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ATPM 11.04
April 2005



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Review: Axio Backpacks

by Chris Lawson,

Axio Swift Backpack


Developer: Axio

Price: $160

Trial: None

I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t $160 kinda expensive for a backpack?” Well, in the market niche occupied by Axio’s line of hard-shell backpacks, the answer is no, and for good reason: making a hard-shell backpack that actually protects its contents is costly. Whether Axio’s Swift does this any better than its few competitors remains to be seen.


“Few” is probably an exaggeration. As far as this motorcyclist/bicyclist/avid laptop user knows, there is precisely one other competitor in this market, namely Boblbee. The top-of-the-line Megalopolis was reviewed here at ATPM just over two years ago and, until the introduction of Harodesign’s Axio line a year ago, seemed to be the only realistic option for hard-shell wearable laptop protection. Saddlebags are a much better option on a motorcycle than on a bicycle, as anyone who has pedaled a bicycle up a hill with extra weight on board can attest, and you can’t take a saddlebag off the bike and into the office very easily.

Without making this too much of a shoot-out between the Swift and the Megalopolis, how does the Swift stack up? Well, the Swift encloses 1200 cubic inches, according to Axio, making it the second-largest hard-shell pack in the Axio line. Only the Fuse is bigger (see the review below); and, while not cavernous like the Hybrid (again, see the review below), it doesn’t feel terribly small, as the Megalopolis sometimes does.


It’s clear that the designers put some serious thought into the bag’s ergonomics. The Swift is a very comfortable pack, with contoured and very well-padded shoulder straps that fit the wearer’s torso. It’s fairly heavy for a backpack—about six pounds—but the limited size works in its favor here, as you can’t stuff it so full that it becomes a real burden. A laptop, AC adapter and miscellaneous other accessories, and a couple notebooks or large textbook aren’t going to be any more of a burden in this pack than they would be in the ubiquitous nylon Jansport packs you see on college campuses across the country. Conversely, if you’re the type who carries four textbooks and two three-inch binders around for eight hours a day, you’ll want something bigger. You probably don’t want to cram your laptop into a backpack with all that other stuff anyway, not to mention that your chiropractor is going to love you when you get to be 35.


The Swift does well on most details. All Axio bags come with a detachable nylon cell-phone pouch that can clip onto either shoulder strap. If you leave the pack in a locker during the day, you can take the pouch with you and clip it on your belt. It’s a nice touch, and it’s no worse than most $20 mall-kiosk cell-phone covers. The pouch can work with an iPod (sort of; you can’t really control the iPod, but it’ll hold it snugly and protect it) if you don’t have a cell phone, or if you carry your cell phone elsewhere. Also included is a protective cloth bag for storing your Swift, tossing it in an overhead luggage bin, etc. to prevent scratches.


We here at ATPM take reader satisfaction very seriously, and we’re dedicated to fair, thorough reviews that give useful buying advice. My useful buying advice about that cloth bag is this: Axio should have given you a rain fly instead. I’m going to get all Consumer Reports on you for a minute and describe the Official ATPM Worry Wart’s Wild and Wacky Western Washington Winter Weather Water WorkoutTM.

It all started when Lee directed my attention to a little feature I very nearly missed. Axio’s entire product line has a headphone cord pass-through port at the top of the backpack, near the carrying handle. This is ostensibly so riders can listen to a portable CD player (apparently enough people still use these for Axio to have designed an appropriately sized pouch into each pack) or iPod (a product Axio has apparently never heard of, as iPod-sized pouches or pockets are conspicuously absent) while they’re on the go. A fine idea in theory, if a bit dangerous. (Headphones in traffic? Just Say NoTM.)

Unfortunately, Axio forgot to put any sort of covering over this hole.

Any motorcyclist or bicyclist who’s ever been caught out in the rain knows exactly what that means: a leak waiting to happen. After much hand-wringing over how to deal with this potential problem, I decided to put it to a test, and the OATPMWWWaWWWWWWWTM was born. This test basically consists of the following:

  1. Turn on shower.
  2. Put on backpack, zipped up, with zipper pulls paired at top center (worst-case scenario with the gap at the leading edge).
  3. Get in shower.
  4. Stand in artificial downpour for three minutes.
  5. Point shower head away from you, or turn it off. Don’t get out of the shower unless you have floor drains in your bathroom.
  6. Note the amount of water (if any) that ends up in the pack, where it ends up, and where it seems to have come from.

Remember this, because you’ll be quizzed on it later.

