Backpack Review: Swiss Gear “Synergy”

Now that school has started, we at College Info Geek will be reviewing some of the gear we use in order to help students optimize the flow of how they work. Today I’ll be reviewing the Synergy backpack from Swiss Gear, which has become hands-down my favorite way to carry my stuff.

The first thing I noticed after a few days of using this backpack is that a ton of people have it. It’s $60 on Amazon, which is a little pricey, but apparently it’s worth it! All these people have must have good sense, because this backpack is stellar. Firstly, it’s from Swiss Gear. The name alone should tell you something about the durability and functionality. These are the two main things I’ll get to in this review, and I’ll also talk about what I carry around during my day.

Durability is a huge factor to consider when buying a backpack, particularly one that’s going to be used to carry books. After loading the Synergy up and carrying around for a few days, I can safely say that it will be able to take all my abuse without much trouble. The straps are sewn to the pack very well, and the carrying handle is supported by a rubber-coated steel cable which is bolted and sewn to the top. The zippers are large and seem to be very well made. Even the mesh pockets on the side are padded and exude quality.

The Synergy backpack’s most striking feature, however, is the number and sheer usefulness of its pockets. There is the standard large back compartment, which contains a laptop pocket for up to 15.4″ laptops, as well as a small mesh pocket for small items. One thing I like about this back compartment is that Swiss decided to put the laptop pocket against the front side instead of on the back side. This allows me to put in my accordion folder at the back, which keeps my Macbook Pro safely in the middle.

The backpack has another pocket nearer the front that is almost as large as the back compartment. Luckily, Swiss included two layers of fabric and a large amount of padding between these two pockets. Many backpacks I’ve owned in the past have separated their two large pockets will a single layer of fabric, which my books would promptly tear apart. This isn’t an issue with the Synergy. In this second large pocket, I keep my iPad, my refillable notebook, and the workbook for my speech class. All of my other books are either in Kindle or PDF format and I access them on my iPad.

In between the two large pockets is my favorite feature of the backpack; a small, well-padded pocket that’s only about 8 inches deep. It includes a cell phone pocket of its own, and is an awesome place to store small items. I usually put my iPod, iPod charger cable, pocket knife, and a few USB drives in it. This pocket saves me the time I used to spend digging to the bottom of my past backpacks for these items.

The Synergy includes three more front-facing pockets of decreasing size; I keep my Mac charger in one, my pens, pencils, and calculator in another, and some OS installation CD’s and gum in the smallest one. There are also two long, narrow pockets on the sides that zip up, and a mesh pocket over each. I use the mesh pockets for water bottles.

Swiss also took care to make this backpack very comfortable. The back is well padded and includes quality lumbar support. The straps are also very comfortable and supportive. Swiss also elected to do away with the waist strap on this model of the backpack, which is a welcome omission in my book. I wanted a pack with the least straps and clips hanging off of it as possible.

All in all, the Synergy backpack is my definite best-buy in the backpack department. I challenge you to find one that tops it!

Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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1 Comment:
  1. This looks like a quality laptop bag, the only problem I could see is I have a very large laptop (>17") and so the compartment would be a little small. In my experience with my North Face Mentor, I've had a quality bag. I used it all last year packed tightly with heavy books, and I never felt uncomfortable carrying it, even though I have weak shoulders, where I usually find pains there. It doesn't quite have as much space as this Swiss Gear does, but it makes up for it a little bit in a deceivingly small, simple design. The main pocket is big enough to support even the biggest of laptops with accessories (though if it's as big as mine is now, it can be a little more difficult). It does have the drawback of having the laptop pocket in the rear, thus keeping you on your toes when setting it anywhere. I made it through all of last year with it with no tears or zippers breaking (my typical complaints).

    The middle pocket is your run-of-the-mill style with those pockets that people rarely use, however this year I've found them to be quite suitable, not to mention the pocket is plenty big. Finally the front pocket is much bigger than I expected, as I'm able to keep my netbook and charger easily. So far I've had no problems keeping 3-4 textbooks in it along with my nook and netbook, not to mention notebooks and my pulse pen without any difficulty. Not to mention it has deep enough side pockets to keep a water bottle and have the cover zipped on each side. An interesting way I used it last year was with a belt clip case for my Zune, I hooked it on the strap on the shoulder straps and had an easy access to it while on my way to and from class.

    Don't know if it's a better backpack, but at least for bigger laptops it can be helpful, though I wouldn't suggest regularly carrying any laptop over 15.4" on a regular basis, but in those times you need it, this bag is definitely up to the challenge.

    Note: It's not only survived a year of college but also at least 3 road trips and runs about the same as the Swiss Gear at $60, and the link since the backpack is at least a year old:

    Good read Tom!

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