Technology changes at lightning speed, continuously improving and progressing. Of course, not everything is based on cutting-edge technology and has a tendency to take a while to catch up. The bags we use to carry our daily needed items is one such thing that has been a bit stubborn responding to technology.
That is why smart backpacks are such a boon. This product is designed with the modern person in mind, providing special compartments to hold our electronics as well as various charging stations and organizational features. Still, figuring out which backpack best suits your needs can be as confusing as the technology it holds.
That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best smart backpacks as well as a couple honorable mentions, designating what each one is best at. We sincerely hope that our research will help you avoid possible mistakes and choose the really cool backpack that will serve you for years.
If you have no time to read: the best smart backpack (for May 2018) is Ghostek (review|price); the best solar charging backpack is Lifepack (review|price); the best inexpensive tech backpack is Yorepek (review|price); and ECEEN (review|price) is perfect for hiking.
Best Smart Backpacks 2018
|Ghostek NRGbag 2||power bank, 2+1 USB Ports, LED indicator||40L|
|Lifepack Solar Backpack||power bank, solar panel, bluetooth speakers||18L|
|AMBOR Business Laptop Backpack||USB port, headphone port, smart lock||27L|
|Yorepek Slim Laptop Backpack||USB port, headphone port, smart lock||35L|
|ECEEN External Frame Backpack||power bank, solar panel, LED camping light||18L|
1. Ghostek NRGbag 2 Series Laptop Messenger Tech Backpack: Best Performing Smart Backpack
Unless you make it a point to keep up with the various trends in computing and peripheral devices, you can be excused from not knowing who Ghostek is. That said, you should definitely take notice now because this is easily one of the best brands of smart backpack manufacturers that we have encountered. Pretty much every quality of this product – as well as their other smart backpacks – is top-tier.
When judging smart backpacks the two most important factors to consider are the power bank and the storage capacity, and the Ghostek comes out on top with both of those. However, this smart backpack also offers a number of other nice design features, though it is not without its flaws. Still, it is by far the best performing smart backpack we saw.
In terms of storage capacity, the Ghostek NRGbag 2 wows once again. At 40L of total storage space, this smart backpack tops our list and is significantly larger than most of the other backpacks we reviewed. That said, it is the specialized laptop compartment which really pushes it over the top. While most smart backpacks can hold a laptop, only the Ghostek NRGbag 2 has separated compartment dedicated to that purpose.
When it comes to the USB ports, this is mostly a hit but with a minor miss. For one, the Ghostek features 3 USB ports. Even better, those ports are rated at 5V and 2.4A. This is the standard rating for modern devices while still being suitable for older devices that require a 5V and 1a port. The only issue is that the cover to the USB charge port is noted for being fairly flimsy. Even if you are careful, chances are it will break due to a cap that is a bit too tight. This leads to pulling too hard and ultimately pulling it off of the backpack altogether.
That said, the other build qualities of this backpack are fairly decent. The zippers are made entirely out of metal and feature a smooth action. You will not have to worry about them falling off like with some of the other smart backpacks we reviewed. On top of that, the polyester material is one of the more water resistant materials that smart backpacks are made out of.
Why we recommend Ghostek NRGbag:
While there are a lot of factors that go into choosing the best smart backpack, its primary role is to both carry your gear and serve as an on-the-go charging station. In this regard, the Ghostek NRGbag 2 is by far the best smart backpack on our list.
With 16000 mAh and stable circuitry, the power bank will charge for hours and has a great lifespan. The capacity is similarly impressive at 40L with a specialized laptop compartment measuring 15.6”.
While the external USB charging cap is a bit flimsy, the ports themselves are all rated at 5V and 2.4A. Moreover, the polyester material provides one of the more water resistant backpacks we saw while the metal zippers are durable and silky smooth.
2. Lifepack Solar Powered and Anti-Theft Backpack: Best Audio Smart Backpack
Lifepack is an interesting product on our list in that it is not actually its own company. Instead, Lifepack started as a Kickstarter campaign where it met its deadline at a breakneck pace in only six short hours. After meeting its deadline, the Lifepack developers sold their product to Solgaard, a company that specializes in high-end niche electronics and include a solar bank charger as well as a watch designed for maximal efficiency.
