There are a lot of laptop bags and packs out there, but not all of them can effectively organize and carry lots of gear in a streamlined, compact package. As a long-time messenger bag user, I’ve not had much interest in backpacks until my business travel picked back up this past year, and lugging a backpack through airports and hotels seemed easier on the shoulders and back than a messenger. I’ve been somewhat selective about which backpacks I’ve tried out, and a few features of the Everki Atlas Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Backpack, like its adaptable laptop sleeve, put it onto my short list. Let’s check it out.
Click any image to enlarge.
As mentioned above, for many years I’ve mainly been a messenger bag user, preferring the quick-access convenience of a shoulder bag to the evenly-distributed load carrying of a backpack. But this past year, my business travel has ramped back up, which means a lot of time spent on planes and in hotels, both domestic and overseas. All this additional travel has made me reconsider the advantages of the backpack for laptop, gadget, and gear hauling. There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of backpacks out there, but I am fairly selective, and not many of them pique my interest. However, the Everki Atlas had an interesting feature – its “adaptable” laptop compartment. I liked its compact, streamlined looks as well, so I was happy that Julie gave me an opportunity to review it.
The Atlas model evaluated here has a black exterior with high-contract orange interior; no options, color or otherwise, are available.
According to the Atlas product page on the Everki site, here are the specifications:
|External dimensions||13.4 x 9.1 x 18.18 in (34 × 23 x 47.8 cm)|
|Weight empty||3.79 lbs (1.72kg)|
|Laptop compartment||1 x 1.5 x 16.5 in (28 x 3.81 x 41.9 cm)|
|Fits laptops up to||17.3 in (43, 94 cm) MORE ON THIS BELOW|
|Warranty||Limited Lifetime Warranty (on manufacturing defects only, not on wear-and-tear)|
|Location of Origin||Manufactured in China|
The Atlas came in a simple corrugated cardboard box with Everki branding on the outside.
Yes, the Atlas does fall into the category of “black laptop backpack”, but I think it has a nice, compact, streamlined look. It doesn’t have a lot of appendages hanging from it, and the zippers are aesthetically placed. Also, Everki calls the Atlas a “business backpack,” which I suppose it is, but I think it would appeal to students or just about anyone that needs to haul around a laptop and other gear.
There are several pockets and compartments accessible from the outside in addition to the main compartment, all of which will be described in detail below. I would call the Atlas a mid-sized pack from the standpoint of its overall size and carrying capacity. Note from the images that the Atlas is also fully capable of standing upright on its own; however, it tends to fall backward if loaded with a laptop and with little to no other items in the front of the pack for counterbalance.
The exterior of the Atlas appears to be made from some type of nylon fabric, but I could find no mention of the material on the Everki site. I was a bit surprised by this, because most companies typically state the type of material from which their packs and bags are made, if not use it as a bragging point. The stitching and construction is high-quality throughout. Note that much of the exterior stitching is white, which contrasts against the rest of the black pack exterior – I like this, but some may not.
The Atlas has a total of 10 zippers. The main compartment and the laptop compartment have large, heavy-duty zippers, while the other zippered compartments have smaller ones. Many of them are double-pull zippers and slide easily in both directions. Also, the Atlas has some great exterior zipper pulls. They have a solid feel, like it would take quite a bit of effort to rip them off, and they have a satin finish. They appear to be custom-designed, with “Everki” on one side and “Everki.com” on the other. They also have a rectangular hole and a long slot, both of which could be used to attach additional zipper pulls or locks to help protect valuables contained in the pack.
The Atlas has a very well-designed carry handle, as seen above. It sits proudly from the top of the pack, so is easy to grab every time. Also note that the laptop compartment’s zipper includes a locking feature.
The carry handle has some belt-and-suspenders attachment, which is a good design for a pack that can potentially be loaded down with lots of heavy gear. It is stitched solidly to the Atlas’ exterior as well as having a rivet through each side.
The handle is located in just the right position on top of the pack so that whether it is empty or fully-loaded, the pack always hangs vertically when carried, not slanted or tilted one way or the other.
Outside Open Pocket
This pocket seems like a good idea in general, but the thought occurred to me that I probably wouldn’t want to put anything too valuable in this pocket, like my airline tickets or work documents, because it seems ripe for someone to swipe things out of it without my knowledge. Also note in the photo above that the interior fabric of the pocket has a hex-shaped pattern, which reminded me of the film version of Spiderman’s costume. I have no idea why Everki used this pattern only in this particular spot on the pack, but I dig it.
