So I'm sure many of you are wondering what I use to carry around my laptop and other various gadgets, camera, extra lenses, cables, food... well, my life really. I remember for quite a few years I was a messenger bag kind of a guy and had a couple Timbuk2 bags that I used for the longest time but my back started to let me know that it was time to grow up and think about finding a nice backpack. I have had the same internal frame backpack for camping for years and years and have loved its versatility as a bag so when I started looking for my next bag I was looking for something big that could hold everything I would need it to hold and more. I wanted the ability to take only that one bag with me on short trips so I needed something built to be a laptop/gadget bag but still have the versatility to hold things such as a few changes of cloths and whatnot.

Well all of my searching came to an end when I re-discovered Spire bags of Boulder, Colorado. Actually it was the only company that I came across which had what I was looking for. They have a really great line of bags centered around laptops and although there are other companies out there that make bags such as these I have yet to find one that makes them as well as Spire.

The model that I chose is called the Meta and it was the biggest baddest bag that they had. It was exactly what I needed, a rugged backpack that would hold everything I could throw at it. After using it for a few different trips I have been more and more happy with it. At first I planned on using the bag just for trips and I was going to stick with my smaller shoulder bag for everyday use but I shortly found myself enjoying the Meta so much that I was using it for everything all the time. It became my mobile office and studio.


So what's so great about this bag anyways?

Well first off lets talk about it's ability and usefulness as a laptop bag. Their backpacks all utilize a laptop sleeve that opens from the top which provides an ample amount of protection from bumps and rough handling. You have the option of having this sleeve rest in the bag loosely so you can take it out of the backpack and use it on its own or you could choose to use a patch of velcro on the back of the sleeve that will allow you to secure it to the inside of the bag (which has it's own cover should you decide you don't want to use this ability). In the Meta there is an entire middle section of the bag that I use primarily for my laptop, its power cord and an additional battery within a mesh pocket at the top of the section. There is enough additional room here for a book or a magazine or something of the sort but I like to keep that area simple and easy to get at what I need. The fact that the laptop section is there in the middle of the bag adds additional protection to the laptop which is nice. When you place the order for your bag you are given the option of picking the size of your sleeve and they have plenty of sizes for all kinds of laptops and a chart on their site that you can reference to pick just the right size. My 15" Powerbook is a perfect fit for the sleeve that came with the bag.

So onto the rest of the bag. The bag as a whole is separated into 3.5 main sections. The largest of which is closest to your back and is great for clothes and other traveling necessities. I find that I can comfortably fit clothes for about three days in the bag which is just what I needed for short trips When I use it as an everyday bag this section stays relatively empty with the exception of maybe my camera, a few cables and a sweater or something of the sort. There are two compression straps on both sides of the bag that come in handy when I don't have much in the bag because I can just tighten the straps up to make the bag more manageable when it is more empty.

I have already described the middle section of the bag so I'll move onto the front most area. The nice thing about this area is all of the handy pockets inside. There is plenty of room for pens, a few cds, cables, extra batteries, a book, a gameboy plus games, etc... This area is smaller than the other two sections of the bag and is not suited for big things but for the types of things I mentioned a second ago, this area is a really nice thing to have. on the outermost part of the bag there are two somewhat hidden zipper pockets that I don't use to much because of their tall shape. I find them handy to keep a snack in or small nicknacks that I use often like my headlight. On the top of one of these pockets there is a small pocket for a small music player such as an ipod and a small hole to wind a headphone cord through which is handy but I find that i prefer my ipod to be in my pocket or somewhere where I can get at it easily.

How does it fit?

I am at six ft. tall and this bag fits me just right, I could see this being a bit big for someone with a smaller body but I love the fit of the bag. The back of the bag has a fitted piece of plastic with a metal spine to hold its shape along with a cushy bit of padding including a bit extra along the spine which is a nice touch. One of the more interesting features of the Meta is the fact that you can disconnect the shoulder straps and belt strap and tuck them away behind the padding of the bag allowing them to be out of the way for things such as cramming it into an overhead bin on a plane. I should mention here that it would be nice to see some more padding on the belt strap. My other camping pack has a nice sturdy belt strap which is really nice to handle a bag carrying a lot of weight which this bag can do pretty easily. I find that I leave the belt strap tucked into the bag because it adds a bit more lower back support having that little bulge there from having the belt pack tucked in. When I take it out to use I find myself wishing it did more to help support the amount of wait in the bag. The strap seems to sag a bit under the weight which kind of defeats the purpose in my eyes. It is really nice having the strap there though, especially at the end of a long day wearing it when its full, i just have to make sure that its strapped to my waist nice and tight so I can give my shoulders a rest. Overall I really love the way this bag feels which is why I have started to use it everyday.

Anything else?

This bag is built like a rock. There is a large amount or detail and time put into the bag and it has held up very well to whatever I throw at it. I am really rough with things I own and travel with and they take quite a beating so I expect things I buy for traveling to hold up under pressure and I feel like I can trust this bag to hold up under any circumstances. The only thing i would like to see on a future model would be a mesh water bottle holder of some sort on the side of the bag. Something big enough to hold a Nalgene bottle. I would also love the chance to try one of their smaller backpacks sometime.

I would highly recommend anyone in the market for a good backpack to look no further than Spire Bags. The company seems to be a pretty small company and they make all of the bags onsite which I can admire as well as take as a reassurance that they are made to meet high standards. I look forward to many years use out of this bag and I hope that you take a minute to check them out.

Link to their site

On a side note, I remember how nice they were when I ordered the bag. It was a birthday present from my family and I remember them being out of stock of them at the time that we ordered but they were nice enough to make sure that it arrived in time for my birthday which was a nice touch.