• Padded laptop compartment with waterproof zipper
• Large zipper panel and three individual zippered pouches for organization
• Smaller compartments hold laptop accessories
The laptop compartment measures 13”x19” and fits my son’s MacBook Pro without any issues. It certainly fits both of the Toshiba laptops (17” screens) that I have on hand and they are nearly three times thicker than the MacBook Pro. Note that the laptop compartment is both padded and has a waterproof zipper. I never take for granted that any pack I use is waterproof so I treat them all with a water resistant spray application. There are a variety of these on the market and they all work reasonably well. Remember to apply them to a clean pack and give them a full 24 hours to dry.
The main compartment – during one trip that I took this pack on – held a pair of tennis shoes, four pair of socks, a pair of jeans, three polo shirts, three pair of underwear and a hoody. The smaller top outer pocket held my travel toiletries. The front compartment (the bigger one between the main compartment and the two outer pockets) held my iPad, all my travel documents and a few other assorted items with plenty of room to spare. The bottom outer pocket held my digital camera, the charger pack for it, a digital recording device, all of the power cords for my electronics (iPad and phone), two pens, a flashlight, etc.
Now, those sides pockets. Triangular in shape, they prove difficult to accurately measure and no specs are provided for them on the webpage for the pack. That said, during SHOT Show THIS year I was able to put a 24 ounce water bottle in each pocket along with gum and throat lozenges in one and three protein bars in the other. They are roomy – just not “quick and easy” to fit things into if you want to use all the space (because of their shape).
The pack is equipped (as noted in the list of features) with adjustable padded shoulder straps and a sternum strap (which I never use). There is also a grab handle on the top. Even with the maximum load I’ve ever put into it, the pack was more than comfortable to wear and, if loaded properly, when you’re carrying it by the grab handle and set it down, it stands up nicely without having to lean it on something lest it fall over.
The pack is available in two colors: Black or Tan and has an MSRP of $153 and change. For today’s market that’s a pretty good price for a pack with this construction and features. However, a quick google search found me some as low as $89 plus shipping and handling. That’s a DARN good price for a pack with these features manufactured by a company with such a dependable reputation. So if you’re in the market for a new pack – especially one designed to carry a laptop safely – check out the BLACKHAWK Laptop Backpack page online – or do that Google search.