Although the full product name is the Brenthaven Pacific Backpack for MacBook, we figured it couldn’t hurt to review one, even though we didn’t have a MacBook on hand. We were interested in Brenthaven due to the combination of good design and outstanding warranty, along with their sustainability efforts. In a world where many companies can be shortsighted, and want to sell products with a limited lifecycle, Brenthaven seems to recognize that durability means added value for consumers, while at the same time reducing waste. Quite simply, a product designed to last twice as long as the competition means less potential landfill.
Once upon a time, backpacks were designed for books and papers in one compartment, pens and pencils in another. Maybe there was a pocket dedicated to a calculator or even a ruler. Things have changed quite a bit since then. Most backpacks have dedicated compartments for laptops as well as tablets or readers. And it would be unthinkable to not have a spot for small electronics, as well as cables and possibly a charger or two. So while the exterior of the typical backpack hasn’t changed too much, the interior certainly has. And Brenthaven has gotten that right. Lots of pockets to keep the little things organized, and HDF™ (high density foam) protection to keep your laptop safe on the go. Outside, an external zippered pocket on one side provides quick access with a bit of security, while an open top pocket on the opposite side is perfect for things like water bottles or snacks. And you can stuff a light jacket into the open back, then cinch it down. They wrapped it all up in long-lasting PVC-free ballistic nylon, and it’s held together with rugged hardware. As you can see from the photos, styling wasn’t overlooked either. And in the final nod to the environment, all packaging is made from recycled products, and the inks are soy-based.
With actual dimensions of 12.27″ W x 19″ H x 9.5″ D, the Brenthaven Pacific is sized for the college student or professional on the go. (We sent Ms. Outsider to junior high school with it for a few days, and she found it lacking enough capacity for all the books she carries). But I found it ideal for carrying a 15.6″ laptop and charger, iPod, business cards, and a compact camera, as well as the rest of my office essentials (lunch, water, thermos for coffee). When meeting with my photography clients to do a presentation, I can trust it to keep my laptop safe from the occasional bump due to my own clumsiness. Interestingly, the styling appeals to teenagers, while I don’t feel like I’m pulling a laptop out of my kid’s backpack. Besides looks and organization, another feature we appreciate is straps that are appropriate for the load capacity. We’ve seen packs that can hold a lot of weight, but the straps dig in. Or giant straps on a small pack, which is a bit wasteful. But Brenthaven got this right too, with curved straps that adjust easily, and a chest strap that’s sure to be appreciated by cyclists. Planning on using your Brenthaven Pacific for a weekend hike, or maybe some traveling? There’s a whistle on that chest strap, which like the reflective panels and loop for a blinkie, provide a bit of extra safety and versatility.
Quality construction, durable materials, useful interior space, and plenty of comfort make the Brenthaven Pacific a good value, given the MSRP of $79.95. Unless you’re following the whims of fashion, and replace something not because it’s worn out, but because it’s not trendy, you can expect to keep this backpack a long time. Brenthaven even backs it up with their no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee. Hard to beat that, no matter how you look at it. Our test model was the red, as shown, but you can see the charcoal, black, and blue at brenthaven.com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: We received the Brenthaven Pacific backpack for free from Brenthaven, in consideration for review publication