I have a new piece of travel gear I’m pretty excited about: the Outdoor Products Power Pack Glide 2.0. It’s a technology-oriented backpack designed to get your portable electronics – and possibly liquids and gels – through a TSA checkpoint without a fuss. It seems the "tech backpack" has become a new category of its own.
I ran across the Power Pack Glide 2.0 after a buckle on my old Patagonia backpack broke. There was no fixing this problem. And I never loved the Patagonia pack (which was not really a tech backpack). I headed to REI, where the Power Pack Glide 2.0 sells for $64.50; apparently, this is the only place you can get one of these cool tech backpacks. I’d never heard of the Outdoor Products brand -- and holy cow, is that name generic! I was mistrustful and suspicious, scrutinizing it in the same way a housecat examines just about anything new that appears in its house.
- After all the sniffing, here are some of the interesting features I found in the Power Pack Glide 2.0 (check the video for a demonstration):
- A cool retractable panel that secures your boarding pass – it’s far better than stashing it in a pocket.
- A semi-hidden zippered pocket that perfect for stashing a passport or checkbook (remember those?).
- Small internal pockets for USB drives and memory card.
- A fleece-lined pocket for my Switch Vision sunglasses (yes, I’m very protective of them).
- A laptop sleeve that slides out and clips to the backpack for TSA inspection; this seems like a nice concept, but it also strikes me as a feature that will confound TSA personnel. I have yet to test it. But I can see it causing consternation and confusion among the blue shirts.
- Mesh water bottle sleeves on both sides. They could stand to be deeper. I like big bottles, and these can’t quite accommodate them.
- A special pocket for tablet-sized items.
It has the usual inner pockets and places to stow pens and whatnot, too. Outdoor Products put more creativity into making a modern technology backpack than they did in choosing a company name. This is some good thinking.
I’ve only had the Power Pack Glide 2.0 a few weeks, and I haven’t boarded a plane with it yet. The build quality seems better than my less-versatile Patagonia pack -- which admittedly wasn’t a full on tech backpack.
The Power Pack Glide 2.0 tech backpack will be an automatic choice for my domestic flights; it probably won’t get much work on my international flights since I don’t take much technology with me. The computer stays home, and I usually just roll with a Kindle. That, and I have my big Kelty backpack with me, and just have a small daypack for short jaunts around cities or quick hikes.
If you need a tech backpack, give the Power Pack Glide 2.0 a look at an REI near you. Its features and price will be enough to make it a good choice for many travelers.
UPDATE APRIL 12, 2014
Since my first blog post, I traveled with theÂ Power Pack Glide 2.0. It caused no fuss with TSA, even with a tablet computer, MP3 player, Kindle PaperWhite and a wealth of chargers and cables.
Also, my wife picked up aÂ Power Pack Glide 2.0 a few weeks ago. She told me three times this morning how awesome it is. So … there you have it.