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Pro 15/17 Backpack

Next we have a small, shallow zipped pocket at the top for odds and ends that need to be within easy reach. Below this is the third largest compartment (the closest to the bag's front), containing card and pen holders, a key-chain and more meshed pockets, as well as a padded one for your PDA or other expensive small gadget. The final compartment resides below this one, and is meant for a spare battery and/or power block. Overall, it has plenty of pockets and places for small things, but forget trying to stick some shopping or a pair of indoor shoes in - even a thick hardback book might be tight fit, which doesn't make this bag as versatile as I would have hoped.

Nor is that the only complaint. Let me put the Brenthaven into context by comparing it to a backpack Andy reviewed recently; the Dicota BacPac Xtreme Laptop Bag; which is less than half the Backpack Pro's price. In terms of ergonomic comfort, the Dicota not only has a strap across the upper chest, but also one across the stomach, which improves both comfort and stability. It features a convenient pocket at the top for an MP3 player or phone with an audio cable pass-through for headphones, and many other handy extras.

Unlike the BacPac Xtreme, the Brenthaven does not have a bottle holder on its outside, mesh or otherwise - though a thoughtful touch which almost makes up for it is a strong loop that will fit most umbrellas, keeping them away from your other gear and out of your hands if they're wet. The only zippers that can be locked on the Pro 15/17 Backpack are those of the laptop compartment - seems a bit odd to me that none of the others are, at the very least those on the secondary compartment. The single biggest (and unexpected) disadvantage to the Brenthaven is that it will not stand up on its own. This is unfortunate as it's something most other backpacks seem to manage fine.

With all the niggles and minor disadvantages, is the Brenthaven Pro 15/17 Backpack still worth its £130 asking price? Well, that partially depends on what you put in it. If you use it to drag around a £300 notebook, you're undoubtedly better off getting the Dicota for under £50. But if your machine is rather more expensive, the prime consideration (aside from ergonomic comfort) should be keeping your investment safe and in that regard the Pro Backpack seems worth the premium over its competition.

Verdict

It might not be the roomiest, and it lacks some of the features other premium notebook backpacks offer, but the Brenthaven Pro 15/17 Backpack presents exceptional build quality and excellent protection for your portable computer and gadgets (except from heavy rain) - just be prepared to pay for the privilege.

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