iPhone Life magazine

HEX Varsity Sonic Backpack Review

Note: This is a supplement to the iPhone Life print edition article: “It’s In the Bag! Best Backpacks and Bags for the iStudent.”  September-October 2012. 



Although the Hex website lists “way cool” as a feature for this not-quite-shipping backpack, I would say a better description is elegant. I was lucky enough to see an early unit and I like what I saw (continue to see, since I'm holding it). Unlike so many backpacks that wear their utility on their exteriors, the Hex is quietly repressed, keeping it clean and functional. 
The backpack holds up to a 17-inch laptop, which makes it a little long, but beside that, I can’t complain. This bag is not designed for carrying everything you own, just what you need for school. Even the "varsity" branding aligns with its intended audience.
The Sonic is all clean lines and hidden zippers (with contrasting beige pulls). It looks like it something out of a Burberry advertisement. I could easily see Emma Watson sporting this pack. Inside it remains sleek and elegant with its Hex-red lining. The front pocket offers officey-cabely storage with plenty of room for additional kit (which is what Emma would call her MacBook power supply).  The main compartment focuses on the big laptop pocket and just an enormous space for stuff. The Sonic easily accommodates enough book to get through a week, and a enough clothes for a weekend of overnighters.
As for the iPad, unique among the backpacks is a convenient front access pocket (a second lower pocket holds more kit). The iPad pocket may not feel as secure as a floating interior pocket, but how often are you going to play even touch football (or rugby) while wearing a backpack? If you are doing anything where you get hit in the back with something often enough and hard enough to break an iPad, I would suggest another backpack at minimum, and that generally you just stop doing whatever it is you are doing that’s getting you hit.
The one thing I didn’t care for on the Varsity were its shoulder straps. Compared to other backpacks in this price range they were a bit thin on the padding and just didn’t feel as sturdy. And unlike many current backpacks, the Sonic does not seem to possess any airflow features on its back panel.
Overall I like this bag. It may be back-to-school, but this backpack would fit just as easily in a back-to-work-on-Monday-morning routine. It’s elegance and sleekness don’t call attention to it, but once noticed, I think some of its elegance may well adhere to whomever chooses to make the Varsity part of his or her ensemble.
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Daniel Rasmus's picture

Daniel W. Rasmus, the author of Listening to the Future and Management by Design, is a strategist, industry analyst, and business correspondent for iPhone Life magazine. Prior to starting his own consulting practice, Rasmus was the Director of Business Insights at Microsoft Corporation, where he helped the company envision how people will work in the future.

Before joining Microsoft, Rasmus was Research Vice President at the Giga Information Group and Forrester Research Inc. Rasmus also is an internationally recognized speaker. He blogs regularly for Fast Company and on his own blog, Your Future in Context. His education-related work can be found at Learning Reimagined.