Rickshaw Commuter Backpack
I need a computer bag with lots of carrying options, several stash pockets, and a padded sleeve for my Precious! I get all that and more from Rickshaw’s Commuter Backpack.
Part knapsack, part messenger bag, the Commuter Backpack has a roomy, wide main compartment that accommodates both my laptop and my aluminum laptop stand but feels slimmer in profile than some of my standrad computer backpacks that have two main zippered compartments. Better still, the pack comes with a removable padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 15” computer. It’s a perfect set up for me. I just pack my MacBook Pro into the sleeve, and seal it. Then I fill in the compartment with my stand, my work notebook, and a few magazines. The Commuter Backpack has a messenger bag-style flap that folds over the compartment and extends most of the length of the pack.
I don’t have to do anything to seal the Commuter Backpack because it has magnets on the underside of the flap that attach to hidden magnets on the front of the pack (there’s enough padding between the magnets and the laptop that the magnets pose no risk to a computer, according to Rickshaw). If I want a more secure seal, I can remove the magnet-embedded nylon straps on the underside of the flap to reveal grippy sided Velcro-like strips of material that attach to their fuzzy sided mates on the front of the pack. Finally, if I’m traveling and want everything fastened down for the long haul, I can use the messenger bag-style nylon snap-shut buckles and straps on the bottom of the pack to cinch it closed. I love that!
On the outside of Rickshaw’s Commuter Backpack there’s a large zippered pocket that’s almost as wide as the pack and about two-thirds as high. The topside of the pocket is padded underneath, so the two stash pockets on the underside of the pocket are ideal for my backup hard drive and my power cord.
The other side of the pocket has divider slots for pens, my business cards, and a few other small, flat items. Underneath these pockets there’s another flat zippered pocket where I toss everything else: a flash drive, my wallet, and my cell phone. There’s even a removable lanyard for my keys. I like the attention to deal on this pocket system; there are accordion folds of material at both ends of the inside of this large, zippered pocket so that when I unzip the main pocket, any items I’ve tossed into the bottom of the pocket don’t fall out. (If I had an iPad, it would also fit in this pocket.)
Rickshaw’s Commuter Backpack works really well for me because I can quickly and easily stow and remove my laptop and work supplies, I have a secure place to carry laptop accessories, and I can carry the pack three different ways. When I’m in transit, I wear it on my back. When I’m walking into a meeting I carry it like a briefcase, using the nice, thick, rounded handle on the top of the pack (the backpack straps detach at one end and can be tucked into a zippered pocket). The Commuter Backpack also has metals rings on both sides so I can add a shoulders strap (sold separately) and carry it over my shoulder.
Finally, there’s a mesh water bottle on each side of the pack, and under each mesh pocket there’s a small flat inner pocket that’s just the right size for a nutrition bar, a cell phone, or any other small items I like to keep handy.
Rickshaw makes the Commuter Backpack in a variety of colors. They also offer custom-made bags. All of their bags are hand-assembled in San Francisco. Click here to read review of Rickshaw's Laptop Sleeve.
Bottom Line: The Commuter Backpack is pricey, but it has a lot of thoughtful details that make it one of my favorite bags. There’s a nubby, rubbery material on the bottom of the pack that protects it when I set it down on wet surfaces. The carrying handle is substantial and totally functional. The padded sleeve feels thick enough to give me piece of mind. I really like the design; it’s nice to have a backpack that I don’t have to zip open or struggle with to get my gear into! Best of all, I can fit all I need into it and it doesn't feel bulky.—E.D. (Sept 2011)
BUY ONLINE: $190.00, click to shop.
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