CE Week 2014

STM Bags Drifter Medium Backpack Review

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STM Bags Drifter Medium Backpack Review

STM Bags has been around since 1998.  I had no idea up until a few weeks ago.  I’m ashamed.  I’m a bit of a bag-hoarder and I have owned a number of backpacks and messenger bags (much to the chagrin of my wife) ranging from Timbuk2 to Wenger.  However, I have never tried STM Bags.  Admittedly, I had never heard of this company up until a few weeks ago at CE Week.  On any given day, during my daily commute, I see a wide range of bags – mostly Timbuk2, a good number of Wengers and a few high end messengers like Ferragamo and Gucci – not many STM Bags.  After using the STM Bags Medium Drifter backpack for about two weeks, I can’t go back to any other brand.  I have to wonder how many people on that train would feel the same once they strap it on.

I did extensive research and tried out every bag before purchasing but they all had something missing.  My last Timbuk2 backpack was so close to being perfect but it was missing the right number of practical compartments.  The last Wenger backpack had the perfect number of usable compartments but it was just too bulky.  The last bag I used had the looks and compartments but it fell just short of providing adequate protection for my precious gadgets and keys.  I can go on and on.  I may sound needy and overly demanding but if you’re like me, you depend on gadgets not just for play but work as well. Commuting dozens of miles via public transportation can expose said expensive gadgets to situations where they can be damaged.  I certainly wouldn’t want my hotspot to fall out just because my bag was knocked over by a careless commuter, would you?

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The first thing I noticed about the Drifter was its weight.  It’s fairly lightweight for something that features a metal buckle clip, oversized zippers and what seems like an extensive amount of padding.  The portion of the bag that makes contact with the back has padding that channels air to provide some cooling to keep the sweat at bay.  In addition, there is a luggage pass through for when you wish to loop the bag onto your favorite wheeled luggage.  The bottom of the backpack is made of tougher, reinforced material than the rest of the bag and all the zippers are made of strong, yet lightweight aluminum.

On one side of the Drifter, you can find a pouch where you can store your favorite bottled beverage or umbrella.  In my experience, I was able to fit both a water bottle and umbrella together and secure them with a compression strap that is built into the pouch.  On the other side of the bag is a standard zipper pouch which also features a compression strap.  Lastly, one of my favorite features of the Drifter backpack is what I affectionately refer to as its “rain coat.”  A zippered pocket located at the very bottom of the backpack houses a rain cover which can be pulled out to cover the backpack.

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Closer Look

The Drifter is a top loading backpack.  I like that since I can be forgetful and sometimes leave backpacks open.  I did have a scare once when my Macbook Air took a swan dive out of my backpack onto my living room floor.  Top loading cuts down on accidents like that, thankfully.  The main compartment can hold a laptop up to 15 inches in size.  There is also a pocket for a tablet.  On top of all that, there is yet another pocket in the main compartment which can be used to hold power bricks, and spare batteries.  The pockets that hold the laptop and tablet are made with a soft material to avoid scratches.  The flap which opens up to the main compartment also have a meshed pocket for little things that you tend to lose easily.  I found myself throwing all my spare USB drives and adapters in there.

To round out the backpack, there are three additional zippered pockets and they each offer something.  The very first pocket located at the top of the bag is made of soft a material which can protect sunglasses and other sensitive items that you wouldn’t want tumbling around with your keys.  The middle compartment is the one and only “plain vanilla” pocket where you can toss anything from your wallet to wads of cash that you like to haul around.  The last compartment features a key hook, pen storage and pockets for business cards or the Pocket Tripod.


I found my favorite bag.  Manufacturers will have to come up with something extra special if I am to move on from the Drifter.  MSRP is about $140 and can be found at your favorite online stores.  The price isn’t bad taking all the features and material into account.  I really couldn’t find fault in the Drifter in accordance with my personal needs but if someone twisted my arm to get at least one negative opinion, it would be the fact that the backpack only comes in one size that accommodates 15 inch laptops.  If it were to be able to accommodate something larger like my 17.3 inch gaming laptop, I’d probably snatch it up (I may have a problem).

Spec. Sheet Link: Here

Additional Info (Everyday Carry Items)

  • Surface Pro 3 and power brick
  • Nexus 7 tablet
  • like eight USB drives
  • USB Ethernet adapter
  • USB WiFi adapter
  • No less than two micro USB cables
  • Mophie battery pack
  • mobile hotspot
  • bottle of water
  • umbrella
  • business cards
  • WADS of cash