There is an orange, metallic (aluminum, perhaps) D-ring mounted to the front of the Atlas. I don’t have a lot of use for this, but I attached my keys to this once I arrived at work so it was easy to grab them before putting on the pack for the drive home in the evening. I supposed this D-ring could be used as an attachment point for things like an ID tag or those adorable (yawn) souvenir key chains that people seem to collect and hang from their travel bags.
The first of the outside zipper pockets is located on the front of the pack. This compartment has a mesh pocket inside that can be used to help organize items. This is a good place to point out the orange color inside the Atlas. Everki purposely chose orange as a high-contrast color for the interior of the Atlas. I think this is a very useful feature on packs and bags, since it allows the user to look down into the main compartments and pockets and better see items that they might not be able to see in an all-black pack, especially in low light conditions. Ever try to dig your iPhone’s AC adapter and charging cable out of the bottom of your all-black pack on a nighttime plane flight? I have, and it isn’t always easy. The Atlas’ orange interior makes it at least a bit easier.
Front Organizer Pocket
Starting from top left of the image above, there is a mesh pocket with zipper, three pen holders, two open pockets and two smaller open pockets, and below this there is a divided pocket. There is also additional space below, as well as a hook on the upper right for hanging keys, a flashlight or other item.
In the photo above, you can see the main zipper mesh compartment as well as the rigid sub-divider compartment. Into this I’ve placed a work notebook and some papers I need to review. This divided section of the main compartment is great for files, folders, and other similarly-sized items.
Above, you can see that in the open area of the main compartments I have packed, from left to right, the ridiculously large and bulky power supply for my work-issue Lenovo laptop, a fleece pullover and my inflatable neck pillow, with room to spare in this area. I found the Atlas to easily have sufficient space to hold enough items for an overnight trip, especially when traveling light and using some travel organization aids like packing cubes, such as the Tom Bihn Convertible Packing Cube/Backpack or a similar product.
Above can be seen the wide open portion of the main compartment as well as the rigid divider and two mesh pockets that ride low on the divider for accessories (apologies for the atypical blurry photo here). Again, organization features abound.
Top Quick-Access Pocket
At the top of the Atlas, situated between the main compartment and the laptop compartment, sits a zipper that opens into a pocket that is wide but not deep. This pocket is lined with soft fleece to help prevent items from being scratched, like sunglasses, phone, or other items. It could also be used to toss in your wallet, boarding pass, or other pants-pocket contents while going through airport security.
Laptop & Tablet Compartment
The real gem in the design of the Atlas is its laptop compartment, which is more than just a simple laptop compartment. For starters, notice that it unzips completely down to the bottom of the pack, which allows it to open fully 180 degrees, lying flat per TSA “checkpoint-friendly” design, allowing your laptop to remain in the pack during X-ray scanning at security checkpoints. Well, theoretically anyway, unless you get the very typical, over-zealous TSA agent that forces you to remove your laptop anyway.
Most of the laptop compartment, at least the parts of it that are intended to be in direct contact with electronic devices, is lined with a soft, fleece-like material to help protect your devices from scratches.
The adjustable (Everki calls it “adaptable”) laptop sleeve is easy to adjust. In fact, it can be adjusted to hold snug a laptop from a 13-inch size, such as a small MacBook Air or netbook, all the way up to 17.3-inch size, such as some of the more tricked-out gaming laptops. The way it works is a bit like a diaper. Yes, you read that right. First, open the three padded flaps of the laptop sleeve. They attach to each other with Velcro. Place your laptop in the spot. The laptop I am using for demo purposes here is my work-issue Lenovo W520 with extended battery. This thing is quite large, bulky, and heavy. In fact, it is probably closer to a 17-inch laptop than its “official” 15.4-inch size.
Then fold each of the two side flaps down and lock them down to the Velcro on the large bottom flap. This effectively adjusts the sleeve with a custom fit for your laptop. Finally, secure the laptop in the sleeve with the elastic strap which has a Velcro tab and attaches to the exposed Velcro sheet on the large flap. Check out this video from Everki for more details on how to adjust the laptop sleeve and to see an example of how much the Atlas can hold. Also, it is worth mentioning here that if you have a laptop larger than 17.3 inches, such as one of the behemoth 18.4-inch gaming monsters, you may want to check out the Everki Titan, which is very similar to the Atlas but larger.
Inside the laptop compartment and opposite the laptop sleeve is a large, padded pocket that is designed for tablets. Like the laptop sleeve, this pocket also has an elastic strap with a Velcro tab to secure the tablet into it.
