HomeReviewBackpack for techies? Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0

Backpack for techies? Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0

A brand new backpack from Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0

Somehow, I made it to Los Angeles twice in 30 days. Each time taking probably more luggage than one should. On each trip, I took my bicycle clothes and a camera or five. I was going posh places, and my old backpack had a massive hole which stretched beyond the repair. I decided to ditch my trusty but dishevelled backpack and treat myself to Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 – a spontaneous purchase at London Heathrow.

Holy backpack experience

I’ll be first to admit that I take more tech with me that seems reasonable, just in case I need an Insta360 camera, a fancy DSLR gimbal or want to charge 5 different devices at once. Like many of you, I was charmed by the promise of “the best tech backpacks” claims on Instagram made by dubious influencers – just to be put off by an insane price tag when I clicked through the ad for each backpack promising me greener backpacking pastures. Yes, some of you will shout that I should take a look at the LTT backpack if I’m into tech. I can assure you that I did my homework long ago.

Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 wasn’t a planned purchase. To be fair, I didn’t know Samsonite even made backpacks to begin with. I knew the brand from their selection of cabin-approved luggage selection. The person running the shop quickly introduced me to Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 and after 30 min of looking at other offerings, my attention returned to the exact backpack she suggested first. Ten minutes later, I was removing stuff from my old holy backpack – and packing up my brand new Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 for the plane to LA.

Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 – boring black is the new orange

I always thought, I’d end up with a more outdoorsy-looking backpack, as the biggest offending feature of the Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 is its business look. I mean business, I don’t need to look it. The colour options were: boring black and boring blue, with less suitable product lines teasing me with more enticing colours. I guess it’s fitting, I treated myself to a business lifestyle product just as I turned 40. Boring black is the new orange.

The backpack isn’t light. The dry weight puts it at 1.6kg and it comes in 3 size variants. I have the biggest 17.3″ (but 15.6 and 14″ are also available). The sizes suggest that I can use my Asus Zephyrus Duo laptop as a banana for scale, not litres of capacity. Keen eyes, looking up the product specification would see the 30L capacity in its expanded form and 46 x 32 x 24 cm in dimensions. Frankly speaking, I wasn’t made aware of the size options, as this was the only backpack from this product line but I’d pick the biggest one regardless.

Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 isn’t significantly bigger than my previous backpack, but just as I was moving stuff from one to another, I discovered all the extra space it offered to keep my belongings. I ended up paying £160 for it, despite my best attempts, to get a student’s discount. The refusal may have been based on the fact that I look like a 40-year-old (virgin?) rather than a backpacking student drooling over business-grade luggage. Considering that the website advertises it for £179, I will put the imaginary £19 into by coffee jar of savings. You can put more donations into that jar too if you enjoy my writings while being completely wired on caffeine.

Compartment for everything

Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 has a compartment for everything (and more). The backpack is split into 3 main compartments filled with secret pockets and organisers. Days into my trip, I was still discovering extra features, even though, I was sure I vetted every surface before the purchase.

There is an undeniable build quality, as Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 features nice materials, quality stitching and a degree of weatherproofing. Will it survive rubbish UK weather? Businessmen do not hang out in the rain, they have meetings to attend and spreadsheets to fill in. I’d take an extra rain protector if I was going off the beaten track.

The main compartment can also expand thanks to the zipper that goes around the circumference of the backpack and it adds a bit more storage in case you need it. Product specification says that by adding an extra 8cm you get about 4-5L of storage. It’s not the most visible change, but it helps.

USB

I found out about the USB pass-through after the purchase, so I will open with the fact that Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 comes with a built-in USB-A port to charge your devices without opening the backpack. The dorky part of me would wish for USB-C instead, but we can’t have beautiful things, because product designers are old and mentally stuck in the 90s. The weather-resistant port (with a silicone cap) uses a USB-A cable to connect to whatever power bank you have with you. While smaller power banks can be stored in the side pocket, access to the bigger ones is possible thanks to a small routing hole to the main compartment.