Admittedly, this is an absolute worst-case scenario test. The only way you’d see rain this heavy in the real world would probably be to ride your motorcycle into a hurricane, to ride your motorcycle behind a semi truck with no mud flaps driving through a hurricane, or to take an off-pavement detour into a lake on your Scuba-Doo. Keeping that in mind, after three minutes under the shower, I poured at least half a cup of standing water out of the bottom of the Swift. Judging by the leakage patterns inside the bag, most of this water came in through the headphone pass-through, but some of it definitely came through the zipper. Most of the zipper leakage could be avoided by making sure the two zipper pulls meet anywhere but the leading edge of the bag, but I recommend a piece of black duct tape—or a proper backpack rain fly—for riders who don’t anticipate using the headphone pass-through.


That zipper, by the way, works very well. Its nearly circumferential design allows the pack to open very wide for easy loading and unloading of your laptop, books, gadgets, and other stuff. The interior presents a multitude of pockets for storing accessories, and the layout of these pockets makes them useful even when the bag is stuffed to capacity. This is something that cannot be said for the Megalopolis, and I’ve gotten very good at untangling cords as a result.


Unfortunately, that interior design is also responsible for the second of the Swift’s three major drawbacks. Due to the small panel that separates the laptop compartment from the rest of the interior, you really need to buy a laptop sleeve to protect the laptop from being scratched by the rest of the contents of the bag. Making this panel six inches taller (and, optionally, lining the compartment) would have entirely obviated the problem.

Tom Bihn’s Brain Cell is an excellent sleeve, but don’t expect to fit anything larger than a 15" Brain Cell in the Swift’s laptop compartment. With something thinner like a wetsuit-style sleeve, you might cram a 17" PowerBook in there, but it’ll be tight. Smaller PowerBooks and iBooks should fit easily. Keep the cost of a sleeve in mind when you’re making a purchasing decision; expect to pay at least $20 and possibly as much as $50 to get a feature that most laptop bags in this price range include by default.

The last major drawback may simply be a matter of perception, but it deserves mention. The polycarbonate shell on the Swift is very thin, so thin that it flexes when you push in on it. Polycarbonate is the generic name of GE’s famous Lexan plastic, and it’s tough stuff—so tough that it’s claimed to be “shatterproof” in many applications. That’s all well and good, but if you’re sliding along on your back at 20 MPH or so, how long is the thin layer going to hold up to the abrasion of the road surface? I don’t have any real-world testing on which to base this concern, but the thicker ABS shell on the Megalopolis gives me greater peace of mind.

One final (minor) word of warning: if you do get caught out in the rain and the bag really gets wet, or if you sweat heavily while wearing the pack, the red fabric on the back pad may bleed onto your shirt or jacket. I’d recommend washing the back panel in warm water when you first get the bag to bleed out as much excess color as possible.

All that being said, I prefer the Swift to the Megalopolis, as it’s more space-efficient, looks less like a prop from a B-grade ripoff of The Rocketeer, and holds more stuff in a more organized fashion. If I were riding my motorcycle more right now—and keep in mind the Swift was actually designed for motorcyclists, so this is pretty significant—I would have to pick the Megalopolis, which is totally waterproof and has a thicker shell.

So should you buy a Swift? If you’ve read this far, you’re probably looking for the same thing I am—a roomy, highly protective hard-shell pack that looks good and works better. The Swift is almost it. If you can live with its disadvantages, or if you just can’t stomach the design of the Megalopolis, it’s a good choice. It’s attractive, it’s competitively priced, and it’s very comfortable. Just keep your duct tape or rain fly handy.

Axio Hybrid Backpack


Developer: Axio

Price: $180

Trial: None

Axio’s Hybrid is the Texas of laptop backpacks. It’s bigger and badder than everything else, and by golly, it’s not going to let you forget that. This works pretty well, and the Hybrid turns out to be a decent—and very roomy—pack.


The oversized Hybrid is one of the largest day packs out there, and a true leviathan in the laptop backpack market. At 2671 cubic inches, it’s almost as voluminous as a kid-sized frame pack. Obviously, this pack was designed from the ground up for 17" PowerBook users, and the included sleeve confirms that idea. A 15" PowerBook will fit loosely in the sleeve, shaking around a bit but safely padded from any bumps and scratches. Those of you with smaller ’Books might want to trade the sleeve for a smaller one from another manufacturer.


