Combining a bag with a battery seems like a natural thing. You keep your electronics in the bag, and you charge your electronics with a battery. If you’re traveling and can’t easily plug everything in, you can keep your smartphones, tablets, and other devices charged until you can access a wall outlet. Last year, we tested the Powerbag Business Class Pack, a functional backpack with a built-in battery. Now, mobile battery maker Tylt has released its own with the Energi+ Backpack ($199.99 direct). It’s not quite as understated, and it doesn’t seem to have as much room, but it’s heavily padded and the higher capacity, removable battery pack makes it much more flexible than the Powerbag. At $200 it’s pretty pricey, but if you’ve been thinking about getting both a gadget-friendly bag and a portable charging device, the Energi+ Backpack checks both boxes.
Tylt’s Energi+ Backpack has an unintentionally accurate name, because it is literally a battery plus a backpack. Unlike the Powerbag, which integrates the battery pack into the bag, the Energi+ Backpack has a discrete 10,200mAh battery (over five times the capacity of the Tylt Energi’s 1,800mAh battery) that simply fits in an elastic pouch in one of the bag’s pockets and can be carried anywhere with or without the bag. They’re intended to be used together and the bag is rife with cable passthroughs to make charging convenient, but it’s very handy to be able to pull out the plastic brick and use it sans bag.
The battery is about the size of an 8-track tape (or a little larger than three iPhones stacked on top of each other, if you don’t appreciate esoteric media comparisons), and weighs 10.7 ounces. One end holds a micro USB port for charging the battery itself and three full-sized USB ports for charging devices with the battery. Two of the USB ports are rated at 1 amp each for charging smartphones, and the third is 2.1 amps for tablets. The matte black brick of a battery is accented by glossy black stripes that look similar to the charging band that comes out of the Tyle Energi portable battery pack, but they’re just for aesthetics; you’ll need to use the included, detachable USB-to-microUSB and USB-to-30-pin cables to charge. The Energy+ Backpack curiously doesn’t come with a Lightning connector for newer iPhones or iPads or an AC adapter for charging the battery from a wall outlet. Fortunately, since it is USB-powered, the battery can be charged from any USB AC adapter.
The unassuming-looking backpack is mostly black with blue highlights, and feels beefy enough to protect your electronics from bumps. Its thick nylon shell makes it water resistant (but not waterproof). The straps are nicely padded, with a thick wedge of foam near the top of the straps that helps further cushion your shoulders if you weigh the bag down with your gear. A mesh sleeve for a water bottle is hidden inside one of the pockets, letting you pull it out to turn the pocket into an external water bottle holder.
The bag has a total of ten external pockets, including three large compartments for holding tablets and books. One of the large compartments zips completely open so the bag can unfold into halves for going through airport security. The smaller pockets are suited for smartphones and other small objects, and one of them has a removable, stiff glasses holder with a soft fleece-like lining. Like most large, multi-pocketed bags, it can be easy to mix up the several parallel and nearly parallel zippers, and I found myself repeatedly unzipping smaller pockets while trying to get to a larger compartment.
There’s plenty of room in the back, main pocket that holds the battery and can easily hold most laptops, but the space offered by the other pockets are a bit lacking. The other two large compartments aren’t quite spacious enough to comfortably hold a large tablet or any bulky electronics like a large camera, and the smaller compartments are only big enough to hold objects about the size of a glasses case, smartphone, or handheld gaming system at best. For its notable size, the Tylt Energi+ Backpack doesn’t offer quite as much room as you would think. On the bright side, the bulk means what space it does offer is padded comfortably, and you can rest assured that your electronics will be safe from outside bumps.
The Tylt Energi+ Backpack is large, well-padded, and has a big battery you can take out to use as a charger anywhere. As a bag, though, it doesn’t offer the roominess its bulky size would indicate. At $200, it’s pretty expensive despite its notable functionality. It’s a great bag, but if you’re on a budget, you might want to keep your eyes out for a more affordable backpack and a separate high-capacity battery to keep in it.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc