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Apr 27 2011

CODi Sport-Pak Backpack Review

I think I may have accidentally let it slip that I am a wee bit obsessive about bags, backpacks and things that hold electronics.

Unfortunately, this means I have multiples of most kinds of bags and have a tendency to load and unload them depending on what I am doing and where I am going.

One of the bags that is in my current rotation is the CODi Sport-Pak. It is an urban “technical” back pack with a wide range of organizational pockets. As far as I can tell, technical backpack just means you can put a lap top in it!

Since it is made from military grade 1050D ballistic nylon, it is tough, light and I am unlikely to be able to destroy it anytime soon. The zippers all have pulls on them and look to be metal #8s but they are not a name brand zipper so it is a little difficult to tell. Empty it is just over 3 pounds.

My friend CODi

The outside of the bag has multiple pockets. The left hand side has a single deep pocket that is 12 by 4 inches and unzips about halfway down. A good sized thermos or a large travel umbrella would easily fit in this pocket. It has a mesh, elastic pocket on it outside that would be perfect for a water bottle.

Large zippered pocket on left side with mesh pocket

The right side has two smaller but similar zippered pockets positioned one above the other. The top pocket is 5 by 4 and the bottom pocket is 6 by 4 and also has a mesh pocket on the outside of it. These are great places to stash stuff you want quick access to like a laptop power supply or a cell phone.

Right side of the CODi

There is additionally a zippered pocket on the top of the bag with a headphone pass thorough. The inside is felt lined and does a fine job protecting an Ipod or other music player. The zipper is the gasketed type that repels water to keep your Ipod safe and dry.

If you are worried about whether your music player will fit in this pocket…don’t. It is 7 inches deep and the zipper opens to about 6 inches. Unfortunately, this pocket is just shy of being able to hold a Kindle reader.

The bag breaks down into three internal sections with the first one being sort of an office organizer section.

Lots of slots and pockets

With a key latch, 3 pen slots, 2 USB stick slots, 2 medium open pockets, 1 large open pocket and 1 large zippered pocket there is lots of segmentation. The last two are actually on the flap, and not the back wall of the section. There is quite a bit of room in this section as it actually goes down another 4 inches below the bottom of the zipper. An IPad will easily fit in this front section even with the organizational stuff filled up.

The middle section is a large area with some file folders along the bottom that are closed off by a velcro strap and a large, zippered compartment along the front of the flap.
Other than that, this is an open area and could easily be used to pack gym clothes or even enough for an over night trip. The Ipod pouch does hang into this section from above and cuts into the space a little bit, but it was not a big problem for me.

The large center section

The back section is the laptop section and it is well padded and will hold a LARGE laptop. This section is 17 inches by 11.5 and it unzips almost all the way around. This makes it very easy to get the laptop in and out. This section rests directly against your back under the backpack straps and it is covered with a breathable mesh. This helps prevent sweating and the section is well padded.

The backpack straps are 2.5 inches wide and lightly padded and there is an adjustable sternum strap with a squeeze release buckle. The straps are good, but not great, and did become a bit uncomfortable if I overloaded the backpack…which I did on a fairly regular basis. There is enough space in it that you will have to apply some discipline to keep from stuffing it overly full.

The carry handle on the top is between the shoulder straps and it is a nylon loop with sort of a pleather wrap around it. Definitely not the high point of this well made backpack, but I would seldom carry it that way other than to lift it onto a table or use it to sling it on my shoulder. The pack has a flat bottom so it tends to stand up on its own fairly well if it is not overloaded.

PROS:

CODi makes a really nice bag. The stitching is solid and there are lots of nice little touches. The number of individual pouches and zippered pockets make it really easy to segment your tech stuff in a way that makes sense for you.

The understated black keeps it looking pretty business-like with just a little bit of pop from the red accents.The materials are rugged and this is a backpack that will last a long time.

CONS:

The laptop section zippers so far down that at least once I picked up the pack with a zipper partially open and the weight of the laptop opened the zipper the rest of the way. I would recommend a lightweight case for your laptop, not for protection, but to keep it from bouncing around in the section.

I wish this bag had compression straps to slim it down a bit when it is not full.

The big middle section of the bag is zippered lower than the top of the bag so it feels like there is some wasted space in this section of the bag. Finally, because of the three outside pockets the pack looks a little clunky.

CONCLUSION:

I used this bag as my only pack for about six months and it served me really well. It still looks new even after hard use and it protected a lot of gear for me. I only moved away from it because I went to a much smaller laptop and it seemed like overkill.

At just over $100 from Amazon this is a great value in a laptop back pack that will serve you from university to the boardroom with panache. It will protect your gear, keep you organized and last a very long time. CODi has got a winner on their hands.

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