First Impression: Samsonite Xenon 2

Yesterday, I have received the Samsonite Xenon 2 from Amazon at a sale price of $43. While this may seem expensive from a backpack you may find in Target, or Walmart, and a bit more than the cheapest back pack I ever owned ($5.00 at retail), the back pack has a number of features.

First, the reason I purchased the back pack is both the old backpack which had a shoulder strap fraying needed to be replaced. This is where I purchased the $5 backpack, but this back pack had no means of organization making it impossible to keep things together, and easily found. Since my backpack carries everything I do not need immediately on hand, organization is important.

Specs

The backpack is black, and weighs about 5 pounds. This is heavy for most backpacks, but there is rationale behind this. First, the bottom is stiff which allows the backpack to sit up even when empty. There are two handles, but one is not really effective for carrying, especially if it is loaded. As with any backpack, there are two shoulder straps. The backpack in addition has two bottle pockets which can handle a 1 liter drink bottle (US shape). There are two exterior pockets which one is used for the spare headphones, while the other one is used for if I was to have my phone in the backpack. That second pocket also hosts my card case, a battery charger, and my WiMax FreedomPOP router.

There are three interior compartments that are obviously larger than the exterior pockets. The smallest one has various organization pockets and a pen slot. there is also a secondary pocket to load papers, or cables. The one pocket is the width of the compartment while there are four pockets in various sizes. One of these pockets is a mesh pocket with a zipper. There is only one pen pocket which is open, and pretty basic. It however gets the job done.

The center compartment has two mesh pockets with a separate pocket. This separate pocket has two dividers that in my opinion feels flimsy. Even with this in mind, this center compartment. One will assume that paper notebooks, or media tablets will store here. Other options can include books, or maybe a small PC.

The rear compartment has another large mesh pocket that runs the width of the backpack. There is also a semi form fitting pocket intended for a notebook PC. This pocket is dedicated for a notebook PC, and can support up to 16” notebook PC. This is also TSA approved, but since I never travel – this is of little value to me.

The back side at the shoulder has extra padding that is breathable which is intended to provide comfort. This padding is also at the bottom of the backpack which actually is a benefit especially if the backpack is weighed down. Last there is a strap that will allow the backpack to be transported with a roller bag to lessen the strain of carrying a backpack while rolling another bag.

The Good

The backpack has a lot of pockets, and opportunities for organization. It is also designed with comfort in mind.It is black with red accents, and it is nice looking, although I would have preferred grey accents. As noted, it can stand on its own which is something I missed as my last two backpacks didn’t have this feature.

There is also a 3 year warranty which should be helpful to prevent against defects. Since I take care of my backpacks, I am sure it will last much longer than 3 years. I am assuming that the Samsonite brand is known for quality – at least from what I researched before putting down almost $50 for this pack.

The Bad

There is no dedicated clip for keys. This will mean I will have to be more attentive to where I will put my keys. I find this as an annoyance especially since I am one of those that makes use of the key clips. And while I don’t drive, I do need keys for my apartment.

There is also no dedicate pocket for an MP3 player, nor is there a pass through for headphones. While I do use Bluetooth for headphones, I do expect that I may have to rely on a wired set just in case. And since the Xenon 2 brand seems to be catered to businesses, you would think there will be these two missing features.

The Ugly

I have no gripes about it, however as a business backpack, I would have thought there would have been more than 1 pen slot. While I will personally like to move away from relying on dead trees, I am sure there are many who still uses them as much as they did 10 years ago. I would have also thought there would have been a dedicated business card slot for receiving and distributing cards – again for those that still rely on heavy investment in dead trees.

It would have been nice to have a dedicate pocket for a smart phone. While the size of smart phones range from rather small to large ones such as the upcoming Note 3, one to support a 5” 16:9 form factor should have been sufficient. Anything larger – they could have used a pocket or compartment. You would also think there will be travel information case where one could enter their personal information – especially since Samsonite boasts of how the notebook compartment is TSA friendly.

And while I knew ahead of time before buying, I would have really liked it to have support for rollers. However, it will seem as if reasonable priced backpacks with rollers are declining. I could buy a roller dolly for a backpack, but that is not really that necessary.

Verdict

I really like it, and think of this as the best back pack I ever had. I am very happy with this, but considering my previous options, I guess I could be easily pleased. I have no complaints, and will assume that that full review in a month – 6 weeks from now will be much the same.

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