A few weeks ago, I became aware of a fairly new company making lightweight bags. They are called LiteGear and upon close inspection, many of their bags looked like copies of the same bags offered by Rick Steves.
I was intrigued. I contacted the company and found out that the owners of LiteGear, were also the people behind Kiva–the company that designed and made the Rick Steves bags from 1999 to 2013. (Steves now gets his bags made by Ricardo of Beverly Hills). Shortly after the switch by Steves, Kiva was sold to the parent company of Baggalini who decided to drop Kiva as a brand.
Except for the front panels, many of the LIteGear bags are the same as the Rick Steves line. But they told me there was one new bag that is completely original and they sent me one for review.
The LIteGear Mobile Pro is a hybrid backpack/shoulder bag meant to be carried as either an every day carry bag or an airline personal item.
Measuring 17″ x 10″ x 9″ with a capacity of 1530 cu in., the bag is expandable to 17″ x 10″ x 12″ and 2014 cu in. It weighs, according to the manufacturer, 2.1 lbs, although our high-tech OBOW scale (also known as a kitchen scale) has it at 1 lb 8 oz (empty) and 2 lbs 5 oz with all the extras. (More on that later.)
The rear of the bag has hideaway backpack straps, a padded air mesh back, and a luggage pass through. There is a top grab handle and “D” rings for the included shoulder strap.
There are six compartments. The main compartment has a small flashlight/laser pointer attached near the top and two file pockets.
Behind that, is a separate padded laptop compartment.
There are four smaller compartments including an organizer pocket with RFID blocking for credit cards and a passport. There is also a side mesh water bottle/umbrella pocket.
Included with the Mobile Pro are the already mentioned shoulder strap and flashlight, as well as a cord manager, document holder, thermal food container, and small, clear mesh accessory pouch (not pictured.)
As stated previously, the bag expands. It is also fairly well structured and keeps its shape when empty although it can be squished into tight places if not filled to the max.
In general, I like the bag. It seems well made (recycled polyester) and well designed. It starts out a little heavy if all the extras are included and the size is pushing the continually changing airline “personal item” size regulations. (Before taking this bag as a personal item, I ‘d check with my airline to see if it would work.)
Now for the negatives. Well, as anyone who reads my reviews knows, I am a stickler for security. And this bag has issues.
While the main compartment and laptop compartments have locking zippers, the other four compartments don’t nor do they have any way to secure the zippers shut. Considering the manufacturer suggests putting your tablet and cellphone in one of these pockets, which is padded exclusively for this, and your credit cards and passport in another, it is an invitation to a professional thief to help himself.
A backpack worn on the back is out of sight and vulnerable. Sure, I doubt if you wear one in the woods a cunning bear is going to follow you and help itself to your Ipad. But in any major city, and especially on public transportation, you are vulnerable.
If my security concerns don’t bother you, and you are looking for a hybrid bag that could be used for both work and travel, especially with all the extras included, you should give a thought to this one.
I also think it would make a great “mommy/daddy” bag for those parents out with the kids no longer in diapers yet who still need you to carry wipes, sweaters, drinks, etc for them. (The thermal food container is made to fit in the bag and with an extra ice pack could keep homemade snacks cold.) The front pockets are great for quick grab items that wouldn’t be of interest to a thief. (Not too many thieves will cry out: “Score, got me some wet wipes.”)
The LiteGear Mobile Pro retails for $99. It’s available in black, mallard green and royal purple. Made in China.