Minimalist weight, technical requirement and maximum capacity are the drivers behind any backpack purchase.
The Pelican ProGear™ S140 Sport Elite Tablet Backpack gladly forgoes the first point to succeed on the final two.
Pelican ProGear™ S140 Sport Elite Tablet Backpack. Contributed photo
The Elite Tablet Backpack first and foremost is designed to protect your iPad or other tablet or netbook. A built-in watertight, crushproof case rides behind the shoulders. Pelican also says the case is dustproof and can withstand extreme temperatures. At 10.5 inches by 7.5 inches by 1.68 inches, the toploader will accept an iPad even if it’s clad in a thick, protective Survivor case. There’s also a divider to create room for a detachable keyboard in the hard shell.
The watertight seal was 100 percent effective in a short, shallow test; Pelican says it’s good for up to 30 minutes in up to 39 inches of water. The case stood up to a beating, front and back. The latch held firm in every test and use I tried. And the loops for a lock are a necessary touch, since the pack is likely to attract lots of looks once put to use.
Make no mistake; at 6.8 pounds, this would be one heavy pack to haul around campus, the woods or anywhere it will be on your back for long periods of time. If all you’re looking for is tablet or laptop protection, skip the pack and scout a standalone case.
It’s a superior choice for those who need their technology at hand, need some additional storage and have the chance to sling the pack on a front seat or stow it in a plane’s overhead bin or on a boat. Pelican says all of its cases are TSA approved.
The full unit measures 20 inches by 13 inches by 10 inches, including a 20.5-liter main compartment. A hidden feature is the padded lumbar storage cavity, tucked at the kidneys. It has all the look and depth of a camera carrying case, and can in fact fit a DSLR and two lenses. It would require a little more padding for me to feel entirely secure in hauling high-end camera gear there.
A kick-withstanding shell protects the bottom half of the pack’s front, opening to a pocket that includes wallet features. A zippered pocket rides atop the hardshell on the front of the pack, and a zippered mesh pocket adds to the storage in the main compartment. The main cavity is a bit slim but can accommodate a laptop or a change of clothes and daytrip or weekend essentials. Elastic-wrapped open pockets line each side. Bottom straps loosen to let the front pocket expand and to handle a sleeping pad or rolled-up jacket.
The shoulder straps are surprisingly comfortable. They float for the best fit, as does a lumbar pad of dense foam. The similarly thick back pads help keep the hiker separated from the tablet case. A chest clip and hip belt, which is removable, help stabilize the load. For easy handling, there’s a sturdy, rubberized grip on the case.
The ProGear™ S140 Sport Elite Tablet Backpack is listed by Pelican at $215.96, but I’ve seen it at online retailers for $121. Manufactured in China, it comes with a one-year limited warranty.
This isn’t the pack I would wear on a through-hike. It is the pack I would take to camp or on a cross-country trip if I had to have a tablet along.
Here’s a video review of the pack. Be aware that there’s only one tablet case, not the two mentioned in the video. The first mention is actually the rigid-lidded front pocket, which is not sealed with an o-ring or waterproof.