Briggs & Riley @Work Review: This backpack has no style. Zero. Zip.
At a Glance
Some bag manufacturers spend a lot of time focusing on a bag’s design, carefully choosing eye-catching materials, painstakingly incorporating unique features, and taking great care to craft a carry-all unlike any other. But not Briggs & Riley.
You need look no further than the @Work Medium Backpack for a good example of what I’m getting at: A boxy, bland rectangle with zippers, the Medium Backpack is the kind of bag a virgin carries on the first day of math camp. (Not that there’s anything wrong with virgins. Or math camp, for that matter).
Still—you probably get what I’m aiming at: The Medium Backpack is not focused on making you look cool. What it does focus on is safely carrying a mess of stuff including your electronics, files, accessories, and even clothing.
The Medium Backpack, part of the @Work collection, comes in a single color (black) and is made from ballistic nylon to resist wear, water, dirt, and abrasion. It measures roughly 7.5” deep x 13.5”wide x 16.8” tall and weighs a hefty 3.2 pounds empty, however, the 24.1 liter carrying capacity more than justifies the weight. The rear of the bag—and the shoulder straps—both feature thick mesh padding which make it comfortable to carry, even when full (although I’ll admit it still felt boxy on my back).
In addition to a dedicated (and extensively padded) laptop sleeve, the Medium Backpack also features a large main compartment with two sleeves (one lined with fleece for protecting electronics), a front pouch, and three additional external pockets. The main compartment is cavernous—not only could it likely fit a slew of technology gadgets and chargers, but you could certainly fit in a change of clothes or even a game console.
The front pouch has a zipper across the front; the inside of the pouch contains two pen slots and four pouches—including one that has RFID blocking capabilities. Of the three external pockets, two are on the sides (left and right); one of those has a mesh expander that makes it ideal for water bottles. The remaining pocket is located above the front pouch and not only has a handy mesh business card slot, but also has both a bar code (in order to register and relocate the bag if lost), and a leather patch on the outside in case you care to monogram your backpack.
If you’re not a frequent traveler or a pack rat, you may find the Medium Backpack a bit of overkill—it’s too heavy and too large to use for simple day-to-day items (unless your day-to-day involves a LAN party or a red-eye flight). However, on days when I was packing a lunch, heading to the gym after work, or toting around a laptop and various cables, the Medium Backpack was more than capable. The downside here being that carrying it made me feel about this cool.
Also prohibitive? The price. This is not a low-end bag, and for $280 I would expect to see a lot more features from a bag—like a TSA-approved PassThrough, or a battery to charge electronics, or even a variety of materials and colors. At least it comes with a lifetime repair policy, which means you’ll never be able to escape from this homely backpack. But if you’re looking for a roller-bag without the wheels, this is the bag for you. Enjoy math camp.