Review: Keen’s New Airport Way Backpack

For extended travels your pack is your single most important piece of gear (unless of course you opt to go minimalist and skip the bag altogether). If you’re good at packing light, but want some extra protection for your laptop and other electronic gizmos, Keen’s Airport Way backpack makes a great choice.

The bag is slightly larger than your average school backpack and features a well padded, TSA-compliant laptop compartment that will hold anything from a netbook or iPad to a 17-inch notebook. There’s also room for a power brick and any other accessories you’d like to carry — DVDs for making backups of your photos, an external hard drive or what have you.

The laptop compartment is also under the shoulder straps making it somewhat more secure than just shoving your valuables in a back pocket that anyone can sneak their way into while you’re admiring the sights.

The TSA-compliance means you don’t need to pull out your laptop in airport security (at least in the U.S.), instead you just unzip the compartment and lay it flat on the x-ray machine.

The exterior of the Airport Way is made of a water resistant polyester, which, while it won’t stand up to a full soaking, should keep your things dry in all but the heaviest of downpours.

At 1526 cubic inches, the Airport Way is on the small side for long trips, but I was able to fit everything I’d bring on an extended trip without too much trouble. If the pack has a downside it’s that there is no large, central compartment. Instead there are two smaller compartments with over a dozen sub-pockets and organizer sleeves. While it makes separating your stuff a breeze, the Airport Way would be more suited to long term travel if it were simplified a bit.

Still, the should straps are well padded and even when fully loaded the pack felt comfortable on my back. The back also has some nice padding and sits flat and comfortably against your back, especially if you have a laptop in the laptop compartment. The “airmesh” back panel has channels that allow air to circulate between your back and the pack, keeping you cool. The channels help a little, but I took it on a longer hike and still ended up with a sweaty back.

The laptop compartment unzipped and ready for airport security

Mesh padding and air channels help keep you cool, to a point

My main gripe about the Airport Way is the lack of external straps. A couple of extra straps on the sides would let you compress the pack and make it more stable when it’s not full and also give you and place to store dirty sandals, wet bathing suits and other gear you don’t want on the inside.

However, despite a couple of small drawbacks the Airport Way is a great pack — especially for those looking for secure, padded way to cart around their laptops or for those that love packs with tons of organizational pockets.

At $130 the Airport Way isn’t the cheapest bag out there, but it’s well made, comfortable and worth the money if you have some to spare.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | October 5, 2010
Category: Travel Gear

One Response to “Review: Keen’s New Airport Way Backpack”

  1. Ashley Says:

    Just got one at the buffalo exchange for only $42.00. It’s in great condition seems like a great buy.