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I’ve been on the look out for a good day pack for awhile. As a digital nomad, being able to go anywhere in the world as long as I have my trusty laptop, notepad and camera in tow is important as ever. To be able to do that comfortably with enough space, versatility and comfort are all what makes the perfect backpack.
Not only was I looking for a great everyday bag that I could use when I head out to work at my local coffice, I also needed something that could be a great carry-on as a personal item to carry a load of things and keep items easily accessible during a flight (since checked baggage fees suck).
I stumbled upon STM Bags during that search and discovered the Drifter – a new laptop backpack in their line up with a retro design yet space for all the daily tech needs. I was sold and I’ve been testing the Drifter ever since I got it in early December 2014.
First impressions – A laptop backpack with the traveller in mind
I was giddy with excitement when my Drifter arrived at my doorstep. My first mission was to test it out and of course snap this Instagram of my first day out with the bag.
I have to say that it’s rare to be impressed with a bag but wow was I blown away with this STM product.
Was it pretty? Sure. Did I like the graphite color? Yeah. But what really thrilled me the most was the thoroughness in design and a clear focus on a real traveler.
Have you ever bought a bag and thought, “what the hell idiot designed this?” Well STM is the complete opposite of that. Every turn of the bag from the front, back, inside and zippers all seemed to have a traveler inspired purpose. Even things I forgot annoyed me about poorly designed backpacks had a solution to them.
It was as if STM was 10 steps ahead of me. Poor back support? “Nope. We built a 3D foam mesh back panel with air flow channels.”
Sufficed to say, “delight” is a word that came to mind.
What I loved
Without getting into the detailed review of each part about the bag, I thought it’d be good to just do a quick rundown of the pros and cons of the STM Drifter. So what features did I love about the bag?
- Lots of zippered pockets and compartments which means a ton of ways to organize your stuff. Keep things outside for quick access or inside if you need more protection or have larger items.
- Incredible attention to detail all around (i.e. inclusion of a RewardTag, reflective loops for night time safety, luggage pass-through).
- I know may seem like a small deal but holy smokes, a rain cover is INCLUDED with the bag. WHAT THE FLIP! Bag companies never do that. I complained that for a high priced bag like the f-Stop Loka camera backpack, to nickel and dime customers on something small like a rain cover just wasn’t fair. STM Bags then comes around to throw it in for free. Amaze-balls.
- The sexiness of the materials used throughout. The exterior is not only luxurious and soft to touch but it’s also water resistant. The interior is lined with this felt-like padded material to keep all your important goods (i.e. the lifeline laptop) safe.
What could be improved
Not all bags are perfect. The Drifter comes pretty darn close but if I were to nitpick, here are some room for improvement items.
- The shoulder straps could be a little better padded.
- I did find the bag to be a bit front heavy. That is to say that once I filled the pockets with items, it made the bag topple over quite easily. Now that may have to do with the fact that I currently don’t have any super heavy items in the main compartment but I did find that slightly annoying that it wasn’t free standing.
- It would’ve been cool if there were some dividers available to tighten up the laptop pouch for those that have laptops smaller than 15″ (i.e. my 11″ MacBook Air).
The detailed review
Alright so now that you know what I liked and didn’t like about the bag, here are a few more details about what you’ll be getting into if you buy the STM Drifter. Tons of photos below.
Color and fabric
I love the graphite color that the STM Drifter comes in. It’s sleek, modern, urban but at the same time not over the top which is what you want when you’re travelling. You may be a fashionista but the worst is when you’re shouting out to the rest of the world: “Hey everyone I have a super fancy bag with expensive stuff, please steal me.”
Like I mentioned above, high quality fabrics are used for this bag. Water resistant 320D brushed poly is used all around with the exception of the bottom which is an even more hardcore 640D reinforced fabric. All that’s to say is that the fabric is high grade.
The Drifter also comes in a red and olive.
Again attention to detail comes to mind because of a few things. First, not only does the backpack have an open pouch on one side, they also have zippered side pouch on the other side. That’s brilliant because with the open end, you can easily put in a water bottle or umbrella and hold it in with their compressible straps. On the other side, you still want the convenience of quickly accessing things but have the ability to zipper it closed so nothing falls out. That’s versatility right there.
Most backpacks will give you access to maybe one or two exterior zippered pockets. The Drifter has a whopping 3 pockets (4 if you include the side pouch).
The bottom pocket has your customary pen holder slots and a key strap.
The middle pouch can store miscellaneous gear.
The top pocket is lined with that gear protecting felt padding and contains two pouch inserts. That’s a lot of pockets!
The rain cover is built into the bottom of the backpack as a zippered compartment. If you happen to find yourself in torrential rain, all you have to do is pull it out and slip it around the backpack to be protected.
Turning the backpack around and you’ll see a strong handle at the top that feels quite strong and unlikely to break. The back straps are padded with a piece of foam which provides decent comfort. The straps also have an adjustable chest support strap to stabilize the backpack. One thing I’ll point out here is that they didn’t cheap out with the buckle. You won’t find a cheap plastic one. Instead STM Bags opted for a nice shiny metallic one. It’s the little details that shine through.
What really separates this bag from others is the raised foam pieces that form 4 zones to provide incredible support. In addition to that, because the support is raised it naturally forms venting channels so you won’t be a victim of unrelenting sweat in the summer.
In addition to all of that, they have two reflective straps (one in the front and one in the back) so that oncoming cars can see you from a mile away at night.
To top it all off, STM Bags went the extra mile and added a pass-through strap so that you can actually secure your bag to a suitcase’s pull up handle. This is an awesome idea because this way you can sit your bag on a suitcase, keeping the load off your back.
One of the key draws for the Drifter is that it’s designed for the laptop. The pouch is definitely big enough for a 15″ and again, is lined with that felt-like baby blue padding that keeps it nice and safe.
The rest of the bag inside has many more pockets for even more gear. The additional pockets can hold anything from documents to your tablet. This is a much appreciated feature because you can easily keep things organized inside without just throwing it all into one space.
The top flap has a zippered mesh pouch which is perfect for your laptop accessories. This is another example of how STM Bags has gone above and beyond.
The main open part of the bag is large enough to hold anything from shoes and clothing to a camera, random souvenirs and books.
Construction & Quality
Not sure if there’s more to say here. The overall quality and construction is top notch all around. I’ve been using this bag for the past month and haven’t had any problems with rips, fraying or accelerated wear.
Like I mentioned above, the exterior fabric used is water resistant. The felt and padded material used inside ensure that all your goods are kept safe when roaming about.
Zippers used are smooth and don’t catch. The zippers are also nice and large which makes them easy to use.
When I opened up my bag for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to find a little tag slotted into one of the pockets. I didn’t know what it was at first but then I looked into it and was blown away again.
The little tag comes from a partnership between STM Bags and RewardTag. It is basically a little keychain that has a unique ID. If you register the bag with RewardTag and you lose your bag the person that finds it can easily find a way to return it. The person that found it also has an incentive to return it because there’s an award attached to it. This program is entirely FREE.
STM Bags has outdone themselves here. As a traveller, there are many thoughtful features added that enhance this laptop backpack’s versatility and usefulness. It’s safe to say that this bag will keep your laptop, tablet and any other gear you store inside safe from any disasters.
If you’re looking for an excellent outdoor camera backpack, make sure you check out my review of the f-Stop Loka and Navin as well (minus lack of rain cover).
The STM Bags Drifter Backpack was provided to me for review purposes. No compensation was given and all thoughts and opinions are my own.