Review: The Hercules is another stand-out bag from ECBC
At a Glance
ECBC’s Javelin Daypack was not only a solid backpack—it was the first bag to earn five out of five from me. So, I was plenty eager to test out another bag from ECBCs lineup: the Hercules. Much like the Javelin, the Hercules features a plethora of pockets, extremely durable materials, and is TSA FastPass compliant (meaning you can simply unzip the laptop compartment and lay it flat while going through airport security). Its larger size means you can fit more in it, while its solid design keeps it comfortable to wear. In short, while the Javelin was an exceptional all-around bag, the Hercules is a stand-out bag for those who frequently travel with a good amount of gear.
The Hercules weighs the same as the Javelin (2.7 pounds) and at 18.4 inches by 12.13 inches by 7.10 inches it’s roughly the same size as the Javelin, but feels larger. That’s likely due to the Hercules’ large main compartment, which is big enough to easily carry a console (I was able to fit a PS3 inside with room to spare). In addition to the main compartment, the Hercules has the dedicated laptop compartment, two side zippered pockets (intended for water bottles), a front organizational compartment with four pouches, and two small zippered pockets on the front of the bag.
Constructed from 1000 denier water resistant Kodra material, the Hercules also has an ergonomic shoulder straps (with a sternum strap as well), breathable mesh padding on the back and straps, and a cushioned handle. It’s available in more colors than the Javelin, with black, blue, green, linen, and berry all being options, and the laptop compartment features additional (and removable) foam spacers. The laptop compartment will fit laptops up to 17 inches; I had zero difficulty toting around my 13 inch ultrabook in it. The Hercules also features a double-diamond rip stop lining inside.
Again, like the Javelin, all of the pockets on the Hercules are well-designed and useful: The two side zippered pockets have mesh webbing perfect for water bottles (although I found they were also useful for carrying other items like sunglass cases and gloves); the two zippered pockets on the front of the bag were ideal for carrying items you want easy access to (smartphones, bus passes, headphones, MP3 players); and the organizational compartment, which has four pouches and four pen slots, easily handled all my smaller items (USB drives, pens, business cards).
The Hercules not only admirably handled my day-to-day items, such as a laptop, notebooks, multiple smartphones, chargers, and cables, but it also stood up to a tougher test: A three day journey to the middle of nowhere Northern California, where it was able to contain all my regular items as well as two pairs of pants, a pair of Converse (Chuck Taylors, natch), five tshirts, two dresses, and a variety of toiletries. I’m not going to lie here—the Hercules was pretty well packed full, but for someone who has a long history of being a chronic overpacker, it was a satisfying experience to be able to fit it all into one bag.
At $140, the Hercules is only slightly more expensive than the Javelin; both are durable, well-designed bags able to carry quite a bit but the Hercules is better suited for longer journeys. It felt like a bit of overkill on days when I wasn’t carrying enough gear for three days in the woods. However, if you commute a decent distance or often travel for work and need to haul gear (or if you find yourself needing to capture Cerberus), the Hercules is more than capable.