Technology has become more infused in our lives than ever before. We carry laptops, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, power banks, activity trackers, and the list goes on. As technology has pushed itself onto us other things have needed to change, like the backpack. The ALPAKA Shift Pack wants to cater to your tech-infused lifestyle while being rugged and fashionable at the same time. There are a ton of tech backpack choices on the market and the ALPAKA Shift Pack hopes it’s your choice. Read on for the full review of the ALPAKA Shift Pack and find out why we gave it a Techaeris Top Pick award.
The ALPAKA Shift Pack has the following features and specifications:
- Magnetic locking system
- Weather resistant design
- Expandable storage
- Durable material
- Quick access pockets
- Modular pouches
- Luggage sleeve
- Rear laptop and tablet compartment
- Flat bottom (no topping over)
- Roll-Top Closure
- Waterproof YKK zippers
- Ventilated padded back
- Chest strap that doubles as headphone holder
- Hidden passport pocket
What’s In The Box
- ALPAKA Shift Pack
- ALPAKA cover
The Shift Pack certainly has an interesting design, and I think that will attract a lot of users. It’s not your normal run-of-the-mill backpack made from some nylon material. This thing looks and feels more like a piece of clothing than a backpack. The materials used are impressively svelte. Most of the Shift Pack is made up of a cloth-like material that just feels and looks really classy. The bottom quarter of the backpack has a more ruggedized canvas and rubbery look and feel to it, which is great for waterproofing.
The front of the pack is where the fun starts. There’s a nice YKK zipper that opens up into a nice front compartment where you can store a variety of things. Of note, inside of this pocket is an array of card sized pockets. These work great for ID’s, credit cards or business cards. Still, at the front, the bottom quarter of the backpack is a rigid ballistic nylon which does a really good job of not collapsing. Many flat bottom bags have a tendency to flop under weight but the ALPAKA Shift Pack seemed to stand up well, the real test will be time, how well it performs in a year. We don’t have that kind of time so I give the Shift Pack a thumbs up here.
That bottom portion of the Shift Pack was the perfect place to put my Sony A6300 mirrorless camera along with an extra lens, batteries, SD card pouch and a few cables. ALPAKA shows this space being used for a small drone like the DJI Mavica, it can be used for just about anything. The padding is pretty good down there so no worries if you occasionally drop the pack with a bit of gusto, though I wouldn’t make it a habit. Mostly because I’m a bit OCD about taking care of my gear.
Turning the ALPAKA Shift Pack around you’ll find a very nice carrying handle which feels like leather but I don’t think it is. Still, it’s a very nice material. The shoulder straps are very impressive in design and robustness. They are connected to the pack with heavy nylon straps with double stitching, built like a tank. The straps are adjustable, just like any other backpack. There is a chest strap as well, no backpack worth a damn should not include this. Both straps are very well padded and super comfortable with a breathable mesh lining the underside. Of course, the straps have adjustability for just about anyone as well.
Keeping on those shoulder straps, they both have zippers where you can store cash, credit cards or whatever you want to get to quickly without removing the pack. The padding on the back of the ALPAKA Shift Pack is nice, it breaths okay but I’ve yet to find a pack to eliminate a sweaty back. Another feature on the back that all backpacks should have is the ability to slide it over a luggage handle. Finally, the back of the Shift Pack has a hidden Passport pocket, a great place to keep your Passport tucked away for safety.
Like any great tech backpack, the ALPAKA Shift Pack has a dedicated laptop and tablet compartment. I appreciated that these compartments are integrated into the back of this pack and protected by weatherproof YKK zippers. I like that there is separation from your laptop/tablet and any other goods stored in the main compartment. The padding in this compartment is well done, giving a sturdy protection field. There’s another zipper compartment within the laptop/tablet compartment great for external hard drives or other tech gear.
Moving on to what’s probably the unique feature of the ALPAKA Shift Pack, the Roll-Top Closure. When you’re not in need of any extra space the top simply rolls down and secures down with two magnetic straps that click in place. Should you need extra space within that main compartment, just unlatch the Roll-Top and use the space as you need it. The main compartment is massive. I have a few backpacks already and I’m excited to bring this one along to CES 2018. The Shift Pack seems to fit all the needs I’ll have at the show, storage for camera gear, storage for laptop/tablet, accessory storage, and a massive compartment for extras I may end up coming home with.
Overall, I love the design of the Shift Pack. I don’t have any negative things to say about how ALPAKA has made this bag. It’s robust, classy/premium, has a ton of storage, is well thought out in terms of tech storage, and is weatherproof and protective.
I didn’t challenge the weatherproofing claim, but all of the weatherproofed YKK zippers along with that svelte cloth material point to this being able to take a bit of water. The padding on this thing is excellent and I think it will protect your tech really well. The rigid flat bottom also helps to keep your tech stored at the bottom free from harm. Overall, this is a very protective pack for your tech gear. Unless you’re a complete monster who doesn’t give a damn about the gear inside your pack, the ALPAKA Shift Pack is excellent in protection.
The ALPAKA Shift Pack starts at $159USD on Kickstarter right now and goes up with different tiers and packages. The MSRP will likely go up once the Kickstarter is over so the best deal is going to be now. Price is a subjective thing. I think there’s tons of value in this backpack but others may see it differently. In the end, you’ll have to weigh what this pack has to offer and convince yourself if it’s a good deal.
A resounding yes, this is a pack you should most certainly consider buying if you need a tech/gadget pack with tons of storage and loads of features. The infographic below gives a far better view of its capabilites than I could provide through my photos.
*We were sent a sample of the ALPAKA Shift Pack for the purposes of this review.
Last Updated on July 7, 2017.