Matein Travel Review
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|Pros||Inexpensive, external USB port, several pockets||Great organizational capacity, effective use of space, comfortable, adjustable, separate laptop side-access||Functional, plentiful storage, water-resistant fabric, inexpensive, versatile||Inexpensive, simple, durable||Inexpensive, great organization, professional profile and style, easy to use|
|Cons||Thin shoulder strap padding, jangly zippers||Expensive, lacks cushioning on the bottom of the pack||Not super stylish||Difficult zippers, minimal padding, no water bottle pocket||Poor water bottle holder, no battery pack with charging station, questionable quality|
|Bottom Line||An affordable laptop backpack with a lot of different pockets for adaptable carrying capacity||Our favorite for our daily needs, from lugging around electronics to going to the gym||This spacious backpack offers functionality and value that is unmatched||This super simple laptop backpack has the form of a traditional kids' school pack with the modern-looking material of a model for adults||A feature-laden option that does the trick for a super low price|
|Rating Categories||Matein Travel||Incase Icon||The North Face Bore...||Herschel Heritage||Tzowla Travel|
|Laptop Protection (25%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Matein Travel||Incase Icon||The North Face Bore...||Herschel Heritage||Tzowla Travel|
|Volume (L)||28L||17 L||28 L||21.5 L||Not listed|
|Weight||1.7 lbs||2.1 lbs||2.7 lbs||1.2 lbs||1.8 lbs|
|Number of Compartments||3||4||2||3||2|
|Dimensions||18 x 12 x 7.8 in.||19 x 13 x 9 in.||19.75 x 13.5 x 8.5 in.||18 x 12.25 x 5.5 in.||19.29 x11.8 x 5.43 in.|
|Number of Large Pockets||3||3||2||2||1|
|Number of Small Pockets||2||14||9||1||5|
|External Side Pocket(s)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|External Water Bottle Holder?||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Matein Travel is different not only because of its price point but also because of how easy it is to use. Easy-pull zippers never get stuck and sneaky features like a detachable key ring and USB port up its game even more.
This pack is well-padded. There are two padded pockets large enough to hold 15" laptops. Within the larger of the two, there is a dedicated laptop slot with additional padding and a velcro tab to secure the computer in place. It works really well and keeps the laptop stable in transit.
During testing, our electronics stood up to the day-to-day bumps and jostles of daily commutes between work, school, and home. We even inadvertently toppled the pack off a 2-foot ledge without any damage to the contents. There isn't any formal suspension system that buffers the laptop from the bottom of the bag, but we also didn't encounter any serious issues with it. If you are really concerned about carrying super sensitive equipment, you could consider a different option but we found the padding to be totally sufficient for everyday use with regular laptops.
The Matein pack is also surprisingly comfortable. It has three pads on the back — two on top over each shoulder blade and one on the bottom that runs the width of the lumbar area. The straps are about three inches wide and lightly padded. All these features together make for a comfortable carry.
There is no internal rigid structure, which we appreciate for the most part. Our only issue with it is that folders and larger spiral notebooks don't have any structure to lean against so they sometimes get a little mushed. On the exterior, the shoulder straps are easy to adjust. We didn't find it to be the most breathable pack during commutes on warmer days, but all things considered, it performed well.
The storage of this pack is excellent. It has one dedicated laptop pocket with a sleeve. In practice, we found that this pocket can safely hold two computers. On top of that, the second larger pocket can hold an additional laptop or tablet (not that people are typically carrying three separate computers, but the capacity is there).
There are also several auxiliary pockets that are very useful. Each of the two main compartments has large subpockets that easily hold chargers, headphones, and notebooks. There are also two smaller front pockets (one larger than the other) that are great for pens, pencils, tissues, earbuds, or other small items. There is even a hidden pocket in the lumbar foam pad that sits directly against the back. If you are traveling, you could stash items in here that you wouldn't want anyone else to be able to get to while you're wearing the pack, like a passport or wallet.
This model also comes equipped with a built-in but detachable key ring so you can easily keep track of your keys — so long as you remember to hook clip them back into place. The two exterior mesh water bottle pockets work for skinny bottles but won't hold wider bottles like a Nalgene.
Ease of Use
We love how easy this pack is to use. The zippers are one of our favorite features. They open and close so easily and never got stuck in our experience. It is very satisfying to zip and unzip the pockets of this pack. We also appreciate the different ways we could carry the pack. There are two handles at the top — a more substantial one if you really overload on weight and a standard piece of webbing to hang the bag on a hook. There is also a strip of webbing on the back that slides easily over a suitcase handle for moving through an airport.
In addition, there is an exterior USB port and interior cable that allows you to connect your own power bank and charge your devices. This ability to give your phone a bit of extra juice on the go could be a nice bonus for some users, but overall we found this feature to be a bit gimmicky.
The exterior fabric is water-resistant. We found that it kept contents dry in moderate rainfall even when the fabric started to soak through. The thickness of the fabric as well as the padded layer underneath create a substantial barrier.
In our experience, as with many packs, the weakest parts of the weather resistance are the zippers. They are not waterproof and there is no additional material once moisture gets through. Having said that, unless you get caught in a serious downpour, your equipment should stay protected, even if the pack needs some time to dry out.
We really came to enjoy the functional but modern style of the Matein Travel. It comes in a variety of solid colors as well as a few more playful prints, so there is an option for most people in terms of the exterior fabric. It fits in both in a high school or college campus as well as at the office.
It looks a little techy, especially with the external USB port, but we were happy to carry it around to many different places throughout the day. It's not especially flashy, so if you are looking to really stand out, there are more exciting options out there but our testers rated it favorably in terms of its aesthetics and versatility.
Should You Buy the Matein Travel?
We would recommend the Matein Travel to pretty much anyone. It's designed as a laptop bag but could really be used as a school backpack as well. It looks good for adults and adolescents and will keep electronics protected. Auxiliary pockets and easy access to contents make it a breeze to use on the move. It could even be used as a gym bag if you wanted to use one of the large compartments for clean clothes and the other for post-workout wear. For its price point, it's really hard to beat this bag.
What Other Models Should You Consider?
This pack has a lot to offer at a low price, but if you are willing to spend more, you might consider the Peak Design Everyday. It has a larger capacity and great functionality with a refined aesthetic. Another great pack at a reasonable price is the The North Face Borealis, which has a distinctly outdoorsy look. If the Travel is a little too adult-looking, the Jansport Right Pack is a nice back-to-school option as well.
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