Backpacks are handy when traveling. They allow you to carry things on your back, leaving your hands free to pull other luggage. Better still, the TSA or security checkpoint friendly backpacks make getting through security with your laptop and other devices quick and painless (relatively speaking). With these backpacks, the laptop portion opens so that it lies flat on the belt when going through the X-ray scanner. The ECBC Hercules Laptop Backpack with FastPass System is one of those types of backpacks. How functional is it for a traveler?
Design & Build Quality
The ECBC Hercules Laptop Backpack comes with a 4500 mAh battery and micro USB charging cable (Input: 5V/1000 mA, Output: 5V/1000 mA). The backpack is extremely well made, measures 18.4” x 12.13” x 7.1”, weighs 2.7 lbs, and comes with a three year limited warranty. It is constructed from Kodra nylon and contains five main sections (from front to back: a phone pocket, accessories pocket, quick access/ticket pocket, main compartment with tablet pocket, and laptop compartment). It also has self-repairing water-sealing YKK zippers, very sturdy Duraflex adjustable padded shoulder straps and a padded top handle.
The backpack and the zippers are water resistant (the backpack has a water repellent coating). The zippers to the laptop compartment, quick access/ticket pocket, and phone pocket are covered with a rubber coating like that shown above.
The chest or sternum strap buckle height is also adjustable. The back of the backpack also contains a moisture wicking air mesh back panel to help dissipate heat as well as provide foam padding for comfort.
Now I will describe each of the five main pockets from the front to the back of the backpack. The section in the very front of the backpack is the phone pocket. It is small and will hold your smaller mobile devices or nic nacs.
The next pocket is the accessories pocket. It is a bit larger and contains two zippered pockets as well as slots for your pens, pencils, calculators, external hard drives, passports, cables, and other miscellaneous small items.
The small pocket located on the upper portion of the front of the backpack is the quick access/ticket pocket. It contains the ECBC 4500 mAh battery and will hold your tickets, ID, and small mobile devices.
The main compartment of the backpack will carry your documents, tablets and other larger items. The slot for your tablet is padded with high density protective foam, one side of which is cloth lined. This tablet section measures 8″ x 8″ but you may be able to just fit a larger tablet inside here because the Velcro strap looks like it will accommodate an additional two inches. Also, the main compartment has a smaller capacity when compared to school/college type backpacks due to the additional laptop compartment and all compartmentalization and padding in the backpack. The tag on the backpack actually describes the Hercules as a medium size daypack which is something to consider if you need to carry more than a couple of school books or two one inch binders in addition to your laptop, small portable gadgets, etc.
The laptop compartment is located nearest to the shoulder straps and will fit up to a 17″ laptop. It is the portion of the backpack that when completely unzippered, lies flat for quick scanning through the TSA X-ray scanner. The laptop pocket is moderately padded with high density protective foam, one side of which is cloth lined. The bottom photo above shows a 14″ Lenovo Thinkpad L420 laptop inside the pocket.
The pocket opposite the laptop pocket will hold larger tablets but is not padded (unless you want to consider the laptop section’s padding, which when the backpack is closed would offer some protection).
ECBC has also included a removable modular foam insert that fits in the bottom of the laptop pocket to support smaller laptops and to ensure a good fit thus minimizing movement. The Lenovo did not need this insert.
In addition to the five main sections of the backpack are two expandable zippered pockets located on each side to accommodate your water bottles or other beverages.
As indicated from the photos above, the pockets of the Hercules Laptop Backpack provided ample amounts of storage and organization for the items being carried. My husband took a trip from Dallas/Fort Worth to Minneapolis/St. Paul using this backpack. When going through the TSA check point at both airports, there were no issues. The TSA agent did suggest that the portion of the backpack that contained the laptop should go into the X-ray scanner first rather that the other way around, to prevent the other portion from flipping up and covering the laptop as it went through the scanner. It was also a minor concern to us that the shoulder straps might get caught in the belt, but this did not happen. According to my husband, this backpack greatly reduced the amount of time that he spent going through airport security. It also fit well under the seat of the airplane and made retrieving items during flight remarkably easy.
The backpack was comfortable to carry with the padded straps and padded back panel. The chest strap was adjustable and fit well. Furthermore, the Hercules backpack (and zippers) proved to be water resistant when using it in the copious amounts of precipitation that we’ve been receiving here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Also note that even though the above three photos make this backpack appear black, it is actually green (as the earlier photos show). This backpack is available from ECBC in black, blue, linen, and berry colors.
The battery included with the Hercules Laptop Backpack also worked fairly well. The ECBC 4500 mAh battery has a power button which you hold for two seconds to turn it on or off and when short pressed illuminates one to four blue LED status lights indicating the amount of charge left on the battery (four = 76-100%, three = 51-75%, two = 26-50%, one = 1-25%, one flashing LED = needs charging). It charged my Nexus 6 phone (3220 mAh) from 4% to 97% in three hours before running out of juice and was able to charge my husband’s HTC One X phone (1800 mAh) from 0% to 100% in four hours and 10 minutes leaving the battery with 26-50% power left. It also took about seven hours to fully charge the battery after being completely depleted. The charging speed of the ECBC battery is slower than when using the OEM adapters because the output is 5V/1A, but it is a nice addition to the backpack when you are in a pinch and need to charge your mobile devices while travelling.
The ECBC Hercules Laptop Backpack with FastPass System is a marvelous backpack which I can highly recommend to travelers. It may be expensive, but the excellent craftsmanship make it a travel backpack you can use for many years to come. It sailed through security thus drastically reducing the amount of time spent going through the checkpoints, is water resistant, comes with a 4500 mAh portable battery with micro USB cable, and can help organize you and all of your miscellaneous devices, cables, papers, writing utensils, IDs, etc. There is one thing to consider about this backpack – ECBC describes it as a medium sized daypack and therefore may not be suitable for someone wanting to carry more than two one inch binders (or books about that size) in addition to their laptop and other accessories.
Source: The sample used in this review was provided by ECBC. Please visit their website for more information.