The great backpack showdown: Which one has your back from home to school and back?

By Ariel Conant

It might not seem important, but when you are carrying books around for hours on end, the bag you choose can make a big difference

By Ariel Conant |

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School is back in full swing, and your pile of textbooks is sure to be growing. Do you have the right backpack to support your learning - and your back? What makes a good backpack anyway? Young Post decided to find out.

We put three different bags to the test, all provided by Zalora. Each bag had a different shape and different features that could make it the best - or worst - bag for your schoolbook needs.

The contestants

Sub-editor Lucy had first choice, and made a grab for the Topman Explorer Backpack in burgundy. The Explorer is the biggest bag of the three. It also has a drawstring top and a flap that closes with magnetic tabs.

Reporter Ben chose the more traditional-looking Hershel Classic Backpack in navy. It's just a little bit smaller than the Explorer. The Classic has a zip top, but the zipper doesn't go all the way down the sides.

Deputy Editor Karly got the Zalora Nylon Shoe Bag in grey. This little bag doesn't have straps. Instead it just has a small top handle, but its zip opens wider than the Classic.

Check out the hilarious video of the bags being put to the test below!

The Tests

Lucy tested the Topman Explorer Backpack in burgundy.
Photo: Ken Cheng/SCMP

Test one: the packing test

The race was on in this timed test. Each contestant had an identical stack of seven items of stationery and seven books of different sizes. They had to get everything into their bags as quickly as possible. Points would be taken off for any item that wouldn't fit in the bags.

Ben, with the Classic Backpack, got everything in, zipped up and strapped on in record time.

He was followed closely by Lucy with the Explorer, who easily fitted everything in her spacious bag.

Karly took a bit longer with the Shoe Bag, and no one thought she would fit everything in. But surprisingly, she managed to pack it all in, meaning she didn't lose any points.

Round ranking: Classic, Explorer, Shoe Bag

Test two: the movement test

For the next test, the contestants had to run up two flights of stairs with their fully-packed bags. This was to test how easy it was to carry, and how easy it was to move around with their heavy bags.

It was close between Ben and Lucy, but in the end Lucy's larger Explorer bag weighed her down and Ben reached the top first.

Karly's small bag without straps meant she had to carry it up the stairs in her hand, which slowed her down and put her in third place.

Round ranking: Classic, Explorer, Shoe Bag

Karly toted the Zalora Nylon Shoe Bag in grey.
Photo: Ken Cheng/SCMP

Test three: the drop test

This round wasn't a race, but a test of each backpack's durability.

Contestants had to push their bags down the stairs they had just raced up, to see how tough the bags were. Points would be taken off for any item that fell out of the bag.

Karly thew her Shoe Bag down first. Though the zip was open, not a thing fell out.

Ben's Classic Backpack also did well, rolling down the steps without losing a single item.

Lucy's Explorer did not do so well, and a pen immediately came flying out. Without a zip at the top, there was nothing keeping her items in.

Round ranking: Shoe Bag, Classic, Explorer

Test four: the mess test

With so many subjects, it's important to be able to find what you need in a hurry. So for this round, contestants had to find the items that were called out as quickly as possible.

The Shoe Bag's small size actually proved a benefit in this round, as Karly was easily able to find items without too much hassle. She was first to find all four pens and two of the three books called.

Lucy, with her roomy Explorer bag, was first to find one of the books, and second to find three of the pens.

Ben's Classic bag let him down in this round, as the smaller zip opening at the top limited how much he could see inside his bag. He was second to find all four books, and second to find one of the four pens.

Round ranking: Shoe Bag, Explorer, Classic

Ben tried out the Hershel Classic Backpack in navy.
Photo: Ken Cheng/SCMP

Test five: the wet test

It was time to see how the bags would fare in rainy Hong Kong. We packed them with precious copies of Young Post, and lined them up for their final test. We poured water over each of them, and then checked to see how well they did protecting the paper inside.

Despite the Explorer's drawstring top, which we were sure would let in the most water, it proved fairly waterproof except for a few drops that got in at the open top.

We thought the Classic would hold up well, but it absorbed the water like a sponge. The bottom of the bag was filled with almost 2cm of water.

The Shoe Bag didn't do very well either. It was also filled with lots of water, almost as much as the Classic.

Round ranking: Explorer, Shoe Bag, Classic


After our five tests, it's clear you can't judge a book bag by its cover.

The Shoe Bag managed to fit a surprising amount of stuff in it, and it was easy to find things in it. Karly actually really liked it, but she did admit that without straps it was difficult to carry around.

Although the Classic was easy to pack and carry, its short zip made it hard to take things out. Also, its lack of waterproofing could easily destroy any books or electronics in the rain.

The Explorer was very spacious, but didn't do particularly well on any of the tests. But Lucy argued it was definitely the most fashionable bag of the bunch.