I don’t like to spend money on backpacks, lunch boxes, or laptop bags. It’s a weird mind-set, but I’d rather carry my stuff in a cheap tote bag than blow my bank account on a real, ergonomic, easy-to-carry backpack. At least, that’s what I thought before Lenovo asked me to look at its fancy Eco Pro backpack.
The Eco Pro is a limited edition Earth Day redesign of Lenovo’s ThinkPad Professional bag. In Lenovo’s words, it’s made “almost entirely from recycled materials—the equivalent of 34 plastic water bottles.” With its olive-green body and sturdy compact build, the Eco Pro stands out in a way that other bags don’t. It’s well-padded, it has two bottle holders, and it even has a carry-on strap that can loop through the handles of larger luggage bags.
Just to be clear, I haven’t always carried my stuff in a grocery bag. I ended up with a discounted Swiss Gear backpack 7or 8 years ago and used it to get through school. It was an eyesore, but it held up until I was done with college (thanks to some duct tape and my caveman-level sewing abilities). I wish I could show you a photo of that old Swiss Gear bag, but it ended up in the dumpster after harboring an infestation of mold. Long story short, I washed the bag, left it outside to dry, and forgot to bring it back in.
This Lenovo bag is leagues ahead of the Swiss Gear backpack that I spent so much time with. Of course, the two bags are meant for very different purposes. Lenovo’s Eco Pro and ThinkPad Professional bags are designed specifically for 15.6-inch laptops and contain a ton of protective padding to keep electronics safe through work or travel, while the Swiss Gear is more of an all-in-one bag. I have a 15-inch IdeaPad, not a ThinkPad, but I’m impressed by how snug and safe the laptop feels while tucked in Lenovo’s backpack. And while Lenovo doesn’t advertise it, drops of water roll off the Eco Pro’s outer fabric. It isn’t fully water-resistant, but it is splash or rain-resistant.
I’m also impressed by the Eco Pro’s posture. Other bags, like that old Swiss Gear, sag and tip over when they aren’t propped up against a table or chair. But the Eco Pro is built to stay compact and upright even when it’s filled with heavy electronics and books. I know, it sounds weird, but an upright backpack doesn’t fight you when you try to pull out supplies.
Another benefit of the Eco Pro’s compact build is that it’s exceptionally comfortable to use. Unlike larger bags, the Eco Pro doesn’t sag and pull away from your body. It sits right against your back, and feels lightweight even when it’s filled to the brim with electronics and books. I can’t take the Eco Pro to a library or coffee shop right now, but I found it comfortable to carry on long walks—something that I can’t say about tote bags or my old Swiss Gear bag.
However, the Eco Pro’s compact size comes at a price. For one, it can’t fit any laptops over 15.6 inches. And while it has plenty of pockets and inserts, each pocket is lined with dense padding, which takes up some usable space. If you’re a student or professional who carries an obscene number of books, papers, clothes, or whatever, then you should spend your money on something larger.
If that’s the route you want to go down, then you have a lot of bags to choose from. Lenovo’s bags are pretty expensive for their size, and sport price tags that compete with major brands like Samsonite and Fjallraven. Still, I suggest giving Lenovo’s Eco Pro or ThinkPad Professional bags a whirl. They’re exceptionally high-quality bags with a great minimal style, and I think that they’ll meet the needs of most students and professionals.