Rightsizing the Student (and Teacher) Notebook Bag
With so many schools relying on small tablets instead of bulky notebooks, do students and teachers need the traditional (and heavy) notebook bag. According to Pelican and OGIO, the answer is a resounding no. The two bag-makers latest school accessories have been designed with tablets and smaller notebooks in mind.
With schoolchildren turning in hunchbacks with backpacks chock full of 30-pounds of gear and books, there’s never been a better time than now to limit what they carry. Either of these small bags can help, but they differ on how small you want to go.
Small, light and ready for anything from a small notebook to a tablet, OGIO’s $70 Covert Shoulder Bag is a great way to downsize a child’s gear and school accessories. While it is a comfortable shoulder bag, there’s no backpack version and it lacks a place for stashing a water bottle.
At 1.4-pounds, the Covert bag is roughly one-third the weight of the typical school bag and nearly a pound lighter than the Pelican bag. The bag is comfortably padded and has a single strap for carrying school gear over the shoulder. It comes in black or dark gray and is made of sturdy Kodra nylon fabric that resists ripping. It is water resistant and the bag has rubber zipper pulls.
The bag measures 14.0- by 9.5- by 2.5-inches, or roughly one-third smaller than the Pelican U145. It can hold up to about 9-liters of material, versus more than 15-liters for the Pelican U145 backpack, and puts the emphasis on what is truly essential to learning.
Rather than the Pelican’s rigid plastic handle, the Covert bag has a pair of fabric handles at the top for grab-and-go maneuvers or hanging it in a locker. It also has a metal ID tag riveted to the front
There’s still plenty of room inside for the basics with an iPad or a 13-inch notebook easily fitting in. It lacks the felt-lined pouch for a slate that the U145 provides, but has a nice zippered pocket on the outside for quick access items, like a phone or ID card. On the outside is a slip pocket, but it’s too narrow for a pad of paper or spiral notebook. These items easily fit inside.
The Covert bag has slots for three pencils, 2 small open pouches, a mesh area and a zippered area for valuables. Priced at $70, the Covert bag is a bargain and a great way to get kids to only bring what they need to learn. It comes with a lifetime warranty, a big bonus when dealing with kids that treat bags like sports equipment.
+ Small bag
+ Fold open front
+ Phone pocket
+ Lifetime warranty
- No backpack available
- A little too small
Pelican ProGear U145
With its rigid back and protective inserts, Pelican’s $77 U145 Urban Tablet Backpack is a great way to integrate small notebooks or slates into a school routine without overwhelming them with gear. It’s a little heavy, but has a lot of space for all sorts of items for school and other things.
The bag is made of heavy-duty polyester material and is available only in black. It is sturdy, water resistant and its zippers have bright yellow rope pulls. It measures 19.75- by 12.5- by 6.5-inches, or significantly larger than the OGIO Covert bag. As a result, it can hold a tablet and up to a 14-inch notebook computer for a total of 15-liters of internal space, making it much more utilitarian than the 9-liter Covert bag. On the other hand, the U145 pays for it with a 2.2-pound weight, more than three-quarters of a pound heavier that of the Covert case.
Unlike the soft floppy Covert bag, the U145 has three rigid plastic inserts that give the bag a more structured feel. One sits next to the back that provides additional support when carrying the bag There’s also padding around its edge that makes it more comfortable than just about any other school backpack.
The second structural enhancement is around the perimeter of the bag that gives it a solid feel, while the third plastic piece acts like armor to protect the tablet inside. There’s a padded felt-lined pouch that holds and guards the slate from any damage. It also has a rigid plastic handle that is much sturdier than the Covert’s fabric handles.
In addition to three pencil pouches, the U145 has a multitude of pockets for a variety of gear. There are compartments for everything from a phone and water bottle to a spiral notebook. It lacks the small zippered front pocket of the Covert bag, but has a place to clip a phone on the adjustable shoulder straps.
Despite being sturdier, Pelican includes only a one-year warranty with the U145.
Pelican ProGear U145
+ Perfect size for iPad or small notebook
+ Sturdy handle
+ Excellent back support
+ Felt lined tablet pouch
+ Extra tablet protection
- A little too big and heavy
- 1-year warranty