In terms of performance, the Lifepack gives some of the other top-tier smart backpacks a legitimate run for their money. Of course, that run is a bit hampered by the fact that the Lifepack is easily the most expensive product we reviewed. That said, it is still an exceptionally high-quality smart backpack and even provides a few features that you will not see on any other smart backpack that on our list.
That said, the 3-in-1 solar power speaker does have a few issues to note. First, the power cannot be removed from the solar cell. If you want to use the backpack without the power or the solar cell, you must remove the entire apparatus leaving an opening in your Lifepack. Second, the Bluetooth speaker is powered directly from the power bank. This means you can easily lose track of the power’s charge if you are not careful.
In terms of handling the daily grind, the Lifepack is among the head of the pack. First, the outer layer of the Lifepack is made from ninety-seven-percent polyester. This provides a reasonable degree of water resistance. In order to ensure that your contents stay dry, Lifepack also includes a rain cover free of charge. Under the outer lining, is an anti-cut plastic layer that will prevent any holes from appearing even after heavy use. Finally, the interior of the Lifepack is lined with 4mm thick anti-shock foam to ensure that your electronic devices can handle rough abuse without being damaged.
That said, the Lifepack does have a couple flaws. The most prominent flaw of this backpack is its storage capacity. At only 18L, the Lifepack is actually one of the smaller smart backpacks we reviewed. In fairness, this backpack does also provide a bevy of smaller compartments to make organization easier, and it even goes so far as to provide secret pockets both at the back of the backpack and in the straps for quick retrieval.
The other issue with the Lifepack is its non-electronic hardware. While the 3-in-1 solar power speaker is solid and reliable, the same cannot be said for the rest of the hardware. For instance, the Lifepack provides a lock to ensure the security of your contents, but that is little more than window dressing as the lock is flimsy at best. Moreover, the Lifepack’s zippers are noted for failing unless handled fairly gently – though many smart backpacks have issues with their zippers.
3. AMBOR Business Laptop Backpack: Most Comfortable Tech Backpack
AMBOR is a bit different than some of the brands on our list in that it is utilizing an ever-growing business model of selling exclusively through online vendors. This is beneficial to both the manufacturer and the consumer as it keeps overhead costs down, the savings of which can then be passed on to the consumer. Interestingly enough, AMBOR is actually a South American messaging service that entered the smart backpack market after some custom made items caught on locally among the tech workers.
Likely because of the country of origin, the AMBOR backpack breaks the mold in terms of construction to offer a specific advantage over many of its other competitors. This smart backpack is the only one we saw that made it a point to weave their product using a breathable mesh process. This is probably due to the fact that South America can be exceptionally hot and humid, so breathability is important for comfort and to maintain a professional appearance.
That said, the AMBOR continues to offer a number of features that are uniquely positioned to provide a more comfortable experience for its wearer. For one, the straps are ergonomically designed with the S-shape form so that the weight of the backpack’s contents are distributed evenly across your shoulders and do not place unnecessary strain or leverage against your back.
Of course, no product is without its flaws, and the AMBOR has a notable one. This smart backpack does not come with a power bank. While you can purchase one separately and it contains a compartment to hold it, this backpack will not be able to charge your electronic devices right out of the box.
Another potential issue with this backpack is its storage capacity. At 27L, this backpack is a tad undersized, though it is not small by any measure of the word. Still, students might want to opt for a larger backpack if they intend to carry both books and a laptop. Though, the somewhat small storage capacity does not prevent the AMBOR from still providing plenty of compartments to make organizing your contents convenient.
4. Yorepek Slim Laptop Backpack: Best Budget Smart Backpack with USB charging
Yorepek is another brand that eschews a large presence in order to reduce overhead costs so that they can provide their customers with the least expensive products possible. In this regard, they succeeded as the Yorepek is the least expensive backpack we reviewed. While this brand generally specializes in smart backpacks, they also have a minor presence in the manufacturing of commercial-grade ethernet cables.
The Yorepek Slim is not only the least expensive smart backpack we saw, but it functions fairly well as a backpack in general. At 35L, this is the second largest backpack that we reviewed making its “slim” designation a bit of a fortunate misnomer. Beyond the sheer storage capacity, this backpack also provides plenty of compartments to help store and organize your various daily items.
