We knew from last year that our shoulders and backs would be subjected to carrying lots of gear for long periods of time on the CES show floor, so this year for the show in January, we planned ahead. Thanks to our friends at several different companies, we had a handful of brand new bags to test out during the show, in hopes of keeping our backs and shoulders a little happier than before. With almost a week spent in Las Vegas running around with laptops and camera gear, as well as two plane flights, we can give you the full rundown on just how well our bags performed and whether or not we’ll give them a glowing recommendation. From Crumpler we tested out the Dry Red No 5 backpack as well as the spacious Boston Heist. We’ll give you the rundown on the basics of both bags and then delve into our own personal experience, gripes, and raves.
The Dry Red No 5 backpack ($175) is a laptop backpack designed to hold your 15-inch laptop as well as whole day’s worth of other gear. It has a padded and zippered laptop compartment in the back as well as two other large compartments. The larger compartment is spacious and features another lightly padded sleeve that could be used for an iPad or something similar. That compartment also has an inner zippered pocket and comes with a detached small zipper pouch for cords and chargers. The front zippered pocket has a bright red interior and many organizational pockets for your keys, phone, business cards, and random essential personal items. The backpack has a two-tone design and offers a nicely padded back and padded straps as well.
The Boston Heist ($200, above) is a large briefcase-style bag that can fit up to a 17-inch laptop as well as plenty of other gear. The bag has a lightweight and unstructured design, but has a padded laptop sleeve inside and two large zippered exterior pockets. The bag zips at the top and has a few small slip pockets inside. It offers both dual carry handles as well as a padded neoprene shoulder strap that can be removed or adjusted.
We’ll give you our take on the Dry Red No 5 backpack first. Our overall impression is that this is a great backpack, particularly for someone with a lot of tech gear. We love that the laptop compartment is separate from everything else and it’s very nicely padded. The other compartments are very functional and have just the right amount and type of pockets that we like to see. The bigger compartment has a few bigger but still organizational pockets while the smaller compartment has plenty of small pockets for little items. We also really like the look of the bag. It definitely looks like a backpack, but has a simple modern vibe that could go from a hiking trail to a casual office environment pretty easily.
The Dry Red No 5 bag also passed our test when it came to comfort, even on the CES show floor. The straps are very comfortable and we also liked that even when the bag was packed with gear, it all stayed close to the back instead of bulging out backwards. We did find that adjusting the bag while wearing it was a little difficult, but that was our only gripe. The bag even has an expandable zipper area if you really need to pack it full. We’d recommend this Crumpler bag to anyone who wants a classic backpack that was designed with tech, function, and comfort in mind.
The Boston Heist was also a good bag for us to bring to CES, but it didn’t quite wow us as much as the backpack. The biggest plus about the Boston Heist is its size — it’s huge. If you’ve got a 17-inch laptop plus a ton of camera gear and other stuff to tote around, this is probably one of the few bags out there that will work for you. It’s got plenty of room in the main compartment for a camera bag insert (like the Haven), an extra change of clothes, or whatever else you might need to bring along. While the Boston Heist boasts a nice large size and plenty of open room, we did miss some of the organizational features. Because we weren’t carrying a 17-inch laptop, the inside sleeve seemed too big and a little floppy. Other than the two large unpadded outer pockets, there isn’t much already there for organization. There’s no clear place to put your phone or a pair of keys, which is something we definitely look for.
On the plus side, we do like the sporty but professional look of the bag, and the water-resistant zippers are a nice touch. The neoprene padded shoulder strap also gets points for making sure that you’re comfortable despite the large load you are likely carrying. If your main priority is room, we’d definitely recommend the Boston Heist. If you’re looking for something organizational with a pocket for every one of your chargers and tech accessories, this probably isn’t the bag for you. If you like what you’re reading about the bag but don’t have a 17-inch laptop to tote around, the company also makes similar smaller versions.