Hands On: Ogio Newt 15 Backpack

Silly name, seriously stylish backpack.

It's that time of year again -- it's time for high school and college kids alike to think about how they're going to carry supplies to and from classes. Even if you're not a college or high school student, backpacks are still convenient to carry all your things from place to place. After all, most of us carry multiple forms of tech every day, so why not make it a little easier? If you're not the type to leave the house without carrying at least a phone, tablet, or computer, read on for our check-out of the Newt 15 laptop backpack by Ogio.

The backpack we were provided for review is an attractive dark, heathered grey color they call Dark Static that almost has the same color as woolen coats, with a soft-yet-durable canvas type feel. We suspect that it might pick up dirt fairly easily because of the "tooth" of the fabric, so we don't suggest leaving this backpack on the floor or ground if possible. The Newt 15 also comes in a light heathered gray called Static as well.

Everywhere we wore the Newt 15, we ended up getting compliments on it's unusual and stylish design. People really liked the almost pea coat style front pocket and the slim design, which makes the backpack stand out compared to the standard bulky backpacks that seem to dominate the market. It looks professional, and not like you just tripped and stumbled out onto the street right out of Algebra I when you were 14.

The "build quality" of the Newt 15, if you can call it that, is fantastic. The seams are sewn tightly and back-tacked (double-sewn at the ends, for you non-sewing minded people) to ensure they're not going to pop whenever the bag is weighed down. The zippers are also sturdy, and there's no loose fabric that hangs near them, so you're not going to have that heart-sinking moment when your zipper sucks up a loose bit of fabric and gets stuck.

The fabric they chose, aside from potentially picking up dirt really easily, is sturdy -- with enough stretch to accommodate for being stuffed full. The lining of the bag could maybe be a little thicker, but we think that as long as you're not letting uncapped pens and sharpened pencils bounce around in the bottom, it should hold up to the average wear and tear of book corners. The laptop pouch is lined with a faux-fur type fleece that seems extremely sturdy, which seems like a smart way to keep that pouch from wearing out too easily.

The slim size has some real advantages. As anyone who is enrolled in classes knows, space for storing things in classrooms is usually at a premium. This slim backpack hangs easily off the back of a chair, or can sit propped up against your legs under a desk without taking up too much room. It's also a dream for public transportation -- it's not hard to maneuver even the most crowded buses and trains with this backpack on, and it's easy enough to sit on your lap in the event that you don't have an empty seat next to you.

Of course, there are some disadvantages as well. When packed with a laptop, there's not a lot of room left for textbooks, but we're not sure that the tight tolerance in modern laptops and the mass of textbooks mix real well anyhow. If you tend to tow along a tablet instead of a laptop, you can buy yourself a little extra room for books, but otherwise this might not be the best choice unless you're ready to start purchasing all your books as e-books. Of course, if you're not carrying around three or four heavy textbooks, this does have enough room to carry standard-sized paperback novels and trade paperback comic books quite easily. Even still, you can squeeze in a few hardcover textbooks, just not a ton of them.

As far as comfort goes, the Newt 15 is one of the most comfortable backpacks we've gotten our hands on. There's an excess amount of back padding, which absorbs shock when you're wearing the bag while walking or biking, or just for extended wear. The straps are also filled with an especially "springy" foam which doesn't dig into the skin even when the backpack is fully bogged down with a full load of electronics and books. We also liked the fact that the straps weren't made out of the same nylon-style material that most backpack straps are made of, and instead feature a softer, almost spandex-like fabric that doesn't chafe against bare skin when we wore tanktops while wearing it.

We loaded the backpack with a surprising amount of things, including a 15.6-inch laptop and charger, a mouse, a wallet, an ID holder, an iPad mini and charger, a Nokia Lumia and charger, a set of keys, a Solpro Helios powerbank, an iPod Nano, a few paperback books, and a few handheld game systems, and found that it was still easy enough to dig through the backpack without it feeling cluttered. This is largely do to the amount of pouches and pockets that the backpack has.

There are pockets that are dedicated for phones, cameras, headphones, pencils, mice, tablets, and more. If you're prone to losing things in bags because they fall to the bottom and become a jumbled mess, this is the bag for you. If you're prone to losing things because you have too many pockets, this bag might be the exact opposite of what you need.

For the most part, this is essentially a tech-lover's dream as far as a backpack goes. It's got enough padding to handle the stresses of everyday life, it's got enough pockets to prevent all of your cords becoming some sort of tangled nightmare at the bottom of your bag. It looks nice enough to fit in with almost anyone's wardrobe regardless of age, gender, or style, and it's comfortable enough to merit daily use. Sure, it isn't for the person whose carrying eight hardcover textbooks, but at the same time, we'd assume that e-books are cheaper than a trip to the chiropractor as well. If you're interested in snagging this bag, the Ogio Newt 15 will cost you just about $100.

Who should snag the Ogio Newt 15:
If you're a tech-savvy geek that is looking for a posture-friendly, stylish way to carry your equipment from place to place, we cannot recommend this enough.

Who shouldn't snag the OGIO Newt 15:
If you're looking for a gym bag, or a bag that is designed to carry lots of heavy, huge textbooks, pass on this one.

-- Amber Neely (@SurferAmber)

(editor's note, we're going to revisit this bag in about six months to discuss wear and tear)

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