Hands on review: Solo Everyday Max Backpack

When it comes to travel, I want to carry what I need and that’s it. I want it to fit in as little luggage as possible so I can take any bus, train, or airline I want to without worrying about anything (bag restrictions, tight spaces, being that tourist with the frame pack on a crowded street, etc). I was really excited to take this pack with me on some travel across Asia and the great American south. That being said, I got the bag in time to take it down to Atlanta and New Orleans for two weeks after 21 days in Asia with my trusted Patagonia Fuego 32L and a small REI duffel bag. Having done one trip with a backpack and a duffel bag and the other with solely the Solo Everyday Max Backpack proves that this bag truly can replace your backpack and your duffel bag. I’ve decided to talk about the bag in four sections: Look, Design, Comfort, and Quality.

Look

The look of this bag is definitely sleek and cool. So many backpacks add lots of unnecessary patches of color or design aspects. I want a simple pack that doesn’t draw too much attention to it or myself when I travel. Although you shouldn’t ever leave your bag unattended, a bright bag sitting on a bench screams “steal me!” and also draws attention to you while walking around a new city.

The bag is a subtle dark blue and slate grey with black zippers/pads and bright yellow detailing on zips and handles. I don’t actually mind the bright yellow so much since the rest of the pack is so humble color wise. Though I do wish there was an all black or charcoal grey version available.

I will say the pack also holds its shape well and never looks overly “bulky” like many backpacks do when fully packed.

Design 

This is the most important factor for me when it comes to choosing a certain pack for a trip. The design of this pack, for the most part, is where it shines. The main compartment is huge for a backpack and has access points from the front as well as the top.

This is great when you don’t want to fumble through your bag for tomorrow’s outfit that happens to be at the bottom of the main compartment, leaving you no choice but to unload everything and re-pack again. I see people doing this on the floor of airports and train stations all the time and it makes me cringe. The multiple access points the main compartment is probably my favorite part about this pack.

As well as the plastic lined toiletry sections build into the walls of that same compartment. In addition there is also a separate shoe or what I like to deem the “dirty laundry” section at the bottom of the main compartment. It’s accessible from the bottom of the bag and ensures your dirty stuff will never touch your clean stuff. Herschel bags implement this feature in their duffels so it’s nice to see this in a backpack.

Now the laptop compartment is totally separate from the main compartment and has it’s own access point. There isn’t anything special about this compartment, it’s just a slim section with a small sleeve pocket for a tablet or eReader as well as your laptop. What I do wish was available here is a hanging pocket accessible from the top of the pack. I would love to stow my MacBook and phone charger and their respective cables at the top of the laptop sleeve so I can easily grab them. Instead, I kind of had to stow them elsewhere or let them float around in the laptop compartment which adds a little bulk if the charger slips behind the laptop and doesn’t sit nice on top. Hence, why I want a hanging pocket up top to keep it in place and accessible.

There is a small pocket on the front of the pack you can use for accessories but it’s a little snug for all those bulky chargers. I ended up using this for my iPod and headphones. At the end of the day, there are plenty of ways to make these pockets work for you.

The last design aspect I’ll discuss is simple. There is no accessible water bottle holster. This is almost a deal breaker for me when traveling or day-tripping. The side pockets can fit a standard bottle but it will be pretty tight and to be honest, the zippers felt like they’d break if I regularly kept a metal water bottle in there. Plus, even if your bottle does fit, which mine just did which is similar to the one advertised in the images, you can’t unzip the pocket and take a sip without taking the entire pack off your back which defeats the purpose of a water bottle holster in my opinion. The designs pros of this pack definitely outweigh this con but this is still a big fault in the pack for me.

All in all, the bag holds it shape well, doesn’t feel overly bulky, and will still fit under the seat in front of you or overhead bin on an airplane even when fully packed. While only having to ditch my water bottle, I was able to fit the same amount of clothing and toiletries in this one pack that I fit in one backpack and one small duffel bag due to the smart design of the main compartment.

Comfort

I wore this pack for periods of 30 minutes to 1 hour on average while going through airports, train stations, and city streets. The straps and back are padded and for someone who usually feels some level of back pain, I felt pretty good. I think the addition of handles on the sides is super helpful as I found myself carrying it like a duffel bag when going through security or other areas where I did not want the pack on my back. A place to hide and stow the backpack straps while carrying it in duffel bag mode would be a nice addition.

Quality

I used the bag for over 3 weeks non-stop and it still feels brand new to me. Zippers are usually the first thing I see go on packs and these zippers feel sturdy and reliable. The exterior and interior are lined with easy to clean materials which should prolong the life of the pack for years to come. The toiletry sections are plastic and sealed which makes them easy to clean if anything busts open or spills. No complaints when it comes to quality.

Besides the few caveats I mentioned earlier this bag is one I would hang onto. I think this backpack is a great fit for urban exploring and trips where your laptop is going to be a part of your daily routine. The Solo Everyday Max Backpack is definitely a solid pack for day tripping, week-long stints, or even longer term travel if you’ll have access to laundry facilities.

Plus, here’s some additional reading on the best hiking backpacks.

About the author

— Chris Blatchly

Born and raised in New York, Chris lives for travel, food, and music. He works for a tech start-up and can be found eating his way through New York and beyond.

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