(This review came later that I planned to, as I was struggling to find enough free time to put my thoughts in line. I planned a number of posts in the meantime but never had the time to complete them…)
To make a long story short, some time before Christmas 2017, I was among the lucky winners of one of the Vice.com online competitions/contests. I was informed by email that I should expect my Bobby backpack (no other details in the email) in the following weeks. I was in search of a new backpack (and in fact I was about to get one), so this was great news! The backpack finally arrived, brand new and well-packed, some time before Christmas, so it was early Christmas for me. As far as I remember it was the first time I ever won something in any of the numerous contests that I have taken part in, so I cordially thank Vice for that 🙂
The model I received was the Bobby Compact, so the smaller one of the two available backpacks, (and the more expensive one, to my surprise) fitting a 14-inch laptop among others. I am currently using a 10-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard as my travel and out-of-office work companion, so I didn’t mind that. It came in pastel blue color, which was less vibrant than the rest of the series (and I also didn’t mind, as I was to use it for commuting to work and back).
Both Bobby backpacks have been extensively reviewed by various experienced reviewers on the Web, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to replicate standard things. To make things more useful for everyone, I will focus on my personal experience and how my setup fit (or did not) the specific backpack.
Design & Quality
Not much to say about the design; it has been copied by so many different companies that it speaks for itself. Design focuses on two aspects (i) Anti-theft, so no external zippers exposed to others and (ii) comfort, so that all weight is balanced rather better than in other backpacks – indeed, the backpack embraces the back of the body and make it easy to carry loads of stuff.
Quality of the backpack is outstanding, in every detail. Water resistant and cut-proof material, no loose threads, no bad stiches. Perfect zippers, sturdy straps, everything is top notch. Looks like a backpack made to last.
The backpack is practical, for sure. Nice internal organization for both a laptop (14-inch) and a smaller tablet or A4-sized documents, elastic band pockets for e.g. hard disks, water bottles (no external pocket for that) etc, a small zippered pocket for memory cards, adapters and other (really) small items, an open pocket on top of it for quick access items, an internal side pocket for a small power bank (however, most will not fit there) etc. There are also two really useful (but small) side zippered pockets for quick access items like smart phone and charger, cards etc. and another interesting safe zippered pocket at the center of the back of the backpack, for e.g. wallet, keys and other valuables – no one will be able to access this one, too.
Another practical detail is the rain cover, available at the hidden pocket at the bottom of the backpack, which looks well-thought and designed.
It is also useful, especially for the larger model, that the backpack can open flat when a couple of internal buttons are opened; this allows a suitcase-like layout that can help in arranging stuff inside the bag even more easily.
Overall, it is a practical backpack, with some interesting organization options.
The backpack is smaller than its brother, but due to its design (e.g. side flaps) it looks bigger. Internally, things to be pretty packed since most of the pockets are internal and occupy the limited internal space.
I personally managed to fit my 10-inch tablet & Bluetooth keyboard, a pack of paper documents (A4 size), my external hard disk & a small paper notebook at the two band-pockets, a couple of USB sticks and other tiny stuff in the zippered pocket, some markers and my 10.000 mAh powerbank on the open pocket above it (it wouldn’t fit in the dedicated side pocket). In the remaining internal space I could fit a medium-sized lunch box (on its side), a couple of cereal bars, a small flashlight and a medium water bottle. Nothing more.
I used the two external side pockets for one smartphone and its charger, and my (pretty large) keyring with lanyard, along with a pack of tissues. The central safe zippered pocket was occupied by my small magic wallet, another smartphone (backup one) etc.
I never got to use the Bobby Mini, a foldable tote bag packed with the Bobby Compact only. It is really, really practical and of course can be used individually.
My personal point of view
I am not carrying much stuff around (ok, maybe slightly more than the average) but I found the Bobby Compact a tad smaller than I would like to. Since I am not currently using public means of transportation for commuting to work (I plan to do so in the future though), I am not making use of its anti-theft features.
The backpack was really comfortable to carry on my shoulders and extremely practical, as I could access my most frequently used stuff (e.g. wallet, smartphone and charger) without having to open the main compartment. I never got to use the external USB port for charging my phone, but it would also come handy when wandering around the city or an airport. At the same time, I missed some more zippered pockets for my numerous USB sticks, microSD cards and other tiny stuff I have with me. I found a workaround for that with a small organizer that could hold a couple of short cables and adapters, memory cards etc.
In the few weeks that I used the backpack on a daily basis, I started seeing some smudges in the front, leather-like panel which I could not quickly remove with a wet towel (and we are talking about taking the backpack from house to the car and from the car to the office (and back). I do not mind some minor cosmetic issues so I didn’t bother trying more to clean it.
For the time being, I replaced the Bobby Backpack Compact with my Tech Air backpack, to which I gave a second chance after taking some more time to check out its features and allocate my stuff inside. However, I plan to use the Bobby in the near future, especially if I go back to commuting by metro; it could also help me reduce the stuff I carry around with me to the minimum required 🙂