Solo New York Backpacks Review
Any suggestions on how to best schlep my stuff around town on a regular basis?
My Back Hurts
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.
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).
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.
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?!?
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,