When you spend four months of the year living out of your suitcase, finding a good backpack becomes something of a top priority. Case Logic has two contenders that have stood up to 6 weeks of heavy travel with no battle scars to prove it.
I have to admit, that living on the technology conference circuit has made me a little lazy. Qualcomm’s UpLinq Conference always hands out high quality backpacks, the Victorinox bag from 2010 is still in my rotation. But over the past few years they’ve switched to bags with great brand names like OGIO and Elements, that started looking tattered after just a few trips. If there is one thing that you should know about me, I respect the tech but it’s not up on a pedestal – more often then not it’s accidentally almost falling under the wheels of a moving car…or being eaten by a Puppy named JD we recently rescued.
We got 2 backpacks to review, in two different sizes which was actually perfect since they fit into different use cases for me in terms of the type of travel I would do with them. Let’s start with the smaller pack, the Case Logic Griffith Backpack that I think will fit the size requirements of your average urban commuter. The Griffith Park Backpack is designed for 15″ laptops and an iPad, but it also fits an iPad Mini in the front pocket with spaces to tuck away a ton more stuff. It’s 21 litres which makes it ideal for my DSLR, Laptop and everything else I needed to bring on the plane with me for my one week trip to Shenzhen.
Around town it is lightweight and fits more then you think it would, and with so many compartments you can easily keep organized (if that’s your thing). Let’s start at the front of the pack, it has a long pocket which was good for getting small things lost in, it is followed by an open pocket that I didn’t find useful for much besides putting water or beverages, a wallet or anything valuable would be a no no, since theft was a big concern for me in China.
Inside, the pockets for your laptop and tablet are padded, there is even a strange pocket on the bottom of the bag that JD and I couldn’t not figure out a use for, however, on consulting the official product shots it’s actually for your charger. Whatever it is for, it gives the bag an outdoor adventure feeling – the bag even comes with loops for axes (which we hope no one is using in the city center), so if you wanted your bag to do double duty for your Urban life style it can easily bounce down the side of a mountain with you on the weekend.
The pocket right above the the straps worked really well for me since it is discrete, easy to access and really feels well built when you’re yanking on it in while in a rush running down the street. This area has to be the biggest pain point for me and backpacks, the constant rubbing on your back while walking will cause even the best backpacks to fray if the perfect material isn’t selected.
I have lost backpack after backpack to this issue and I’m happy to report the Griffin Park Series that if there was going to be a problem, it would have have reared its head by now. I have been to Bejing, Shenzhen and a week long road trip down the east coast of Taiwan where a little Pup has been putting the bag through the paces, and so far, I’ve lost a pair of shoes but the backpacks seem no worse for wear.
The one feature I think some will appreciate though I didn’t personally, is the chest strap, my bag did get heavy, but I’ve never really been a fan of these things. I generally think good tech is just good, but maybe being a lady I don’t really want any extra attention being drawn to that region. However, maybe you do, everyone certainly walks to their own beat. When I tried it on JD he seemed to enjoy it thoroughly, maybe it’s a dude thing.
Sascha used the larger Griffith Pro bag for the 6 weeks, though admittedly the choice was more about the color, he carries very little gear with him beyond a laptop, phone and a few odds and ends. Being the lady behind the videos we shoot I have more gear (a camcorder, DSLR, audio equipment, lights and a small make up bag…I also tend to travel with some clothing layers) even still, with the 21L bag I made it happen. I don’t think it’s a stereotype that ladies have more stuff, but this lady definitely does, and I bet my stuff is geekier than your stuff!
The Case Logic Griffith Park Plus is slightly larger with a different design, I prefer the enclosed front pockets, for someone who is always loosing things it’s nice to know I won’t accidentally loose something while my backpack tumbles off a chair. The Griffith Park Plus is 28L which is why I am planning on taking it on my big 3 week road trip. I made do with fitting in all the extra’s I needed to pick up on my China trips, but with so much shooting to take place over the next few weeks, I want the extra room. I will have to update you on if I regret it, a bigger bag means less calculated choices on gear and Germany and the US aren’t exactly budget places for a massage like it is here in Taiwan.
A longer trip for me means a bigger bag, the long flights make me want to have my gear with me in case something gets lost, it also means that I have to carry a heavier bag through security and customs. With so many gadgets it’s good to have lots of pockets for organization, to be honest, if you’ve forgotten some gadget in your bag, having them neatly spread out for the X-Ray can sometimes avoid them having to do a search. I am currently having an AhHa!! moment with the cables having their own special pocket on the bottom, I don’t know how many time I’ve been searched thanks to a rat’s nest of cables. Having said that, some airports are bigger dicks then others…so don’t tell them I told you it was ok to leave anything in!
Before I render my final verdict (thought it should come as no surprise by now that I’m a fan) let’s go over some technical details on the bags. The Case Griffith Park line comes in 3 models, a 21L and there are two 28L versions. The Griffith Park Plus has several pockets that zip open, while the Griffith Park Deluxe is a top loading sack with a drawstring.
According to the Case Logic website the bags come with a 25 Year Warranty, yeah I know right? Here is a link to the product page for you to see for your self. The Case Logic Griffith Park (21L) bag will run you $79.99 on their site, we found it in black on Amazon for $54.40 the red was a little more at $65.
The Griffith Park Plus, the 28L with multiple pockets that will be my backpack of choice (though as I write this I’m regretting my decision since I like the svelte compact lines of the 21L bag) will cost you $84.99 on their site, but on Amazon you can pick it up for just $69.99 the Griffith Park Deluxe on Amazon is the same $70.
What did I like about the Griffith Park backpacks? Well, the build and materials, the reinforcement around the zippers, the way that the ends of the adjustable straps aren’t dangling around and are integrated. If you’re into chest straps it has a great one, if you’re not I’m sure you can find a pair of scissors easily enough. There are lots of pockets inside each compartment and they are made of a variety of materials depending on if they are meant to provide easy access or insulate your expensive devices. The straps most importantly are very compfortable, the material used on the back panel is designed for a country where sweat develops in the most unexpected places. It keeps the back from becoming a suction cup on your back and I’m not sure if there is some sweat whisking away material, but it certainly felt better then many of the backpacks I’ve had over the years. The straps are adjustable and well padded in case your bag ends up weighing more then it should.
So What didn’t i like, the chest strap when I went to use it wasn’t easy to adjust, but I guess you’ll only need to do it once to have it fit to your body, it was a pain for me since the length is clearly tailored for men. On the 21L bag, it made me nervous that there was an open pocket, it is a great size for organization, but I couldn’t use it for fear of loosing things out of it.
The side pockets are lined with mesh which adds to the premium feeling of the bag and most importantly, it shows the most minimal signs of wear after 6 weeks of serious use. What Needs Improvement: Small pocket on the back would be useful if it was slightly bigger.
For the price and the build we definitely give these backpacks a thumbs up! If this wasn’t enough backpack porn for you, I shot a series of photos in the Hello Kitty Terminal here in Taiwan.
Special thanks to Case Logic for sending over the products all the way to Taiwan for Review! It’s not every company that thinks globally!!