Tag Archives: backpack

Review: Osprey FlapJack (OriginalVersion)

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
  • Phone
  • 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.ospreyflapjack

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.ospreyflapjack

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.ospreyflapjack ospreyflapjack ospreyflapjack

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.ospreyflapjack 20160528_133525 ospreyflapjack

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.ospreyflapjack

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

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School: Office in a Backpack

I decided to write a little bit on here about some of my school/study aides. Typically, I’m a pencil and paper type of woman, but sometimes I need technology. Being in graduate school means that I often have to write lengthy papers in APA 6th edition format. Carting around a heavy laptop is just not something I want to do, so I’ve found a way around doing so.

The first, and perhaps, most important part of my carry for school was to buy a quality backpack that can carry everything I need safely. For this purpose I bought a Tom Bihn Brain bag with a Brain cell insert. The bag is big enough to carry books, notebooks, tablet, and sundry items. It does the job well and is comfortable.

Rather than carry a laptop I have decided to use a tablet for my computing needs. Most of the time the tablet alone is suitable for reading PDF articles, but sometimes being able to edit or write papers on the go is a necessity. The on screen keyboard is crap for typing for anything other than short bursts. Getting a bluetooth keyboard has been a necessity. Originally I bought the AmazonBasics android keyboard and I loved it but I put it into a crappy case and tossed it around in my bag without enough protection and broke it. I bought a replacement  and it works well  enough, but it’s much louder. I plan on replacing it with another AmazonBasics when school starts up again, this time with a nice case.

Using the tablet as a word processor involves setting up Google Drive with blank documents and saving them to the tablet so I can work on them without wifi. The is important since many areas where I might want to work on my papers don’t always have the best or speediest wifi, like the commuter rail. Sometimes I get a seat near the wifi and it’s speedy and works other times I’m on a car that has terrible wifi. Or the coffee shop wifi is too slow to allow updates. Anyway, being able to work offline is a huge thing when I’m on the go. If you want to figure out how to make your google docs available on your tablet when offline go read here.

I make all my reading notes longhand in a cheap composition notebook. I favor the Staples brand because they are 50 cents at back to school sales and I can buy a bunch for low money. The paper is also acceptable for any of my preferred writing tools. Also, they are sturdy enough that I can cart them around for a full semester and not have them too beaten up. With 200 pages I can take copious notes on my readings, classes, and jot down the first outlines for my papers. (How I generate my papers is another post for the future.) Additionally I can cut pages out if I need to do so.

I use 2 different writing tools for notetaking. The first is fountain pens or gel inks, the second is soft dark pencils. I prefer pencils lately but often switch them out for a spot of color. Either allows me to make notes quickly and effortlessly. Fountain pens glide across the page as do soft dark pencils. The pencils I like range from B to 4B in grade. I keep a pencil box ready with a sharpener as well as an assortment of sharp pencils ready to go. This allows me to keep writing without pause if I need to, but generally I can stop, listen, and sharpen if needed.My first year I used fountain pens almost exclusively. This year I’ve been using pencils almost exclusively.*

I also carry a small pocket sized planner. I’ve been using a Bandit Apple Carnet PeeWee size but I’m transitioning over to the Field Notes Ambition planner in February. Being able to transfer over in February is the great boon of using an undated planner. Current I carry both in a leather cover by Davis Leatherworks. An additional way of keeping track of my life is another Field Notes in a leather cover along with a pocket. This acts as an idea/mind dump as well as a to do list and shopping list. Thus far it’s working very well. Though I  have to work better on my journaling.

Anyhow, all the above is what I use to not only keep track of my life, but to process and record all the stuff I’ve got going on for grad school. I’ve really needed to pare down and figure out how to use tools in a specific manner. This is, of course, a process and how I use tools changes over time, but for now this is it.

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