As a tech lover, I tend to travel with my MacBook Pro, iPad Air 2/Bluetooth keyboard, and my iPhone 7 plus. For the past year, I have enjoyed the Bolt Backpack, from M-Edge, as my main travel tech bag. Initially introduced to the bag at CES 2016, I fell in the love with the quality of the bag and with the quick access to power. In fact, these qualities are what led me to use the bag throughout my stay at CES 2017. Not only did this allow me to have an active charging port on my left lapel, but I had a talking piece with nearly everyone I met. The idea is simply genius, why should I have to take anything out of my backpack to charge, when there is a port readily accessible?
This year at CES 2017, in Las Vegas Nevada, I was introduced to the Cargo Pack from M-Edge. This is one of their new bag lines, that builds on the strengths of previous models. Where the bolt fulfills the tech market, the Cargo Pack fills the tech market and everywhere else. The M-Edge Cargo Pack is a classy looking backpack, which appears to be well suited to the college student, and the business casual. The backpack is available in both Black and Silver/Teal coloration (the bag that I received). This second color scheme will allow for broader circulation than the tactical-esque black color. I love black bags as I feel that they can go with just about anything, business and casual. However, this may be dull/drab and not ideal for some others, who may want more pizzazz. They did a great job with the color scheme and with the general look of the bag. The stitching of the bag is very well done and secure. The zipper actions are smooth and M-Edge seems to have used quality material.
The bag has a total of 9 external compartments and has 3 hidden, internal, zippered compartments. The very front of the backpack has a trapezoidal shaped pocket, which is accessible by a 6 1/4 inch zipper. The pouch extends 3 1/2 inches above the zipper and extends to the bottom of the bag, roughly 8 inches. This pouch has a larger base than the top and measures 5 1/8 inches wide at the top and 9 inches at the bottom. The pouch is somewhat odd shaped and the bottom may prove easy to lose items. There is no compartmentalization in this pouch and it would work for calculator, pencils, pens, lock for your locker and perhaps your cell phone at the gym. Behind this is a 12-inch tall pouch with a top at 9 inches and a base at 10 1/2 inches. This is an admin pouch, with a plastic key keeper a zippered compartment and 5 small pouches. Along the left are 3 vertically spaced pouches, which measure 3 inches deep and 2 3/4 inches wide.
Next, to the vertical pouches, you will find a black mesh/elastic pouch that is 4 1/2 inches wide by 5 1/2 inches tall. Along the front of this pocket are #3 elastic loops, which are great for holding individual pens/pencils. Inside of the pouch, you will find three more elastic loops. To the right of this pocket, you will find a 3″ wide by 5 1/2 inch tall by 1 inch thick felt lined pocket. There must be a specific meaning for this pocket, but I cannot think of one. It is not thick nor wide enough for a cell phone and lining this with felt suggests an intended purpose. Behind these compartments, you will find a 10 1/2 inch long zipper encompassing a 7 inch tall by 10 1/2 inch wide compartment. This is perfect for index cards, spare cables, or other items that you want to be separated.
Moving up the bag, you will find another clamshell opening main compartment that is accessed by a 28 1/2 inch zipper. This compartment is somewhat unique, as this pouch and the back compartment both have dual zipper pulls. This pouch happens to be one of my favorites. When you open it up, you will see two pleats toward the back and a 9 3/4 inch by 6 1/4 inch mesh pouch towards the front. The mesh pouch is perfect for extra charging cables. Moving back to the compartment, the first pleat is rigid and not attached at the sides, but is affixed to the base. IF you push this down, it provides rigid support to the base and allows for extra cushion. When you push the fabric down, this will create a 13 inch wide by 5 1/2 inch deep pocket that extends the entire height of the bag. The pouch is divided into 2 sections by a thin section of fabric, which is perfect for a 15″ laptop, textbook etc. The material is 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches deep. The base of this pouch is padded by the pleat as discussed above. If you decide you want to compress down the backpack, lift up the section and the bottom will collapse inward. This is a very useful feature for packing.
