Accessory review: STM Convoy backpack
The STM Convoy backpack is aimed at the technophile who wants to carry their breakable gear around, without necessarily advertising that they’re packing hundreds of dollars of electronics. It looks like a nicely-made canvas bag, but is designed to store tablets, laptops, and other electronics up to 15 inches and protect them from falls, bumps, and other light impacts.
The bag really looks like it might have been designed by The House of Marley, as it fits pretty well with that look, but as it stands it’s a pretty stylish little bag on its own. It also looks nothing like a tech geek’s treasure trove, which lowers the grab-it factor considerably.
The Convoy has two large buttoned pockets on the back, that are somehow designed to look like four pockets. Each of the pockets is probably large enough to hold six to eight Nook Colors, or ten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or fit one large guinea pig. You can fit a lot of stuff on the back of the backpack.
On either side of the backpack, there are standard iPod, phone, and water bottle holders, which unfortunately do not hold larger water bottles. I found this a bit curious, as this pack appears to be designed to handle some hiking and traveling with your equipment, and a water bottle holder is generally a must in these types of backpacks.
Flipping it over, the straps of the pack are very well padded and thick. There’s also an adjustable chest strap to prevent your shoulders from getting so sore. It can be adjusted up and down on either side, and also be made larger or smaller. Unfortunately, the adjustment means the straps are secured using a clip around some sort of bendable material, and these have a nasty habbit of coming off when I play with them. This usually involves me spending more time and effort attempting to put them on than it is worth.
The straps also have what they call an iPod pocket. I see why it’s called that in the product literature, but the thing seems smaller than any iPod I’ve owned. Maybe it would stretch, but that pocket looks more useful to stash a flashlight or a map in.
The Convoy also has a belt. I’ve never had a backpack with a belt before. It works really well if you’re running with the backpack, or possibly becoming inverted or temporarily weightless, as it will keep the contents of the back from slamming into the back of your head as hard as they could. When the belt isn’t in use, you can secure it to the pack.
The portion of the bag that touches your back has a spinal cutout, and padding everywhere else. Unfortunately, the spine has a random green strap sewn straight up the center, which becomes noticeable if you’re in a thinner shirt. It’s not overly annoying, but the question does become: why is it there in the first place?
The complete bottom of the bag has a Velcro-sealed pocket, and in that pocket is a strap that is attached to another bag that’s only there to cover your bag in a rain storm. It pulls out and goes over the thing in about ten seconds. I’m not sure of its weather-repelling capabilities, but it looks like it’ll do the job.
I think it’s possible to have the bag on the backpack and still wear the thing, and have water resistance, but I did not test that. The bag also folds right back up and can be stuffed in the bottom without too much fighting.
One thing I’m not to sure of is why the cover is silver. It makes the bag look like Jiffy-Pop container when it’s open, but as long as it does the job…
Inside the back there are what I would consider five unique areas: Two that seemed designed for protecting a laptop and a tablet, one of those with a soft mousepad-like feel. I believe that’s the pocket that’s designed for up to a 15-inch screen, although I’m pretty sure you could probably fit a 17-inch next to it.
Then you’ve got your standard miscellaneous pockets and places to put pens, paper, and even a detachable key ring.
The bag is mostly made of cotton, so it feels less manufactured that most other electronic bags I’m used to. It also feels pretty durable – but from my experience with cotton bags, they will eventually give up on you in weird places.
All in all, the bag feels like it’s got great protection on the side that your back is touching, so if you’re holding the backpack and drop it backside down, probably you’re good to go. The other side seems to have about the thickness of a mousepad for protection, in addition to whatever is in there. Most back falls occur on the base or sides though, and the base has a large bag in it and the sides feel like there’s some soft protection there.
For most drops, I think you’ll be fine. If you’re looking to throw your equipment off of a hill and see how well it fares, this isn’t for you.
The STM Medium Convoy Backpack is available in olive or black for an MSRP of $99.95 from various stores recommended by STM’s product page. It is worth noting that at least one company had a $20 option to add a rain coat to the bag, and I’m assuming that’s an additional rain coat as it’s included. So be careful what you click.