Review: The Power Packer

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A few months ago, I wrote a Cool Things article about a Kickstarter product from Side by Side called the Power Packer. It is a compact zippered carrier designed to hold all of a user’s most important mobile accessories in such a way that they are kept safe and secure, and also remain easy to access. Considering that I carry a ton of gear around with me every day, I knew this was a perfect accessory for me.

I backed this product soon after writing the article, and I finally received it a couple of weeks ago. After finally taking some time out of my recently very busy schedule to load it up with a backup battery, charging bricks, charge cables, watch bands and other odds and ends, I’ve been carrying it with me every day since then to give it a shot. Let’s take a closer look.

Design

The feel of the Power Packer was a little different than I expected based on the pictures. I knew that the exterior was flexible, but the center sections on both sides are also quite soft.

I wasn’t sure about durability when I first put my hands on it because of this, but it has proven to be plenty. capable of standing up to life on the road, so far. Also, the flexibility of the Elastane Nylon Fiber exterior material is functional, as it can stretch and expand to allow users to store larger items. In my case, the ability to expand allowed me to be able to store a large, heavy duty backup battery from New Trent that otherwise wouldn’t have fit.

While a section of the exterior is made of flexible fabric, the seams and edges are constructed of more durable 3000 Polyester. This material feels solid and looks like it will hold together quite well. The zippers and carry strap are also heavier-duty, making the Power Packer feel like a smart mix of durability and flexibility.

Inside, the Power Packer is divided into two main zippered compartments, one of which is split into two separate sections. The first compartment has a half zipper opening and is made for larger items such as backup batteries, iPad or laptop chargers, or other chunkier items.

As you can see here, I was able to store my New Trent Backup Battery, my iPad charger, an Android tablet charger, and my AirStash media streaming device with a little room to spare, thanks again to the flexibility of the outer Elastane Nylon Fiber material.

The second compartment has a padded pocket that can hold smaller batteries or hard drives, or smaller items. I ended up using this pocket to store a couple of my non-metallic Apple Watch bands, and it is just the right size for them.

This compartment also has a stylus holder in the center that will just fit the Apple Pencil.

On either side, there are a total of six elastic bands that serve as cable keepers. These are perfect for 3 to 10 foot long smartphone or tablet charge cables or earbuds. This is one of the key features of the Power Packer, as it gets all of the tangled mess out of your bag and makes each cable neat, tidy, and easy to quickly access.

The second section of this compartment is revealed by flipping up a divider. Here we have a zippered mesh pocket made to hold small, loose items, and slots for two flash drives, and two SD Cards.

The pocket is tight and flat, but it is perfect for small items that are easy to lose. In my case, I am keeping my Apple Pencil Lightning Cable Adapter and my Lightning To Headphone Jack Adapter in here. We all know how easy those are to lose.

The lower section has three elastic straps, which makes it ideal for holding larger cables, such as HDMI or Ethernet. In my case, I have this section pulling double duty. I have one strap holding a ten foot long MicroUSB cable, and I’m using the other two straps to hold two Apple Watch knockoff Milanese Loop bands. This will work well for any Watch band that has a magnetic clasp.

The Power Packer’s design is definitely its biggest strength. The team at Side by Side really nailed the perfect balance here, in my opinion. There is room for all of the most common kinds of accessories that we road warriors typically carry with us, and the layout is very logical. Everything is kept neat and orderly. No more tangles, No more mess.

Performance

Based on my experience with the Power Packer so far, function follows form. I haven’t had any issues with durability or with any strap or pocket not functioning as it should. It’s performance so far leads me to believe it will have a long life carrying my many cables, odds, and ends.

At 3.54” tall by 10.23” long by 1.57” high, the Power Packer is also quite portable.

As you can see from the picture above, the fully-loaded Power Packer still fits comfortably in the hand when carrying alone. This is another of its major strengths, as it keeps all of your accessories in a small footprint. The Power Packer is easy to hold and carry, and it isn’t difficult to fit into a piece of luggage or a computer bag. I have been carrying mine in a large open pocket in my eBags Backpack and haven’t had any trouble with fit.

If you are constantly traveling or on the move, this versatility is key. I have done the dance of going through all of the cables and accessories in a bag and shuffling things around before a flight or long trip. With the Power Packer, moving this gear from one bag or suitcase to another takes seconds. This was a big selling point for me, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Issues

I didn’t have any major issues with any aspect of the Power Packer, but there will always be some minor things to note about even the best products. In this case, while I love that the zippers are heavy-duty and large, because the pull from the same side, they tend to jingle together and be a little noisy. This is a very small thing, but could be remedied in a future version by offsetting them to pull from opposite sides.

I also found the carry strap to be a bit short to be comfortable in my hand. I wouldn’t typically carry the Power Packer this way, so it won’t be a big bother for me, but it could put other users with larger hands off. It would be good to see either a little more length, or the ability to adjust the strap in future versions.

Another small suggestion for future versions would be a divider in the open storage pocket. This would allow for storing things that you wouldn’t want touching or rubbing up against each other in this spot. Case in point, I kept my Milanese Loops bands outside of this pocket because I didn’t want them getting scratched up together in there. Considering that Watch bands are a very popular accessory for Apple, it would be a good move to account for storing them in the Power Packer.

Conclusion

These incredibly small issues aside, the Power Packer is about as good of a first generation product as you will find. It really nails the balance of form and function, and handles the task of keeping your mobile accessories organized and accessible with ease. For what it delivers, the current price of $29 on Indiegogo (it is still available there for now) is a solid deal. When the Power Packer goes on sale directly through Side By Side’s site, the price will increase to $39, so if you are interested, put your money down soon to get the best deal.


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