The Arc'teryx Blade 24 is the most professional looking bag in our review and also offers the best protection for your laptop. These are two very important characteristics that make it a great laptop backpack to consider purchasing, despite its low scores in some of our other metrics. The Blade 24 is designed like a briefcase in backpack form, offering great organization for work and school uses, but very little versatility for other outdoor pursuits. However, for those who simply need to protect their laptop and look professional while doing it, this model is a great choice.
Arc'teryx Blade 24 Review
Cons: Uncomfortable, lacking versatility, not water resistant
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Blade 24 vs. the Blade 6, 20, or 28
The Blade is no longer available in the 24 liter version and has received a slight update. You can find this pack in the Blade 6, which might be ideal for a light commuter, while the Blade 20, or Blade 28 would be a great option for a daypack or overnight bag, as well as a laptop bag. In addition to being available in new sizes, the Blade now has a more streamlined look, which you can see below.
The 6 liter weighs 1 lb 14.5 oz and has the carrying capacity for a small laptop (up to 13 inches) and tablet, as well as a quick stash pocket, while the 20 protects a laptop up to 15 inches, as well as a tablet, smaller electronics, travel documents and a few extra heres and theres. The 28 liter protects up to a 15 inch laptop and also has a sleeve to protect a tablet. Arc'teryx mentions that you'll also find space for an overnight trip (think clothes and toiletries), as well as travel documents and work tools.Check out the side-by-side comparison below, with the Blade 6 shown on the left, followed by the 20, and finally, the 28. You will find the Blade 24 pictured on the far right.
The Arc'teryx Blade 24 is designed specifically for work or business travel and functions very much like a briefcase with shoulder straps. While it offered the most protection for a laptop, we could still improve it to better hold small 11 inch laptops. In our water resistance test it did surprisingly poorly, which could be a concern for some, and we also thought it was the least comfortable backpack to carry around for long periods of time. However, it looks professional and is designed to keep your important documents and other essentials well-organized.
This was the highest rated backpack for laptop protection, just a bit better than The North Face Recon or The North Face Surge II Transit. In our opinion, it had the firmest and most protective padding along the back. Additionally, it has a dedicated laptop compartment that is accessed by a side zipper. The carrying system itself is composed of a solid and very firm foam sheet suspended in the middle of the compartment and secured on all sides by Velcro straps. For a 15 inch laptop it offers what we believe is optimal protection, although it cannot be customized for a smaller laptop without movement, which is disappointing.
In our opinion, the Blade 24 was the least comfortable backpack to carry around. It has a very firm back plate designed to protect the laptop, but unfortunately, the back plate is awkward and uncomfortable to carry. While the shoulder straps are well padded, we found that they were attached to the bag too close together and thus dug into our neck. With no sternum or waist strap, it was not easy to make it more stable, but more importantly, it just didn't fit our testers' backs. It sort of felt like wearing a briefcase, which was the opposite effect from the Osprey Pixel, the most comparable bag in this review.
Organization & Storage
The Blade 24 does not have a lot of storage room (it is, after all, only 24 liters). It is only slightly bigger than the Osprey Pixel and still slightly smaller than the Patagonia Arbor. While it won't hold all that much, we still liked it for its intended purpose - work or school - because every pocket has a clear and well-thought-out function. In short, it is optimally designed to keep you organized. However, you can forget about picking up groceries or heading to the gym after work with this bag.
With its highly optimized design intended for work and laptop protection, the Blade 24 is the least versatile backpack we tested. We can't really recommend using it for any other purpose than carrying your laptop securely.
Perhaps the largest flaw of the Blade 24 was its water resistance. It ranked with the Timbuk2 Command Pack and Dakine Campus 33 as the lowest in our testing. While it does come with a durable water resistant (DWR) coating applied, its critical flaw is its upward-facing zippers that are not water resistant and have no fabric cover. In our testing, which included only 30 seconds of water exposure, these top zippers allowed water to leak into the bag, which then percolated into every compartment and pocket in the bag. This oversight could be catastrophic if you are carrying important documents, let alone for your laptop. Don't use this bag in a heavy rain!
The Blade 24 is like a briefcase with shoulder straps and made out of fabric. It is best used for going to the office or to school. Arc'teryx also suggests that is would be a great travel briefcase, and we can't argue with that.
The Blade 24 costs a whopping $179, which is not unexpected considering it's made by Arc'teryx. Business professionals who are not concerned about money will probably consider this to be money well spent. Students should look for a cheaper and higher performing backpack.
We recommend the Arc'teryx Blade 24 for professionals who need a briefcase but want it in backpack form. It would also make a good laptop carry-on for business trips and could be a great school bag as well. But with its high price tag, limited versatility, and lack of water resistance, we think there is a limited market for this backpack.
— Andy Wellman