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Monday, May 15, 2017

Solo Rival Backpack Review

Solo Rival Backpack Review
I commute to work daily on the train carrying a 15" laptop. I recently experimented with using a new computer bag for this. It worked out much better than my unpadded backpack. Now, thanks to a sample provided of a Solo Rival Backpack, I'm trying out a backpack specifically built for carrying a laptop.

From a space perspective, the backpack is probably double the size of the computer bag. This allows me to shove lots of extra things in the backpack. This is both a good and bad thing. On the good side, I can more easily keep my lunch in the backpack versus having to carry a separate bag for that. I can also keep a ton of other things in the backpack, too. That isn't necessarily a good thing. A full backpack weighs a lot. From a weight perspective, there is surprisingly no difference when the two are empty. When fully loaded, I can fit like double the amount of stuff in the backpack. I don't want to burden my back with so much weight on a daily basis. I have to purposely remember to not just keep anything and everything in the backpack that would be nice to have when needed but 99% of the time don't need.

Like the computer bag, my favorite part of the backpack is all the different compartments. There are like eight separate zippered, external compartments. The two on the sides are small and a little bit heavy duty. A phone would fit there or an external powerpack or perhaps headphones and not have to worry about them getting crushed. There is no side netting for a water bottle. The back most area has extra padding on both sides and holds the laptop. It can handle a 17.3" model. Immediately in front of that is a small compartment that might be good for keys or to keep some thumb drives. It is bigger than that but I'm not sure what else you'd put there. A phone would fit there, too, but I don't keep mine there. Next up is a rather large section that theoretically could hold the laptop, too, but isn't padded. There is a pocket in here specifically for holding a tablet like an iPad though.
Solo Rival Backpack Review
To round out the backpack are two more sections. Next up is a catchall section that depthwise is deeper than prior but not quite as tall. It is the third nearly full-height section and could hold my 15" laptop. To finish off the compartments are a pair that feel more external to the rest of the backpack with one way smaller than the other. The first includes a place to feed a wire through so you can keep your device inside and wired headphones outside. I have wireless so don't use the hole, but it is there.  This section has nearly all the separate compartments available, as shown above. The second is more of a catchall for smaller items.

When used as a backpack, you'll find the two straps padded with a comfortable foam material. There is additional padding on the back of the backpack to keep it comfortably against your back. And there are reflective strips on the front so you'll be seen at night walking or biking. You can also carry the backpack from the top handle if you want to give your back a break.

Overall, the Rival backpack from Solo works a ton better than my original unpadded backpack because it was designed specifically for carrying a laptop. The big question becomes do I want a computer bag or backpack though for carrying the machine. I haven't decided yet. I love having the extra space in the backpack for when I need it, but at times I've overstuffed the backpack and felt it where I really should have carried the extra weight differently. With the backpack my back is apt to suffer more just because I can and will put more than necessary in the backpack. Perhaps I'll decide on a daily basis which way to go based upon specfic needs versus always using one or the other. This will help keep the extra weight out of both. Also, both offer equal protection from the machine flopping around while carrying. I do "feel" younger when carrying the backpack but I'm not sure if that is a good criteria to judge it on as I get older...

If you sign up for their mailing list (bottom left), you'll get 30% off your first purchase. This brings the $79.99 price down to $56. You can also buy from Amazon for $52.99

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions stated are my own and may differ from yours. See my disclosure policy for more information.

*Read my Disclosure


  1. This is so nice. I love all the different compartments. I take my laptop with me alot. I will have to check this out soon

  2. oh, nice. i am picky about my backpascks and i really do need a new one. this would keep me nice and organized

  3. My son would want this. Great review, Java John.