It charges three devices at once, but can this gadget-friendly backpack move beyond the novelty category?
Travel. Recharge smart devices. Repeat. Moving around the globe is quickly becoming a hunt for AC outlets and the next charge, especially with smartphones taking over from cameras. The 20-litre MOS Pack hopes to make commutes, business trips and urban travel that much easier by offering one thing no other bag does; you can plug it into a wall outlet and recharge everything inside.
It’s a great idea. In a side pocket on the MOS Pack (18x12x5″/45.7x30x12.7cm, weighs a kilo) is a zip pocket containing a standard US plug. You just plug it in. Easy. Where its cable leads to is key; a US plug inlet and two USB ports. One is for tablets, the other for phones. It’s positioned in the main compartment, which has sleeves for a laptop (max. size 15-inch), a tablet and, on the other side, a smartphone (or a portable smartphone battery). Great stuff, but the idea then appears to be that a laptop charger cable and cables for the phone and tablet should then be secured using small poppers (so they don’t fall out of their charging ports) and left buried in the bottom of the bag.
It works fine, but there’s a problem; mess. What this bag does lack is not only the choice of which pockets can contain devices that need charging (although there is one small hole connecting the main section to a front section), but it also lacks a way of keeping that main power cable tidily flat. The main problem is that the main cable is fat and difficult to handle when it should be small and flexible, with a much shorter reach for easier stowing. The main compartment ends-up just a complete mess of cables, which can take a few minutes to sort-out when attaching or removing charging cables. Pockets with small holes at the bottom, and more small holes between the sections, would have been better. Still, is your average gadget geek going to care that the bag’s main section is a mess of cables? Given the advantage that brings, probably not. This bag has got ‘power user’ written all over it (not literally).
Being able to recharge three devices at once is tempting, but is this a functional bag in other ways? It is, but it lacks style. For example, there are few bags out there with as many well thought-out pockets – such as a soft pocket on the top for sunglasses, a waterproof side-pocket, and a phone pocket on the front (and many other design high-points) – but the zips are routinely low quality. The bag’s outer material – a rough but tough nylon – is ugly and unappealing, while the straps are rudimentary and the padding between layers and pockets is thin. A great effort, and one we hope we’ll see an upgrade on, but this is a concept that needs a little more investment if it’s to move beyond geekdom.