That sleeve deserves a mention. It’s designed much like the $20 Brenthaven iBook sleeves on the Apple Store for Education, or like a Brain Cell rotated 90 degrees. It isn’t reinforced with plastic, so it’s not as stiff or as protective as it could be, but it’s well-padded and lined with soft fleece. Like the Hybrid itself, the sleeve is bulky. To be fair, the sleeve looks like it was designed to hold large, thick Wintel laptops, too, which accounts for the bulk. Despite its size, it integrates very well into the pack. It attaches to the bottom of the pack (with hook-and-loop fabric) and sides (with snaps), so even if the pack gets tossed around, the sleeve will stay in place. Axio could take a page from Booq’s, ah, “book” here and offer sleeve options for its customers. The integration of the included sleeve is so nice that you hate to give it up, but closer-fitting sleeves give a feeling of greater security.


While not a true hard-shell, the Hybrid has a very stiff exterior that undoubtedly provides better protection than a limp nylon pack. There are two main compartments, both closed by nearly circumferential zippers, which make loading and unloading easy. The outer portions of the pack’s clamshell hinge also come apart, which allows the bag to open a full 180 degrees (handy when you’re trying to dry it out; see below). Lots of little pockets and zippered compartments make sorting your gadgets a breeze. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture here, though. Backpacks are primarily for carrying around a lot of stuff. The Hybrid can swallow the largest laptops on the market, a binder or two, a bag lunch, and a couple of textbooks and still have room left over. This backpack surely carries the endorsement of the Future Chiropractors of America.


Medical jokes aside, the Hybrid is actually very comfortable even at full load. I threw two binders, three large textbooks, and a host of smaller paperbacks in it, and I nearly forgot I had 30 pounds on my back. A waist/hip belt and a chest strap combine with very well-padded and contoured shoulder straps to make the load seem much lighter than it really is. Those with shorter torsos may find the Hybrid too big, though; I’m 5' 10", and I have the shoulder straps tightened almost all the way down. Anyone under 5' 5" should definitely try the Hybrid on before making a decision.

Like Axio’s other packs, the Hybrid comes standard with a cell-phone pouch that clips on either shoulder strap, and nearly any cell phone that’s not a Zach Morris Special will fit. You can fit an iPod in there, too; just don’t expect to control it through the thick padding. Most pocket-sized PDAs will fit, too, if that’s your thing.


Also like Axio’s other packs, the Hybrid has a headphone cord pass-through hole at the top of the pack, and this hole can’t be sealed against the elements. The results from the Official ATPM Worry Wart’s Wild and Wacky Western Washington Winter Weather Water WorkoutTM (full details in the Swift review above) aren’t encouraging, either. The “waterproof” zippers still leaked fairly badly through the pulls. My advice is the same as for the Swift: don’t zip it closed with the pulls at the leading edge of the pack, and most of this problem will go away. The headphone pass-through is another matter entirely. I poured fully three cups of water from the CD player pouch after the test. While the presence of this pouch did minimize the amount of water that got inside the main compartment of the pack, neither the pouch nor its seams are totally waterproof, so the headphone pass-through is basically a slow leak. It’s better than the setup on other Axio packs, whose headphone pass-throughs empty directly into the main compartment, but it’s still leaky enough to render the CD player pouch useless in the wet. Again, get some black duct tape or a rain fly if you expect you might ever get caught out while riding, and most importantly, don’t keep anything in that pouch that isn’t 100% waterproof.


The biggest flaw aside from the utterly useless headphone pass-through is that the waterproof zippers are very stiff and will require some break-in before they slide smoothly. There’s some individual variation here, and not all Hybrids have horribly stiff zippers. Pulling outward on the zipper pull as you’re operating it seems to help alleviate the problem too.

The Hybrid is great for people who have to carry a lot of stuff, simply by virtue of being about the biggest laptop backpack out there. If you need a big pack or simply find true hard-shells too small, give the Hybrid a look. It’s a good pack, but if your only vehicle has two wheels and no cab, buy a rain fly and save yourself a lot of headaches.

Axio Fuse Backpack


Developer: Axio

Price: $140

Trial: None

Axio has taken the shotgun approach to the hard-shell backpack market: make a bunch of slightly different bags and there’s bound to be one for everybody. The Fuse is the largest of their true hard-shell line, and follows the Henry Ford Rule of Color: anything you like as long as it’s black.


