Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Tragedy. Debacle. The greatest bag ever.

Meet my new favorite thing: The MAXXUM from SwissGear by Wenger Computer Backpack in Red:

Yeah, it’s a mouthful. But this pack has plenty of room for it all. And it makes shouldering an uncomfortable burden — well — comfortable!

How did I come to own such a remarkable portable storage containment unit? It took a tragedy, followed by a debacle, to result in such a fortuitous acquisition. Get uncomfortable, this won’t take too long:

Many moons ago, I bought my first laptop. Soon after, I bought my first laptop bag. Even though my first laptop wouldn’t actually fit in the padded compartment of that first laptop bag (I had to carry it in the unprotected “book” portion), I really loved that bag. My wife used it for many years and recently I inherited it back (after re-joining the ranks of laptop-owners).

It was a great bag. We buried it out back where we’d planned on laying the dog to rest. But now that we’re considering stuffing her instead, it seemed fitting. I mean, that bag was part of the family! As soon as one of the shoulder straps started getting thread-bare, I knew the time was drawing near. It was like seeing arthritis creep up on a beloved pet. One of the double-zippers went next, like a liver failing. It was just the track at first, which could be worked around, but the stitching soon followed. Too many systems were giving out at once to consider repairing the thing. It would have taken more money to give it another healthy year and my wife consoled me. “We’re still young,” she said. “We can get another.”

That was the tragedy. Here comes the debacle: I went to Walmart for my new bag. Now, I don’t want to start a political debate, which shopping at Walmart inevitably leads to for some reason, but unlike the people that hate Walmart, I can’t afford to shop anywhere else. Actually, that’s inaccurate. The truth is: I can’t afford to shop. Period. So doing it at Walmart seems like the least financially ruinous mistake.

I’m in the computer section of Walmart and there’s a great selection of three computer bags. Excellent. No time wasted maximizing, I grab the only one meant to wear on your back, which was the only feature I desired, and I really liked seeing the price. The thing was under $30. Recently “Rolled Back,” if you can believe it.

The debacle came at the register, when the thing rang up for just over $50. I felt trapped. The lady was looking at me, palm up, and expecting payment. I woulda felt dumb saying, “Uh, I don’t have that kinda money.” To which she would reply, “Well then, why’d you pick it out?” And my retort would be, “Dave in electronics misshelved it.” But I’m a martyr. I don’t want Dave in trouble, so I gave her the plastic and winced as it actually went through. (stupid credit card companies, they never reject you when you really need it)

The entire drive home, I shot glances at the stupid over-priced backpack. I was steamed. The thing was made by HP, which I liked at first because my laptop was made by HP (and cost about the same amount!). Now, though, I saw it as expensive advertisement. “I’ll be damned,” I thought, planning on cutting that patch off as soon as I got home. Then I saw the tag hanging off a strap and realized: Walmart has a great return policy. Let’s go home and do some comparison shopping.

Now that my budget for a bag had doubled, I had some room to work with. I found, on Amazon, the MAXXUM from SwissGear by Wegner Computer Backpack in Red. (I looked at the one in blue, but it was $10 more! I suppose I have the decline of the Republican party to thank!).

For less money (but more than I had originally planned on spending) I bought the best bag I have ever owned. Ever. Even my wife is jealous (and eying a blue one). The bag has an external compartment for books so you can grab your reading material without messing with zippers. It has lots of pouches, great access to the front “pen” spot, zippers on the sides and elasti-thingies for water bottles. Up top, there’s a shallow pouch with a zipper that serves as my “man purse.” You can put an MP3 player in there (for those of you that own one) and there’s a hole to bring the earbuds through.

The best part is the straps and padded back. This thing is COMFORTABLE. It just jounces along happily, even with a heavy load. And it looks sexy, did I mention that? I felt smart and attractive in this thing. I wore it across a college campus yesterday (for testing purposes) and it made me feel like going into a class. Any class. And learning something.

I swear to the gods of consumerism, this bag makes me want to go back to school. That’s how unbelievably, flankin’, nebularly awesome it is.

So, if you have a bag that’s pushing 80 in bag-years. If it’s slouching or riding to one side or has a zipper jumping the tracks. Do yourself a favor. For less than $50 you can own the greatest laptop bag ever made. Get yourself a MAXXUM by SwissGear from Wenger Computer Backpack.

In red.

9 replies to “Tragedy. Debacle. The greatest bag ever.”

This is hilarious! You are so funny!

Actually, I have a really expensive (I think – it was a Christmas present) leather laptop bag…. that holds nothing other than my laptop and a pen. And is uncomfortable. And can’t get wet.

I may look at this marvel of fashion and technology you have. I only need to sell 50 books to buy it, right? :)

I’m looking into the bag too – the features are just too awesome. I have a great over the shoulder and pretty laptop bag that is perfect for work/business meetings but on airplanes – it’s just awful. And heavy. Off to research this darn bag! Hope you put this review on amazon.

I just added it to Amazon and there’s 142 reviews of this bag over there!

Oh, make that 143.

What’s this say about our country? Lots of books only have 6 or 7 reviews and this bag has 143?!

It makes me so proud, a tear comes to my eye.

I ordered the bag. Thanks! Mine says it can hold up to 17″ though – do they offer two size variations?? That open pocket for easy access is the big selling point for me- LOVE it.

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