As a writer in the media, I travel to a lot of events and as a gamer, I have a lot of stuff I like to bring. I need to bring my gaming laptop, of course, but also my tablet, Switch, wireless mouse, headphones, my Scuf controller, all the chargers, and maybe a couple of changes of clothes if there's any room left. Currently, I have two backpacks: A SWISSGEAR bag I use for weekend trips and when I just want to get out of the house and write somewhere else, and an Osprey Travel bag for long trips. Both are primarily nylon and offer separate pockets for laptops and tablets, as well as pockets and pouches of various shapes and sizes. I've been running with this two bag set up for a while now, but the introduction of the Maingear Classic Backpack into my life has made me realize that I've been missing out on some pretty phenomenal features that can make gaming-on-the-go even more convenient and comfortable.
Everything You Need For Everyday Use
The Maingear Classic is a fair bit more compact than my SWISSGEAR bag, which has two separate main pockets, but as it turns out, the Maingear Classic offers just the right amount of space for everyday use while remaining compact and low profile. I'm able to put my laptop, tablet, Switch, and laptop charger in the main compartment and have enough space left for at least a weekend's worth of clothes, as well as smaller pouches on the front, top, and sides for things like wallets, keys, controllers, or books.
It's made of a super durable, water-resistant material that's slick and easy to clean. There are flaps that cover the zippers as well, so you don't have to worry at all about your stuff getting wet. It's covered in thick padding on the straps, back, and handle, so even when I packed it to max capacity, it was still comfortable to wear and carry.
I feel much better with a bag that fits exactly what I need, no more no less. There's less chance of things moving around and becoming damaged in the bag and I'm less likely to lose things in them. The aptly named Maingear tough bag perfectly fits everything I need in a typical day.
Let's Talk Pockets
Beyond the ubiquitous laptop pouch, most backpacks out there have pockets and pouches in various sizes; typically a large main pouch that may have a separator, a tiny top pouch, one or two front pouches with organization, and side pouches.
Maingear has been a lot more thoughtful with their pockets, going as far as to label them with what they're meant to be used for. It's nice to know they took the time to design the bag for gamers to use with the purpose of each compartment in mind.
Inside the main pouch, you'll find a pocket for a 15" laptop, 13" tablet, and a Nintendo Switch. Each pocket is layered with padding and soft, velvety fabric to protect them. My devices fit snugly and safely inside with one caveat: anytime my Switch leaves the house, I keep it in a slim fit hard case. It barely increases the size of the Switch, but the case will not fit in the backpack. I understand that the pocket is designed to fit the Switch perfectly, but it leaves my control sticks exposed and when I put more things in the bag, I worry about pressure damaging them. Therefore, I don't use the Switch pouch, I just drop my Switch in the bag in its hard case. It's no big deal. There's also one more velvety pouch inside that's the right size for a phone.
On top is another velvety pouch that would be great for earbuds, keys, or sunglasses. My 5.5" phone does not fit in it, but I like to put my wallet and passport in there when I fly so I can get to them easily.
You've got two nylon pockets in the front, which is pretty standard stuff, and two unique pockets on the sides. One is for a water bottle, 20 oz specifically. However, I was able to fit a glass Snapple bottle in there, but it was extra tight. You can fit a can in there, too, but it would be hard to get it out because the pocket is quite deep.
On the other side is an equally narrow and deep pocket with a water-resistant zipper and a tiny pass-through hole for cables. This pocket is one of two particularly interesting features that this pack includes: the battery pocket and GPS tracking.
The long, narrow battery pocket is designed, I assume, primarily for cell phone travel chargers. I went through all of my travel chargers and they're all square or rectangular and fit a bit awkward in the pouch and were difficult to retrieve. Maingear doesn't sell their own tube-shaped battery or anything for this bag, though I wish it did. It's also a bit awkward when you unplug your phone because you can't really unplug it from the battery without taking the battery out, so I ended just wrapping the loose cable around the luggage strap on the back. Alternatively, you can put your phone in this pocket and use the pass-through for headphones if they're long enough. Overall, I like the idea but the execution needs some refinement.
The GPS tracking, on the other hand, is a particular stroke of genius. Hidden on a tiny compartment under the back padding is a compartment for a Tile GPS tracker, included with each backpack. It took me less than a minute to set it up with the Tile app on my phone and now I can track my backpack anywhere, make it ring if I can't find it, and make my phone ring, too. My entire lively hood is in this bag and now I have peace of mind whenever I leave the house with it.
I love gamer products made for adults. The Maingear Classic looks like any other modern backpack, but it conceals a super gamer secret identity. It's lightweight, durable, has cool features that most other bags don't have, and most importantly, it holds all my stuff without compromise.
A Maingear Classic was provided to TheGamer for this review. You can check out the Classic, and all of Maingear's product, on its website.