Review: Solo Everyday Max Backpack

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I’ve used a backpack to carry my laptop for several years now. In my line of work, you can find yourself walking all over a job site while taking calls, running through an airport while scarfing down lunch, or climbing ladders to rooftops. I need my laptop with me pretty much wherever I am or whatever I’m doing, so a backpack is the most practical way to keep the load balanced and my hands free.

Since I started using an iPad in the summer of 2010, I have been looking for ways to keep it with me at all times, as well. As such, most of my recent backpacks have also had plenty of room to store a tablet, as well. But I don’t just need room for a laptop and an iPad. I carry a ton of adapters and cables, an extra hard drive, a wireless router, a bag full of cables and adapters for my mobile devices, essential hand tools, and more. This takes a larger backpack, and resulted in me carrying one far larger than I actually needed to fit all of the gear I might need to carry on a given day.

When I first received the Solo Everyday Max backpack for review, I figured there was no way it would be practical for me long-term. I moved my essentials over to it for the purpose of testing, but I figured that would be a short term run to give the new bag a try for this review. So much for that, as I soon found myself loading it up with the rest of my gear for a longer test. Fast forward to today, and I have relegated my old bag to its intended purpose for travel and switched to the Everyday Max full time.

The Positives

There are a lot of things to like about this bag. The biggest feature for me is how much it can hold for its size and overall weight. It handles my heavy load like a champ. As you can see in this picture, this is all of the gear I’m carrying on a daily basis.

I’ve been told this is a lot, and this is just what I keep loose in the center. There is plenty of adapters and small hand tools in the zippered compartments, as well as my mouse and laptop and Surface Go chargers.

Believe it or not, I still have some room left in this bag, even with all of this on board. A big reason is that the Everyday Max has a large compartment for a laptop and tablet, a lot of zippered compartments to hold smaller items, and large open compartment in the center with a lot of space for all kinds of things.

The laptop/tablet compartment is spacious and can accommodate up to a 17″ laptop. and a tablet.

The tablet slot holds my Surface Go without issue, even in a UAG case. Actually, the tablet slot will also hold my 13″ laptop, so I think my new 12.9″ iPad Pro will fit just fine when it arrives.

There are many small compartments on the inside and outside of the Everyday Max.

Some of the ones on the inside are a bit difficult to get to without digging around and taking things out, but I still appreciate the fact that you can organize a lot of small cables, thumb drives, SD Cards, laptop adapters, etc. My last bag didn’t have as much “structured space,” which made organization more of a challenge.

One of the standout features of this bag for me is the spacious open compartment in the middle.

Whether you are carrying books, papers. clothes, or all kinds of things like me, there is room in here. Another standout feature is how you can access all of this space. You have a zipper on top, like most laptop bags, for quick access to your stuff.

The Everyday Max also has a zipper that goes the length of the front of the bag.

This gives you full access to everything stored in the middle of the bag and its many small compartments.

One unique feature of the Everyday Max is that it has a dedicated shoe compartment in the bottom.

This is a nice touch that makes this bag ideal for people who commute to work or campus on foot. Maybe you want to wear comfortable shoes to get to work, but need something dressier when you get there. This bag gets it done, and because the compartment is separated, you don’t have to worry about everything else in your bag smelling like feet. That’s smart design.

The material that separates this shoe compartment is durable but still flexible. Because of this, the shoe compartment can be left empty and the space used as part of the larger open compartment. This is ideal for someone like me, who doesn’t need to carry shoes but does need a lot of space for all kinds of other things. Again, smart design.

Since I carry a laptop, iPad (or Surface Go currently), and all kinds of gear, I always check out the straps of a laptop bag and how they are attached. One of my first backpacks literally fell apart on me, with one shoulder strap breaking after a year of use. I require a rugged build, and the Everyday Max has it.

The straps are lightweight, but have enough padding to be comfortable and have heavy, durable connection points. There are also four handles on this bag, on the top, the side, and the bottom. All of these handles are positioned to make it easy to pick up and carry this bag wherever you are. Like the straps, all of them have durable construction and stitching.

I think the look of the Everyday Max also deserves a mention.

The black and patterned gray material looks sleek and professional, while the bright yellow on the handles, strap adjustments, and zipper straps is a nice accent touch. It gives the bag a little pop that isn’t too much. I have no problem carrying this bag around in an office environment.

The Not So Positive

I’m a big fan of the Everyday Max, but no product is perfect. There are a few small criticisms I have with the design. First off, I am not a fan of connecting straps between laptop shoulder straps.

I have absolutely no use for these, and don’t want an extra connector to unclip in the middle of my chest every time I take the bag off. My last backpack handled this better I thought, allowing you to completely remove these connectors if you didn’t want them. I don’t like the fact that I’m stuck with these dangling around, unused all the time.

As stated above, I love the room that this bag has, and the small compartments that help me get organized. That said, some of the design is a little bit awkward. When you open the top zipper to get into the center compartment, you can only get to a few of the zippered compartments.

As you can see, one of them is actually upside down when you try and get into it this way. I have actually had some items in this one fall out on me because of this.

You can get to all of the compartments by opening up using the center zipper. However, you have to be careful doing this if you carry a lot of stuff in here like I do.

Because this opens up all the way to the bottom of the bag, it is easy to have items start falling out on you if you do it with the bag standing up. This works a lot better if you lay the bag flat, but that isn’t always convenient.

Again, these are small complaints in comparison to the Everyday Max’s many positive qualities, but they are worth noting. This feels like a bag that it really good right now that could be even better with a few small adjustments in the next version.

Conclusion

The fact that I am now using this bag every day should be evidence enough that I recommend it. I didn’t expect that going in, but the design and construction really are solid, and it does what I need in a much smaller and lighter footprint than what I was carrying before. The Everyday Max didn’t win me over when I got it out of the box. It did it in everyday use, and that is the best test of a bag in my book.

Whether you are a commuter looking for a great all-in-one bag, a traveler looking to slim down your carry-on game, or a tech/project manager like me, Solo’s Everyday Max makes efficient use of space and has a solid set of features. If you are looking for a way to carry a laptop, your iPad, and a lot of other gear without having to resort to something heavy and bulky, this bag will get the job done, and look good while doing it.

The Everyday Max is available from Solo for $86.99 on their site, as well as on Amazon.

The Everyday Max was provided for review on iPad Insight by Solo. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the About page.


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