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Agazzi’s commuter backpack is over-engineering done right

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You may not need lights or a fingerprint sensor, but you might want them

Nobody needs this, but you might want it.
Original Video: Agazzi Design

I was skeptical of the Agazzi urban backpack when my colleague and fellow bag nerd, Vlad Savov, linked me to its Kickstarter. Why in the hell would anyone need a bag with a fingerprint lock or internal and external lights, I thought, and why should they risk “buying” it via crowdfunding?

That was until Agazzi Designs sent me a demo bag to try for myself. I... like it; it looks great, and the lock and lights are practical additions. It’s the over-engineered bag for lovers of over-engineering.

The Pro unit I’ve been testing is a preproduction prototype. It’s about 95 percent of the way to the finished product that Agazzi says will ship to backers in October. It’ll cost £189 (about $246 or €219) for early backers. Lesser-specced versions without the lights and lock will sell for £129 (about $168 or €150). That’s pricey, but it’s in line with other premium commuter bags from companies like Peak Design.

To my eye, Agazzi has drawn some inspiration from class-leading Peak Design with its red accent stitching on charcoal-colored nylon fabric. Both backpacks feature durable, water-resistant materials, and they hold their shapes even when they’re empty. The larger 23-liter Agazzi, however, is actually lighter than the 20-liter Everyday Backpack from Peak Design, weighing just 1.45 kilograms (3 pounds, 3 ounces) compared to the notoriously heavy PD bag’s 1.81 kilograms (4 pounds).

I found the Agazzi to be very comfortable to wear while commuting by bike, even when it was loaded down with a beefy power bank, MacBook, e-reader, and some workout clothes. I also tested it out at night on Amsterdam’s heavily congested bike paths. The red light and reflective strip on the backpack are certainly welcome additions, and the light can be activated via a wired remote control in the quick access pocket on the right shoulder strap. A similar pocket in the left shoulder strap is just big enough for your bus pass and a few bank cards or cash.

The bag stands up nicely on its own, but it doesn’t fully open when laying flat. As such, you end up with a dark cavern at the bottom of the bag, which is why the internal light is so useful.

The internal and external lights connect over a USB-A cable to a power bank that you must provide. The USB-A cable on my prototype bag connected to the 3D-printed lighting module over a Micro USB port. Unfortunately, the cable kept falling out. Fortunately, the module was in a zippered compartment, which allowed me to plug it back in. I’ve been told that the cables running to the custom-molded modules in the production backpacks “will never ever get unplugged.”

I have mixed feelings about the Agazzi’s shoulder straps. They are designed to be set to your preference once and then left alone. In fact, they are nearly impossible to adjust while wearing the backpack. In practice, this didn’t really create an issue. I was able to wear the pack in my preferred position (high on my back), and I was still able to slip a hand back through the strap to remove the pack. I do wonder if my success will be repeatable by people with different body types and flexibility, though.

A few other observations:

  • The fingerprint sensor is fast and reliable.
  • The security cable is long enough to attach the bag to a chair at a cafe or armrest on a train.
  • The number, layout, and construction of the pockets are perfect for the needs of daily office commuters traveling by bike or train.
  • The lifetime warranty is great, assuming the company is around to honor it.
  • I hate Velcro, but its limited and intelligent use on the laptop strap doesn’t infuriate me.
  • Two words: luggage strap.

Let me be clear: this isn’t a review. It is confirmation that the bag exists, it’s nearly done, and the company is aware of the existing issues and is working to address them. That should make your decision to back them on Kickstarter a little bit easier should you be tempted.