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The Solo Everyday Max 17.3-inch laptop-slash-duffel bag is unlike any other backpack I’ve ever used, and that’s both a good and bad thing.
Built by the New York-based satchel firm, the Everyday Max isn’t your typical zips, flaps and straps sort of affair. In fact, it’s a bit of a jack of all trades. But before I delve into the bag’s unique features, a quick tour.
The Everyday Max is much, much larger than your traditional laptop bag. It can swallow 17.3-inch laptops, a tablet, and a fair few other accessories while still boasting plenty of space for clothing items too.
As a relatively height-disadvantaged human being, the Max occupies the vertical space from my buttocks to just below my neckline. In terms of width, it remains safely within the breadth of my back. With all that said though, it does stand out by a good 30cm in depth. In that sense, it’s similar size to a duffel bag, but it’ll stow relatively easily in overhead luggage. (It won’t, however, fit beneath the seat in front of you or on your lap on a train.)
It’s both a blessing and a curse. Negatives first, it looks a bit cumbersome when worn with business attire, and with casual clothes the Max has a tendency to make wearers look like tourists. However, the positives are the space. And there’s spades of it.
The Everyday Max’s fabric is a lot more taut than most bags I’ve used from Everki and Thule, so it tends to retain its shape even when empty. And when full, it has a fair bit of stretching leeway for larger items of clothing or gadgets.
Speaking of gadgets, the Everyday Max may be the bag for the tech enthusiast. There’s a ridiculous number of pockets both inside and outside the bag. You’ll be able to fit a 700ml bottle of water on either of the bag’s side pouches, while the bag’s topmost compartment can easily fit a wallet, train ticket, set of keys and a small phone.
Internally, there are two mesh pockets on the bag’s upper flap which for some strange reason are bottom-zip mounted. It makes slotting things into them more difficult, and getting things out becomes an exercise in juggling. It’s clear these mesh pockets were meant to house more valuable but not as oft needed essentials. Behind those larger outer pockets mention before, the bag has internal mesh pockets mirroring their positions. And those can house a powerbank, possibly a selfie stick.
But the real trick up the Max’s sleeve is its duffel bag-like zip which allows the entire front flap of the bag to fly open. So if you’re intent on packing clothing for a weekend away, you can easily pack a pair of jeans, a bomber jacket, a few shirts and other essentials using this flap. And once the bag is full, zip it up, and continue to pack items from the top mounted zip.
Simply brilliant. But not so brilliant is the issue this creates.
For one, the Everyday Max’s main compartment has no real system for ordering items internally. There’s no way to compartmentalise items without packing said items into individual bags. So if you’re not packing clothing items, and instead wish to carry a mish-mash of hardware, prepare to hear a lot of clattering from your bag.
It’s not a deal breaker, but considering this bag’s price, Solo could’ve included a few removable compartments that would allow for more sensible packing arrangements.
Additionally, this zip also makes it incredibly easy for others to open it and steal some shit without you even knowing. Sure, a simple solution would be to put a lock on it, but this is just an inconvenience.
Ultimately, the Solo Everyday Max achieves a good balance between its “everyday” take on luggage, and the “max” element regarding its storage abilities. But before you buy, know that you’ll need around R1499 for a bag that’s going to look rather curious in a boardroom.