Test Driving The New Briggs & Riley Accelerate Backpack

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.

New Briggs

New Briggs

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.

New Briggs

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.

New Briggs

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.

New Briggs

New Briggs

 

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.

New Briggs

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.

New Briggs

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.

New Briggs

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.

New Briggs

New Briggs

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.

8 Comments

  1. Nice-looking bag. I considered this, but the price was not right for me. I set myself an upper limit of $200 all in and couldn’t find it any cheaper, as it’s a new model. I ended up going with the Everki Versa Premium which, with a 20% discount, ebates cash back, and 5% CC rebate, plus shipping, came to about $160 all in. I like the elastic straps inside, reminiscent of the Cocoon Grid-It system. If my bag ever fails, this will certainly be high on my list.

    As an aside, I’ve never been a fan of the Swiss Gear bags b/c they appear to be cheaply made and pretty much disposable, as you’ve suggested.

    1. gobluetwo, the Swiss Gear bags is a “get what you pay for” sort of thing. They have most of the pockets I need but wear out quickly. I’m familiar with the Cocoon and really liked that element of this bag. I’m not familiar with the Everki but I’m going to check it out. Still hunting…

  2. Thanks. It actually looks pretty good, I’m going to check this one out as I need a new backpack. Do you know how may liters it holds?

    I’ve been a big fan of The North Face backpacks, they last a long time, have great padding and features, but the prices have gone up significantly the last few years. The new Router now comes with a built in 5500 mAh battery, but it costs a whopping 250 bucks and is also too large at 39 liters (I own the current version and it’s too big.) I was leaning towards the new Surge II Transit, it’s a little smaller and has most of the same features. But I’ll definitely check this out first

    1. Not sure how many liters. It’s comparable to my Swiss Gear in what it holds, just in a very different way. Make sure to note that it doesn’t pull behind a shorter carry-on well because of it’s height. With the battery life in the new MB Air and the speed with which the form factor on batteries shrinks, I think buying a bag with a battery in it is questionable unless you have a serious need for power.

      1. Agreed on the battery. I get 9-10 hours on mine, I’ve never had use for an external battery with the current battery life of the MB Air. For all the other stuff, the 13k mAh external batteries from Amazon sure does their job at 35 bucks.

        The problem with North Face is that they only stock a fraction of their bags even in their own flagship stores. And I kind of want to see/try the bag before I buy it. Of course I can just return the bag if I want to, but it requires so much effort. We’ll see. For now, I’m using the Livestrong bag you gave me for the shorter trips and the Router for the longer ones.

        1. The form on the Accelerate is very different. It’s a “rigid” bag, if you will. It can be manipulated a bit but it’s pretty firm and won’t collapse as easy. I view that as a plus, some may not.

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