Pack test - Crumpler Team Player
Are you a commuter? Someone who likes to take their Laptop home because you are just that damn committed? Well this may just make life a little easier for you.
I have always been a fan of Crumpler. I will get my possibly non-objective points of view out of the way first. I already own three of their bags ranging from messenger bags through to camera bags and all of them perform flawlessly. They are very functional, well thought-out and robust. When their 2005 brochure arrived in the office giving us the chance to try something out, I thought I should try something a little different.
Messenger bags can swallow a whole heap of gear, are easy to use and are relatively comfortable. The only issue I have with them is when I take my laptop home – it's a trip that I always dread. It usually leaves me with twinges in my left shoulder for a couple of days afterwards. Other office commuters have had the same problems and subsequently have returned to backpacks when moving this precious cargo, mainly for their own health.
With this thinking in mind, the Team Player back pack seemed the ideal prospect. It is the largest of three backpacks specifically designed for the comfortable transportation of laptops. I had originally chosen the Sheep Scarer without paying too much attention to the details but on arrival it was obvious that it would have trouble swallowing my Vaio and a change of clothes. After a quick conversation with Simms the UK importers of Crumpler, it became apparent that I need the largest size - the Team Player.
I always want to ensure that I can easily carry my laptop, a pair of shoes, a change of clothes and a jacket in the winter (even if I wasn't going to carry this all the time). At 33x55x28 (WxHxD), the Team Player was perfect - just. The design of the backpack has a rather unusual opening. Instead of opening at the top, you fold the straps out of the way and open almost the whole back (which is very nicely padded). A removable laptop sleeve attaches to this near rigid back so that it is firmly plastered against your back and does not move during transportation.
The jury is still out on the rear opening, I don't feel like I can just stuff things in it, like I would a regular pack. However you can't open the bag when it is on your back which works well as a security feature when there are thieving scum around. When the bag is open I can always locate everything easily and the four internal, 3 external pockets keep things secure.
The bag is made with their famous Chicken Tex fabric super durable outer and completely waterproof ripstop inner to ensure everything inside is well looked after. The laptop sleeve is also a real feature in itself with it being a self-contained unit that could be used by itself. This has several pockets for bits and pieces and a good protective envelope for your pride and joy.
It also comes with a rather colourfully written guarantee that states: "Step up and say this bag sh@t itself and we will get it's sh!t back together. So it's rite for you like the first time you clapped your bloodshot eyes on it." (those crazy Aussies) - but I am always a fan of a company that makes product to last and will stand behind them if they fail in anyway.
When riding with the Team Player I have found it to be VERY comfortable, even when fully loaded. The best plaudit I can give it is that I forget about it. It doesn't shift around when riding, it is well balanced and it keeps the heaviest part of the load square against your back.
I am very conscious that no part of it is reflective and feel they could have made the piping reflective without any real change to the look. I would have also thought another, maybe smaller opening at the top on the back would make life easier when quickly loading something small.
At RRP of £109 this could be considered a luxury commuting pack. Some may consider this expensive. However the Crumpler finishing is top notch, it will last for ever and it is extremely comfortable. I feel the unusual open of the rear can be both a help and a hindrance and even now I have mixed feelings about it. But when you consider it can carry your precious laptop, and a load of other stuff, very comfortably (and dry) I can't really fault it. To put it another way I can't bring myself to return to my old faithful messenger bag. Well worth considering.