Review: Solo Altitude and Solo Elite Backpacks

As gamers it is easy to focus primarily on the most entertaining aspects of the hobby such as the actual games and hardware, but there are other less exciting items that are just as important for gaming on the go. Backpacks are items that fit into this category, but anyone who’s frequented MAGFest, PAX or E3 knows just as well as someone who’s tried sneaking a Switch into a classroom that having something durable and spacious is a game changer. Plus being easy on the eyes is always a bonus. With the start of the new year means that there is a multitude of upcoming gaming events to look forward to and Hardcore Gamer is going to take a look at some Contemporary Tech Backpacks for Gamers from Solo New York: the Altitude and the Elite.

The Elite Backpack is designed for people who want pack for a four hour flight as if it were a week long backpacking excursion, perfect for those who want to travel light but pack heavy. Its dimensions are 21″ x 13.5″ x 7″, making it rather spacious without being too bulky, and constructed of lightweight nylon with a total weight of 1.8 pounds. To make this backpack ideal for gamers and tech junkies, it includes an internal padded compartment that can accommodate a 17.3″ laptop and a separate internal pocket designed for an iPad or android tablet. There are some decent sized side pockets that can handle a Vita or 3DS XL and the main body section is quite spacious, just asking to be crammed full of numerous items.

There is a separate storage pocket that is designed to accommodate shoes, laundry or a shaving kit, which takes the form of a collapsible elongated pouch inside the back pocket. There is also an internal organizer section to help keep the various travel documents save from being destroyed by just throwing them in with everything else. The back and straps are both padded to help keep the Elite Backpack comfortable for extending periods, such as traveling through various conventions or dealing with long lines at the airport, and the padding also helps protect the enclosed valuables should a less gentle TSA agent happen to be working your chosen checkpoint. The Elite is available in two color choices: burgundy and black.

Regurgitating the specs from the website is something anyone can do, so to help the readers decide whether or not this is the bag for them, I went to see what all this storage space actually entails. The designated laptop compartment was able to handle my 15″ screen laptop, my iPad (which is in a UAG case) and the book Soul on Fire. The main component held my shaving kit, which is actually bulkier than it needs to be, along with a pair of pants, two T-shirts, a hoodie and two pairs of socks and underwear. On top of that it received the power cords for the various electronics in the bag, three power banks and the Nintendo Switch inside a rather bulky carrying case. Of the two side pockets, one was designated for the Vita and a case with several games and the other was for the 3DS XL with a couple game cases. The organizer portion held my iPod Classic and a zipper pocket on the back took care of my sunglasses. At this point I don’t think a pair of shoes would have fit very easily, but given that everything fit without having to fight with the zippers indicates a pair of shoes would have fit just if a few adjustments were made or perhaps if it was a pair of canvas Chuck Taylors. Regardless, these items do make the backpack bulky, but the fact that it was able to carry all these items effortlessly is impressive.

The Solo Altitude has actually been my go to backpack for game related travel starting with E3 2017 (Editor’s note: Hardcore Gamer receives no compensation from Solo and do not officially endorse anything, Chris just likes the backpack.) and a review about that can be found here, but it looks like it’s available in more color options now that include navy, grey, olive and black. This one is a little smaller, 18.5″ x 12.6″ x 4.92″ but also a bit heftier weighing in at 2.2 pounds. Everything that was crammed into the the Elite fit into the Altitude, though it was a bit tighter squeeze and getting everything zipped and snapped was a bit of a challenge (attempting to add any footwear aside from perhaps tabi is not recommended). Granted, typical day to day use with either backpack won’t have quite as many things stuffed into it, but for informational purposes, cramming as much stuff in as possible seemed like the way to go. The Altitude also offers an internal pocket for up to a 17.3″ laptop and a padded pocket for a tablet. It also possesses a small mesh pocket on the side to conveniently stick a 20 oz. water bottle that the Elite does not have though the side zippered pockets could be used for that. The main difference is while this one has less cargo space, it’s more friendly for keeping things organized.

Closing Comments

To contrast the two, the Elite’s laptop compartment is a tight squeeze, but the other large section has a lot more room than either of the two main sections of the Altitude. The Altitude has two zippered pockets on the back compared to just one on the Elite, but the Elite’s pocket actually extends a lot more inside and it a good way to separate shoes, laundry or toiletries. Examining the pictures is a good way to gauge which one is a better choice for personal needs, though both options work well for convention going, school work or for carry on baggage for airlines. For personal use, the Altitude would be a better recommended choice for actually attending an event or for a carry on bag if one was flying for an extended vacation and had a checked bag, but for a two night trip where one lives out of their carry on, the Elite is a better option just because of the greater storage capacity. Either way, both bags are great for their price brackets and either one is a good choice.

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Solo Altitude and Solo Elite Backpacks