DIY laptop protection case for a backpack

An Osprey Farpoint 40 review

I bought myself an Asus UX305CA laptop as it promised matte IPS display, superlight weight, long battery life, and enough power to run virtual machines and actually do some work also. The keyboard is not bad either. The machine was relatively expensive in Finland, though, and I wanted to have good protection for it. I ended up buying the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack for my almost three month trip to Asia as I wanted light weight and carry-on possibility.

When I'm writing this I've travelled with the Farpoint 40 for three weeks now, had it on five flights with various airlines and on a few bus and train rides, climbed a couple of peaks with it loaded lightly and walked quite a few kilometers in cities with it fully stuffed to about 9 kilograms - still easily below most airlines' carry-on limit of 10 kg. So, at this point I have some practical experience.

Overview

Osprey Farpoint 40 opened

One of the best features of the bag is that it is a front-loader, i.e. it opens like a suitcase. This is demonstrated in a picture below. There are also straps inside to tighten your things. The backpack has a lightweight aluminium frame that keeps the side against your back in shape and rigid.

Stuff I packed
Osprey Farpoint 40 packed

I packed at least seven shirts, seven pairs of underwear and socks, gym shoes, shorts, swimming pants, a jacket, a small towel, and a good deal of various stuff (a laptop, an ebook reader, an electric shaver, a digital camera, a couple of eyeglasses etc.) in the backpack. All the stuff fit nicely and there was still easily space for something little such as snacks for flights.

Osprey Farpoint 40 front

Reading other reviews from the Internet, a lot of users have criticized the placement of the waterbottle holders, and I must concur to some extent. The holder pockets are out of reach when you are wearing the pack, and the compression straps do cover most of the pockets. As can be seen in the picture, however, a 500 ml water bottle fits between the straps quite nicely.


Osprey Farpoint 40 carrying straps
Osprey Farpoint 40 straps tucked away

The carrying straps are well enough padded, and even though the backside does not look that breathable, it's not bad at all. Although, I've been traveling in hot places and sweating like a pig anyway. The straps can be hidden for transport in vehicles and security screening conveyers.

Laptop pocket

The laptop pocket is located inside the "lid". There's a meshed pocket on the inner side of the lid, and a couple of pockets on the other side. One of them is the laptop pocket, which has another smaller pocket attached on top of it.

The problem with the laptop pocket is it provides very little protection for impacts coming from below or front, or from the direction in-between. Basically that is the first thing to come in contact with anything when you put down your pack or walk in small spaces. Luckily, the laptop pocket is quite spacious, so with a smaller laptop such as the Asus, you can build an extra layer of protection around your computer.

Laptop protection case empty
Laptop protection case

As I was in a hurry for my trip (I only bought the backpack a few days before departure) I didn't have time to hunt down the best possible materials and had to use what I had in hand. I found a few pieces of foam rubber, two of which were very high density. I cut the high density ones and built a sort of a cage. This protects the laptop from hits coming from the critical area described above. I then added pieces of softer foam on the upper parts of the cage. Everything stays together with hot-melt adhesive and tape.

Laptop protection case in place

The protection cage is a snug fit and stays nicely in its place inside the pocket. I will probably make a better one with better measurements and materials sometime, but for now I'm stuck with this. It is very good even now, though, and I don't have to worry about the backpack getting impacts anymore. Now only the upper corners are without protection, although I can tuck handkerchief packets in there for protection.

Summary

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Tidy
  • Good carrying straps
  • Spacious
  • Carry-on accepted on practically every airline

Cons:

  • Laptop protection by default
  • Bottle holders
  • Strap cover uses velcro (would have preferred snap fasteners or something)

With the Osprey Farpoint 40, build yourself an extra laptop protection cage and you've got an excellent backpack for digital nomads. Recommended for other carry-on travelers, too.

2016-03-10 update

Now that my 2½ month trip to Asia and Oceania is over, I think I tested the Osprey Farpoint 40 thoroughly. I did a couple of 22 km hikes in New Zealand with it. Even though it's obviously not as comfortable as a heavy duty hiking backpack, the carrying straps are indeed good and do fine for short hikes if packed lightly. I did encounter some more cons, some of which can be easily fixed afterwards.

Cons:

  • Could use another small outside pocket
  • Laptop holder pocket velcro strap gets in the way of the inner pocket zipper
  • Zipper pulls of the main pocket and laptop pocket always seem to be on the way of the zippers

Even after this update my original summary still holds: it is a great backpack.

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Creative Commons License  This article by Olli Helin is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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