As some of you may already know, I have almost completely stopped buying clothing/accessories from local retail stores, apart from the few exceptions (like when I needed new shoes, quick), so when I needed a new backpack I decided to check online.
I looked through a few options, and I found this one: allegedly waterproof Xiaomi backpack, which was sold for around $12 at the time (with free E-Packet shipping, which was a nice bonus because lately the packages took an awfully long time to get to Canada).
First of all, here is a stock photo from the item listing.
Here is what the backpack looks in real life. Please excuse the shots with the middle buckle on. Only a few days after I took them I realized that they are meant for a different purpose, e.g. holding the backpack closed when there is too much stuff in it to successfully close the top loop.
A couple of weeks later I had it in my hands. So far I have been using it for a few months now, for work and hiking/camping purposes – hence the dirty spots.
The backpack is not too small and not too big – it's right in the middle. The most I've had in it was a 13.3″ laptop, a charger, a midi controller (Novation Twitch, 35*27cm / 14*11″), headphones, an extra shirt – and it was pretty much at capacity.
There are two additional clips/latches on the side, which I though were to secure the laptop when the bag is empty, but apparently they are for the times when the backpack is more full to avoid using the rolling top in favour of more conventional way of closing it (just realized this when looking at the product listing today).
Took me a few days to notice the logo on the zipper – gives you an idea about the level of the attention to detail.
The backpack was sold as ‘waterproof', and as a consumer I expect waterproof to be 100% waterproof, not water-resistant. So when I got a backpack from the thin cloth I dropped my expectations to the minimum. There was the waterproof lining on the inside and the rolling top hints at it, but the zippers are not the silicone kind, and there is no hood on the starting point, like the fancy winter jackets have.
When I first tested it in the rain (I live in a city where it rains a lot), it was one of the rainiest days this season, it must've been 50mm in one evening. I didn't know to expect. On one hand, I saw a few reviews that I based the purchase on that swear by its waterproof quality, on the other hand I had my common sense and realism. So instead of just relying on the backpack, I first put the laptop inside two plastic bags.
About 30 minutes later after a grueling bike ride I was home. Surprisingly, it held quite well. Of course, I was glad that I added the extra security with the plastic bags, because the inside the backpack was a little damp. Considering how rainy it was, I was pretty impressed. Still wouldn't call it fully waterproof though. But I will feel more confident with it during the light to medium rain.
Here is the closer picture of the drysack-style waterproof rolling top. On the side there is a zipper that allows easy access to the contents to avoid unrolling the top. It was my main reason for the concern during the rain – I though the water would easily creep in (it didn't).
On the opposite side there is a pocket that does not connect with the main unit.
The picture above shows my laptop peeking through the side zipper entrance. You can also see what I assume is the waterproof lining.
I've been using the backpack for over half a year now.
The waterproof lining has almost completely worn off. Other than that, the backpack is still in a very good condition. The zippers work flawlessly, and nothing has ripped – the straps and the zipper tips are still intact.
Considering the price, I rate this as a pretty successful buy!