- Padded Shoulder Straps
- Poor Protection
- Confusing Zip Layout
- Review Price: £42.99
- High Density Foam laptop compartment
- Six separate compartments
- Padded shoulder straps
Packing for a week-long trade show like CES can be an arduous task â€“ especially if you’re headed to Las Vegas. Putting aside the boxes of Alkaseltzer and â€œâ€How to Win at Pokerâ€ books, the most important piece of kit needed at shows like this is a comfortable and sturdy backpack that can easily accommodate a variety of items at once, including a laptop, camcorder, digital camera and poker winnings. Style is obviously a bonus but comfort and durability are the primary concerns. So how did Dicotaâ€™s Take.Sport backpack perform on our tech conference road trip?
The backpack itself looks stylish enough, if a little on the bulky side. Our sample model came in plain black with some red thread trim sewn-in here and there. Stylistically there are no flourishes to immediately set the Take.Sport apart from rival backpacks, but what it does give you is a feeling of superior build quality.
When the Take.Off Sport first arrived, the accompanying tags confused us. The first tag reads, â€œStylish backpack for Notebooks up to 15.4in.â€ Fair enough, we thought, if a little small considering the size of the bag. Then we spotted a red star on the tag (it was a rather large tag), which read â€œfor Apple MacBook Pro up to 17in.â€ Hmm, interesting. We then spotted another red sticker saying rather cryptically â€œup to 15.6in â€“ 16.4in.â€ The limits of its storage skills are not exactly crystal clear then. We decided to test it out and the compartment did indeed fit a 17in MacBook Pro as well as any number of smaller laptops. While it may have accommodated the laptops, how well it protected them is more important.
Unloaded the bag weighs only 0.85kg, it measures 34.5 x 46.5 x 12.5 cm, and offers with six separate compartments. The first of these is right at the front of the bag and is a slim and tidy pocket with a single zip across the top. So small is this compartment that, with the zip hidden under a flap, you may forget it is even there. Returning from Vegas we found a card reader we presumed was left back in the UK prior to our trip, despite searching the bag several times.
On the sides of the bag are two zipped compartments, using meshed protection inside to prevent items from falling out when unzipped. The compartments are small enough not to make the bag too bulky but are only large enough to hold a small drinks bottle or umbrella – and then only with the zip open. We did however find them particularly handy for keeping a compact digital camera close at hand, where it would have gotten lost in one of the larger pockets.
The main compartment at the front of the bag comes with an array of pockets to keep pens, business cards and mobile phones in order. There is also a mesh pocket, which according to Dicota is for CDs, but it is way too small to accommodate discs of this size. Of course, most people no longer carry CDs with them anyway. However the pocket is also useful for holding cables for your various gadgets as the mesh allows you to see exactly what’s inside. There is an attached keychain in this front compartment to help ease the worry of lost keys while abroad.
At the top of the bag is a â€œmultimedia pocketâ€ that is large enough to hold a PMP or phone, and handily has an earphone loophole – always a welcome feature â€“ though getting your earphones in and out of the compartment is a little tricky at first. The one issue we had with this pocket was that we consistently found ourselves opening its zip when trying to open the main front pocket, which led to much exasperation.
Moving on to the main compartment, we find the main fault with the Take.Off Sport. While the compartment itself is voluminous enough to hold everything a roving techie could need, it falls down in the most basic of areas. The Take.Off Sport is described by Dicota as a â€œstylish backpack for notebooksâ€ however the padded compartment designed to store a laptop is a major disappointment. The high-density foam (HDF) divider is too thin and feels loose, especially if your laptop is smaller than 17in, which most are. A 15in MacBook looked lost in the compartment and, even with a Velcro strap to secure the laptop, you donâ€™t feel your portable computer is all that secure.
The padding is only about 1cm thick on all sides – little protection should the bag receive any sort of serious impact. The padding on the base of the compartment, where damage is most likely to be inflicted, is similarly limited with spots where serious damage could be inflicted to your laptop if the bag was dropped from any substantial height. Protection we have seen on other similarly priced backpacks, such as the Cocoon system seen on the Pakuma Akura and the more enveloping protection on Dicotaâ€™s own BacPac Xtreme is simply better.
The rest of the main compartment is made up of a large pocket attached to the foam divider and two mesh pockets, again designed for CDs. While at a conference in Las Vegas, where we tested the backpack, we had to carry quite a bit of “stuff” around the convention centre, and we found the Take.Off Sport has more than enough room to accommodate all we needed without ever feeling as if we were stuffing things in. The problem, as with almost all backpacks of this type, was that things tended to get lost in the nether regions of the main compartment, but this is not something Dicota can be faulted for too much.
Simply carrying and wearing the Take.Off Sport is a high point. Well-padded shoulder straps make for a very comfortable experience while wearing the backpack. Even when we loaded it up, the extra weight was never that obvious. The padding on the back of the bag comes in the form of two foamy side panels and a semi-circular section at the bottom for lower-back support, which adds to the feeling of comfort.
The carrying loop between the backpack’s two straps is also well padded and we never felt as if we were straining the bag when carrying it like this. A height-adjustable chest strap is attached to the shoulder pad, providing extra support should it be needed, but we found this unnecessary for the most part. There is no waist strap or padded side section – something the Akara K1 had, but not an essential addition. Adjusting the shoulder straps is very easy, with solid and responsive straps, and there are elasticated bands that can be used to prevent the straps from flapping around annoyingly.
This bag is a solid performer, allowing for comfortable wearing over extended periods of time and lots of compartments to store whatever you need to lug around with you. However it is a rather large, the protection the bag offers to laptops is poor . When using the bag to lug around a laptop it is advisable to be very careful not to drop it onto, or bang it off, any hard surface. For Â£42.99 it still represents solid value though.
Score in detail
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