Renegade RSS 17
Capable of carrying a lot of gear; red interior fabric identifies gadget-safe compartments
Laptop compartment doesn’t fully unzip; water bottle compartments not ideal for water bottles
In my experience, the best way to test large capacity, rugged backpacks is with a stress test – preferably one that involves hauling a mass of stuff over several thousand miles. So when it came time to attend Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I packed up 10 days’ worth of electronics, notebooks, chargers and personal items into the OGIO Renegade RSS 17.
OGIO, a company that specialises in making tough and durable bags for work and sport, did not hold back on the Renegade. Constructed from 600D Pindot Polyester and measuring 19.5in high x 14in wide by 10in deep, the Renegade has a carrying capacity of just under 30,000 cubic centimetres and weighs a hefty 1.6kg empty. It also features OGIO’s proprietary Reactive Suspension System technology (hence the ‘RSS’ in the name), as well as a Hybrid Unibody Backpanel and a crush-proof Tech Vault (more on those later).
The Renegade is organised into four compartments: a laptop compartment, a sizable main compartment, a tablet compartment and a small front compartment that contains several smaller pouches and pockets. The laptop compartment, which is the furthest back, is padded with quilted red material to protect your computer – OGIO has purposefully designed the bag’s interior; anywhere you see red material is considered to be a safe, soft area for gadgets.
Unfortunately, the zipper on the laptop compartment only runs about a quarter of the length of the bag – not a problem if you’re just slipping a laptop in and out, but it was awkward to attempt to cram any additional items (such as papers) into the compartment, and it meant I had to pull my laptop out of my bag while going through security (instead of simply being able to unzip the compartment and lie the bag flat, like I could do with the ECBC Javelin).
Granted, the bottom of the laptop compartment is extremely solid, thanks to the RSS technology. The Reactive Suspension System technology refers to the design of the laptop compartment – thanks to a firm, padded structure in the bottom of the bag, your laptop will never come into contact with the ground, but remains suspended a few inches above the bottom of the bag. It’s a nice touch, and I definitely felt comfortable carrying my laptop in the compartment without an additional sleeve (not that it would have fit anyhow).
The next compartment is the main compartment, which is cavernous – I managed to fit a change of clothes, my wallet, a small toiletry case, several notebooks and all manner of external batteries and power cables into it. It would very likely be able to haul an Xbox 360 console (although I did not test that theory). However, the Tech Vault pocket (located on top of the main compartment) does take up some of the space with its reinforced walls. The Tech Vault also has a soft liner than can be adjusted with Velcro to better protect smartphones, cameras or sunglasses.
The tablet compartment features a single sleeve (with red ‘safe’ felt material); above it is located an additional pocket with two mesh pouches, while the front most zippered compartment features three pockets – two with expandable mesh, one with a zipper and several slots for pens. In addition to these four compartments, the Renegade also features six smaller pockets (total) over the external area of the bag and a mesh zippered pocket on one of the straps.
The mesh zippered pocket on the shoulder strap would appear to be ideal for a mobile phone, but as I could only juuust squeeze my iPhone 4S in there, it’s probably not great for larger sized mobiles. There are four pockets distributed on the sides of the bag – both the left and right sides contain one mesh zippered pocket, and a fabric pocket.
While the fabric pockets are great for holding things like MP3 players or business cards, the mesh pockets, which seem ideal for water bottles, didn’t work so well in practice. The left side pocket has a horizontal strap inside which does a decent job of anchoring in a water bottle; the right side holds a strap more ideal for hanging keys.
I did like the Hybrid Unibody Backpanel – the soft back panel on the bag that made the Renegade feel comfortable to wear (no matter how much I crammed into it). I also liked the padded, cut-out designs on the shoulders, but felt the padding would have done me more good if it had been on the inside of the straps. The Renegade also features a sternum strap, which hit me more rib-height than sternum level.
While the Renegade was more than capable of transporting all my gadgets, electronics and work items, I did not have much luck attempting to fit it under an airline seat when it was full. I was impressed by how comfortable it was to wear and carry, even when fully packed, but the short zippers on the laptop compartment were a thorn in my side. However, if you need to carry a lot of gear (and won’t be taking an aeroplane), the Renegade is up to the challenge.
NOTE: Distributed in Australia by Lusty Industries.
By Amber Bouman, Macworld