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Jun 03 2011

BBP Industries Backpack Review

It is unusual to have a technically oriented accessory company that happens to have a social conscience, but that is exactly the description for BBP Bags. For every bag that they sell, they donate a bag to charitable causes. I heartily congratulate them for taking this stance!

BBP makes a range of accessories, but they are best known for their bags. These really fall into two broad packs with some small variations.

Their messenger style Hamptons bag (which I reviewed here) features a really innovative convertible carrying system.

In reviewing it, I discovered that I am not really a messenger guy. Luckily, BBP also features the more traditional Industries bag if you prefer a more typical backpack.

The Industries is a two compartment backpack with a lot of organizational touches added on. It is made of what appears to be some kind of ripstop nylon and is very rugged, but still very light at about 2 pounds. The zippers have big chunky metal pulls on them that are easy to grab and very smooth in operation.

The front of the pack has two medium sized pockets that are accessed by vertical zippers. These lay on top of each other inside the pack so they share the same space depth wise. The left pocket is 6 x 6 inches and the right side pocket is about an inch deeper than that. DVDs fit nicely in here as do small chargers and cables that you want quick access to.

The Industries unloaded

Each side of the pack has a water bottle pocket with a drawstring to secure the bottle tightly to the pack. Each pouch also has a zippered pocket on it to secure small things like USB dongles or jump drives. You do need to choose one or the other of those storage options as having a water bottle in the pocket makes it difficult to get stuff into and out of the zippered pocket. I love having the choice on these and since I would seldom carry two water bottles it works out really well. I put a 20 ounce bottle in the pocket and a larger bottle would fit if it was tall and thin. A MBP power supply will also stuff into one of these pockets nicely.

Stuffed to carry

The front section is your main “junk drawer” in the Industries. The large open section is about 18 by 12 by 3 inches. There are two zippered pockets on the front wall, one deep and one shallow. Inside dimensions of these are roughly 7 by 7 inches and 7 by 5 inches. I tucked a USB hard drive and some various pens and accoutrements in here nicely.

Front section with a cable pouch in the bottom

The drawstrings are knotted inside of this section so if they bother you they could easily be removed.

The large padded back section is designed to cushion your laptop in soft, comfy pleasure! At 1400 cubic inches the Industries Backpack is what I would consider a mid-size pack, so I was impressed to see that it would hold a 17 inch MacBook Pro! If you have a smaller laptop (as most of us do!) BBP includes some Velcro sizers so your computer will not rattle around in this section.

My MBP13 cradled like a baby!

Quarter inch padding surrounds this section on all sides and it is lined with a sort of velour like fabric that is slick and soft and will not scratch your precious electronics. There is a also an open pocket at the top with an elastic mouth to give you a great place to stuff a power supply or another piece of secondary computing kit.

An old 85 watt "bigger than your head" Macbook power supply in the top pocket

The back of the Industries has thick padding that is covered with wicking mesh to keep your back from sweating. These pads are about a half inch thick, which speaks to the design ideals of a manufacturer who has always struggled with back pain issues. This makes the pack very comfortable to carry even with a very heavy load inside of it.

The bottom padding is only attached on the edges to allow the backpack to slip over the handle of a roll aboard suitcase.

There is also a zipper on the back of the pack that hides an 8 by 6 inch
pocket that is a great place to store something that you need quick access to. SInce it is tucked against your back when you are wearing the pack, no pickpocket can get into it. Great place to stuff a passport or a boarding pass.

Zippered pocket is just above the bottom padding.

The straps are well cushioned with the same mesh padding that is on the back area and they feature an adjustable sternum strap. The hardware is plastic but is solidly made. There is also a metal ring on each strap if you want someplace to hook a carabiner.

The top of the pack has a genuine pleather wrapped handle which is great for slinging the pack on top of a desk or into an overhead compartment on the plane.

The real test of a bag is its ability to inhale your gear. This picture shows just how much stuff I was able to get into the bag.

Lots of kit including a MBP13, Grid-it with widgets, Waterfield medium Cableguy pouch, 20 ounce water bottle,Ipad in leather case, 3 accessory pouches, firewire drive, USB drive, earbuds in case, USB charger, camera battery charger, small power strip, iPod Touch in peel 520 Skin

The picture up above with the water bottle in the pouch is the backpack before I took everything out of it. This gives you a good sense of just how much stuff you can get into a bag that really looks to be the size of a day pack.

CONCLUSIONS

The Industries Backpack is a great mid-sized backpack that allow you to carry far more than you think you could in a pack like this. It is well made, comfortable and has a lot of really thoughtful touches.

The gray plaid backpack is on clearance now at BBP for $49.95 which is almost half off the normal pricing for their black backpack. The clearance stock on the previous bag I reviewed disappeared quickly so don’t dilly dally on this one!

(Note: I checked today (4/3/2012) and they actually have the gray version on sale for $29.95!)

The gray was not appealing to me when I saw it in the high contrast pictures on the website, but once I got it in person I was immediately won over. Two of my very fashion conscious daughters have already tried to catch me looking the other direction so they could steal it away!

The Industries Backpack is a real winner. Lots of storage, good organization and a lifetime warranty from a company that you can feel good about dealing with. Great customer service, great social conscience and a great backpack.

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