capsule review

iBackflip's Somersault is great as a gadget bag, but not as an iPad case

At a Glance
  • iBackflip Studios iBackflip Somersault

As its name suggests, iBackFlip Studio’s $90 iBackFlip Somersault swivels around your body—performing a lopsided somersault—to allow you to use your iPad without removing it from the pack. With its unique design, the Somersault offers quick access to your iPad, and it can hold a good amount of other gear, but using its marquee iPad feature is a poor experience.

The Somersault’s sling design sports a single, adjustable strap that runs over your shoulder and diagonally across your body. As a gadget bag, the Somersault is great, offering separate compartments for an iPad and an 11- or 13-inch MacBook Air. The pack is easy to carry, even with both a MacBook Air and an iPad inside—the bag rests flat against your back, with the part of the bag against your back cushioned with a breathable mesh material. A small, zippered chest pouch, which can hold an iPhone (bare or in a thin case), is built into the strap. That pouch is also perfect for a subway or bus card that you need to access on the fly. The pack is made from black ballistic nylon with either red, blue, or grey as the accent color.

The Somersault’s iPad compartment, which sits on top of the MacBook Air pocket, is designed specifically for an iPad. To insert your tablet, you unzip the compartment and then slide the iPad into the cloth frame within. The frame leaves all ports and buttons accessible, and if you have a second- or third-generation iPad, a small hole leaves the back camera open for use—sort of. (More on the camera opening in a moment.) This compartment features magnets that trigger the iPad’s magnetic sleep/wake feature.

The Somersault also has two external zippered pockets on the front of the bag: one larger pocket that opens to expose the iPad’s rear camera, and another smaller pocket that zips diagonally across the front. These pockets offer enough space for your a couple chargers, plus your wallet, keys, and a few more personal items. The strap also includes two utility clips, and the inside of the iPad compartment includes two pen/stylus holders.

When adjusted properly, the whole pack flips around to the front of your body to allow access to your iPad. You just grab the pack and slide it around without taking it off. Once the bag is in front, you unzip the iPad compartment, which flips open to position your iPad, facing you, in landscape orientation. Two built-in straps, one on each side, keep the flap open at a 90-degree angle—meaning they keep the iPad from dropping down or tilting back to an unusable angle. This isn’t comfortable for longtime iPad use, but for quickly checking something or taking a note, it’s fine.

To access the iPad’s rear camera, you unzip the larger external pouch (the non-diagonal one), and then you tuck the corner of this zippered flap inward to use the camera hands-free. It’s not the most intuitive feature, and it’s a little awkward because you need to hold the flap down (or tuck it down) to use the camera unobstructed, but it works in a pinch.

Actually, accessing your iPad feels a little awkward all around—almost like you’re wearing a food-vendor box, similar to what you’d see at a baseball game. The iPad hangs out in front of you, but to type, swipe, and navigate the iPad’s surface, you must angle the iPad towards your body to see the screen, which negates the Somersault’s hands-free design. Even just watching video while on the go requires you to look down uncomfortably. I can’t imagine wanting to use the iPad this way for extended periods.

Overall, your iPad is well protected, and held securely in place, in the iBackflip Somersault. And with room for a MacBook Air as well, it’s a great gadget bag. In fact, it’s a very durable and comfortable bag that I’d recommend for carrying your gear. But as a use-in iPad case, I wouldn’t recommend it for anything more than an occasional screen check.

To comment on this article and other Macworld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • iBackflip Studios iBackflip Somersault

Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.