The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Osprey Pixel Review

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $150 List | $149.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, intelligently designed laptop features, has document pouches
Cons:  A little small, needs laptop securing straps
Manufacturer:   Osprey
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 8, 2015
  • Share this article:
67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Laptop Protection - 25% 5
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Storage - 15% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Style - 15% 8
  • Water resistance - 10% 5

The Skinny

The Osprey Pixel is a sleek and sexy top-loading laptop backpack that is extremely well-thought-out. In addition to the large main compartment, it has a separate laptop compartment that is accessed by a side-zip; this compartment accommodates up to a 15 inch laptop as well as a tablet.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Osprey Pixel vs. The Old Version


Osprey has confirmed that the Pixel has been redesigned. The update includes the addition of dual water bottle pockets on the side panels of the bag designed for easy access. Although the new version of this backpack looks similar, the aesthetics of the bag have changed and the backpack now comes in three colors, black, shark grey, and caspian blue. Now retailing for $150 ($10 more than the previous version), the volume of the Pixel has been increased to 26L and the weight is now 3 pounds.

Check out the side-by-side comparison below, with the updated Pixel shown on the left and the older version on the right.
Osprey Pixel

Hands-On Review


The Osprey Pixel really shines as a top-loading single compartment bag that is well-designed. Even though it is smaller than the other top-loaders, the Patagonia Arbor and the Timbuk2 Rogue, we liked its storage capabilities better because of all the organizational features and different compartments and pockets. In short, it is a top-loader that is specifically designed to be a laptop backpack (unlike the Rogue and Arbor). We loved how it has full-length side zips for the purpose of expanding the carrying capacity or snugging it up if the bag is empty and loose feeling. Overall, we thought it was a very intelligent bag that we loved to use daily.

Performance Comparison


This pack is sleek and fits tightly against the body. It has two side zippers which allow for greater expansion of the main compartment  or allow you to zip them up for a flatter and sleeker fit if carrying less.
This pack is sleek and fits tightly against the body. It has two side zippers which allow for greater expansion of the main compartment, or allow you to zip them up for a flatter and sleeker fit if carrying less.

Laptop Protection


A small 11 inch laptop in the laptop compartment of the Pixel. No securing straps and it rests on the bottom of the bag. The zippered pocket is for tablets.
A small 11 inch laptop in the laptop compartment of the Pixel. No securing straps and it rests on the bottom of the bag. The zippered pocket is for tablets.
Despite being designed specifically for laptop carrying, and having a dedicated side-zip laptop pouch with copious padding and soft, non-scratching felt lining, we could only award the Osprey Pixel a 5 out of 10 for laptop protection. This is still better than the Patagonia Arbor, but not nearly as good as the Arc'teryx Blade 24. Our main complaint is that the laptop compartment is huge, much bigger than even a 15 inch laptop, and there are no securing straps, so the laptop freely slides and bangs around. While the bottom of the pouch does have padding, it is not suspended above the bottom of the bag, and so the laptop is virtually guaranteed to hit ground when set down. It does have a dedicated tablet pocket, but this pocket was too small to fit our 11 inch MacBook Air.

A larger 15 inch laptop inside the felt-lined laptop compartment.
A larger 15 inch laptop inside the felt-lined laptop compartment.

Comfort


This is a comfortable bag, ranking second in our testing behind the Dakine Explorer. The backplate is comfortable on the back. Most importantly, it has well-spaced shoulder straps that do not bite into the neck. Sternum and waist straps add stability.

The pack is comfortable to carry with flat shoulder straps and a supportive yet soft back plate.
The pack is comfortable to carry with flat shoulder straps and a supportive yet soft back plate.

Organization & Storage


It has great storage for being so small. We loved the main compartment's expandability and its document sleeves, as well as the special "powerhouse" compartment that has a removable storage purse for all your power cords and small accessories.

A low pocket on the front is the "Powerhouse" carrier. Inside resides this purse meant to hold all your electronics and power cords.
A low pocket on the front is the "Powerhouse" carrier. Inside resides this purse meant to hold all your electronics and power cords.

Versatility


While the storage compartment is large enough to carry extras like a jacket, water, or gym gear, it is not nearly as versatile as The North Face Recon. Every feature of this backpack is centered around work and laptop carrying, which we really appreciate, but it would not be our first choice as a small backpack for day hikes or other outdoor activities.

This pack has a side entry laptop compartment on the left and zippers on either side of the bag allow it to expand or contract.
This pack has a side entry laptop compartment on the left and zippers on either side of the bag allow it to expand or contract.

Water Resistance


While the top-flap does an excellent job of protecting all openings and the zippers all have covers to protect them against water, we found one critical flaw with the Pixel that is a concern when it comes to water resistance. The back plate is made of an open-air mesh over patterned foam that is designed to promote airflow and let your back breathe when sweating. However, we found that in a downpour water easily pours through the mesh, trickles down the back, and collects at the bottom of the back plate, where it is then absorbed by the felt lining straight into the laptop compartment. In our testing, this took place after only a few seconds of exposure to water. For this reason we think it is a risk to the health of your laptop to rely heavily on this bag in a downpour or extremely wet climate.
The fabric seemed to absorb water in the shower test  but the inside contents stayed dry and the top flap covers the main opening well.
The fabric seemed to absorb water in the shower test, but the inside contents stayed dry and the top flap covers the main opening well.

Best Applications


The Pixel is ideally suited as a laptop carrying backpack, and would be great for commuting daily to the office or school, as long as you avoid the rain. While it has enough storage to hold other items, this is not its strongest suit.

Value


The MSRP for the Osprey Pixel is $139.95, making it the second most expensive bag in our review. We believe it is well designed, made of top-quality materials, and durable. However, there are many other bags we rated higher that are less pricey. We don't necessarily think that you won't get your money's worth, but price is something to consider.

Conclusion


The Pixel is a well-designed and stylish laptop backpack that is designed specifically to carry your computer. However, there are a few flaws that make it less-than-perfect, like its lack of securing straps for the laptop and its moisture absorbing fabric. While we do recognize its few flaws, we still think this is an excellent bag. We loved using it during testing and we would heartily recommend it.


Andy Wellman