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These look like ordinary backpacks, but the tech inside will blow you away

Built-in Apple tracking tech is just one of the many top features the HyperPack Pro and Targus Cypress Hero backpacks have to offer.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief
targus-hyper-smart-backpacks

The Targus Cypress Hero (left) and HyperPack Pro (right)

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

I can think of a lot of things in my life that I wish were as easy to track down as a pair of AirPods or an Apple Watch using Apple's Find My app. Of course, that's why Apple made AirTags. But now, the tech that's in AirTags is getting built into a bunch of different kinds of products. One of the most useful is backpacks. I tested two backpacks that now have Apple Find My trackers built-in and found a lot to like about both of them. 

Also: How to find out if an AirTag is tracking you

The two I tested -- and the first two Find My-enabled backpacks I've seen -- were Hyper's HyperPack Pro and Targus' Cypress Hero. Since Hyper is owned by Targus, there are natural similarities between the two, but they are also very distinct products designed to appeal to different customers. 

The HyperPack Pro is full of very cool features that will appeal to tech enthusiasts and creatives carrying a lot of gear. The Targus Cypress Hero is an eco-conscious design made from fabric consisting of 26 recycled water bottles and it specializes in comfort, sturdiness, and practicality. 

Both also come at a premium retail price -- $200 for the HyperPack Pro and $150 for the Cypress Hero. But considering how much most of us use our backpacks and how much expensive gear they carry -- sometimes thousands of dollars worth -- it can make sense to invest in a good bag that is going to last, organize the gear you take on the go, and enable you to track down the bag from your phone if it gets misplaced or stolen.

How the built-in Apple tracker works

Both Targus and Hyper bags are part of the official Find My network accessory program that allows third-party products to make use of the same Find My app and Apple network that allows you to find a lost iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, or other Apple product. Using anonymous end-to-end encryption, this network takes advantage of Bluetooth connectivity on the network of nearby Apple devices. 

Also: 7 ways AirTags can simplify your life (beyond tracking keys)

The Targus and Hyper bags have a built-in hard plastic square with a watch battery in it that serves as the tracker. This acts the same as an Apple AirTag, with one exception -- it does not have the Precision Finding technology available in AirTags that shows you an arrow with the direction pointing to where it's located. Instead, these bags have the same basic finding feature as most Apple products that simply shows if you're getting nearer or farther from the device.

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Jason Hiner/ZDNET

I recently tested the HyperPack Pro on a week-long trip to New York City and the Targus Cypress Hero on a week-long trip to South Korea. Let's take a look at the standout features of both of them as well as buying advice for who can most benefit from them.

HyperPack Pro is the bag tech enthusiasts will love

If you want extra protection and security for your gear and want to be able to easily charge all of your devices from a battery pack inside the bag, the HyperPack Pro is the backpack to beat. There are only a couple of drawbacks to this bag, and we'll talk more about those in a moment. 

View at Amazon

First, let's list its best and most impressive features: 

  • Integrated Apple Find My tracker module (with replaceable battery)
  • Pass-through charging cable access to all the main pockets so you can charge multiple devices from a battery pack
  • Dedicated iPhone charging pocket designed for an Apple MagSafe charger
  • RFID anti-theft security pocket
  • Suspended, cushioned pocket to protect a 16-inch or larger laptop in case the bag gets dropped
  • Interlocking zipper security straps to thwart thieves behind you
  • Heavy duty, water-resistant YKK zippers and weather-resistant 1260D Cordura Nylon fabric
  • Hidden lumbar pocket for your passport, wallet, or other sensitive items
  • Large middle compartment can fit camera equipment, a tripod, and other content creation gear
  • Multiple mesh pouches to store cables and accessories
  • Luggage handle pass-through strap to sit on top of a suitcase
  • Total of 22L of capacity

The designers of the HyperPack Pro thought of plenty of features I didn't realize I needed -- like the suspended laptop pouch to cushion against drops to the interlocking zippers to keep people from clandestinely rummaging through my bag from behind to the hidden lumbar pocket. I was super impressed with the security and safety features and the durability of the bag. 

hyperpack-pro-tracking-tag

The HyperPack Pro's built-in tracking sensor for the Apple Find My network

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

The other most practical feature was the pass-through power cable design. When you pair it with a high-powered battery pack like Hyper's own HyperJuice 245W Battery Pack with four USB-C ports then you can rapidly charge a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPhone, and an AirPods case, for example. 

That brings us to the fact that this backpack is clearly aimed primarily at Apple users, evidenced by the built-in Apple Find My tracker and the dedicated MagSafe pouch (charging cable not included). I wouldn't recommend this bag to Android users since you can't take advantage of its flagship feature.

