Tech Review: Testing out two new backpacks from Solo — the $124.99 stylish Boyd and the $49.99 lightweight Draft.

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I remember my first laptop bag. It came with the PC and it said “Dell” on the side. It looked like a nerdy briefcase.

I’ve been through plenty of laptop bags over the years. Usually I switch between a messenger bag and a backpack.

Messenger bags have one long strap, usually worn across the body, and the backpack has one large compartment with a flap covering the whole bag.

Backpacks have evolved from the kind we used to carry to school to include more compartments and padded pockets for laptops and tablets. My current backpack is from Wenger, a company better known for making the Swiss Army Knife.

My backpack is really big. It has lots of zippers and compartments and can carry everything I need. But sometimes change is good.

I’ve been reviewing two new backpacks from Solo — the Draft and the Boyd.

One cool feature that both backpacks share is a strap on the back so you can slide it down over a luggage handle. Solo’s tagline for these backpacks is, “Your rolling bag’s new best friend.”

Boyd

The Boyd ($124.99, solo-ny.com) is a bit dressier than the backpacks I carry, which tend to be made of black canvas or nylon.

The Draft has a several pockets and compartments.  (Solo)
The Draft has a several pockets and compartments. (Solo)

The Boyd is made of waxed canvas and has a dark blue and gray plaid pattern that looks kind of like a flannel shirt. The inside is soft and looks like faded denim.

It is designed to carry up to a 15.6-inch laptop in a padded pocket that also has a spot for a tablet. A strap helps keep both of your devices from moving around. The inside of the Boyd is one large compartment with a few pockets sewn in the front panel to store smaller items. There are no zippers inside the pack, so your gear is safe from scratches.

Outside on the front, the Boyd has two zippered compartments — one small and one large enough for a pair of headphones.

There are water bottle pockets on both sides, and the bottom is made of a black vinyl material that looks to be durable and water resistant.

The Boyd measures 23 by 15 by 7.5 inches and weighs 2.3 pounds.

Zippers are large, and the pulls are made of leather and are easy to grip, even with gloves.

The back of the Boyd has padded shoulder straps and a padded fabric panel that runs from top to bottom that you can slide over your roller bag for a safe trip through the airport.

There is a carry handle on top, which I’ve found to be invaluable on any backpack I choose.

Pros: Great looking. Light. Sturdy. Easy to carry.

Con: A bit expensive.

Bottom line: Boyd’s stylish looks and functionality make it a worthy upgrade from your college backpack.

The Solo Draft has a quick-access pocket with a vertical zipper, two water bottle pockets and other features on the outside. (Solo)
The Solo Draft has a quick-access pocket with a vertical zipper, two water bottle pockets and other features on the outside. (Solo)

Draft

The Draft ($49.99, solo-ny.com) is a backpack more at home in a dorm room, but that’s not a bad thing.

It’s made of a smooth black nylon, but also available in burgundy or gray.

The Draft is a bit smaller (19 by 13 by 6.5 inches and 1.2 pounds) and it has a simpler design.

Inside there is a compartment for a 15.6-inch laptop and a tablet, secured by a strap. The bulk of the interior is one large compartment with several pockets and compartments sewn into the inside front wall. One is zippered to keep things from spilling out.

Outside there is a quick-access pocket with a vertical zipper, one long, wide-zippered pocket along the front face, and two water bottle pockets on the sides.

Around the back are the padded straps and one strap to keep the Draft steady on the handle of a roller bag. On top you’ll find a briefcase handle for easy carrying. The zippers have an interesting T-shaped pull.

This ultralightweight design is easy to carry and to put on and take off.

Pros: Lightweight. Holds a lot for its size. Inexpensive.

Con: Could use a bit more padding for your devices.

Bottom line: Good choice for an inexpensive bag that is really easy to carry.