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

Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon Review

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $275 List
Pros:  Personal item sized, excellent pockets, durable, easy access to laptop
Cons:  Expensive, doesn't have sternum strap
Manufacturer:   Tumi
By Jeremy Bauman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 8, 2015
  • Share this article:
69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Features - 25% 8
  • Ease of Packing - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 10
  • Weight - 15% 3

The Skinny

With a sweet zipped laptop/e-reader/document compartment at the back and a main compartment large enough for a change of clothes, Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon could be all you need for a quick overnight. Overall, this pack is reminiscent of a laptop backpack with the addition of a few travel-specific features. At just 23 liters, this pack is small enough for use as a personal item. It is large enough to accommodate a change of clothes for a quick overnight trip.. We loved the quick access to the laptop/tablet/document compartment along the back of the bag.

Compared with the comparably sized REI Stuff Travel Daypack 22, this bag feels like it was made with much more attention to detail and feels like a better bag if you're looking for a great, durable personal item/carry-on option. However, the TUMI bag is much more expensive and weighs quite a bit more than its REI competitor. Many of us will be happy enough with the spartan features of the REI pack while others will appreciate the laptop sleeve and durability of the Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon. Overall, this bag could be your perfect travel companion, so continue reading to see how it performed against the other travel packs we reviewed.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon may not be large enough to use for travels longer than a day or two, but it has some sweet features that earned it a special place in our hearts. If you're looking for an awesome personal item sized backpack, this pack rocks!

Performance Comparison


Stylish and durable  the Alpha Bravo not only looks great  but will withstand years of regular use.
Stylish and durable, the Alpha Bravo not only looks great, but will withstand years of regular use.

Comfort


Foam and mesh padding on the shoulder straps are the Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon's greatest assets when it comes to comfort. The bag is ready for a stroll through the airport or to the local coffee shop and we found it comfortable enough for daily use carrying a few books, a laptop, and power supply. The padded back panel protects your laptop from abuse and protects your back from your laptop should it seek to attack you.

Though excellent back panels can add comfort, the omission of sternum straps and hip belts subtract comfort even more. While some testers didn't mind this for short strolls, we all agreed that not having these comfort adding features significantly reduced the radius we could travel before the pack started to feel uncomfortable. However, we did find this pack much more comfortable than the REI Stuff Travel, which also lacks a sternum strap or hip belt. Overall, this pack is adequately comfortable for quick jaunts, but isn't comfortable enough if you're going to spend the day touring museums with the pack fully loaded. For many of us, the lack of a sternum strap was a black streak on an otherwise excellent pack. If you're just walking short distance or carrying fewer items, you might not find this an issue and will love the pack!

Our testers found this small pack to be surprisingly comfortable  although we wish it had a sternum strap to help keep a little weight off the shoulders.
Our testers found this small pack to be surprisingly comfortable, although we wish it had a sternum strap to help keep a little weight off the shoulders.

Features


Several sweet travel-specific features set the Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon apart from the packs in our laptop backpack review. Tumi embedded a metal "Tracker" inside the lower front pocket. When we first started researching the TUMI Tracker, we had high hopes of GPS functionality that would allow us to track down a thief and stop them in their tracks. But as we quickly learned, the Tracker is basically just a barcode on a metal plate with a 20 digit code and a TUMI phone number to call if the bag is recovered by a caring person. This is a nice feature to have if you remember to register your bag with the company. Alternatively, you could write your contact info on the removable luggage tag on the outside of this bag.

We appreciated the curious pair of nylon loops on the shoulder straps. If you have two small carabiners or clips of some kind, use these loops to hang the Cannon off of a larger pack's shoulder straps as seen in the photo below. This is a nice feature if you plan on using this pack as your carry on and using another backpack for your checked bag. Hanging a smaller pack off the shoulder straps in this manner will help you balance and will give you a great hands-free way to keep your things safe and within reach.

The Alpha Bravo Cannon has two loops on the shoulder straps that can be used to secure the pack to the shoulder straps of larger travel backpacks.
The Alpha Bravo Cannon has two loops on the shoulder straps that can be used to secure the pack to the shoulder straps of larger travel backpacks.

The burly carry handle affixed to the top of the bag feels super strong and has a leather grip making it super comfortable to carry in this manner. A luggage-handle sleeve further adds to this pack's travel-ability especially if you love traveling with rolling carry-on luggage.