Also: Dehydrated? Sip better from the best smart water bottles

One small drawback to this bag is the water bottle pouch on the side. Like most bags, the pouch is too shallow and so I worried about my water bottle easily popping out when I bent over. Since I use a Hidrate smart water bottle that's not cheap and has electronics in it, I still kept the water bottle in the large middle pouch when I was traveling.

But the biggest drawback to this bag is actually a more practical one. Its straps are some of the least comfortable I've ever come across -- and far less comfortable than the well-cushioned straps on the Targus Cypress Hero. The HyperPack Pro's straps were so uncomfortable after extended wear that I bought these $16 strap pads on Amazon. That made it much more pleasant to carry around, but that's a serious bummer for a $200 backpack. That said, you're not going to find any other bag with as many smart, high-tech, security-conscious, Apple-centric features. So a lot of users will likely take that trade-off and buy the strap pads.

Targus Cypress Hero is the smart bag for eco-conscious buyers

The Targus Cypress Hero is not nearly as flashy as the HyperPack Pro and it doesn't have as many compartments or as many innovations aimed at technophiles. But what it lacks in tech-forward design, it makes up for in thoughtfully-crafted practicality and eco-friendly materials made from recycled plastics. 

View at Walmart

These are the Targus Cypress Hero's top features:

  • Integrated Apple Find My tracker module (with replaceable battery)
  • Fabric made from sustainable materials (26 recycled water bottles)
  • Very comfortable to wear for long periods of time because of ergonomic shoulder straps and breathable foam padding along the back
  • Dedicated bag structure to keep it standing upright when you set it down
  • Padded compartment for laptops up to 16 inches
  • Large middle compartment can fit a professional camera, full-size headphones, or an overnight change of clothes
  • Water-resistant coating on the bottom to protect against wet surfaces
  • Luggage handle pass-through strap to sit on top of a suitcase
  • Total of 22L of capacity

The Targus Cypress Hero gets all the little things right for a backpack to carry your laptop and your tech gear. That's no surprise since Targus has been around for 40 years and is one of the original inventors of the computer carrying case. It holds a ton of gear. It's incredibly comfortable to carry.

 It's well-balanced, both on your back and when you set it down on the floor or the ground and it automatically stands up by itself. Its pockets and compartments are well-organized and well-placed for easy access. It's a smart bag, not just in the connected tech sense of the term, but from a design standpoint as well.

Also: Best backpacks for everyday use, school, and work

The Cypress Hero bag is part of the Targus EcoSmart product line, which not only includes a bunch of other eco-friendly backpacks and cases but also some clever computer accessories such as the Sustainable Energy Harvesting EcoSmart Keyboard (made from 85% recyclable material, powered by solar, and includes an antimicrobial coating) and the ErgoFlip EcoSmart Mouse (made from 85% recyclable material, antimicrobial coating, and easily flips from right-handed to left-handed). 

There are lots of other backpacks and bags on the market made of recyclable materials, but the material on the Cypress Pro is surprisingly soft and feels very high-quality. You'd never guess it was made out of water bottles.

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Targus Cypress Hero is made from 26 recycled water bottles

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

There aren't a lot of nits to pick with the Targus Cypress Hero. It does everything well. I have the same complaint about its side water bottle compartment as I had with the HyperPack Pro -- I wish it was deeper and more snug. I don't trust it with my more expensive and fragile Hidrate water bottle and so I ended up stowing the water bottle inside the middle compartment when traveling, which takes up valuable space. 

I wish the Cypress Hero's laptop compartment had the same suspended cushioning as the HyperPack Pro, which would have been easy to implement in this bag. It's also not as water-resistant as the HyperPack Pro.

Also: Best universal travel adapters: Compare picks from Epicka, Targus, and more

In terms of choosing between the two, I fully expected to prefer the HyperPack Pro to carry all of my devices and my camera gear. It is easily the most innovative, tech-forward laptop bag I have ever come across and I understand why it won a CES 2023 Innovation Award. Surprisingly, I ended up slightly preferring the Targus Cypress Hero for its wearable comfort, well-balanced design when setting it on the ground, and well-thought-out pocket and compartment placement. 

ZDNET's buying advice

Which one should you buy? If you are deep in the Apple ecosystem, are highly conscious of security and safety, and are a creator, an IT pro, or someone who carries a ton of tech gear when you travel, then the HyperPack Pro is likely the bag you didn't know you needed. Just make sure to add those extra shoulder pads

If you want a sturdy, practical, comfortable backpack that is eco-friendly and trackable through the Apple Find My network, then you will be extremely happy with the Targus Cypress Hero. Also, if you're an Android user and have no use for the Apple tech, then you can get the non-Find-My version of the Cypress Hero for $100

Look for both of those bags to get discounted during various shopping season sales. For example, the HyperPack Pro is currently $40 off if you buy it directly through the company's website and Targus currently has a 20% off deal for back-to-school if you purchase through its website. 

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