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So far we've been a little disappointed with the layout and protection of the compartments, but the laptop pocket might change all that. Used in all of Pakuma's bags, the company's Cocoon system employs ribbed strips of high-density memory foam to protect your laptop from harm. Unlike Brenthaven's panel system this protection is not rigid, so a strong, focused impact can still damage or destroy your laptop. However, the strips are carefully arranged so that there is at least one on every side of your machine – except the top flap, which to be fair is least likely to require it and is still thinly padded. The advantage to Pakuma's system compared to Brenthaven's is its greater flexibility, as you can even fit some really 'fat' laptops like the Novatech X70 CA Pro.
In terms of protection it is on a level with the Dicota BacPac Xtreme and superior to what is found in many offerings at a similar price point - it's just that the Pro 15/17 Backpack set very high standards and it's difficult to settle for less. Given the price difference, though, we'll be lenient and call Pakuma's system decent to good – with its capacity to take laptops up to 17in a relatively rare bonus.
Perhaps the best part of the Akara K1 is how comfortable it is to carry and wear. The top carrying loop is surrounded by a very soft foam-like handgrip, which never hurts your fingers. The backpack has very thick padding with breathable mesh both in its back and on the height-adjustable shoulder straps, which offer adjustment at the top to accommodate the exact degree of shoulder support you want and length adjustment to determine how high or low the backpack rides.
In addition to the chest strap, which is common enough, there is a waist strap too with padded side sections. All straps seem solid and can be tightened 'on the fly'. Our only minor complaint is that the thick padding on the Akara K1's back is in two separate strips rather than one whole one, which can be less comfortable than competing models with complete back padding if you're carrying something heavy that isn't flat in the laptop pocket.
Overall, it's easy enough to forgive the Akara K1's failings due to its low price, as it can easily be found for under £40. It's not the most attractive bag around, but that will make it less likely to be stolen, and materials feel solid even though they lack the quality of more expensive backpacks. We wouldn't worry too much, however, as Pakuma does include a lifetime warranty.
The Pakuma Akara K1 backpack has its share of flaws, but is nonetheless above average considering its low price. If you take a little care due to the inadequate padding outside of its Cocoon laptop pocket, this backpack is a versatile, affordable and above all comfortable means of carrying your laptop and other bits around.