Review: PowerBag Business Class Pack is a bookbag with a battery
PowerBag’s $180 Business Class Pack is a backpack with a built-in battery so that road warriors can recharge their electronics without finding an outlet.
We’ll get to the bag’s storage compartments in a moment, but first let’s discuss that built-in, rechargeable, 6000mAh battery. The removable battery locks into place in one section of the backpack. You can remove the battery and charge it outside the bag, or you can keep the battery inside and charge it through a plug port on the bag’s exterior. The included 12-Volt power adapter sports an impressive design: Its shape makes the plug its own cable-storage unit, and the plugs fold in for compact packing; the adapter is water resistant, too.
Unzip the frontmost pocket on the Business Class Pack, and you’ll discover three permanently- attached cables: a 30-pin dock-connector cable, a Micro-USB cable, and a Mini-USB cable. The battery’s two USB outputs offer up to 5 volts, 800 milliamps combined. The dock-connector output offers 5 volts, 1 amp, giving it enough juice to charge an iPhone or iPod, but not an iPad. If you want to charge an iPad or fast-charge an iPhone 5, you’ll need to instead turn to the standard USB-power port built into the battery itself. (For such charging, you’ll need to provide your own USB-to-30-pin-connector or USB-to-Lightning-connector cable.) PowerBag says the USB port offers up to 5 volts and 1 to 2.1 amps. The company says the battery can charge a smartphone four times over; I charged my iPad and my iPhone overnight with a full charge of the bag's battery.
The all-black Business Class Pack measures 18 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and 8 inches deep. I found it to be plenty spacious during my own recent international travel. The battery and assorted circuitry unsurprisingly add a bit of heft—the otherwise empty bag weighs 3.11 pounds.
The rear section of the bag hosts a cozily protective laptop compartment, measuring 15 by 11.5 by 1.5 inches, for 15-inch and smaller notebooks. The roomy middle section offers an assortment of pockets and pouches. Then there’s a small, zippered pouch that offers room for your iPhone, sunglasses, or other similarly sized stuff. The penultimate section where the battery resides also includes a tablet pouch, measuring 10 by 9.8 by 0.5 inches, that holds an iPad just fine. Finally, the frontmost pouch hosts the aforementioned cables.
On the front face of the bag, near the bottom, sits the PowerBag logo, which doubles as a button. Press it, and some or all of the four LEDs below it light up to indicate the battery’s current charge level. Press and hold the button to turn the bag on for charging attached devices.
When I travel, particularly during the travel days themselves, there are a couple certainties: Some of my electronic devices, such as my iPhone and iPad, get heavier use than usual, and there’s never a guarantee that I’ll find an available outlet. (I can’t be the only one who regularly feels stymied by the constant crowd surrounding those “charging stations” in many airports.) In my testing, I appreciate the Business Class Pack’s clever solution to that problem. It packs a serious amount of power, and it performs acceptably in its other core function as, you know, a backpack.
The knocks against the pack are few, and at least one isn’t really the fault of PowerBag at all: That’s that the company needs a version with Apple’s new Lightning connector to charge recent Apple devices. On the easier-to-fix side, the bag’s aesthetic could charitably be described as “frumpy.” Also, the shoulder straps aren’t awful, but they could benefit from thicker or more-substantial padding for better comfort.
A few minor complaints aside, the Business Class Pack is a fine backpack with an excellent bonus feature: Recharging my most-used accessories with my backpack proves surprisingly useful when I’m away from an outlet, and the bag itself is spacious enough to hold the things I take with me.