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Hands-on Gear Review
Osprey Flapjack Review
Cons: Doesn't sit upright - needs to lean against something
Bottom line: Perfect pack for commuting to and from the office, school or play; this is a one stop shop.
The Osprey Flapjack possess a winning combination of durability, a modern inspired chic look, and plenty of features to help you navigate everyday life with serenity. It is the most professional looking bag in our review and also offers some of the best protection for your laptop and smaller devices such as a tablet or iPad, both of which we tested with during this process. These are fundamental characteristics that make it a great laptop backpack to consider purchasing. It won our Editors' Choice Award for excelling in all the things that make a laptop backpack worthy.
This contender is a sleek top-loading laptop backpack that is well-thought-out. The large main compartment has a separate laptop compartment that fits a 15" laptop and has a great velcro strap to secure it in place. This contender is explicitly designed as a laptop backpack, which we appreciate, and has many little features that help it accomplish this purpose. With its excellent usability and comfortable straps, this can also be an ideal choice for a day hike on the trails. It was one of our favorite backpacks we tested and one we would highly recommend it to any office commuter. The women's version of this pack is the FlapJill.
RELATED REVIEW: The 10 Best Laptop Backpacks of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Nowadays it seems that the average working individual has an abundance of electronic devices that help make our daily routines easier and more bearable, but with that comes the added chance to lose, break or misplace those trusty life-saving gadgets. This pack has a torrent of pockets and compartments to help you maintain a well-organized bag of gear and keep them adequately protected as well.
Not only does it come with an amply padded laptop sleeve, but there are also secondary pockets for a tablet, a separate document sleeve, and room for just about anything else you'd like to carry with you. There is even room in the main compartment for a jacket, change of clothes and your climbing gear, just in case you want to drop by the gym after you've wrapped up your day at the office. If you tend to do a lot of traveling, whether it be to the office or on a trip, this is an excellent choice to protect your technology and will also keep you comfortable and well-organized while doing so.
We awarded the Flapjack a 9 out of 10 in this metric, making it the highest rated score for laptop protection.
Osprey has a well thought out design to keep the weight of the pack down and also ensure that your laptop is adequately protected. When your computing device is snugged away in the main pouch that can fit up to a 15" laptop, the big foam piece extends further than the pouch. This is a feature that many of the bags encompass, but this design was one of our favorites. This section of foam has to fold before a laptop touches the ground. If you set the bag down forcefully, or drop it for some reason, this design prevents your laptop from hitting the ground. This is an excellent feature of this pack considering it is not a free-standing bag and needs to be leaned against something to stand up.
This is a comfortable bag plain and simple, ranking first in our testing for comfort.
As noted in the chart above, this pack received a 9 out of 10, with our Best Buy Winner The North Face Borealis coming in closely behind with a final score of 7 out of 10. It has a firm but well-padded backplate that fits well against a person's back; it also has nicely padded shoulder straps that are also a slim ergonomic design like that of most of Osprey's packs. Most importantly, the shoulder straps are explicitly designed not to bite into the neck, and this couldn't be truer; it was exceptionally comfortable while sitting on a bike. Its sternum and waist strap add stability when riding a bike or with heavy cargo. The Flapjack will not only keep your laptop safe and secure, but it is also a very comfortable pack to wear while doing so.
While the Flapjack is technically the smallest bag that we reviewed, we ranked it pretty high for storage. It has so many great organizational features that not only help you stay organized but held everything we need for after work as well. This included a change of clothes, climbing shoes, and of course, a climbing harness and chalk bag (for the always much need gym sesh after a long day in the office). All of the packs we tested had no problem holding all of our extra gear, but the Flapjack made a better impression.
We loved the central compartment's expandability, as well as the unique zippered padded tablet sleeve and the document pouch between the two padded sleeves. The smaller outer zippered compartment has tons of little pockets for holding all of your small knick-knacks, as well as smaller office electronics and supplies. The key clip is also a plus for those individuals who tend to lose their keys often; it also made a significant ID holder if you are a working individual who needs such a thing. We were surprised at how many of the packs did not have such a small luxury. We awarded the Flapjack full marks on storage giving it a 10 out of 10 because it offered enough space for everything we need before or after work and also kept us very well organized in the process.
Ease of Use
While the storage compartment is large enough to carry extras like a jacket, water bottle or gym gear, there is also an extra tubular zippered pocket on the outside that allows for room for extra carrying capacity. Most liked to use it as a place to store a thermos of caffeine for those long days at the office.
This contender tends to be centered around work, organization and laptop carrying. We appreciate this feature and think it makes for an excellent laptop backpack; however, it would not be our first choice as a small backpack for day hikes or other outdoor activities. The Patagonia Black Hole 25 for instance, with its single large compartment and hydration capability, makes it an excellent choice for hikes on the trails.
This contender is one of the more stylish bags we tested, in our opinion at least. It is not a "hip" style so much as a sleek and modern style, one that is well-suited to the relaxed office environment. In that regard, it is very similar to a few of the other packs we tested, but the sleek design and modern color choices will be sure to attract some attention.
The Flapjack also offers a unique design amongst the other bags in the review, as this is the only style of laptop backpack that uses a sizeable durable flap to cover and enclose the inner compartments.
If partly cloudy with a chance of light showers is on the forecast menu, this pack will fit the bill. It was surprisingly more waterproof than we expected and ranked amongst the highest in water resistance out of the nine packs.
The Flapjack emerged from the 30-second shower test with little to no moisture on the paper inside. We were hesitant at first because there are no zippers on the main laptop compartment, but the vast flap fully encloses the compartment and keeps things dry. If you frequently find yourself caught in the rain and want something that's better than nothing, this bag will do the trick. If you want a highly repellent laptop bag for those heavy showers, look to the Patagonia Black Hole 25 or the Granite Gear Rift 2.
This is one of the best bags for using to and from the office and on day-to-day missions, especially since the deluge of pockets helps you stay organized. If you're looking for a laptop bag to take to work and like the modern style that the Flapjack offers, this bag is going to be right up your alley. The small attachment for a flashing bike light on the back of the pack gives you peace of mind while bike commuting. Along with a few other small reflective strips on the front, we also found this pack to be a rather comfortable fit while seated on a bike, unlike its counterpart the Granite Gear Rift 2, which had a very long back panel and felt bulky and large while seated on a bike. The Rift might be a good choice for you in you have a long torso; seeing as how our main tester was 5'5", it felt rather big.
This model retails for $110 which is on the pricier end of the spectrum, compared to the nine other models we tested; but, we believe it is worth every penny. If you're on the hunt for the Best Bang for Your Buck, check out the The North Face Borealis.
If you want a great combination of laptop protection, comfort, organization, and great features, this is an excellent bag that'll help you handle whatever gets thrown your way.
— Katherine Elliott
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