The Accelerate backpack was the last of the 3 pieces I tested from the new Briggs & Riley items.
I tested the Express toiletry kit.
And also tested the new BRX international wide-body upright rolling carry-on.
I’ve carried a backpack with my work items for as long as I can remember. Going back at least 10-15 years, I toyed with a briefcase a few times but I’ve always preferred a backpack. I haul around a ton of stuff and having two shoulders to carry it on always suited me better. I’ve been a big fan of the Swiss Gear backpacks for their variety of pockets but was finally intrigued enough by the Accelerate to give it a try. It’s a bit taller and thinner than my Swiss Gear bag.
The bag has most of the standard features of other backpacks on the market as well as some interesting features I haven’t seen before. One of those is a pouch on the bottom of the bag. It’s billed by Briggs & Riley as a place to put a spare pair of shoes (they show it this way in their marketing materials). There’s some reinforcement in the top of it that carves out some dedicated space at the bottom. A pair of my shoes wouldn’t fit in there. Instead, I used it for my earbuds and cables.
There’s a zipped pouch for a water bottle on the side. This is one feature of a backpack that I use constantly and I would have rather seen two (one on each side). The holder is wide enough to accommodate big bottles, hold smaller bottles snugly but could be a bit taller for really tall bottles.
The shoulder straps have plenty of padding to be comfortable. When tightened, the bag rode high on my shoulders, higher than the Swiss Gear I usually carry. That felt better for long walks with a bunch of weight on my back. Folks who always wear a backpack may think it looks or feels odd at first, but I quickly adjusted to the better positioning. The bag also has a band on the back that doubles as extra padding but also allows you to slip this over the handle of any standard rolling bag.
There’s a speed pouch on the top of the bag big enough to fit your keys, wallet, etc. It’s big enough that I got lazy and started storing a bunch of other things here for easy access.
The main (non-laptop) compartment is better than ones I’ve used in the past. There’s a wide-open spot in the middle for files, snacks, etc. On one side are two over-sized elastic pouches. I stored a spare battery for my phone in one and some odds and ends in the other. They could be used for storing cables as well, but there’s a better spot for them.
One of the features about this bag I enjoyed the most were the elastic bands to hold cords. I wish they dumped the smaller ones in favor of a second bigger set of bands, as I carry a lot of cords and don’t like carry a separate cord-case. Because there were two long straps I was able to get 4 cords in this spot. While they have a picture on their website where headphones are in the smaller elastic band, I found it tough to get a cable in there easily. It’s doable, but more appropriate for a pen. There’s a spot for business cards, other loyalty cards and an open pouch. I couldn’t think of anything to fit in the open pouch as it was a bit shallow and didn’t have an elastic top, so bigger items tended to fall out. But, this side of the bag was very functional for me, my go-to for a lot of frequently used items.
The laptop pouch will hold up to a 17″ laptop easily. There’s a fleece lined pouch in front of it that fits an iPad unless you have an exceedingly big case on it. And there’s a pass-through hole which can allow you to plug your laptop into an external battery and charge it while it’s in the bag (or any other accessory for that matter). I’m lucky enough to get a solid 8 hours on my Macbook Air, so I only tested this in theory. The magnetic plug on my Air seemed to stay connected just fine while it was jostling around on my back.
If you’re the type of person that clips your backpack onto your rolling carry-on, you probably want a taller suitcase. This bag was a better fit from my Briggs & Riley Transcend than pulling it behind the BRX I just reviewed. It worked just fine with the BRX when I slid it over the handle.
This backpack has a list price of $229, which is more than double the Swiss Gear backpack I carry. But, the shock absorber straps on my Swiss Gear backpack wear out in less than an year and the bottom gets ripped up from pulling it on my carry-on, so I end up buying a new one at least once a year. If you choose the Accelerate it’s because of the warranty. Briggs has a lifetime warranty on their bags, no matter who breaks it. So, if a strap wore out or I ruined the bottom, Briggs & Riley is repairing it (or in this case, likely giving me a new one). Briggs & Riley is fairly protective of their list pricing and I have yet to see this bag somewhere for materially less than the $229.
The price point makes this more than an entry-level bag, though cheaper than many Tumi bags and with a much better warranty. This isn’t a fit for everyone, but it’s a solid addition to the backpack market.