There was a time when I always carried a laptop in a backpack. I needed to. Laptops were hefty. They weighed a few kilograms. They were big and thick. Their batteries didn’t last long, That meant you also needed to lug a power brick wherever the laptop went.
Then I got a MacBook Air. It was thinner, lighter and, most important of all, could run all day on the smell of an oily rag.
There was no longer a pressing need to carry the power brick. In the case of the Air, the power supply is tiny anyway.
My laptop backpack went to the attic to gather dust. It’s still there. Today I can fit all the computer I needed into a light leather briefcase with room to spare.
Thinner, lighter laptops were bad news for Targus, perhaps the best known computer bag brand.
Rebooting the laptop backpack
Targus rethought people’s needs. One of its updates on the laptop bag theme is the Work+Play Fitness Backpack.
The fitness element of the name doesn’t come from carrying hefty weights to and from the office. The idea is that the bag can carry all you need for the workplace along with your gym gear.
In itself, that’s not a new idea. Back when I carried my laptop in a backpack, I’d also sometimes carry my fitness gear. The problem with that was everything would get mashed together. It could get smelly.
To avoid this, the Work Play Fitness Backpack has compartments to keep everything separate. I counted 11 different compartments on the first run through. While writing up this post I found two more. There may be others. It wouldn’t surprise me if I found a door at the back that leads to Narnia.
Fitness Backpack that works for you
Targus has labelled many bag sections with icons so you don’t have to guess what to put where. There are no hard and fast rules. This is all about what works best for you.
On the outside there’s a zipped pocket for a phone. It’s way bigger than a standard phone so it can take other stuff as well, maybe cables. There’s an obvious laptop pocket with some padding to protect the computer from knocks.
A waterproof barrier separates the computer part of the bag from where you’d store dirty football boots or whatever.
You’ll also find a waterproof toiletries pocket and bags to take dirty laundry. There are hooks and stretch bands to hang thing off. There are a couple of external mesh containers which could carry a water bottle or a flask of whiskey if that’s how you roll.
Perhaps the nicest thing about the Fitness Backpack is that is comfortable to wear. There is padding on the shoulder straps, a clip to tighten it across your stomach and stop it from moving around. There is also padding in the rear so you shouldn’t be too bothered by a computer digging into your kidneys as you walk.
The bag is spacious. Targus says it can take a laptop with a 15.6 inch screen. That sounds ridiculously precise, but there you go. It also says the bag can carry 27 litres, which is ample for most needs.
It sounds a little crazy, but I felt users need some documentation from Targus on how to get the most from this bag, There are a cryptic picture clues on the packaging, but that’s it, you’re on your own. I’d like to know, for example, if the removable bags are washable. That would be important with muddy football boots or sweaty gym T-shirts.
The bag I looked at is black and grey. There’s another version that’s black and bright, almost fluro, yellow. Both cost NZ$140.
While the bag looks fine, it’s not that pretty to look at. It doesn’t say ‘loser nerd’ like some bags, but nor does it say ‘stylish’. Most people will focus on the practicalities, but there will be a market segment who’d prefer something with a touch more panache.
One last point. As the name suggests, Targus sells the bag to carry a laptop and gym gear, but it is also idea for overnight trips. You can get your work gear into the back plus a clean change of clothes and pack it all into an airplane overhead locker. I tried this myself and found it works a treat.