I recently had a chance to play around with the Pelican U100 Urban Elite backpack. Quick review: It’s basically an armored Pelican laptop case with a backpack stitched on!
More details: Like the Pelican toolbox I reviewed, this backpack puts protection of the contents as its top priority, never mind the weight. On the down side, that means the backpack is heavy — a cool 8 pounds. Un the upside, it protects the laptop… but how, exactly?
First of all, the laptop is held in a hard-shelled ABS plastic case and is described by Pelican as crushproof and watertight. In the latter instance this means the case can be immersed in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes.
The laptop shell accommodates laptops up to a slim 17″ in size, but smaller laptops have a tendency to slide around alarmingly in the case, since unlike a flexible case, it doesn’t keep the laptop snug. Pelican’s solution is a set of foam pads that you can insert into case to make it the correct size for your laptop. I wasn’t crazy about this solution but I can’t think of a better one.
Let’s talk about the rest of the backpack. There is a full-sized compartment right next to the case, as well as a half-sized one right next to it. The exterior pouch is super cool because it’s designed to hold and protect a tablet, and the outside of the compartment has a polypropylene sheet to protect the screen against cracking. There’s also a storage sling underneath the pack.
The last thing I wanted to cover is the comfort aspect. At eight pounds empty, the backpack is likely to drag you down if you wear it long enough. The back is super curvy and ergonomic, and it’s actually rather comfy. On the down side, there is no waist belt, which seems like a no-brainer when you’re lugging a lot of weight.
The Pelican U100 Urban Elite is kind of a grandiose name but the backpack does a good job of backing it up with formidable toughness and a very cool cyberpunky look.