Ease of Packing


Our favorite packing related feature was the location of the two zippered pockets on the front of the bag. These are especially nice for travel because their orientation affords easy access when you lay your pack in the plastic tub right before going through security. Use these pockets to stash your phone, wallet, ID, and watch so that you can simply slip on your shoes, grab your pack, and race off to catch your flight. Of these two pockets, the top one is the size you'd want for a boarding pass and passport and it even has a small fuzzy phone pocket and a short key clip. The bottom front pocket is similarly easy to access and contains a small pocket ideally sized for a tooth brush and tooth paste. This'll come in handy when severe flight delays leave you stranded in the airport overnight.

The front zipped pocket is a great place for small electronics or things you need to keep accessible.
The front zipped pocket is a great place for small electronics or things you need to keep accessible.

The internal compartment uses a panel loading construction but only opens halfway. Because of this, the Cannon fell behind in the ease of packing metric and scored a 7/10. While it isn't necessarily difficult to pack, it would be much harder to stuff this bag to the brim while keeping your clothes wrinkle free than it would with a pack like the REI Vagabond Tour 40 which is a bit larger and can be opened fully. Further, if you stuff the Cannon, it is difficult to access items located near the bottom of the bag.

The Alpha Bravo had more than enough room for the items on the left. You could easily use this pack for a weekend if you only need a couple changes of clothes.
The Alpha Bravo had more than enough room for the items on the left. You could easily use this pack for a weekend if you only need a couple changes of clothes.

If you have a lot of small items (like you typically do in a personal item), you're likely to love the pocket arrangement of this pack. Along the front of the main compartment, there are two small open pockets about the size of a smart phone. Along the back, a zipped pocket protects important documents.

An external zipper on the back of the bag yields access to the laptop compartment separated by two main spaces for laptops. Of course you don't have to put a second computer in here, but it's nice to know that you can fit a 15 inch laptop in one compartment and a 17 inch one in the other. Alternatively, this pocket is a great place for your e-reader, book, or tablet.

If you aren't concerned that the front flap doesn't open all the way, then we're sure you'll really appreciate the Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon's pocket arrangement and packability.

The laptop compartment is externally accessed and opens up accordion style. As seen  there is plentiful room for a 15 inch Macbook  an iPad  and some paper.
The laptop compartment is externally accessed and opens up accordion style. As seen, there is plentiful room for a 15 inch Macbook, an iPad, and some paper.

Durability


Made of super strong ballistics nylon, this pack earned a solid 10/10. Everything about this pack feels solid and it showed no signs of abrasion throughout the course of our review. We threw it around quite a bit and beat it repeatedly against a very sharp rock, and it emerged as the most durable pack in this review; this bag is tough as nails. You can be certain that it'll follow you on trips for years and years, which is nice to know given its hefty price tag.

Made with super strong nylon  this pack showed no wear even after intentional abuse.
Made with super strong nylon, this pack showed no wear even after intentional abuse.

Weight


Jumping on the scales at a hefty 2 lbs, 9 oz, the Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon had a higher weight to volume ratio than many of the other packs in the review. It is considerably heavier than the REI Stuff Travel that can be loaded with roughly the same capacity but only weighs 10 oz. That said, the Cannon is an urban daypack and none of our testers complained about the weight.

Best Applications


This pack is best suited to short overnight trips or as your personal item for an extended trip. We love the front zipped pockets for small items and appreciated the padded laptop sleeve that was super accessible and had a sleeve for our tablet or e-reader as well. If you're the type who commutes via the jet stream every week, this pack will be an excellent fit and the super durable fabrics should last longer than any other pack in this review.

Looking for the best personal item to match your needs? Many of our reviewers love traveling with messenger bags and laptop backpacks.

Value


This pack isn't cheap when it comes to quality or price. For one not-so-easy payment of $275, this pack could be yours. Of course, this means that it bodes poorly on the price/value ratio. But, think about it this way -if you spend $275 on this pack, you probably won't have to buy another pack for ages because this one is super durable. The large price tag may pay off in the long run.

Conclusion


The Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon is an excellent pack for quick overnight trips or to carry your stuff around daily. It is super durable and has some nifty travel features that distinguish it from just being another laptop backpack. It works well for short walks, but if you put a lot of weight in it, it can feel uncomfortable because it lacks a sternum strap. However, some people don't seem to mind not having a sternum strap and will appreciate the simplicity and style of this model.

The carry handle at the top of the pack is super durable and feels overbuilt; we have no hesitation concerning the strength or quality of the handle.
The carry handle at the top of the pack is super durable and feels overbuilt; we have no hesitation concerning the strength or quality of the handle.

Other Versions


Alpha Bravo Knox
  • Similar in function to the Bravo Cannon
  • Has a much different style
  • Comes in 5 colors
  • Retails for $295


Jeremy Bauman