Kensington Contour Cargo Notebook Backpack

by PocketGoddess on October 27, 2006

Kensington Contour Cargo Notebook Backpack

The Kensington Contour Cargo Notebook Backpack has two main design concepts covered: comfort and organization. While it isn’t a slouch in the looks department, it also isn’t the prettiest or coolest bag I’ve seen. That may be a disappointment at first, but once you open it up and realize how well everything fits inside and how comfortable it is to wear for an extended amount of time, you’ll be a believer. After all, this pack is actually certified by the American Chiropractic Association!

The pack is 18 inches tall, 15 inches wide, and 6 1/2 inches deep. It’s made of high quality fabric that is very tightly woven and smooth to the touch, as well as quite green. The accents are gray, with yellow contrast stitching on the front of the pack. Every compartment is very nicely padded, especially the large one in the back that holds up to a 15.4″ laptop.

A padded grab handle at the top gives you another way to carry the pack, and the straps on the back are padded, fully adjustable, and lined with a non-slippery fabric that will stay in place.They each have a couple of loops on the front, near the bottom, that could work for everything from pens to a iPod/PDA/mobile phone case, if you have one with a belt clip small enough to latch onto the loop.

There are so many compartments that you’ll be able to find a place to stow your stuff, though finding it later may be something of a challenge. Starting at the bottom, there’s a long compartment designed to hold your AC adapter, power cords, and other charging accessories. The zipper is hidden in the photos, you’ll find it just behind the gray fabric at the bottom. It’s behind a heavy layer of padding in the front and rests on the padded bottom of the bag, so everything is well protected.

Kensington Contour Cargo Notebook Backpack, side view showing music player and water bottle pockets

Each side of the bag also has two compartments; one for a water bottle and one for a portable music player. The water bottle pockets are expandable, with a black mesh insert, but can be zipped flat when they’re not in use. The music player pockets also close with a zipper, and each one has a headphone pass-through with a very clever plastic flap that minimizes the chance of water entering the pocket if you’re walking in the rain.Please note that the white icon showing the music player and headphones is not printed on the bag; that’s a sticker that you peel off after purchase.

There are three separate compartments on the front of the bag. The first is designed to store a variety of small electronic items, and the pockets inside are labeled to give you an idea of what each one can hold–USB flash drive, business cards, pens, etc. This compartment is very flat, not-gusseted, so you won’t want to overload it or it will bulge.

Just behind this first section is a much roomier compartment that opens across the top and halfway down the sides of the bag. It has two flat black mesh pockets in the back, but is otherwise undivided and is about 2 1/2 inches deep so that it will accommodate a variety of items from a paperback book to small accessories, a PSP or DS Lite system in a case with a few games, etc.

The main compartment in the back of the bag opens like the middle one with dual zippers that go across the top and halfway down each side–wide enough to get into the bag easily, but not so wide that you have to worry about stuff falling out. A padded laptop sleeve will hold a notebook up to a 15.4″ screen; it is secured with a Velcro flap at the top. It doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the bag, so you don’t have to worry about your computer too much when you put down the bag. The rest of the compartment is undivided, so you can put file folders, textbooks and such in there, but be careful–the contents of the power accessory compartment on the bottom of the bag (mentioned first in this review) are right there in the bottom, unprotected from whatever you throw into that main compartment.

This design really doesn’t make any sense to me at all; I love the idea of a bottom compartment but feel that it should be completely separate from the main bag in order to protect its contents. Just imagine tossing a heavy calculus book on top of your AC adapter every day and you can bet that the AC adapter could get damaged or cracked, and the bottom of the book might get messed up as well. I’d suggest laying your AC adapter next to the notebook sleeve in the back of the bag; there’s enough room for it there because the laptop sleeve is a bit narrower than the bag.

Kensington Contour Cargo Notebook Backpack, back

This pack is very comfortable to carry, thanks to an adjustable lumbar support system built into the back of the bag. It looks a little funky, but it’s so comfortable that it really does make the pack easier to carry for a long period of time, even if you have a heavy load. A small push lever adjusts the lumbar supports to three different settings, so that you can find the one that works best for you. It is accessible through the mesh backing, or you can actually slip your hand inside and access it directly thanks to a Velcro closure on the pouch. Unfortunately because the bag is so well-padded and contoured to fit your body closely for carrying comfort, it won’t actually stand up on its own, but will tend to tip backward. If you want to put it on the floor, be sure to lean it against a desk or wall if you want easy access to your stuff.

I like this pack mainly because of comfort, but also because it has a place for all of my stuff. Unfortunately the poorly designed AC adapter storage significantly lowered the score. If you don’t plan to use that bottom compartment, you’ll find that Kensington’s Contour Cargo Notebook Backpack is a good buy, with excellent padding and protection, fun styling and a reasonable price of $79.99. You can get it at Kensington’s online store

3.5 out of 5

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