Dear Natalie: Try Solo New York Backpacks

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Solo New York Backpacks Review

By Natalie McCarthy

Dear Natalie,

Any suggestions on how to best schlep my stuff around town on a regular basis?

Sincerely,

My Back Hurts

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Dear Achy Back,

I always regret the carry-on I choose when I travel. I can never seem to choose correctly. I have a tendency to pick a bag I think will be easy – “Why not just shove everything in this tote?” – and later realizing on the airplane that it is, in fact, terribly inconvenient. I’m starting to believe that somewhere in my subconscious, I actually enjoy unloading everything from my carry-on bag, with 2×2 centimeters of personal space, without jostling or touching or breathing upon the person next to me, just so I can find a pen.

Oh! And that’s all assuming I made it to the plane without developing scoliosis. “I’ll just use this tote,” I think; then, in mile 21 of the Chicago O’Hare gate change marathon, I realize I’ve lost feeling in my shoulder. “Maybe I should have packed fewer three-ounce containers of liquid,” I think, as if that would’ve made any difference at all.

Luckily, all that will change for me moving forward, and perhaps for you as well. I received two Solo New York Backpacks – commuter backpacks from Solo New York, a New York City-based brand specializing in bags and tablet cases. Solo New York is owned by United States Luggage Company, which – check this out – created rolling luggage. That’s right, children, once upon a time, you actually had to haul your massive suitcase by hand through the Chicago O’Hare gate change marathon!

Anyway, so I received two laptop backpacks to test out for you, both in a rich burgundy color. They came with a sweet note.

 

The Draft Backpack comes with a padded laptop sleeve; a protective pocket for a tablet; two external front compartments; thickly padded straps and back lining; and a partridge in a pear tree. Just kidding. No partridges, not even Danny Bonaduce.

Solo New York Backpacks 1

I loved the two external pockets on this one, for easy access to small things I might need periodically throughout a long ride on a plane, train, or bus: lip balm, hand lotion or sanitizer, pens, that kind of thing. The Draft also sports a mesh pocket on each side for readily-available drink storage; I dig this, because I am a bonafide monster hydrator, and I like carrying two water bottles with me throughout the day. I also really like the t-shaped zipper pulls; they make it really easy to futz with the pack and grab items from inside while you’re walking (which I think is a talent all women gain, genetically, from our mothers).

Solo New York Backpacks 2

It’s great that the Draft has a little organizer pocket, but here’s the thing: it’s deep inside the pack. No way am I easily accessing that in a cramped space, like the window seat on a regional commuter flight when I’m seated next to the love child of Xena the Warrior Princess and the Incredible Hulk. Still, it’s nice that the feature exists.

 

The organizer pocket on the second pack I received – the Region design – is much more accessible, inside a front zipper pocket. The region has the same lovely padding and internal compartments as the Draft, with a different style on the outside.

Solo New York Backpacks 3

The Region has only one little zipper pocket on the front, but I suppose that’s okay when you factor in… wait for it… wait for it… the LUGGAGE STRAP ON THE BACK! What?!?

Solo New York Backpacks 4

Okay, so it’s not that exciting, but I think it’s a great detail. I’ve often rigged my rolling suitcase to sort of, kind of, precariously hold onto my carry-on while I navigate airports; it never really worked perfectly. I love that the Region pack is made for this! It’s nice to give your shoulders a break during a long travel day.

The inside of the Region pack is set up much like the typical school/work backpack, with two main compartments. The smaller one has an organizer panel with small pockets and a pen holder. It is, as I said, easier to access this one than the organizer in the Draft model.

 

Ultimately, these are great packs with very little downside. They are priced affordably, and in North America, you’re likely to find some of the models in your local big box electronics store – where one might find discounts. In my dreams, Solo New York creates a Region-Draft hybrid model, which I use until it falls apart. Oh, and speaking of that! They have a five-year warranty. That’s right, a five-year warranty on a backpack – so you know, these packs must be well made.

Go peruse their catalog! If backpacks aren’t your thing, they have messenger bags, totes, briefcases, duffels, and all kinds of different styles to suit your fancy.

Schlep on, my friends,

Natalie

 

 

 

 

Resident Columnist and Reviewer at | Website

“Ask Natalie” host, Natalie McCarthy was born and raised in the urban American rust belts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cleveland, Ohio, in a not-particularly-outdoorsy family. She discovered the outdoors in her early 30s and now seeks out new ways to adventure.