The Fuse has a fairly understated design, with black nylon fabric covering a polyethylene shell (Axio’s other hard-shells use polycarbonate) and a splash of Tennessee orange-and-white on the back pad. The shell is more flexible than that of the Swift (reviewed above), despite its extra thickness, due to the difference in shell material. The signature Axio hard-shell design elements—adjustable chest strap, ergonomic shoulder straps with reflective piping, a clip-on cell-phone/PDA/iPod holster, circumferential zippers for easy laptop ingress/egress—are all present and accounted for. The attendant benefits of these elements are also noticeable. As with other Axio packs, the Fuse is eminently comfortable to wear and fairly easy to use.

As backpacks go, hard-shells tend to be on the small side. The Fuse, at 1300 cubic inches, is pretty big for a hard-shell, though it’s still under half the size of Axio’s monster Hybrid (reviewed above). Though the Fuse claims a 100-cubic-inch advantage over its shiny cousin, the Swift, it feels somewhat smaller. This feeling is deceptive, because it’s actually easier to pack more stuff in the Fuse.


This probably arises because the internal layout of the Fuse is, well, backwards. The pack is divided into two primary compartments. One is obviously intended for the computer, some pencils, and a CD/DVD or two. The other compartment, lined entirely with soft felt, houses a wonderful compartmentalization scheme that I’ve only seen in one other product: my Targus digital camera case. There are four dividers—one long, three short—that have the hook portion of hook-and-loop fabric on their lower face. You can place them anywhere you want, in virtually any arrangement you want, to customize the layout of the compartment to your precise needs.


The problem with this otherwise very useful arrangement is that it places a laptop immediately under the hard shell with almost no padding between the computer and an impact to the shell. If the custom compartment had been on the outside (just inside the shell), with the computer sleeve/compartment on the inside (sitting on the wearer’s back), this design would be far better. As it is, the flexible shell and computer placement absolutely dictate the use of a sleeve ($20 to $50 extra) if you’re going to use the compartments as they’re intended. If you’re willing to give up most of the flexibility of the custom compartment, you can put your laptop in there and arrange the dividers to keep the laptop from sliding around. There’s nothing really wrong with this arrangement, and I recommend it for maximum protection, but you do lose the organizational benefits of that wonderful custom compartment. Either way is a far cry better than the internal layout of a Megalopolis, however, and for this flexibility, Axio is to be commended. Furthermore, the internal division of this pack into two main compartments makes it easy to toss a computer in one half and notebooks and such in the other half. This is why it’s easier to cram more into the Fuse than the Swift, and the Swift could take a design lesson from the Fuse here.


Like the Swift, the Fuse struggles to swallow a 17" laptop in a sleeve, but will gobble up just about any laptop out there if you’re willing to risk strapping it in “naked.” Smaller laptops are no problem, sleeve or not, though a 15" Brain Cell is a tight fit in the designated laptop compartment. It fits easily in the other compartment with all dividers removed.


Those well-conceived signature Axio hard-shell design elements have a dark side: “signature” Axio design quirks. There’s a nice cloth storage bag included with the Fuse but, like the Swift’s storage bag, you would have been far better off with a rain fly. That incomprehensible headphone cord pass-through is present here too, and it let about half a cup of water through during the OATPMWWWaWWWWWWWTM test. The zipper is identical to that used on the Swift, so the same warning applies: don’t leave the zipper pulls mated on the leading edge of the bag if you’re riding. Since there’s another zipper inside the Fuse enclosing one of the compartments, make sure the two zipper closures don’t line up with each other. Making those two mistakes (intentionally) in the simulated torrential downpour added an extra half-cup of water to the contents of the pack. Also like the Swift, the Axio’s brightly colored back pad can bleed onto clothing when wet, so washing it with warm water would be a good idea.


The Fuse would be very nearly the perfect hard-shell if it had a bit more style, a stiffer shell, and innards that hadn’t taken a trip through the Revers-o-Tron. Oh, and please, fix the headphone pass-through with a cover. Marware can do it on their SportSuit Convertible, and duct tape is only so much fun.

Reader Comments (36)

Leo D. Venezuela · April 6, 2005 - 06:17 EST #1
Dear Chris,

Thanks for this review. I googled "user review axio swift backpack" and this is the best review that came out of the search. :)

I recently bought an Axio Swift a few days ago. But despite being very careful in handling the backpack, e.g., setting the bag down on straps and not the shell, I notice that the glossy polycarbonate shell scratches easily. You can see this when its viewed at an angle under the lights. The scratches are not deep but in these areas the glossy finish is no longer present. :(

Here are my questions:

1. What's the best way to maintain its glossy like-new finish?
2. For the scratches that are already on the shell, what's the best way to remove them?


