Case Logic Prevailer review

The Prevailer offers big laptop protection at a tiny price

Case Logic Prevailer Backpack hero

Case Logic Prevailer

“The Case Logic Prevailer has a great price point and a thickly padded laptop compartment, but that’s about it.”
  • Thickly padded laptop compartment
  • Inconspicuous
  • 25-year warranty
  • Uncomfortable straps
  • Awkward pockets
  • Bland design
MSRP $40.00

You don’t have a lot of choice if you need a 17-inch laptop bag. Most are garish, designed for carrying gaming rigs, and inappropriate for work. The Case Logic Prevailer is an affordable exception, coming in at just under $40. At that price point, you might miss some features that you’re used to seeing, like chest straps or water-resistant zippers, but you’ll save some bucks over the competition.

The Prevailer has a laptop compartment that holds machines up to 16.4 inches wide and 11.8 inches across, but only 1.1 inches thick. There’s also a sleeve for tablets up to 10 inches. The textured polyester exterior is predominantly black, but adorned with a few fluorescent green stripes. It’s not going to win any beauty awards, but it will look inconspicuous sitting next to your desk.

This pack might seem a good choice if you want a 17-inch laptop bag on a budget, but did Case Logic cut too many corners while cutting the price?

Not exactly a head-turner

Case Logic only sells two laptop backpacks less expensive than the Prevailer, and it shows in the bland design. The black polyester on the outside has a textured pattern, and a single green pipe runs up the back, but otherwise the bag is nondescript. Other laptop backpacks find a way to strike a balance between professional and expressive, and the Prevailer just looks uninspired.

That could be a benefit or a drawback, depending on your usage. If you’re carting around a 17-inch laptop, a tablet, and a digital camera, you want a bag that’s not going to draw any attention to itself. It lacks any rings to tie the bag down, and there’s no way to lock the zippers shut, so stealth is its only security.

But how does it feel?

The Prevailer’s straps don’t look thick and cushioned — because they aren’t. When weighed down with a laptop, charger, a few miscellaneous work items, and a book, the edges started to push into my shoulders.

Unless you have a 17-inch rig, the cavernous laptop pouch will prove too large.

There’s room for a 17-inch laptop, but a 15-incher was more than enough to make the bag uncomfortable. It doesn’t help the Prevailer lacks any sort of chest or waist strap to help distribute weight.

Unlike some more expensive backpacks, the clips on the shoulders hold the straps securely. I didn’t find myself readjusting to tighten the fit. The clips tend to be a weak point on backpacks, but these feel like they could take a beating.

The zippers slide smoothly, and feel sturdy, but lack any water resistant coating or cover. If it starts to rain, water is going to sit on top, and then seep through. In the compartment next to the laptop, the bend of the zipper with weight in the bag creates a trench where water can sit. That could become a serious liability if you’re caught without an umbrella.

Your laptop’s very own padded room

The Prevailer’s laptop sleeve has its own dedicated pocket, with a zipper that extends from the upper corner of the bag to the lower corner on the other side. That means if your laptop is too wide for just a top zipper, you can easily unzip it a bit further and it should fit, as well as access it by slinging the bag under your arm. In fact, it might have room to spare. Unless you’ve a full 17-inch laptop, chances are the padded laptop area is much too large for your machine.

Case Logic Prevailer Backpack front pocket

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

That being said, the protection provided by the sleeve is ample for protecting your machine. The padding where the laptop sits against your back could be a little thicker, though, as you can feel the edges of the laptop clearly through it when you walk.

Awkward storage options

A catch-all pocket is notably missing from the Prevailer’s storage options. A small pouch where you can keep your keys, a USB thumbdrive, tickets to the concert you’re going to after work, or a couple packs of gum just isn’t there. That’s a real problem, since there are only small, open top pouches within the larger compartments to serve as an alternative. These pockets won’t hold anything if the bag is turned sideways or upside-down, and will splay their contents out when the bag is opened if you aren’t careful.

Premium features like moisture protection and chest straps aren’t available at this price.

It also has two larger pockets, apart from the laptop pouch, that both serve the same purpose. These general storage pockets hold medium-sized objects, but they’re too deep, so if you drop something in, you’ll have to reach in and dig around to find it. Both compartments have a couple of pouches inside for smaller items, like chargers or a book.

There’s also a hidden compartment that sits against your lower back, and is accessible by pulling out on an elastic flap. It could hold some extra cash, or a passport, but it doesn’t seem that useful. If someone were unzipping and going through pockets in your bag they might not notice the hidden stash pocket, but they’re more likely to just take the whole backpack once they find your laptop.

If you find yourself thirsty, there’s a water bottle sleeve on the side, which easily holds larger water bottles like a Nalgene, or my 18-ounce Hydroflask. It gripped them at first, but after just a few uses the elastic band had become looser than before. At a certain point, it became too loose and didn’t hold bottles tightly.

Warranty

Warranty is a win for the Case Logic Prevailer, as it boasts a standard 25-year quality guarantee. It doesn’t cover what you put into the backpack, but if it falls apart from normal wear and tear, you’ll get a replacement or repaired item, and if they can’t repair or replace it, you’ll get a partial refund and you can keep the bag, or return it for a full refund. Sounds great, though we question whether anyone will bother to replace such an inexpensive backpack by calling Case Logic when it wears out.

Conclusion

The Case Logic Prevailer doesn’t have a lot of amenities or extra features, and the padding isn’t the most comfortable, but it wins out in two key areas – laptop compartment and price.

Tough padding on the corners and bottom is essential for a good laptop backpack, and the Prevailer has a wealth of it. There’s no concern about busting up the edge of your laptop when you set the bag down, and you can stash a lot of stuff in the other pockets without fear of scratching or damaging your machine.

It’s also much cheaper than the competition. You can buy the Prevailer from Case Logic for just $40, and it’s even less on Amazon. Premium laptop backpacks start close to $100, and only become more expensive from there. It’s lacking even the most basic amenities, though – no chest straps, no headphone grommet, no interior zippered pouches, no moisture protection.

The Case Logic Prevailer is one of the most affordable laptop backpacks the company offers, and the understated design is either a plus or a minus, depending on how close you keep your electronics to you at any given time. It’s the right price point for occasionally carting around your oversized laptop, but it’s missing some essential features I’ve come to expect from a backpack.

Highs

  • Thickly padded laptop compartment
  • Inconspicuous
  • 25-year warranty

Lows

  • Uncomfortable straps
  • Awkward pockets
  • Bland design