The Blade 30 is designed for and excels at overnight business travel. For all things active, it performs quite poorly. Get the Arc'teryx Blade 24 ($175) if you want a more versatile business bag or the Timbuk2 Swig ($80) for the best overall, everyday use backpack.
Arc'teryx Blade 30 Review
Cons: Bulky, box-like, heavy, not versatile, expensive, no security strap for 17-inch laptops.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Blade 30 is a well-designed and elegant overnight travel computer pack. The Blade's design merges the comfort a backpack with the boardroom friendly aesthetics of a suitcase.
Inside, two large zipper compartments organize your belongings for your flight across the country or across the world. One compartment has a well-protected removable 15 in. laptop sleeve that also stores documents well. (A 17 in. laptop can fit in the bag, but just not in the dedicated laptop sleeve.) The other main compartment zips and can fold flat on the floor. Here, two zippers provide separated storage for clothes and smaller travel accessories. The outside of the bag has equally sensible storage: one large zipper pocket reveals pockets for pens and small electronics. (This pocket is accessible when the bag is oriented horizontally as a briefcase.) Another smaller zip pocket lies on top. This one has a key clip and plenty of space for a cell phone and wallet; it was our testers' favorite pocket. Hidden on the lower part of the back is an obscure zippered security pocket for when your business travels take you to suspect locations.
The Blade 30 is one of only two packs reviewed with significant back support. The bag features a removable molded plastic/ metal stay. Our testers found this to be comfortable when walking, but too rigid for cycling. The shoulder straps are well shaped and very comfortable. Perhaps the Blade 30's greatest attribute is the fact that it meets airline size requirements for a personal item. This allows you to take the pack and a larger carry on, avoiding checked baggage and saving yourself time and money. One tester, who owned the bag for several years, flew across the country many times and fell completely in love with the bag. Overall, the Blade 30 is blissful for overnight business travel, but poor for active everyday use.
The largest drawback to the Blade 30 is its limited versatility. The bag is too big, too bulky and not comfortable enough for active pursuits. When loaded, the Blade 30 wears more like a comfortable box than a backpack. If you do a lot of traveling the bag's airline friendly size should offset its $200 price tag.
While the bag does fit 17-inch laptops, the internal velcro strap will only secure 15" and smaller laptops. We found this out the hard way when one time we forgot to fully zip the laptop compartment, pickup the bag and our 17" MacBook pro flew to the pavement. Luckily only cosmetic damage occurred.
Overnight business travel
$200, but well worth it for the frequent traveler. The Blade is nothing but a steal when compared to fancy leather briefcases with less a tenth of the functionality.
Arc'teryx has an amazing warranty. After two years of everyday use the zipper compartment on the Blade 15- which one of our testers owned- broke. Fortunately for our tester, Arc'teryx didn't have the model in stock and sent him the Blade 30 at no charge!
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale