The Beer Back Computer Pack for 15 and 17 Laptops
Review

On September 11, 2007, in Back Pack, Review, by John Nemerovski

“The Beer Back” Computer Pack for 15″ and 17″ Laptops
Company: Crumpler Bags

Price: $170.00 US
http://www.crumplerbags.com

Artie’s recent review of Crumpler’s smaller “The Salary Sacrifice” sibling to “The Beer Back” (abbreviated here as TBB) says it all, so please read his rave here — with action photos! — before you proceed.

You can buy and drink a lot of beer for $170 US, but it won’t last as long as this TBB case. You can fill Crumpler’s TBB with six bottles or cans of beer and have plenty of room remaining for your 15″ or 17″ MacBook Pro or PowerBook. You can pour some beer over this pack and your computer will laugh it off, being protected by multiple layers of impenetrable beerproof material from anything short of Hurricane Michelob.

The Beer Back can easily hold both a 15″ and a 17″ MacBook Pro, plus perhaps a couple of smaller MacBooks, with all their power cables, and a dozen or more iPods, if you’re careful. The pack will be heavy, but its padded shoulder straps can manage the weight, even if your geeky shoulders can’t.

* * * * *

Here are the specs and description from Crumpler’s psychotic web site, to save you the agony of navigating it:

Water resistant 700D Nylon shell & 420D Ripstop Nylon lining

Fully padded removable laptop sleeve with 6 pocket organizer — the removable laptop insert can be used to insulate your lap whilst working, from a hot laptop

2x external covered & gusseted zip pockets

Holds compact 17″ laptops & accessories, A4/Letter-size documents & magazines as well as daily essentials

Use the shoulder straps to attach an optional extra Thirsty Al mobile phone holder

Pack dimensions 39x55x29cm (15x21x11.5″) plus Laptop Sleeve 40.5x27x4cm (16×10.6×1.6″)

The Beer Back comes in your choice of five colors: black, brown, red, blue, and green. Our evaluation model is green, with a bright orange interior and sleeve.

Why the strange name? I’m not making this up. Crumpler says: “You can have your beer guts, I got a beer back,” referring to the bulging profile of this case.

If you are a road warrior who needs to grab your gear from your computer case with one hand while sending a text message and making a left turn into heavy traffic with the other, The Beer Back is not for you. Crumpler chose protection over convenience when designing and constructing this pack.

Its two angled exterior front pockets are deep and spacious, but their zippers are recessed underneath a sturdy flap. TBB’s giant interior sleeve has an enormous folding cover to keep your computer safe and dry. The rounded “Beer” belly requires immersion of your arm up to the elbow to retrieve objects stowed in the lower gut area of the pack. The overall experience is: put your stuff inside, know it will still be there when you need it, but don’t be in a rush when you want it to rejoin the outside world. Center of gravity can be unpredictable for TBB, so test it in a range of positions when first loaded and unzipped.

TBB’s oversized sleeve easily contains computer(s), but its top edges and corners don’t easily tuck into the rounded, zippered upper shell area. Crumpler should have noticed this physical conflict, and I won’t be surprised if it’s fixed by Macworld 2008. TBB’s critical top-center grab band is nicely rounded, but its fit is too small for adult fingers due to the overhanging fabric that attaches straps to pack. Ditto on the size of the upper of two fabric grab bands on front center. I dare Crumpler to show me the five year old Macintosher who chooses The Beer Back based on the gap for his/her fingers to grab and lift it.

With no built-in exterior accessories in addition to standard issue chest strap and D-rings, TBB’s only frills are on the inside: two heavyweight velcro pouches and one zippered mesh pouch inside the front of the case; plus a teensy portable office section on the inner sleeve, with space for iPod, phone, pens, and passport or wallet.

If you are a student or traveler or mobile professional who needs great protection, plenty of carrying space, thick shoulder straps, and exceptional quality at an exceptional price, Crumpler’s The Beer Back is a good choice. MyMac.com has reviewed large-capacity competitors by Spire and Brenthaven, and Crumpler’s unusual design gives consumers a third approach to solving the techie transportation trauma.

MyMac Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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