I've been in the market for an affordable and well made backpack for a while. When I found the CalPak Grand Tour 22-inch Premium Laptop Backpack on overstock.com, I was ecstatic. First, I was looking for a very large backpack that could hold my laptop and big medical books comfortably. Along the same lines, I needed to be able to carry all that weight and not feel overburdened or more burdened than normal. I was also looking for a backpack that could be versatile. I go on short trips with my backpacks and I use them for longer trips to carry my laptop and personal belongings that won't fit in my carry-on. I fully expected this backpack to satisfy all these needs and more. I was very wrong! Let's begin with what I liked about it. The size of the pack was ample and oddly enough I liked the design of it. The compartment for things like pens and pencils and other small office materials was large and could comfortably accommodate every small office tool (rulers, pencils, pens, stapler, etc) that one might want to carry. The best part of this compartment was it's placement . It was not placed near the bottom of the bag and this was great thinking. When backpacks are designed in the 'normal' way with this type of compartment terminating on the same level (at the bottom) as the main compartment; when the main compartment is filled to capacity, the other smaller pockets are usually unable to hold much. Normally, the items in the smaller pockets tend to be the small fragile things and they get crushed pretty easily. Not so with this backpack. Since the small compartment is higher on the bag where packing is usually lighter, it's a very good design. You could put stuff in it and they won't necessarily be crushed by items in the large compartment. The small pockets on the side were ok; small, but ok. The point where the carrying straps meet the back side of the backpack, was ok. Not great, just ok. The flap that covers the top of the bag, as you can see in the stock picture, looks great! I liked it a lot. But that's where the positives ended. Beyond the good looks, this bag is a disaster. Even the good looks weren't even skin deep. When I first got it, it felt good until I took a closer look. First the stitching was bad. I was as if it was hurried. On the back part of the backpack, the part that makes contact with the back of the carrier of the pack, there were little defects around the edges in a couple of spots. The side pockets looked flimsy like they would fall off any moment. Now, I didn't mind all that too much until I looked inside. Wow! What a shock! The same "pen and pencil" compartment I mentioned earlier was so poorly built on the inside. The thin nylon-like material ripped and I hadn't even used the bag once. It looked like nylon, but I had never encountered any bags with that kind of material...not even the cheap China-made $5 bags I've seen in some department stores. I was livid! Now, when you look in the main compartment things get even more interesting. While the laptop sleeve is roomy enough width-wise, lengthwise it could barely hold my 15.6" wide screen laptop. The main reason I would want to purchase a laptop backpack is to protect my laptop. This pack fails MISERABLY in that primary function. The laptop sleeve was thin, especially at the bottom where it matters. With all this, I was willing to forgive and forget that I purchased this pack until I put my laptop in it and tried to carry the pack. This one really pissed me off. The carry straps were so thin and I couldn't even imagine why they had put that kind of strap on a bag so big!!! It was crappy, there was not even a quarter of an inch of padding and with just my laptop in the bag, it felt uncomfortable on my shoulders. Bear in mind that I'm a tall guy (6'3'' tall, 230 lbs), which is why I prefer big laptop bags, and I've carried heavy laptop bags for the past 10 years or so. I know good backpacks when I use one. This bag felt like I was carrying a heavy weight with twines for straps, and it was just my laptop in it. I decided to put it to the ultimate test and travel with it. Oh boy, what a mistake! With more stuff in it, it felt even heavier and I practically had to carry it by hand when I could and put it down when I was stationary. The verdict? It should be obvious. While overstock.com doesn't want reviewers talking about how much they paid for items, I will. I paid just under $50 for this pack but I saw a few other sites that had it for three times that amount. Even at the price I paid, I felt that I didn't even get what I paid for. My current pack is smaller and I've had it for almost 2 years. While I'm gentle on my stuff overall, I tend to use backpacks for so many things. As a result, they take a beating. If I only used them to carry my laptop, they'd probably last longer. Having said that, I feel like I treated this bag more gently than I normally would because of the things I had observed. It still didn't come close to meeting my expectations. I would never purchase a CalPak backpack ever again! That's a promise. I rarely make them, but I always keep my promises. If this backpack is their idea of a premium backpack, I don't want to know what their normal backpacks feel like.
- How accurate was the sizing? The sizing was accurate.
- Please tell us about the quality of the product. The quality of this backpack was much worse than I expected.
- Was the product free of any manufacturer defects? There were no apparent defects upon delivery until I took a closer look.