Ten years ago my travel packing list was a bit simpler. I went around the world with no mobile phone and a camera that took two AA batteries. No adapter plugs, no chargers and no wires taking up space in my rucksack. But nowadays it feels like I travel with half an electrical shop in my suitcase. As well as a mobile phone I always take my Kindle and my DSLR camera along with me, and more and more often now I bring my laptop too. Then there’s the wires and chargers that come with each of them. And if you’re flying, you don’t want to risk them getting damaged in the hold so they have to be taken on as hand luggage. Previously I’ve managed to squeeze everything into a small day bag, but now I’ve started travelling with my laptop, it’s time to graduate to something bigger.
I’ve been looking out for the perfect bag for a while – something which has enough pockets and padding to store all my electricals safely, but which still looks smart and isn’t so huge that it makes me feel like a turtle with an oversized shell. So when Blacks kindly offered me an Osprey Cyber 26L Daypack to road test, I jumped at the chance. It’s one of Osprey’s Portal range of bags, which are specially designed to transport your technology when you travel. So how did it stack up?
The Cyber 26L Daysack comes in four different colours – black, red, a grey pattern and the medium grey/taupe colour which I went for. Not the most exciting colour, but it’s unlikely to show the dust and dirt. And you get an unexpected pop of colour when you open up the pockets to find a bright orange lining inside. At 26 litres, the bag fits within the carry-on luggage limits for most airlines (the full dimensions are L 48 x W 32 x D 23cm) and even when it was fully loaded it still wasn’t too bulky. There’s a back support with a mesh lining which lets the air through to keep you cool if it’s hot. And the wide straps are padded to spread the weight, with front straps around the waist and chest if you need them.
There are three main compartment at the top of the bag and one at the bottom. The back pocket is for your laptop and has padding and a fleece lining to keep it protected. It easily fit my 17″ laptop, and there’s a separate zippered pocket inside to fit a tablet (or a Kindle in my case).
The middle pocket is the largest and has pockets to store documents inside. It was just about big enough to fit my DSLR camera inside, even in its day bag which will help keep it extra safe. Otherwise you could easily fit books or a change of clothes inside. Then there’s the front pocket, which has different compartments to keep you organised – with pockets for pens, credit cards, passports and your mobile phone. There’s also a bonus pocket in the top which is designed to store your sunglasses.
The bottom compartment contains what they call the ‘Powerhouse’ organiser compartment. It’s a velcro-fastened inner bag that is designed to store all the power cables, battery chargers and wires that go with your electricals. It detaches from the bag so you can easily access everything without having to root around in the bag and stops the wires getting tangled into a huge knot. It was just big enough to fit my laptop power supply, phone charger and camera battery charger.
The overall design is just what I was looking for – my laptop and camera are all well protected but it’s not too bulky. The Powerhouse compartment in particular was a great idea to keep my cables organised and the sunglasses pocket should hopefully help my tendancy to lose them. At £90 it’s not a cheap bag (update: it’s now on sale for £60), but it does have a real feeling of quality. The material is thick and sturdy and the zips and tags all seem very well made, so it should be an investment that lasts for years. It looks quite smart so you could even use it for work, but it could pass as a normal rucksack so it doesn’t scream ‘steal me’! It can easily be used as a day bag – or even overnight – while I’m away, so isn’t just a travelling bag.
Much as I like a lot of pockets, this bag does have a bewildering amount of them. Something like 18 at my count, though I may well have missed a few! Although it’s good to have so much storage, if you need something in a hurry then make sure you remember where you put it or you can spend ten minutes trying to find out which pocket it was in. The front pocket is also a bit exposed, so if you plan to use it for your passport, phone etc, then you might want to get a padlock to secure it from pickpockets.
Disclaimer: my Osprey backpack was provided by Blacks, but all opinions are my own.