You've got a brand spanking new Macbook or iPad for Christmas, heck maybe you got both. If you love the feeling of smooth aluminum like we do, you've probably got a plethora of cases and protectors rushing in to keep it that way. Pelican wants your attention too with their ProGear S100 backpack that may just be what you need to finish off the necessary protection, especially if you're one for adventure. Featuring weatherproofing and crushproof hard-shell laptop casing, this backpack is built like a tank that can pack just about everything you'll need and keep it as safe as possible throughout the day. Check out all of what Pelican has to offer in our full review after the cut.
Pelican is known for their protective gear as top of the line and "professional" grade. The S100 is no exception. Beautifully constructed with high quality materials such as waterproof fabric and hard rigid plastic to protect your gadgets. The unique aspect of this backpack is the laptop compartment is entirely separate from the rest of the bag as it is in the back in a water-tight and crushproof hard plastic case. You can fit up to a 17" Macbook if you wish and as small as an 11" Macbook Air with the included stick-on foam pads. These not only allow just about every size of the Macbook lineup to fit in this bag, it also ensures a secure fit to prevent any movement during transport.
The inside of this case is lined with a smooth but rigid lining designed to keep your laptop safe and prevents any damage as you're walking around. It is watertight to up to 1 meter deep for a maximum of 30 minutes. Keep in mind however, Pelican only claims the case itself to be able to withstand that type of abuse while the rest of the bag is only water-resistant.
A neat feature that not many other bags come with is a pressure equalizer valve designed to prevent vacuum lock as the pressure fluctuates between underwater and above.
To put your laptop in, you'd simply place it through the top where a latch keeps the case tightly shut. Right above the latch is a soft rubber handle for when you're not feeling like putting it on your back. More so, the rubber helps you comfortably and securely hold onto the bag even with wet hands.
Now that you've securely stored your Macbook, you'll need a safe place to hold all of your accessories and your iPad. That's what the rigid front plate is for. Designed to be crushproof, the front plate is the ideal place to keep smaller gadgets, especially ones with fragile screens, from harm.
For the main compartment where you'd keep your bigger items, such as your camera or maybe your traveling clothes, the 25 liter storage compartment is perfect. It fits just about everything you'll need for a couple of days and keeps them dry and safe. Rest assured as the fabric is a Rip resistant nylon and water resistant. To expand or tighten the bag, there are straps on the bottom and sides to do so accordingly. Two strong plastic clips keeps the top flap closed and everything inside your pack safe.
There are many instances where a perfectly good backpack is thrown into the garage or into the garbage because of cheap and faulty zippers. For the Pelican S100, that doesn't seem to be the case. The outer zippers that will be the first place Mother Nature will attack to destroy your gadgets are weather resistant and strong. While there isn't any indication that these are the preferred YKK brand zippers, they still hold out fine. After pouring water on top of the bag, the zipper teeth did a good job keeping most of the water out, leaving the fabric just a little moist. While the outer zippers seem like heavy duty quality, the zippers inside the pack seem much less durable in comparison.
As you can imagine, with all that in a single backpack, there's definitely going to be a lot of weight on your back. Without anything inside, the S100 weighs in at 7.14 lbs already. Thankfully, this bag comes with plenty of padding in both the back and shoulder areas. There is a certain rigidity to these pads which might not appeal to everybody. However, they are nicely ventilated for when it's hot out or when you're making a long trek to your destination. Along with back support, there is the necessary lumbar pad as well. Personally, the Pelican backpack felt odd on my back as I'm not use to the excessively protruding padding from the backpack itself to your back. As I mentioned, the padding is much harder than most packs and may require getting use to. It may get softer through use, but we'll have to see.
The shoulder straps are of the floating variety, meaning it is much more flexible to movement and will move with your back as you walk. This creates a more natural feel to having a backpack on and relieves some pressure on your shoulders and back as well. To round things up, there are the chest clip and removable hip belt to nicely distribute the weight evenly. I would say with all the features catering to the overall comfort of the pack, using it as a normal daypack wouldn't be out of the question. Despite the obvious targeted purpose of intense protection for an active lifestyle, the Pelican S100 works well as a bag I'd bring to school. It fits my laptop and my iPad mini without a problem and there's plenty of room for notebooks and the sort.
We've seen our fair share of backpacks here on Gadgetmac and the Pelican ProGear S100 is the first of its kind. The dedicated laptop compartment is an awesome feature for users looking for maximum protection in any kind of environmental conditions. One thing that may be as intimidating as the backpack itself is the price tag. Snatching up a $270 sized chunk from your wallet, the S100 isn't joking around. The overall backpack gives off a heavy duty feel and is just what you'll need if you're planning to be doing some intense vacationing. For its heavy duty capabilities and high quality features, we highly recommend picking up one of these up or even one of Pelican's other ProGear packs for your next trip.