I don’t generally like to start by questioning a company’s naming decisions, but Ogio’s choice of “gambit” has me stumped. As I understand it, a gambit is a move (usually an opener in chess) that suffers some short term loss for the promise of a future gain, but my time with the Gambit backpack involved no tradeoffs, no short term losses, and was an immediate gain. This backpack has pockets, zips, ties, and pouches for just about anything you could wish to carry, all wrapped up in well cushioned padding and super soft fleece to keep your gear safe. And it’s got so much room I was able to fit not only my electronic gear but also clothing and souvenirs during a recent trek across India.
I used the Ogio for nearly three weeks on a recent business trip to India, and I never seemed to run out of places to put stuff in this bag. In addition to a normal suitcase, I was required to carry with me at all times a work laptop, work documents, my iPad, iPhone, iPod, DSLR, emergency medications, neck pillow, change of clothes, bottle of water…you get the general idea. Packing my Gambit in the mornings felt a lot like one of those infomercials where you see a table full of stuff and they do a fast-forward sequence to cram it all into the bag. I managed to carry everything I needed comfortably thanks to the generous padding and smart design decisions Ogio made with the Gambit backpack, and I never had bulging zippers that I prayed would hold.
Everything In Its Place
Because there are so many different pockets, one of the biggest problems you run into is forgetting where your stuff is actually stored. The variety of storage spots includes:
- A zippered laptop sleeve on the back, with an integrated small laptop pouch (for something the size of an 11″ MacBook Air).
- Dual zippered utility compartments on the side, capable of holding a point-and-shoot camera, smartphone, 12 oz can of soda, etc. There are also dual mesh pockets on the lower sides of the backpack. One includes an elastic strap for securing a bottle, while the other includes an elastic cord and plastic toggle that can secure a variety of items. My inflatable neck pillow rolls up into a cylinder about 3″ x 7″ and went in one while a bottle of water was in the other at all times.
- A rigid, crushproof tech vault up top that’s big enough to hold a Canon Rebel DSLR body (good for storing your more delicate electronics).
- A massive main compartment with dual document sleeves. I managed to store a folder of work documents in one sleeve, folder of travel documents (hotel bills, itineraries, etc.) in the other, and kept a full change of clothes along with various souvenirs in the main compartment.
- A tablet and accessory compartment, which features a built-in iPad sleeve and a generously sized compartment that carried adaptors, power supplies, snacks, and my emergency pouch with various necessities, currency, stain remover pen, and plenty of stomach medications (just in case experimenting with local cuisine turned bad).
- An organizer panel with three interior mesh sleeves and one zippered sleeve capable of holding business cards or smaller electronics like USB drives, as well as a pen organizer.
- A variety of loops down the shoulder straps that allow you to easily attach carabiners or clips.
Comfort and Convenience
Being able to stuff a massive amount of gear into a bag is a plus, but for the winning combination it’s got to be comfortable to carry and convenient to use, as well. Ogio put generous-yet-slim padding on the back and shoulder straps of the Gambit, and there’s a cross-chest stabilizer clip that helps to distribute the load evenly. When flying or navigating an office I appreciated the Gambit’s thick, padded handle that’s riveted on, so I was confident hoisting the backpack into and out of overhead bins. On most planes I was able to fit the fully packed bag under the seat in front of me, though if your airline is using the under-seat space for inflight entertainment computers or other gear, you will have to stow the bag in the overhead.
Ogio’s Gambit 17 is a great hauler if you need to keep lots of gear with you and are on the move—it might be slight overkill for a daily commuter bag if you have an office, but road warriors or coffee shop freelancers will be able to fit their entire office in with room to spare. I found the construction and design to both be top notch, and this bag will definitely be my go-to for traveling with gear in the future.
Buy the Ogio Gambit 17 Laptop Backpack
Provides: Storage and transportation for laptop, iPad, digital accessories, and more
Maximum Capacities: 15″ laptop, iPad 4, 2050 cubic inches of storage for other gear/personal effects
Price: $80 – $100