UPDATE: Now available on IndieGoGo:Udee IndieGoGo page
For more information visit: The Udee Kickstarter page.
Designers at Udee have set out to create the “World’s most versatile backpack” loaded with 19 unique features. That’s quite a claim coming from an unknown bag maker. Over the last several weeks I have used this bag daily for everything from weekend vacations to business meetings. It has proven to be a versatile bag with lots of handy features, but is it really the most versatile backpack ever created? The bag is currently on KickStarter and has surpassed its goal by more than $17K, so there must be something special about it. Right?
The Udee backpack has a stylish design loaded with useful features ideal for everyone from students to professionals. Padded shoulder straps and back support make it easy to haul around your gear all day long without fatigue. Two main compartments allow this backpack to double as a camera bag or beer/soda cooler with the help of two sectional dividers. It’s compact enough to fit easily under airplane seats and has a wide, accessible main compartment. There’s even an integrated lock to keep your goods safe and secure. Sporting heavy duty waterproof zippers and a water-resistant exterior, this bag was designed to last. With an MSRP of $229, this featured backpack is competitively priced.
Setting it apart from the rest of the backpacks on the market is its unique design. It’s sleek and modern with bright orange accents. The 1680D Nylon fabric has an IPX 3-4 rating and is sturdy enough to stand on its own without falling over, I enjoy this much more than anticipated. An IPX rating between 3-4 means this backpack can withstand water spray from all directions and keep your goods dry. This does not mean waterproof, more on that later. The Udee backpack has no extra waist belts or unnecessary straps, it’s minimalistic. Integrated LED light strips in the shoulder straps make you stand out at raves or when commuting at night. It comes in two-tone light gray and charcoal.
I live in the city and mainly use the backpack for traveling or going to meetings. The main compartment has waterproof zippers lined with a reflective material making you visible at night. A unique easy access design opens wide so you can find what you’re looking for faster. There are two zipper pouches and pen holders inside to keep your cords organized. Two pockets line the sides of the main compartment. One pocket has an external USB cord and plug allowing you to plug in a power bank and charge your devices on the go. The other pocket has a pass-through for your headphones. I personally use this other pocket for my external hard drive.
The main compartment has a zipper bottom that leads to the padded lower section. I often travel with camera gear and it’s nice to be able to separate the compartments. It offers enough padding that I’m confident the equipment won’t get damaged. That being said, it’s not crush-proof. When I don’t have my camera gear I unzip the bottom half for expanded storage. Although compact, it’s spacious enough to pack for a weekend getaway or carry-on bag. I was comfortably able to fit two pairs of jeans, underwear and socks for three days, toiletry bag, three shirts, laptop, iPad, Gameboy, headsets, a notebook, and book on a trip to Florida. There’s also a built-in luggage strap so you can wheel it with your luggage.
The secondary back compartment is designed to hold your laptop and tablets. I was able to fit my iPad, and Surface Pro4 in the padded section along with 3 different magazines. The bottom is padded and offers some protection for your laptop. No soft pack is going to be able to withstand extreme abuse, but for everyday use this is more than enough protection. A plastic-coated steel cable and lock are built into the back compartment with a pass-through allowing you to lock your zippers. However, you can only lock two of the three compartments at one time.
There is a small zipper pouch on the very front of the backpack that offers has a padded pouch for glasses or a phone, and a carabiner for keys. I didn’t use this front pouch much as I found it was difficult to access if the main compartment was full. I mainly just used it to temporarily hold my cell phone and wallet when getting through security at the airport. There are two additional quick access zipper pockets on the back that are good for this too.
The padded shoulder straps and back support pads make the backpack comfortable to carry for extended periods. Heavy duty yet soft nylon straps hold the backpack in a comfortable position and the weight always feels evenly distributed. Both straps have a built-in LED strip that has 3 modes- rapid flash, slow flash and constant on. Although difficult to remove, you can recharge the batteries via micro USB if they go dead. I don’t bike at night anymore, but I did turn them on at the airport once and was complimented immediately. The orange padded grip handle is also a nice touch that makes it easy to move around. Although not my favorite color, it serves a purpose.
Two small zipper pouches line each side of the lower back. These pockets I found to be ideal for concealing my Glock 43, or Springfield XDS. You can easily conceal two small pistols or one pistol and spare magazines. The pockets lie flat even when packed with a gun, and doesn’t attract any unwanted attention.
Although they advertise the bag as being “waterproof” I don’t think anything is truly waterproof. On my trip to Florida, the beautiful individual sitting in front of me spilled coffee on the floor and on my bag. They were so kind as to not inform me of this unfortunate event and just left everything on the floor. I didn’t realize until deplaning and obtaining a coffee soaked shirt back. The fabric will absorb liquids if left sitting in a puddle- but I don’t blame the bag for that. It will certainly protect anything if you are caught in the middle of a light rain shower, but I would try to get to a dry space as soon as possible.
The zippers can be cumbersome to use due to the waterproof sealing. This isn’t a deal breaker since it offers superior protection, but takes some getting used to. When the bag is full, the front pouch becomes crowded and is hard to access. I wouldn’t put my glasses in the front pouch in fear of them being squished. The bottom section can also be difficult to access when the top main compartment is filled and you have a laptop in the back. It can be awkward trying to get gear from the bottom.
I like the idea of having a built-in lock, but it’s useless if I can’t lock all three compartments. You can lock the bottom compartment and the back, or the back and the main, but not all three. I wouldn’t feel totally safe leaving my backpack alone for an extended period of time — I don’t do that often anyway.
The one thing I wish it had, an external water bottle pouch. I can easily fit my bottle inside my bag but it’s convenient to have one on the outside.
I can look past these limitations since the backpack has so much to offer. The external USB is a great addition and the design is appealing. Several people have either complimented me or asked about it during my travels. The comfort and ease of use make it ideal for everyday situations and all people.
So is it really the “World’s most versatile backpack”? I’m going to say, yes. The style is elegant enough to fit well with a suit, and still goes well with more casual attire. There’s ample space for all your electronics, and day-to-day gear while offering padded protection and water resistance. The external USB port has been the biggest surprise for me, I use it way more than expected and i’ts super convenient. Udee has a success with their first bag. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this fledgling startup.
It’s currently only available through Kickstarter for a limited time offer of $129 which can be found here: Udee 19 Function Backpack
UPDATE: Now available on IndieGoGo:Udee IndieGoGo page