Review: Spire USA Torq Backpack

A backpack that meets all of your needs! (July 27th, 2007)

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Product Manufacturer: Spire USA

Price: $170.00

The Good

  • Well made. Choice of Boot for computer included in price. Extra carrying straps. Protected zippers. Comfortable to wear. Water bottle holders. Compression straps. Padded waist belt.

The Bad

  • None found to date. Be careful you don't over pack it for what your back can handle!

When you look for a computer backpack for that extended trip this summer or for your favorite student, you need look no further than the Spire USA Torq laptop backpack. Admittedly, it is a bit pricey for a student backpack, but the years it lasts will make up for the initial expenditure.

Versatile Pack

There are a couple of features ilene believes are required on a backpack including water bottle holders, waist strap to reduce back strain, and good padding to protect a computer. Marcus prefers lots of customizable space, and room to stow his MIDI gear and computer. The Torq offers all these features, plus includes compression straps, sternum strap, D-rings for smaller items, and a wealth of pockets. The waist strap is padded foam and mesh, which helps relieve sweat and slippage. It folds up nicely, so you can hide it when not in use.

Pockets Expanded

A zippered outside pocket gives you quick and easy access to smaller items, and it is hidden behind the Spire's front black facing. The mesh water bottle pockets include elasticized spring closures, so that even your iPod won't fall out, although there is no padding for delicate devices.

The inside three large compartments fit almost any size Mac portable you can stuff in it. The front most compartment includes two zippered nylon enclosures, plus divided netting, and pen and notebook pockets. The middle compartment includes a vertical built-in padded and removable laptop case that they call a Boot. You choose the size you need for your particular laptop. The cases Ilene and Marcus received included a MacBook plus sized case. The Boot attaches with a two-inch strip of Velcro to the case, is completely padded, and has one external pocket for papers. It also has a handle and two O-rings for the included shoulder strap. Unlike other backpacks, Spire smartly set up the bag so that your computer is not on the outside of the pack, which helps protect it. The built-in case is suspended by strong Velcro, so that your computer doesn't hit the floor when you drop your pack. There is also padding along the bottom of the pack and across the back.

The third large compartment is just a nylon-lined open space that can accommodate a second computer, or a more robust sleeve that is about two-inches wide. A full-size opening on the back could be used for quick access to papers, or to store the shoulder and waist straps out of sight.

Quality Construction

All of the seams, zippers, and straps are reinforced to handle the weight well. The covered zippers protect your gear from the elements and the metal zipper pulls include locking pull-straps. The outside is a robust 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon, while the inside is grey 210 Denier Nylon. You can buy the Torq in gray, dark blue, or red, with black trim. While there is no framesheet, it includes a top carry handle and a carrying strap. Spire offers the Meta for $190.00 that ships with a framesheet.

Real World Use

Marcus has used this pack for the past three months, toting a variety of music gear along with his iBook, and finds the Torq to be the most versatile pack he has ever used. He works as a cruise ship Jazz musician, and reports that the bag still looks brand new even after he's dragged it from cruise ship to land, to plane, and back again. Due to the pocket design, he can fit odd-shaped items inside easily and therefore fits more in the 2400 Cubic Inch-capacity Torq. In addition, he says it is comfortable even when full because things inside it don't stick into you.

Ilene found she can toss in her camera and lenses, along with her PowerBook and cables and still have room to spare. (The only problem is once fully loaded, I can't pick it up! If it only had removable wheels.) Even with her small frame, the pack is comfortable to carry thanks to the fully adjustable waist strap and shoulder straps.

Impressive Product

The Torq's impressive features make it a good choice for most road warriors. When you take a close look at the construction quality, it is obvious there are few products that can compete. Most of the bags Ilene has tried with this number of features weigh about eight pounds empty, while the Torq is only three pounds. It is small enough to carry on a plane, yet hold all the gear you need.

by Marcus Sholar and Ilene Hoffman


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