The inner lining of the Yorepek Slim features a decent amount of padding to protect your electronics, but it is not the best that we saw. One area where the Yorepek Slim’s durability does not stand up is with the hardware. The zippers are not durable and must be handled gently, or they are liable to break in a month or less. Similarly, the lock provided for security can easily be broken without much effort.
Still, the biggest drawback for the Yorepek Slim is its lack of a power bank. Even though this backpack does feature an external charging port, it does not come with a power bank. Even odder is the fact that this backpack does not provide a specific compartment should you purchase a power bank separately.
5. ECEEN External Frame Backpack: Best Outdoor Smart Solar Charging Backpack
Despite only having been founded a decade ago, ECEEN is actually one of the older and more established companies on our list. ECEEN is definitely different than many of the other brands on our list in that they are not at all focused on making smart backpacks. While that is definitely many of the products in their lineup, the company actually has its roots in manufacturing small solar cells and portable power packs for charging smart devices.
That specialty is put on full display with the ECEEN External Frame Backpack. In fact, it might be more accurate to think of the ECEEN as a solar cell and power pack attached to a backpack considering the design of the ECEEN is focused in that direction. For instance, the power pack cannot be removed from the solar cell, and the actual charging recommendations suggest that you remove the solar cell/power pack combo from the backpack and lay it in direct sunlight when you are charging your devices – the same way you would if using an ECEEN solar cell on its own.
That said, the power bank itself does have a few issues which might lessen its value. For one, this power pack only holds a maximum of 2000mAh. This is by far the least amount on our list and is generally not sufficient to fully charge even a single smartphone. Even worse, the power pack is not made to charge a device while it is charging its own battery through the solar cells. This will cause the power pack to deplete its battery’s ions and cease to function over fairly quickly.
These next two backpacks are not truly in the same boat as the previous ones. Whether it is due to less than adequate wiring, a limited power bank, or substandard construction, they are often pilloried by many of the consumers that purchase them. That said, they are still better than average and are worth a look depending on what you need.
MOS Pack: Best Plug-In Smart Backpack
MOS is another brand that actually got its start through a successfully funded Kickstarter. Though, the first MOS products were actually a specially designed auxiliary cable and magnetic cable organizer followed by a smartphone kickstand. Still, last year the brand was able to successfully fund their MOS Pack Kickstarter.
As a backpack, this product is a bit hit-or-miss. For instance, the 600D nylon outer is actually one of the more durable materials that we saw. That said, nylon is not as water-resistant as polyester – regardless its tensile strength – so you will want to avoid carrying this uncovered through heavier rains. On the other hand, the stitching of this backpack is fairly substandard, and the straps are not at all durable. Even worse, the zippers also suffer from durability issues.
Thankfully, the MOS does come with a lifetime warranty, so if something goes wrong you will not have to pay out of pocket. Unfortunately, the company is only two people who outsource all of their manufacturing, so their customer service response time and reliability are spotty at best. Another spotty aspect about the MOS is its device compatibility as the backpacks USB ports do not recognize some of the newer models of a few manufacturer’s devices.
TYLT ENERGI Pro Powerbag Travel Backpack Charging Station: Largest Charge Smart Backpack
TYLT is another company that was founded fairly recently. Like some other brands on our list, TYLT also specializes more in smartphone and smart device accessories rather than smart backpacks. In fact, various types of smart device charges and automotive accessories are by far the bulk of their product lineup.
The ENERGI Pro Powerbag is actually TYLT’s only smart backpack product. That said, this backpack is so close to being a legitimate contender for some of the other top-tier products in this niche market. In this regard, the good and bad can be attributed to two areas of design: electronic and integration and product construction. The ENERGI Pro Powerbag is actually fairly respectable in the former category but sorely lacking in the latter.
Still, the main issue with the ENERGI Pro Powerbag is its durability. As good as the electronic integration may be, the backpack’s actual construction is equally suspect. As is common, this backpack’s zippers must be handled carefully or they will break. Even worse, the stitching on this backpack is substandard, and the straps are liable to come right off. This is even more concerning since the 30L capacity is one of the larger on our list and makes the likelihood of the straps coming off under a heavy load even greater.