I got a used SwissGear Ibex 17 inch laptop pack. Overall, this is a very well made laptop pack. It has more compartments and features than any other laptop pack, and I have at least four other laptop packs. One odd thing is the fabric is polyester rather than nylon. No idea why. Unlike my Targus, High Sierra or MobileEdge backpacks which have a lifetime warranty,, the SwissGear backpack has a three year warranty. Since this pack is over three years old, I was out of luck in getting the problems fixed.

Back view

swiss back

This is a view of the back of the pack. Many features of the pack are visible. There are many compartments and inside each compartment are more sub-compartments for virtually anything you might imagine. Of note the smallest compartment on the main pack has what seems like a compartment for a swiss army knife. There are two robust compartments on the sides of the pack where you could put water bottles or other similarly shaped items.

Damage to pack

swiss damage

This is a view of the damage to the pack. You can see the very nice zipper pulls. Also visible is the steel cable reinforced handle with the plastic handgrip. The handgrip broken through in the center in two places as well as some other breaks. I spoke to a friend with a similar vintage pack and his handgrip failed in the same way. The good news is that the handgrip still works even though it has failed in multiple places. Newer handgrips have been redesigned, no doubt due to the high failure rate of the older design.

Directly visible below the handgrip is yet another compartment zipper. Above the zipper, there are visible places where the fabric has failed on either side of the handle. Upon closer examination, it is clear that what happened is the seam where the fabric was sewn to the zipper had insufficient margin. That means the amount of fabric after the seam. This pack has many seams, unlike mountaineering packs which generally try to minimize the number of seams. When you sew a seam, you need to have a margin of fabric beyond the seam, to keep the stress of the threads from making the fabric fail. A good seam margin depends on the fabric, but is generally 3/4 to 1 inch. It is also a plus if the fabric is cut with a hot knife in order to minimize fraying. In addition the end of the margin can be covered with a fabric layer to minimize fraying. None of this seams do have a fabric cover over the ends of the fabric, though it is clear that the amount of margin is roughly 1/4 to 1/2 inch. In the cases where the fabric failed, the margin was clearly insufficient. This failure generally happens over time, so it isn't obvious with a new pack. I expect better from SwissGear. I intend to repair the damaged fabric, but it won't be pretty.

Pack front

swiss front

This is the front of the pack, i.e. the part which rests against your back. There is some elastic near the top of the shoulder straps, which is called shock absorber technology. It isn't clear if it does much. Conventional backpacks don't have this. There is some padding on the front (on the other side of which is where the notebook lives). Of note, there is no waist strap. My other 17 inch pack has a waist strap. Since 17 inch notebooks are generally on the large side, the pack is similarly large. People often carry more stuff in a large pack, so a waist strap is quite handy to distribute the load. There is a nice mesh compartment at the bottom of one of the shoulder straps, as well as a daisy chain where stuff may be attached. Visible at the top is another handle to carry the pack.

Pack bottom

swiss bottom

This is the bottom of the pack. It is made of a some kind of reinforced slick plasticy durable material.

Pack side

swiss side

This is the side of the pack. There is a robust mesh pocket on either side of the pack. There is smaller diagonal zippered compartment on either side of the pack. On one side of the pack is a hole for headphones, which is visible near the top of the pack next to the small swiss logo.

Pack laptop

swiss laptop

This is the laptop compartment. Most packs have the laptop rest against your back, but on this pack the laptop is secured to the other side of the compartment. The side with the mesh pocket and the large unzippered pocket below it is the side that rests against your pack. The laptop is secured via a velcro strap and red laptop holder is well padded.

Pack media

swiss media

This is the media pocket. There is a smaller pocket inside it with a velcro strap on the top. You could put a small phone of a swiss army knife inside of it. There is a grommet leading to the next compartment (the next compartment has access to the external headphone hole in the pack.)

Pack main

swiss one

This is the main compartment of the pack. It also has a large pocket for papers or books.

Pack second

swiss two

This is the secondary compartment. It has a large zippered mesh compartment.

Pack Accessory

swiss three

This is the accessory pocket. It has a zippered compartment. It also has a big mesh pocket. There is a smaller pocket with a velcro strap. Below that is a pocket with a big velcro flap. I think this the swiss army knife pocket. On the left are a series of pockets for pens or small stuff.

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