For the tech-happy traveler, Hex’s $100 Fleet Sonic Backpack could easily become your new best friend. With room for a 17-inch MacBook, an iPad, plus all of your chargers and cables, you’ll find ample space to pack your daily essential items—and then some.
As far as backpacks go, the Fleet Sonic is stylish and versatile. It wouldn’t look out of place in a classroom or office, or as a travel carry-on. Made from thick canvas with a water-resistant coating, the backpack is available in only one color, a blue-and-grey-striped pattern with a soft, brown-leather trim. Measuring in at 19 inches long and 11.5 inches wide, the pack is quite rectangular due to its rigid material.
Even when stuffed to the brim with gear, the Fleet Sonic is comfortable to lug around. Its thick, padded straps rest at a comfy spot on your shoulders, and its rear padding provides extra support for your lower back. The backpacks’ maximum depth is 6.3 inches, but because of its overall size, the Fleet Sonic still holds an impressive amount of stuff. (The backpack’s thin profile also means it can be easily stored.)
When it comes to organization features, the Fleet Sonic is tough to beat. The backpack has four zippered pockets: two main storage compartments, and two smaller pockets on the front. The smaller of the two main compartments has a mesh pocket that’s perfect for an iPhone, two nylon pouches, two slots for pens or styluses, and six credit-card-size slots.
The larger of the two main compartments has a built-in laptop sleeve that can accommodate up to a 17-inch MacBook Pro. The sleeve is thickly padded and will keep a MacBook of any size safe and protected; a Velcro clasp keeps the laptop from slipping out of the sleeve. That compartment also offers plenty of room for your MacBook charger, a sweatshirt, a book, a point-and-shoot camera, and much more.
A welcome feature of the Fleet Sonic is its built-in iPad sleeve. The top pocket on the front of the backpack is padded with a soft fleece, and any iPad model will snugly fit inside.
All of this storage space does come with a price. While the Fleet is fairly thin, it’s otherwise massive: I’m 5’1″ tall, and the tall pack looks awkwardly big on my small frame. (In fact, a TSA agent at San Francisco International Airport stopped me at the security checkpoint to measure the Fleet, just to make sure it qualified as a carry-on item.) However, a taller coworker of mine modeled the Fleet Sonic, and it looked stylish and proportional on him. I’d suggest trying it before purchase to make sure it’s not too large for you.
I’m also a bit skeptical about the placement of the iPad pouch. It’s on the outside of the pack, and although it does offers a bit of padding, I question how well an iPad would fare if the pack was dropped face-down (or, worse, accidentally stepped on). And because the iPad pocket is designed to snuggly hug a bare iPad, there’s no room to accommodate an iPad in a case thicker than an Apple Smart Case.
Apart from these minor setbacks, the Hex Fleet Sonic Backpack is one of my favorite laptop backpacks. It’s made with comfort in mind, and it’s ideal if you need to carry a lot of gear.