My full-sized iPad fits a bit sloppily in this pocket. In fact, I wish it were a bit more snug and secure like the laptop sleeve. With the elastic strap in place, I don’t think the iPad is going anywhere, but it looks and feels like it could slip out around the strap. A smaller tablet like an iPad Mini would almost certainly slip out past the strap. Perhaps Everki could design an adaptable sleeve for tablets similar to the laptop sleeve, considering that there are tablets of many different sizes available today.
The Atlas has pockets situated on either side of the pack, near the bottom. I really like the design of these pockets because when zipped closed they are completely unobtrusive and don’t detract from the slim, compact profile of the pack. Inside the pocket on the right side of the pack is a small mesh divider that can be used to hold small items. In addition, this pocket has a length of elastic shock cord with an adjustable toggle and a small plastic ring.
This pocket is intended to be used to hold drink bottles as demonstrated in these photos. Place the bottle in the pocket, slip the shock cord over the neck of the bottle, pull on the small plastic ring…
…and the toggle adjusts to the proper size to hold the bottle snug. This prevents the bottle from falling out of the pocket if the bottle you are using happens to be too large to zip the pocket completely closed.
The pocket on the opposite side is similar, but without the shock cord. Like the other pocket, there is a small mesh divider that can be used to hold small items.
The shoulder straps of the Atlas, in addition to being comfortable, have several features that allow for adjustability and load distribution. Everki refers to the combination of the top two shoulder strap adjustments, the sternum strap, and the bottom shoulder strap adjustments as the “5 point balance strap system.”
First off, visible in the photo above is a loop of webbing that can be used to hang the pack from a doorknob or hook. It can be used as a carry strap I suppose, but I would not recommend it, since the actual carry handle described above is a much better option.
The top of each shoulder strap has a length of webbing that can be tightened or loosened to adjust the fit of the shoulder straps to the user’s preference, allowing the pack to sit closer to or farther from the body. These adjustment straps have a loop sewn into the end which prevents the loose end from accidentally sliding out of the buckle.
The actual adjustment points on the shoulder strap have slider clips that keep the loose webbing from flapping around and getting in the way. This is a great little added feature that is not present on all bags and packs.
At the center of the shoulder straps are two features. The first are strips of webbing that allow items to be attached to the shoulder straps via carabiners or other methods of attachment, for example a set of keys, a camera, or other items. The other feature is a sternum strap that is adjustable in both position (as it can move up and down along the shoulder straps themselves) and in width, allowing it to be tightened or loosened to suit the user’s preferred fit.
The back of the Atlas includes a wide lumbar pad covered in the same mesh material that is under the shoulder straps. This pad sits against the user’s back to provide some additional cushioning should the pack be heavily loaded, and the mesh aids in ventilation.
The other feature on the back of the Atlas is a trolley handle pass-through that allows the pack to be slid over the handle of a rolling carry-on. This is a discreet and useful feature, but I think it is miss on Everki’s part that they did not give the option to turn this pass-though into a pocket by placing zippers at the bottom and the top. This would provide some additional storage space and is not an uncommon feature among bags and packs of this type.
Cargo Capacity Example
I loaded the Everki Atlas up with everything shown above and carried all of this around for several weeks, mostly on my commute to work and once on a domestic business trip. The Altlas helped me organize and carry all of these items and a few more with room to spare.
When loaded, the Atlas has a fairly tight profile against the body. I say ‘fairly’ because I have tried some backpacks which stick out so far when loaded that they give the wearer the appearance of a humpback whale. Other packs, typically military-styled ones, are tighter against the body but taller. The Atlas seems to be somewhere between the two styles. I prefer my backpacks to fit more along the military style, tight to the body and riding high, and the Atlas allows me to do this relatively well. The Altas’ size allows it to fit under the seat of even the smallest puddle-jumper that I flew aboard, and also fit into all but the narrowest overhead bins, even when fully loaded.
The Everki Atlas has a nice combination of styling, organization, and load-carrying. It has a slim, compact, streamlined profile, even when fully loaded. Its interior organization features are very useful, and its high-contrast orange interior is lined with soft felt in all the right places to help protect your devices. The Atlas’ 5-point balance strap system provides a high degree of adjustability to suit the user’s fit preference, and the laptop sleeve quickly and easily adjusts to fit laptops from 13 inches up to 17.3 inches. I’m quite pleased with the Everki Atlas and will continue to keep it in my regular bag/pack rotation, both for daily commuting and business trips.