Backpacks have come a long way since I was a kid. What once consisted of a single large pocket with (maybe) a pouch on the front for your pens/pencils/calculators – and a funny way of always digging into your back in the most uncomfortable manner – has been upgraded in a major way. Backpacks, messenger bags, sling packs and more have nearly as many features as the technology stored inside of them. This can make searching for a new bag difficult, as I’m all too aware. For the sake of complete disclosure, I’ve been a fan of OGIO for quite some time. My go-to for the last 6 or 7 years has been my OGIO Metro backpack, which will probably be mentioned later. The folks at OGIO were nice enough to send one of their new Ascent backpacks to review, so keep reading to see why you why you should consider OGIO for your backpack needs.
The OGIO Ascent is a slim, sleek bag with a very thin profile. The Nylon construction feels very strong while keeping the bag lightweight, coming in at only 1.8 pounds. The Ascent has all sorts of features, including your standard dedicated padded laptop compartment that will fit most 15” laptops, a side Spandura water bottle pocket, and heavy duty YKK zippers – most with custom zipper pulls. The Ascent has a few other interesting features, including an EVA molded Tech Vault gadget protection pocket, side compression straps, and a set of front TPU coated webbing straps. The Ascent also includes EVA wave foam padding on the back panel with EVA foam ergonomic shoulder straps.
The design of the Ascent is not overly flashy, but it has a style that would definitely be acceptable for an office or business environment. The Ascent is available in several colors, including Blue/Navy, Khaki/Red, White/Blue, or Black/Neon Yellow.
There are really two main criteria that I think a backpack should be judged on: Does it hold your stuff, and is it comfortable? There are obviously other things to consider, but those are probably the most important. For holding stuff, the Ascent works very well, with a few caveats.
The laptop pocket does exactly as it’s supposed to, as does the tablet sleeve and main compartment. For my uses though, I’d honestly like a few more zippered pockets, or other sorts of sealed areas for cables, batteries, and other small items. There are two stretch accessory pockets in the main compartment, and one zippered side pocket on the outside of the bag, but I found that I was simply leaving some items that I would carry in my Metro bag out of the Ascent.
One other minor quibble is with the handle. It’s very low profile, and comfortable enough to use for picking up the Ascent, however its low profile makes it effectively impossible to pick up the backpack from any angle other than behind. It’s not a huge inconvenience or a deal-breaker by any means, but you do need to be cognizant so you don’t mash your fingers into the front of the backpack.
For business, or other uses that may include paperwork, files, or similarly shaped objects though, the spacious main compartment is great. There is a lot of room for storage, and the side compression straps can be adjusted to keep your backpack at an appropriate depth, so it can remain nice and compact when empty, and hold its contents snugly when filled.
Comfort is something I can overwhelmingly say that OGIO bags have covered. The shoulder straps are very supportive and can be adjusted quite a bit. The included sternum strap is adjustable – or even removeable – as well. This is a definite step up from my Metro bag, where the sternum strap went unused. The wave foam backing is conducive to a less sweaty back after hours of wearing the Ascent.
The front webbing straps or even the looped ends of the shoulder strap adjuster straps are great for clipping gear. The webbing straps feel strong, but I probably wouldn’t clip anything too heavy to them. The looped shoulder strap was great for the clip on one of my portable batteries. It kept it close by and easy to get at.
The laptop pocket is located at the back of the backpack, which allows for the wave foam backing to be included in the protection. When you’re wearing the Ascent, your laptop will be closest to your body, putting it that much farther from harm. My Toshiba Chromebook 2 fit without any issue, and the Ascent will hold most laptops up to 15” in the laptop pocket.
The tablet sleeve is located in the front compartment, and is also nicely padded. I have an ASUS Transformer, which has the added benefit of a keyboard protecting the screen, but even without the keyboard attached I feel that this sleeve is acceptable for most normal use.
The EVA molded Tech Vault is a very interesting idea. The hard foam rubber enclosure provides some protection for smaller items such as a point & shoot camera or sunglasses. You still won’t want to throw your Ascent off of a building, or run it over with a truck or anything, but the Tech Vault definitely provides some extra protection to these smaller items. The only problem that I had with the Tech Vault was that it was a bit difficult to open and close. The hard-molded case on my Ascent bag just didn’t quite line up right with the zipper making zipping and unzipping a bit of a challenge. This issue may resolve itself through more extended use as the zippers are broken in, but at least initially you may have some issues.
Overall though, I was quite happy with the protection provided by the OGIO Ascent. Same overall rules apply as they did with the Tech Vault – no huge falls/playing in traffic, etc. but for normal day-to-day use, your devices will be perfectly safe in your Ascent.
Aside from my desire for more pockets, and the minor issues with the Tech Vault zipper, the OGIO Ascent held up to all of the demands placed on it during my testing. I was able to wear it throughout an entire day at the Chicago Auto Show, which involved taking it off and putting it back on more than you might think. It was also quite comfortable to wear, never digging into my back or shoulders even when fully loaded with a Chromebook, tablet, cables, external batteries, some paperwork, and other backpack-related items. If my OGIO Metro backpack is any indication, this OGIO Ascent bag will last for years and remain just as comfortable.
The OGIO Ascent is available now for $99.99, and for a bag of this quality that is a very fair price. It will safely and comfortably stow your laptop, tablet, books, and paperwork quite expertly. If you – like me – think you may want more pockets on your backpack, take a look at all of the other bags that OGIO has to offer. Their build quality is incredible, and they have designs to fit most any need.
The OGIO Ascent is a stylish, comfortable bag that does exactly what it needs to do. There are maybe a few things that I want from a backpack that the Ascent doesn’t provide, but that does not take away from the fact that this is a quality bag at a reasonable price. I’ve been using OGIO bags for years, and the Ascent has reaffirmed my decision to keep using OGIO bags for years to come.
*We were sent a demo unit of the OGIO Ascent backpack for the purposes of this review.
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