Just because you carry a backpack doesn’t mean you ought to look like one of the Little Rascals. Tumi’s Generation 4 FXT Ballistic Backpack is an upscale satchel that’s capable of looking just as much at home on 5th Avenue as it would underneath your cubicle desk.
While the all-black design is understated and free of in-your-face accents, its design is accomplished and exceedingly well conceived. Open the zippers to the primary storage area and the case becomes an enormous gaping maw. But the case doesn’t fall over. Clever straps keep it open and upright at about a 30 degree angle, perfect for fishing through it while it’s resting on the floor.
The Tumi is easily the lightest bag we tested, but its corrugated exterior shell makes it quite sturdy. The pockets accessible from the front of the pack create a sort of air cushion thanks to the carefully molded shape of the case. That’s good news because, unlike most of the bags we tested, the Tumi doesn’t include a laptop sleeve. A 15.4-inch notebook fits fairly snugly inside, but it does rattle around if the rest of the pack isn’t filled. Frankly we’d prefer a little more padding for our rig, especially at this staggering $275 price tag.