review

Samsonite Midtown Laptop Backpack 15.6" Review

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Switching to a simpler, smaller backpack without a ton of pockets makes a lot of sense, particularly when you only need to carry some basic essentials! This is especially true when navigating city streets or hanging out with friends. If you're looking for a slim profile backpack that is lowkey but has a trendy vibe, the Samsonite Midtown will be right up your alley.
The Samsonite Midtown is functional, stylish and has enough space for everyday carry as well as a few extra bits and bobs. The outer shell of the Samsonite Midtown is made of recycled plastic bottles (70% rPET) and 30% PU coated polyester. The PU coating performs similarly to Durable Water Repellent (DWR), although PU is not 100% waterproof. That said, PU waterproofing has the advantage of not degrading with washing or wear like DWR does and, it's also scratch resistant. 
The PU coating on the Samsonite Midtown backpack can be found on several places, including the grab handle, top front of the bag, front of the shoulder straps and on the base of the backpack. The PU film coating not only reinforces the material, it also prevents dirt from adhering as easily.
The rPET material found on the rest of the Samsonite Midtown backpack has a distinguishable mesh-like knit pattern, which is soft and textured. On the front of the bag, there is a medium size zip compartment with dual metal sliders and squarish plastic teeth. The front-facing compartment measures 20cm high and 22cm wide and has a square shape, as well as bluish-gray 100% polyester lining. 
The compartment contains five open pockets for organizing slim, non-bulky items like a USB flash drive. Two of those pockets are larger, measuring 11cm high and 8.5cm wide, while the other three pockets are smaller, measuring 8.5cm wide and 4.5cm high. Inside the front-facing compartment, there is also a split metal ring keychain and two pen holders. 
On the front of the bag, there is a large, thin webbing loop, as well as a metal 3 bar slide webbing buckle with the word Samsonite engraved on it. The buckle is permanently attached to a short piece of webbing so, it seems to be more for styling, although it can be made functional by clipping things onto it. On the bottom side of this pocket, there is also a large and thin webbing loop.
The Samsonite Midtown main compartment can store up to 23 litres and has a horseshoe opening via metal dual locking sliders so, you can pass-through a cable padlock and lock the compartment. The zips can be unzipped all the way down but, the panel only opens half way, unlike a proper panel loader pack such as the Securipak backpack.
The Midtown main compartment has fabric hinges that allows the panel to open at 45 degree, making it convenient when pulling things out in tight places like a bus/train seat. The main compartment is lined with the same textured polyester material and features two padded sleeve pockets and a large stash zip pocket, measuring 23cm high and 25cm wide. The stash pocket can fit fairly bulky items such as a laptop charger or small tripod. 
The padded sleeve pockets are designed for a tablet (up to 10.5 inches) and laptop (up to 15/6 inches). The pocket sleeves measure 24cm high and 25cm wide (tablet sleeve) and 29cm high and 27cm wide (laptop compartment) respectively. The pocket sleeves have padding on the sides and are suspended one inch above the bottom of the backpack to minimize bottom impact damage. The rain cover, which stores at the bottom of the backpack, also creates a protective buffer. An elastic velcro strap sewn above the tablet/laptop sleeves prevents the tablet and laptop from coming out.
On top of the Midtown backpack, there is a large grab handle, which is thinly padded with closed-cell foam. The grab handle measures 6.5cm long, 3.3cm wide and 0.5cm thick. The grab handle is securely stitched to the bag and features a heat printed Samsonite etching on top of it, as well as two small metal buttons on either side for styling.
On the rear side of the of the Samsonite Midtown backpack, there is a small webbing loop for hooking the backpack above the ground. The shoulder straps are padded with thin closed cell foam and feature PU/polyester fabric (front) and mesh fabric (back). The shoulder straps padding is comfortable and has a long threaded stitch running from top to bottom, which creates an air flow channel for ventilation. The shoulder straps are attached to webbing via hard plastic ladderlocks to adjust the length of the webbing. There are also elastic bands to manage the excess webbing. 
The Midtown backpack shoulder straps have good spacing between them, making them suitable for both narrow and broad shoulders. There is no sternum strap but the S-shaped/beveled design helps to keep the straps securely on the shoulders. Being beveled, the shoulder straps are wider at the top (6.5cm) and narrower towards the bottom (5cm). The Midtown backpack shoulder straps measure 40cm long. A small fabric loop with Samsonite's logo on it has been sewn midway onto the left shoulder strap and can be used for hooking a pair of shades/sunglasses.
The backside of the Samsonite Midtown backpack is entirely padded with one single square of foam, measuring 42cm high and 28.5cm wide. The foam is covered with breathable mesh fabric material and has an air channel groove running around it, although the backside is not as breathable as the split padding found on some backpacks such as the American Tourister At Work pack. On the backside, there is also a 19cm long trolley pass-through sleeve and the rain cover zip pocket, which contains a highly luminescent rain cover with the Samsonite logo heat printed on it. The rain cover parachutes out of the pocket easily and can be deployed around the bag within seconds, which is convenient when caught in a downpour.
Curiously enough, the rain cover has a concealed waterproof zip, while the other zips on the backpack are not waterproof. That said, it makes sense that the rain cover pocket has a waterproof zip since it would otherwise jeopardize the waterproof integrity of the base of the backpack.
Because 30% of the Samsonite Midtown backpack is made of virgin 100% polyester, the Midtown backpack is not entirely eco-friendly, although it's more nature conscious and sustainable since rPET generates 80% less carbon emissions than virgin PET/polyester. Proper side pockets (especially elastic ones) provide a convenient quick access to a water bottle for drinking on the go. Because most women's backpacks don't tend to have side pockets, the Midtown backpack is likely to appeal more to ladies. 
Without side pockets, you have to be a little more organized and strategic with the Midtown backpack. You can potentially store a drink bottle inside the main compartment, although if you're carrying a laptop/tablet it's probably not a good idea in case of an accidental water spillage. If you want to carry a water bottle inside the Midtown backpack, the more viable option is keeping it on the external front pocket compartment. 
All the zip sliders are made of metal alloy and feature pull tabs made of long fabric cord covered with a rubbery material that looks like heat-shrink tubing insulator. The zip sliders are Samsonite branded and while they aren't YKK zippers, they seem high quality and glide smoothly along the teeth. The Samsonite Midtown backpack weighs 700 grams and has the following external dimensions: 45cm long and 30cm wide and, it can expand up to 21cm high. Given the relative compact dimensions, the Midtown backpack could serve as a travel bag for day trips or commuting to work. The Midtown backpack comes with a limited 2 year global warranty and you can buy it directly from Samsonite and amazon as it becomes available. Check out the review of the Cityvibe 2.0 backpack.

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