Outer shell

Aside from the visible side pockets (one with USB-A passthrough), the backpack features two shallow front compartments (one capable of storing A4) and a cheeky little passport pocket on the backside. I only noticed that pocket after a couple of days of travelling. The handle is stiff but soft at the same time, and the backpack has an additional hanging loop. There is an extra side loop to thread the carabiner through.

The shoulder straps are not the widest but remain comfortable even when the backpack is loaded. The reinforced area near the chest compression strap is nice, but the design choice of not including the waist strap is an odd one! Inside the left strap, there is a small key pocket which is zipped up. It can hold a couple of keys and a small keyring.

The back is lined with breathable sponge threaded in such a way as to allow for air circulation, but when loaded, the backpack will firmly rest on your back, potentially making your shirt sweaty.

Laptop storage

It opens up almost all the way, which provides easy access to your main electronics. The dedicated compartments for the laptop (17.3) and iPad allow for storing both devices at the same time. I don’t have an iPad, but I have a business-grade note-taking device – reMarkable, so I’m the target audience for that pocket as it fits well. I also found extra loops that can be used for stylus storge- after almost 2 months of ownership. Your electronic slates and laptops can be fastened thanks to the inclusion of the rubber strap. No special concessions were made for the charging solutions. Chargers are likely to go to another compartment to prevent the plugs from scratching surfaces.

Zippers include small loops so you can secure the pocket with a small padlock if you want to keep your devices safer during transit. The zipper itself has a weatherproofing coating to prevent water ingress.

Main (expandable) storage

The biggest compartment houses three additional organisers. One at the back for documents, two inner side pockets for stuff like batteries or things you don’t want to float about and two extra zipped-up pockets for a wallet or cosmetics. One of them is netted, and the other one isn’t see-through.

The compartment opens up enough to ease the loading process, however, it’s retained on each side to keep the shape when opened, preventing the backpack from tipping over on its own. This is the pocket that ended up carrying my massive Asus laptop charger, and other bulky items. Zippers used are not weatherproofed nor have hoops for locks.

Tech compartment

While harder to access than other ones, this pocket has the bulk of organisers. It offers two zipped pockets to store stuff like cables and loose bits and dedicated sleeves for power banks, pens, SD cards and condoms (size-wise, not labelled!). I’m slightly disappointed that these sleeves don’t feature a tab to secure the content, just in case the backpack is tipped upside down. There are seven sleeves in total for your stuff.

What could I fit?

In line with all other influencers, I decided to fully pack the backpack and see how much crap useful stuff I can take with me. It’s not a serious packing attempt. I’m just going to pack it up to a brim and try to zip up all the zips in the end. I’ll include the most lovable items I covered on notenoughtech, in case you want further reading or something interesting catches your eye:

Travel trips from NotEnoughTech

  • get a haircut at the beginning of each holiday, I had my hair cut on 5 continents. You will look great on the pictures, or have a very particular set of hair just for the holiday! win-win
  • the less you pack, the less you carry
  • take old clothes with you, recycle as you go, and buy new clothes to fill up your wardrobe with exotic choices. less to carry, you’ll travel wardrobe won’t look like someone chewed on it
  • make silly videos, these are more fun to watch with friends back at home. A picture of General Sherman isn’t going to be impressive – but a video of me trying to handstand next to a random sequoia tree and nearly face-planting onto the ground is the family’s all-time favourite
  • ask strangers to take pictures for you. Pick ones that have shopping bags so they can’t leg it with your phone. Give them access to the camera through the lock screen for added privacy. It will start a conversation with a local, and browsing through 100 selfies in front of landmarks is boring.
  • See the same places at different times of the day, I know early mornings are not compatible with holidays, but they are worth the effort from time to time

Final thoughts

Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, except CES – I hope to attend maybe next year. What I do have, is a cool backpack that will serve me years and carry my monster of a charger with me. Although next time I can pack better and smarter, I probably still take more tech with me than I should. Thanks to Samsonite SPECTROLITE 3.0 I have the means to keep it all organised. On my back. Like a real traveller. Do I recommend it? Sure, if the business look fits your needs, and you have more tech than you can carry! Questions? Let me know in this Reddit thread.

💳 – See the transparency note for details.

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