For my final year of graduate school I realized I needed a smaller bag, my Brain bag was simply TOO big. I only had 2 classes, and only one of which met regularly in the city. Additionally, I didn’t need to cart around quite so much stuff. I established what I’d be carrying on a regular basis.
- My tablet and keyboard
- A notebook
- Pencil case
- Assorted daily items
- Clipboard with printed articles (roughly 25 to 100 printed pages depending on the day.)
Obviously, my daily carry for classes had changed over time and had dramatically reduced. I wanted a backpack with an integrated laptop sleeve for my tablet and keyboard and enough room for my stuff plus occasional purchases and removed outer layers.
With this purchase I was far less concerned with the longevity of the bag and more concerned with it being cost effective and comfortable. With this in mind I checked out the bags carried by some of my peers and searched Amazon for something about half the size of the Brain Bag. The Osprey FlapJack fit the bill. I purchased the olive green.* The FlapJack includes several replaceable straps for the closure and sternum strap. These are easily replaced with a little oomph applied.
Inside the bag are two large compartments divided by the integrated laptop pocket. The pocket furthest to the back is slim and doesn’t hold much at all, only a few notebooks. I used this mostly to hold a clipboard with printed articles, or my tablet depending on the day. The integrated laptop pocket will hold up to a 15″ laptop and was plenty deep for my 10″ tablet and keyboard. The largest pocket, furthest to the front of the bag has a small mesh pouch that is not overly useful but will hold a water bottle to the side of the bag. The large compartment can hold several books and notebooks as well as an assortment of other items. There is a side pocket that is long and slim.It is perfect to hold a waterbottle, and on several occasions I’ve used it to corral a wet umbrella. The flap has a small pocket that is accessible when the bag is closed. This pocket is only big enough to hold keys, chapstick, and a few other things. This bag is not big, it has a slim profile that can be snugged down even more slim with the use of the straps. The flap can be used to secure a jacket or other loose items.
There is no suggesting that this is a big bag, it’s just big enough for someone who needs to carry a few books and a laptop or tablet, maybe a few other things. This is not a bag for a long weekend trip or even a student in need of a lot of things. You aren’t going to pack this bag with things for more than 2 classes, and even then, you won’t fit all the books for 2 classes in it at a time. No, this is a bag for when you don’t need a lot of stuff with you. It is a perfect bag for grabbing and going to the cafe to work, or to the library for research.
The bag was very comfortable when packed full or packed lightly. The straps are very comfortable and the back utilizes mesh as well as foam to create air channels that help to keep your back cool. I found this very comfortable. I did find that the sternum strap did not adjust quite low enough for me and in several positions I felt as if it were strangling me. On the lowest position it worked just fine. The sternum straps are secured to the shoulder pads via a button and buttonhole type attachment. There are only 4 options for attachment. The zippers are smooth and work incredibly well.
I purchased this without expecting it to last past the school year, but even after repeated use and abuse the bag looks good and still works well. I’ve found that some types of foam flatten out with use and are less comfortable over time. The FlapJack does not suffer from this issue. The straps are just as comfortable today as they were a year ago at the day of purchase. I expected to toss this bag into the recycling bin at the end of the school year, instead I’m reaching for it again and again when I walk to the cafe or to the library to work on this blog. This is a high quality bag that I expect to use for years to come. For a backpack that I spent roughly $60 on, this has worked extremely well.
Nitty gritty details at a glance:
- 1 large compartment divided in two
- Zippered laptop compartment, fits 15″ laptop
- Mesh organizer pocket inside main compartment
- 2 small organizer pockets at front of bag- largest with organizing pockets, one with a key leash
- 1 side pocket that fits a 1L water bottle or umbrella
- Large flap keeps contents dry
- Small pocket on flap
- Sternum strap
- Hip Straps
- Holds 25Liters
*There is now a new version of the FlapJack with a single strap instead of the two strap closure mine has. There is a smaller version called the “FlapJill” apparently because Small FlapJack was taken and smaller versions of already small bags need to be gendered for women. So dumb.