Natalie earned her master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work. She works as a licensed supervisory clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of co-occurring substance use, general mental health, and trauma-related disorders. While her professional practice is where Natalie spends most of her time helping people with their problems, she was an online advice columnist in the past.

In the early 2000s, she was the go-to answer girl on a now-defunct website called New Girl Order. Her column there led her to research a diversity of topics, from May-December romances to why on Earth plucking our eyebrows makes us sneeze.

46 thoughts on “Dear Natalie: Try Solo New York Backpacks

  • January 21, 2020 at 3:43 pm
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    I am currently searching for a good backpack myself and the Draft Backpack that you shared seems to be a good choice. I like that it has thickly padded straps which makes it comfortable as it is recommended that we wear both shoulder straps.

    I also like that it has multiple compartments since it helps to keep the items organized and it can also help users manage the weight of the items better. According to experts, this can help reduce the stress on the body which can, later on, cause back pains.

    Reply
  • April 7, 2019 at 11:25 pm
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    These backpacks look so great! I love they have so many pockets and places to store things and they look really good too. So fab!

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  • April 6, 2019 at 5:52 am
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    A solo backpack will help me to carry essential things for my next journey.
    Thanks, Natalie for sharing.

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  • April 3, 2019 at 7:36 pm
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    I love these backpacks feature the laptop sleeve and lots of space. They also look very durable.

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  • April 3, 2019 at 10:30 am
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    These backpacks look amazing! I’ve always been the “let’s jut bring a giant shoulder bag” type of person, and then I realize that it is so painful and heavy and unorganized, and I regret it completely. These look like the perfect solution!

    Reply
  • April 2, 2019 at 3:21 am
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    These backpacks look amazing!! Love all the organization options. Definitely have to look into this!

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  • April 1, 2019 at 9:28 pm
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    The commuter backpack would likely solve the ‘out of balance’ issues I’ve been having ever since having kids. I swapped out holding a baby for a toddler, and then the lopsided shoulder tote took over and I’ve been crooked ever since! Double staps over the shoulder may be the answer!

    Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 9:21 pm
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    I’m in the market for a new travel backpack and these are going on the top of the list! I love that there are separate compartments to organize your electronics, etc. I cannot stand it when backpacks don’t have a laptop sleeve/pouch to prevent it from getting scratched. I wonder if this would also work well for DSLR camera storage? I would think so!

    Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 8:55 pm
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    Being a frequent traveler, I can relate to this. The draft backpack does not only look great but is also functional. I like that there are so many compartments. This sure helps organize things in a better way. The second backpack looks equally good! I would like to check out their briefcases.

    Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 2:10 am
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    You got me right there when you said that you often end up with the wrong tote. I often go through the same. I keep playing with different bags, trolleys and backpacks but it never seems perfect. The backpacks look great. I liked the front mesh pocket, the organiser inside and it shows that it thoughtfully made for travelers like us.

    Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 12:56 am
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    I like both backpacks, especially the Region. Probably because I don’t work, so I don’t really need lots of pockets like the Draft Backpack. The luggage strap on the back is really a good value. Especially when my shoulders started to get hurt after carrying a backpack all day long. And my son can ‘carry’ it for me, too. 😉

    Reply
  • March 31, 2019 at 4:20 pm
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    I used to carry backpacks all the time. I didn’t upgrade when my last one broke although I’m not sure why. The region design looks good. Love the luggage strap that looks like it would be useful to attach to our rollable luggage.

    Reply
    • April 1, 2019 at 2:42 am
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      That’s one of my favorite features, too!

      Reply
  • March 31, 2019 at 2:45 pm
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    Oh wow, this looks really great I love how it will keep me organized. I’ll have to check this out now.

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    • April 1, 2019 at 2:42 am
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      Helen, hope you love it!

      Reply
  • March 31, 2019 at 2:41 pm
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    Those backpacks are so pretty! I love the colors, and I totally adore the external compartment. Keep everything organized!

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    • April 1, 2019 at 2:43 am
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      Yes! You can never have enough pockets!

      Reply
  • March 31, 2019 at 10:35 am
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    One the most valuable articles of gear which should fit correctly will be your outdoor backpack like these.

