Staad slim Backpack (hands on): Taking the gear bag to a whole new level

Summary:There are bags and then there are bags that blend style with function. The Staad Backpack from Waterfield Designs is one of the latter that feels as much at home in the boardroom as it does on the street.

I have been a customer of Waterfield Designs for years, as I find their gear bags to be very well constructed and stylish. When I saw colleague Matt Miller's review of the stout Staad Backpack from the company, I knew I had to get my hands on the slim version of the bag.

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Waterfield Designs Staad slim Backpack Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet
Bag tree
Bag Tree Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Having a bag tree is a sure sign of a tech addiction, and I've had one for as long as I can remember. No matter how frequently I prune the tree, it seems to sprout new bags all the time. There are little bags, medium-sized bags, and a couple of backpacks on my bag tree, so I certainly didn't need another one.

I blame Matt and the folks at Waterfield Designs for my grabbing the slim Staad Backpack. How was I supposed to resist the waxed canvas that keeps gear dry in the rain? The chocolate leather flap didn't help either. And the coup de grace, the latch that opens with a simple pull of the attached strap. I was definitely set up.

The Staad Backpack is available in two sizes, stout and slim. Matt's review of the stout is worth a read as other than size the two bags are the same.

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Staad Backpack compartments (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

I'm all about thin gadgets so the slim backpack is perfect for my needs. It has the thinnest profile possible while having room for a laptop and a tablet in dedicated pockets.

I can fit any of my laptops, including the 13-inch MacBook Pro, along with any of my tablets in the Staad. The laptop and tablet are completely protected in those pockets, and out of the way until I need them. There's also room for power adapters and cables, which I normally leave at home except on trips.

The front zipper on the Staad is a convenient way to get at the gear inside the bag. It only partially opens, which keeps any loose objects from falling out. There are two pockets that close with Velcro that are exposed when the central zipper is open. The gold material, typical for Waterfield Designs products, is used on the interior of the backpack.

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Waterfield Designs Staad Backpack military latch (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The special latch that keeps the Staad closed is a great piece of technology borrowed from the military. It is designed to be easy to close and especially easy to open, and was developed so soldiers can get to ammunition in the bag very quickly. Just lift up on the little strap on the latch and it opens. I don't carry ammunition around, but the latch lets me get at my mobile gear in a flash.

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Staad Backpack back view (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The slim Staad backpack is not cheap at $319 but it is well constructed and stylish. Every bag I've bought from the company has been virtually indestructible, and I expect no less from the Staad. It is designed for those who like using a backpack, but need it to look good. It meets those objectives with style.

Staad Backpack in use
Staad Backpack in use Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Pros:

Slim profile

Well made

Stylish

Cons:

Expensive

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

See also: 

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Reviews, Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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