I never needed to lug a laptop with me on a camping trip up until a month ago. I had a nice long weekend trip planned with some friends, but then work reared its ugly head. So, I had a choice. I could either go into the office and finish up some reporting or take my laptop with me out into the woods and try to juggle work with camping.
Since I like a challenge, I took the laptop with me. I figured I could always claim a bear ate my laptop if things didn’t work out. With my computer tagging along, I required a decent laptop backpack that was good for hiking as well as protecting its electronic cargo. So I ran down to one of my favorite hiking stores and did some shopping.
I picked up the OverBoard Adventure Backpack and thought I’d run it through its paces on my weekend trip. So before setting out, I took some time to examine the pack to get a better idea what I was going to be using.
The backpack is constructed from PVC material and appeared to be pretty strong. The manufacturer claims the bottom has a welded seam for stronger waterproofing. The zippers are stated to be waterproof, but I did have some issues with the main compartment zipper (more on this later).
What I liked, and it’s a small thing, is the front reflective patch and reflective backpack straps. For those who may hike during hunting season or travel at night, these simple touches are really nice additions.
Nothing earth shattering here. It looks like a backpack. It is a nice looking pack. The pack has a squared off look to it that makes it appear a little odd to my eye. There is a mesh pocket on the side, which is good for storing smaller objects. The straps are padded well and this makes it a comfortable pack to wear. (click here for more backpacks like this)
Getting out in the field with my laptop made me realize that this pack would make a great backpack for school or lugging my laptop to work and home. Using it for a hiking trip probably wasn’t the ideal use of the pack. I don’t over pack normally, but the laptop took up a good chunk of the backpack. For the record the computer was not too large. I think it might be 15 inches or so. But once in the bag, I was afraid to over pack because I didn’t want to break the laptop. If I was packing file folders that would have been fine, but supplies for a hike started pushing the bag to its capacity.
Once I was comfortable with the packing, I was off for the weekend. About 15 minutes into the hike to our campsite, we started getting rained on. As luck would have it we got caught in some serious downpours. I usually pack for all weather condition, so I had an all-weather poncho stashed away. Unfortunately, this test of the Adventure Backpack’s waterproofing received a less than passing grade.
Once we made camp and started drying off, I decided to unpack the laptop and discovered that some water made it through the top of the bag. I’d call this bag less waterproof and more water resistant. While my time in the rain was short some moisture did get through the zipper track or seams around the zipper. Not really sure how it made it through. Now there was only a small amount of moisture, but it was enough for me to question the waterproof nature of this particular model of waterproof hiking packs.
The laptop was fine and the moisture was minimal. However, just the fact that it was there is a point of concern. I’m not sure of the moisture to laptop exploding ratio, but I did not really want to find out. As I spent more time with the bag I began to think that it was the main compartment zipper track where the rain got into the pack. The zipper opens and closes just fine, but then again I am no expert on what goes in to the waterproofing of the zipper. Since the seams around the zipper seem ok, maybe I just lucked out and got a somewhat defective waterproof zipper.
A friend suggested I pour a glass of water on the top zipper to see if I can discover where the moisture is getting in. He seemed pretty proud of that suggestion. I asked him to climb in the backpack with a flashlight to check the zipper as I poured the water. It actually took a few minutes for him to see the flaw in his suggestion. Everything else about the bag was fine. All other areas seemed to retain their waterproof claims.
After this initial hiking trip, I did begin to use the Adventure Backpack on other trips, just remaining aware of its less than perfect waterproofing up top. I have to admit that it performs well. I have taken the pack with me on some flights as a carryon bag and started using it as pseudo briefcase at work. I admit that I can’t completely ignore the waterproofing issue I had, but it has not gotten any worse. Checking some other reviews on various websites makes it seem my problem is not unique.
I can say the bag itself is pretty sturdy. I’ve tossed it around the office and house and into my car and airplane luggage compartments and the seams and zippers have held up well. Nothing has broken off or ripped since I’ve owned the pack. The only wear and tear is the usual scuffs on the bottom fabric that you get from regular use over time.
This is not the most perfect weatherproof backpack I’ve owned, but other than the zipper issue, it has held up pretty well. I’d use it for my work laptop anytime. Just not sure I’d carry my personal laptop in the pack.