    Reply
  • March 31, 2019 at 1:16 am
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    What great looking backpacks! I only travel with a carry-on so a good backpack is a MUST for me! I have been using a PacSafe backpack for years and I think I might need an update. Maybe this would be a great option! I really love the different compartments. Keeps all your stuff organised. My current backpack doesn’t have that so it will be a great addition and upgrade!

    Reply
    • April 1, 2019 at 2:44 am
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      I love that it has such organizational ability, too!

      Reply
  • March 30, 2019 at 8:46 pm
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    I never carry a backpack as a carry on, especially since I have a child in tow. Its all too heavy and having a carry on on wheels is just so much easier. Especially when she can help with pulling it now as well. Although I do sometimes prefer a backpack with better compartments for the many different things I have to bring on board so these bags would surely be the best solution!

    Reply
    • April 1, 2019 at 2:45 am
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      Amy, great point. When you’re carrying a kiddo and your stuff, it can be a bit too much. Maybe Solo can add a baby pocket? ?

      Reply
  • March 30, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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    What great backpacks! It looks they have pockets for everything! And the note was such a great addition 🙂

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    • April 1, 2019 at 2:46 am
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      I loved that they personalized the package ?

      Reply
  • March 30, 2019 at 6:25 pm
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    What lovely looking backpacks. I love the various compartments. They both have great design with plenty of space.

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    • April 1, 2019 at 2:47 am
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      It’s my new go to when traveling! I’m gonna get as much into that carry-on as possible and avoid $30 checked baggage fees ?

      Reply
  • March 30, 2019 at 12:43 pm
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    WOW! I would absolutely love one of these backpacks! I always bring my laptop and camera along so with such a secure bag, I’d be the happiest. Need to think about which would be the best.

    Reply
    • April 1, 2019 at 2:48 am
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      Let us know which one you choose!

      Reply
  • March 30, 2019 at 8:23 am
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    Quite an interesting design The Draft backpack has. And the luggage strap on the back, is a blessing in disguise for frequent travellers, who travel with a stroller and a backpack. The two compartments actually help in effective management of space.

    Reply
    • April 1, 2019 at 2:48 am
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      The luggage strap is truly my favorite feature!

      Reply
  • March 30, 2019 at 1:39 am
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    These look to be interesting backpacks; I really like their design. I have never heard of this brand, but it sounds comfortable and durable.

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    • March 30, 2019 at 2:27 am
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      They feel like they will withstand some serious wear ‘n’ tear.

      Reply
  • March 29, 2019 at 10:53 pm
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    Luggage is such an under-rated part of the packing routine. I would even go so far as to say it’s the most important aspect! These bags are great, especially for the price.

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    • March 30, 2019 at 2:26 am
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      Agreed – They’re a bargain!

      Reply
  • March 29, 2019 at 9:23 pm
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    Oh to be so organised in your backpack with all your technology – I just seem to shove it all in and hope that it fits. Come time to find that pen – you know what I mean. I am impressed with their design – I would not know which one to choose the Draft or the Region.

    Reply
    • March 30, 2019 at 2:26 am
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      If I hadn’t received both, I’d have a hard time choosing, too!

      Reply
  • March 29, 2019 at 7:30 pm
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    NICE! These both look to be amazing backpacks. Perfect for our trips to the outdoors as well as other travel. Love it.

    Reply
    • March 30, 2019 at 2:24 am
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      They’re excellent for so many situations. I probably wouldn’t use them as my go-to backpack for hiking, simply because the padding inside adds bulk – but for a day or week of traveling around a vacation city, I totally plan on using these.

      Reply
  • March 29, 2019 at 4:18 pm
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    These bags fantastic! I also carry loads of water with me! You just never know!

    Reply
    • March 30, 2019 at 2:23 am
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      Exactly! I don’t want to be stuck somewhere and getting all cotton-mouthy!

      Reply
  • March 29, 2019 at 4:04 pm
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    These must be so good to use in my travels and I will need another bag soon. I want to try the Draft one sooner or later!

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    • March 30, 2019 at 2:22 am
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      The Draft is awesome! You’ll love it.

      Reply
  • March 29, 2019 at 1:56 pm
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    Solo backpacks quality looks good and the hand written note is the best.

    Reply
    • March 30, 2019 at 2:22 am
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      I loved that personal touch, too!

      Reply

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