My criteria for a backpack that I’ll use for longer than during the review period (and that I’ll continue to enjoy carrying) is pretty basic: it needs to be light when empty, durable, good-looking, well-organized, and it must be comfortable to wear when it is inevitably overloaded. The booq Cobra squeeze meets all of my needs and then some.
Composed of 47% recycled PET and 53% cotton, the Cobra Squeeze is weatherproof without looking like a more casual Cordura or ballistic nylon. The lighter gray color makes it stand out in a sea of black backpacks, and its curved shape further sets it apart from the basic black box so many of us are used to toting.
Let’s take a look at all of the booq Cobra squeeze’s features and pockets …
Measuring approximately 17″ tall x 12″ wide x 5″ deep at its widest points, there are five different sets of YKK zippers on the front which open four different compartments. The two side compartment and two main compartment zippers have 2″ leather pulls with a round metal booq logo on their end, the top pocket compartment has a 1.5″ metal and rubber pull with a metal booq logo on the end. All of the zippers are covered, which will help keep rain from getting inside.
The overall exterior appearance of the bag is sleek, professional, and even though it is most definitely not composed of it — the fabric has a slight tweed appearance. You can learn more about this fabric, or Bionic Yarn (as they call it, by clicking here.
The back side of the booq Cobra squeeze is composed almost entirely of padded mesh. When you wear a loaded backpack for any amount of time on a warm day, you are going to sweat (gross, right?); having the mesh in place adds breathability to an area that otherwise might just become a bit “swampy”. The nicely padded shoulder straps are 2.5″ wide and about 1/2″ thick; they have nylon adjustable straps at their bottom so that almost anyone can create a comfortable fit. One thing that I like about these straps is that they aren’t so long that they dangle to your knees if, like me, you need to pull the straps in a bit for the proper fit.
Let’s start at the top of the bag; there is a 7.5″ x 5″ fleece-lined zippered pocket, which is perfect not only for your mobile phone, it also works very well for sunglasses.
Here’s a shot of the top pocket’s super soft lining. Since I tend to keep my phone in my hand or in my jacket pocket, my sunglasses go in this pocket when they aren’t needed.
At the very top of the bag, there is a 1′ wide x 5.25″ long pleather handle which makes gripping the bag from the top comfortable. There are small circular metal booq logos on each end. The strap on either end of the handle is 2″ thick webbing, similar to the material used to make seat belts; based on prior experience with this material, I expect it to prove to be very strong and durable over the years.
The left side of the booq Cobra squeeze has a half-moon shaped pocket that measures approximately 11.5″ long x 5.5″ wide with a 16.5″ zipper that starts about midway on the compartment and ends midway on its other side.
Inside you have a 5.5″ long open pocket (with a spiffy fabric trim at its top); this is where I keep my iBatzz external battery. Outside the smaller pocket, you have a larger pocket that is great for holding a spare USB charging cable and your phone while it is being charged.
The pocket on the left side of the booq Cobra squeeze is essentially the same as the one on the right, with one convenient difference …
… the addition of a built-in keychain. This is great when you are traveling and you won’t be driving for a while; put your keys here and forget about them. When you need your keys, they won’t be lost in the bottom of the backpack.
Opening the two YKK zippers at the top of the backpack reveal an extremely well thought out interior that is loaded with pockets and secure compartments. Let’s start with the zippered pocket on the inside of the flap; it measures approximately 8.5″ wide (at its widest point) x 13″ long. This is where I keep spare cables, and it is also where I inevitably wind up shoving all of the receipts I have to keep from my business trips to keep my accountant (and the IRS) happy.
Directly below that large zippered pocket is an 8.5″ (at its widest point) x 5″ open mesh pocket. This is possibly one of the handiest pockets in the entire backpack; because it is so easily accessed, it’s where I kept my passport, my boarding passes, and my Kindle while traveling. I also threw my phone in there while in flight, because I knew it would be easy to grab upon landing.
My only complaint about the entire bag actually involves this open mesh pocket: I wish that there were a way to secure it when you needed to. Because it is on the flap, and because the flap flips back out of the way when you open the bag, loose items in this pocket may try to slide out. I didn’t lose anything, but I felt like there was a possibility that it could happen, so I was hyper-vigilant about keeping an eye on this pocket’s contents.
The back wall of the booq Cobra squeeze has plenty of open pockets and partitions, just waiting to be filled. The largest is the padded laptop compartment in the back, at approximately 11″ wide x 14″ tall. It will handle any laptop up to a 15 MacBook Pro. I’ve used with a Dell 13 XPS, a 12″ HP 1020, and a 13″ MacBook Pro retina. The corner angled elastic strap at the top keeps your laptop from moving.
The next pocket (approximately 11″ wide x 8.5″ tall) is perfect for holding your iPad (face the screen toward the padded back if it isn’t in a case), or a magazine or two, a file, or any other flat item. I’ve even stuffed my Hyperjuice extended MacBook battery in this pocket, and it fit just fine.
Just in front of that pocket are two open pockets measuring approximately 6″ wide x 6.5″ deep and 5″ wide and 4.5″ deep. In the center of these two pockets is a pen holder.
The bottom interior of the booq Cobra squeeze is about 3″ deep, which is plenty of room to carry your compact camera, various chargers, world travel adapters, and any of the other flotsam and jetsam that you might want to tote along on a cross-town outing or international trip.
I’m not sure how practical the included Terralinq tag will be if you ever lose your bag while it’s loaded with gear, but for what it’s worth — I have registered my bag, and I would hope that if anyone were to ever find it, they would go to the site and report it so that I could be reconciled with my gear (pretty please?).
It’s too bad you can’t create a landing page on Terralinq that allows you to offer a reward for the return of your stuff, because I would be all for it.
Here’s my booq Cobra squeeze totally loaded down as I was about to leave the hotel on my recent trip to Malta. This bag proved itself to be perfect for wandering around the city, attending sessions with my iPad and/or laptop, and for being a totally loaded down workhorse while traveling overseas. It’s not often that people stop me to compliment my backpack, yet it happened repeatedly with the booq Cobra squeeze; my inner-fashionista approves.
If you’ve been looking for a durable, well-organized, comfortable, and light backpack that doesn’t look like an ugly hiking rig or the typical black rectangle when strapped to your back, then you really ought to check out the booq Cobra squeeze. It is stylish, compact, and deceptive — because it can hold a lot more than you might initially think.
The Booq Cobra Squeeze retails for $195, and it is available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Light; Comfortable straps; Lots of exterior pockets; Attractive curved shape; Water-repellant; Genuine YKK zippers; The adjustable straps on each side aren’t so long that they’ll hang to your knees when tightened up
What Needs Improvement:I wish there was a zipper or a snap on the net pocket in the top interior flap