Behind this pouch is a very well designed carrying handle. The handle itself is a stitched cylinder with a woven metal chain within. This is riveted through the well-crafted X-shaped stitching at either edge of the carrying handle. A small pouch resides just posterior to the carry handle. The pouch is accessed through a 9 1/2 inch zipper. The pouch is 5 1/4 inches tall by 9 inches wide and is ideal for glasses/sunglasses, keys, etc. At the back of this compartment is a very small 3 3/4 inch wide by 2″ tall pocket. The main compartment has a 30-inch zipper and opens into a full-size clamshell like compartment. Along the front of the pack is a pouch 10 1/2 inch wide by 13 inches tall at the edges and 14 1/2 inches tall at the peak. There is a 2-inch velcro retention strap that will hold a laptop/iPad in place.
When the main compartment is empty, you can reach your hand from the back compartment to the front large compartment. Located along the back of this compartment is a silver mesh rectangular pouch measuring 9 1/2 inch wide by 4 1/2 inches tall. Within this pouch is an included 6000 mAh M-Edge battery. There is an included 27 1/2 inch USB A to USB micro cable within this pouch as well, for charging. What separates this type of backpack from others is not the battery, it is the wiring. Running out of the zippered mesh compartment are two wires, which feed directly into the left shoulder strap. There are 2 USB-A output ports and 1 side USB micro charging port. On the strap is a 1 1/4 inch by 1 1/4 inch black charging box with a white lightning bolt printed onto the box. The box has a single USB-A output and a single USB micro input. Using my Drok USB tester, my iPhone charged at 1.15–1.5A at 4.75–5.0V. There is no indication of remaining battery, on the outside of the bag. You will have to look at the battery itself for this. Assuming 80% efficiency, you can expect ~4800mAh of useful power. This is enough to charge an iPhone 7 plus ~1.5x or an iPad Air 2 about 50%. If you do not want to use this battery, you can exchange it for another.
Turning the pack onto its side, either side, you will notice two pouches. The bottom 4 1/2 inch wide by 7-inch tall pouch should fit a standard iPhone or other similarly sized device. The iPhone 7plus inside of an otter box defender is too big to fit into this pouch. Above this pouch and running obliquely, is a pocket with a 6 1/4 inch zipper. This pocket is roughly 9 inches deep and seems to be ideal for taller objects. For a painter, this may be perfect for your brushes. I am concerned that the height of the pocket and the small opening will make it difficult to find smaller objects if dropped into the pocket. As stated, these pockets are mirrored on the opposing side of the bag.
The bag is very well designed and is built for more than tech. M-Edge placed time into creating a comfortable piece to wear on everyday excursions. Along the upper backrest, lower backrest and mid backrests, are padded areas that are built up to support and cushion the pack. Additionally, there appears to be moisture wicking material to prevent chafing and sweat build up. The shoulder pads are mildly built up as well and have the same wicking material as the back rests. Each of the shoulder straps leads to a triangular overstitched piece of fabric, which reduces the pull on the bag and enhances the duration of the strap. Lastly, each strap has a thumb ring, which will allow for quick tightening of the straps. The one complaint I have is no chest strap. If you are carrying around a laptop and other gear, you will really miss not having the chest strap to take some of the weight off your shoulders. Even having a second D-ring would be beneficial. There is one on the left strap, but none on the right. I love the bag and would rate it at 5/5 even with the missing chest strap and lower mAh battery.
- The Padded and reinforced base will keep your backpack upright while protecting your gear from drops.
- Included 6000 mAh battery can charge your iPhone 7 plus ~1.5 times. iPhone pulled roughly 1.2–1.4A at 4.75–5V. You can exchange the battery if needed.
- Will carry up to a 17″ MacBook/Laptop.
- Reinforced stitching, grab handle and shoulder pad attachments.
- Numerous administrative pocket features for organization purposes.
- Padded/wicking material added to shoulder straps and backrest for comfort.
- Padded & ventilated shoulder straps and back panel keeps your back and shoulders cool and comfortable for the long haul.
- Quick tightening loops.
- 6000 mAh battery needs to be 10,000 mAh to allow for ~1 charge of a modern tablet.
- No Chest strap, single D loop on the left strap but nothing on the right strap.
- Side Oblique compartments are difficult to get into, if smaller items are added.
Originally published at macsources.com on April 18, 2017.