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As a techie and frequent flier, finding a daily travel backpack is more difficult than it should be. There are the traditional options from North Face and Thule. But what if you wanted something a little more left-field?
I’ve been using the Everki Atlas now for the best part of six months, flying, walking and commuting with it, and toting a fair amount of tech within it. But if you’re not into orange, black, or orange on black, then you should probably look elsewhere for a daily backpack.
If you are, stay tuned.
Pouches and compartments
Like most Everki bags, there are a bevy of pockets and pouches to house items of varying sizes.
Closest to the spine, the company’s placed a fluffy-lined laptop sleeve that can stretch to house a 17.3-inch laptop. I’d say you’d be better off placing a 15-inch laptop in this sleeve. 17 inches is a bit of a stretch.
This compartment zips down to the bag’s base and folds completely away from the bag itself, allowing you to go through security at the airport without removing your laptop.
There’s also a tablet sleeve opposite it, which will easily house a tab, Kindle or A4 notebook.
Hidden within another zipped section is the main compartment. Everki separates this compartment into two parts using a firm plastic divider. The larger section can house a cable bag, or a day’s change of clothes. You may be able to fit a pair of jeans into this section, but you can definitely fit a track pants, t-shirt, socks and underwear with ease.
As the middle compartment doesn’t stretch all the way to the top, you can also pop a toiletry bag or a lunch box on top of it all.
The more slender compartment can house a book, whie two little netted compartments attached to the divider lets you stash away a wallet, keys, gum, or other smaller items.
Ahead of this zipped section, another with more compact sleeves and compartments can be found.
Everki places its key hook here, along with slips for smaller pouches and wallets. Two pen holders, and a netted zipped pouch completes the offering. And yes, you can fit a few more slim bags and organisers into the bottom of this section.
And finally, up front, there’s a final zipped sleeve that can easily house a towel.
Everki’s also placed two side pouches on the Atlas, one with a bottle elastic. You’ll have more success housing a 300ml bottle or can in this pouch, but a slim 500ml bottle will hold in place albeit without the benefit of a closed zip.
Up top, there’s also a smaller fluffy-lined pouch to house more delicate products like sunglasses or smartphones. It’s conveniently placed too, so it’s perfect to house your passport, wireless earbuds or chewing gum.
The Atlas weighs 1.6 kg unloaded, so that’s just less than a quarter of your carry-on luggage weight allowance for South African domestic travel.
This weight does come with 29.3-litres of packing space, much of it you can utilise if weight isn’t an issue.
It’s also measures in at 21cm deep, 46cm tall, and 34cm wide. The laptop compartment, which can fit a 15.6-inch laptop quite comfortably, measures 27cm by 39.5cm by 0.35cm.
It also has a carry handle up top, and a trolley pass-through slot at the rear.
How does it pack?
The Atlas is large for an everyday bag. If you’re packing a 15-inch laptop, power bank, notepad, slim bag of snacks, and a small cable and accessories bag, you’ll have more than enough space for a change of clothes. It’s not really designed to be an overnight bag though.
Deciding what bag or accessory to pack where isn’t made easy either. Granted, the notebook and tablet pouches are obvious, but the primary compartment — where the larger, heavier items should go — is often best used for housing slimmer things. You can pack content into this section, but it does increase the bag’s rather bulky look.
I’d say it’ll hold around nine kilograms before the straps and fit become uncomfortable.
How does it carry?
The Atlas isn’t the most comfortable bag for those who walk to and from work with a lot of gear. The rear support often feels too heavy on the shoulders, even with the chest strap fastened. It’s definitely not a pack for long-distance commuters.
That said, the shoulder straps are broad enough to ensure you don’t tire early in your journey. It’s more comfortable than other Everki products I’ve used, like the cheaper Glide.
Your experience will vary though. I often averaged around seven kilos stuffed into the pack, from additional cables to a small dopp kit and boo-boo kit, to additional snacks and my (2.2kg) Dell work laptop. If you’re simply rocking a light laptop, or iPad Pro, and a scattering of other carry essentials, it’s wonderfully comfortable as an all day back. But then again, why would you buy something this large if you’re not going to make full use of it?
How is its durability?
Incredibly, after packing it to the brim and taking it on planes, trains, walks, and weekend adventures, the bag showed no signs of wear and tear. Six months on, and I still see barely any wear at its bottom or strap stitching.
I’m generally careful with things I review, but I abused the Atlast quite a bit. With that seven kilos packed into its body for much of the review period, I picked it up of the ground from its handle or right-hand strap a number of times without caution. There’s no sign of the fabric wearing at all.
The internal pockets too are holding up well. And the key ring, which probably endured the most abuse with sharp metal prods and multi tools dangling from it, is still in fine condition.
I’ve seen reports of this bag not holding up on other user reviews, but there’s absolutely no complaints from me.
What really works
The Everki Atlas is a dream for those who want various compartments without sacrificing loading room. There are a number of places to slot various sized essentials, and when you’ve considered your load out, accessing and finding items is dead simple.
Aesthetically, the Atlas is a looker too. When fully-loaded, it does resemble a school pack more than a business tote, though.
The front newspaper slot is great for the plane, enabling quick access to books, your passport, or, well, a newspaper.
What doesn’t quite make sense
The central compartment may be a bit too small for some. I can just about fit a cable and tech dopp kit in it, a laptop charger and a small 300 ml flask. You won’t be able to pack more than two days’ worth of clothing in this thing as well as your tech. There’s just not enough space or wiggle room.
This severely limits its ability as a one bag.
And although it does come in useful, I largely dislike the newspaper slot. As much as I have used it during my review, I just don’t like the idea of items slotted into my bag that people behind me can access. And more worryingly, in an airport, anyone can throw anything into it without our knowledge. Give the bag a flap that can close, Everki. And if people really want to carry magazines or newspapers, they can slot it into the laptop compartment.
There’s also limited options for carrying a water bottle securely in the side pouches. They’re perfect for keys, emergency toiletries, and small essentials as such, but a water bottle larger than 300ml won’t fit in or be encompassed by the pocket entirely. You’ll need to open it, and use the included elastic band to secure it. This band is also available on one side too. Personally, I’m not a fan. And travelling on a train, the last thing I’d want hanging out of my bag is a water bottle that anyone can snatch. Give me a dedicated water bottle pouch please, Everki.
All in all, the Everki Atlas is an excellent bag for frequent travellers who overnight, tech lovers who want organisation over oodles of free-loading room, or those who just can’t get enough orange and black. You can find these bags for around R1500 in South Africa, and I’d say that’s a good investment considering how well the pack has held up during my review.
There are some things I wish Everki game more thought to, but that’s something I could probably say about every product I’ve ever used.
All images: Andy Walker/Memeburn