Leo D. Venezuela
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · April 7, 2005 - 02:57 EST #2
Leo --

I ran into a similar problem recently when I noticed the Swift had been accumulating paint on it from bumping into doors and such. I got most of that off with judicious application of a fingernail and toothpick, but I certainly see your dilemma.

My Megalopolis, for what it's worth, certainly looks somewhat worse for wear after three years. That's one of the drawbacks of a hard-shell pack. They tend to have shiny finishes, and they tend to show scratches/nicks/scuffs much more than nylon packs would.

For treating scratches and keeping the finish shiny, I would suggest a) contacting Axio to see what they recommend and b) in the absence of any recommendation from Axio, car buffing and waxing compounds. Fortunately, the Swift's carbon-look colour layer is protected by a fairly thick clearcoat, so the worst you'll probably have to deal with are scratches in the clearcoat. (No touch-up paint, thank goodness!)

Ah, the price we pay for style, right?

eric · May 18, 2005 - 03:07 EST #3
car polish cream works well to recover the shiny aspect of this bag
Leo D. Venezuela · July 20, 2005 - 07:10 EST #4

Thanks for taking the time to write back. :) Thanks too to Eric for putting in his two cents to my query.

I've taken the buffing compound route and in the absence of a mechanical polisher I've had to use a lot of elbow grease.

The application of the buffing compound has indeed helped with removing the shallow scratches; they're definitely not as noticeable as before. However, deep scratches are beyond redemption so prevention is still the best medicine in this case.

Pat · August 12, 2005 - 20:31 EST #5
dear chris,

im going into college and i wanted somthing to keep my laptop but isnt too big but looks good. i was thinking about getting the Fuse, but i was worried about space. im not sure what i will need to be holding, but most likely a notebook and a textbook and my laptop. its a small laptop so i hope i can use the space for other school things. i was also wondering what the teck pack did and if it was worth buying.

thanks, pat
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · August 14, 2005 - 23:07 EST #6

Thanks for writing. The Fuse is a decent size, but you're probably going to find it rather cramped with a laptop, a notebook, _and_ a textbook in there. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it certainly won't be too comfortable unless you have small notebooks.

Axio never sent a Tek-Pak to review (I forgot to ask for one), but you're certainly not going to fit a notebook or textbook in there based on the photos on their site.

Unless you're actually going to be riding a motorcycle or bicycle with a laptop on a regular basis, I'd look for alternative solutions.

If you _are_ going to be on two wheels, it's pretty much a toss-up between the Fuse/Swift and the Boblbee Megalopolis. The Axio packs are laid out better internally, but the Megalopolis can hold a lot more on the outside of the bag.

Dan · September 19, 2005 - 11:12 EST #7
Excellent review, and it answered the two questions I had about the Swift. I ride (motorcycle) to work 3/4 of the year (I'm in the Chicago area), and want a backpack that is, or can be made, waterproof. I was also wondering about the padding for the laptop. It sounds like I need to find a rain cover that will fit the Swift, as well as a sleeve. Or maybe I just need to get a Givi topcase for my bike...

Thanks again!
Keith · October 13, 2005 - 12:47 EST #8
The Tek-Pack is an add-on thing for some of the Axio hardpack bags. It looks like the hardpack's backpack - a place to carry smallish things when you want quick access to them. There are pictures of Tek-Packs in place on some of the bags at the UK site for Axio bags,, in case anyone's interested.

Me, I like my Swift Carbon, and it has survived a year of almost daily use better than any of my previous bags...

Cool reviews BTW.

Marcel · November 24, 2005 - 16:22 EST #9

I'm looking at buying a Swift early next month to put a 17" Powerbook in there. I saw you said a sleeve was an absolute necessity.

Do you have any recommendation with regard to sleeves which will still fit inside the laptop compartment?

Thanks for your help,
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · November 24, 2005 - 17:36 EST #10

I recommend either the MaxSleeve from MaxUpgrades or the Brain Cell from Tom Bihn. I've tested both and found both to be quite nice. The Brain Cell is substantially more expensive, but can stand on its own as a bag in a pinch. The MaxSleeve is pretty much a dedicated sleeve, and I wouldn't want to use it on its own without putting it inside another bag (which, of course, is sort of the point here).

Take a look at those two reviews and see what you think. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.

Graham V · March 23, 2006 - 12:17 EST #11
Nice reviews, and generally a nice site. Axio has a new bag called the Forza, and I was just wondering if you have been able to review it as yet.
Mike Grossman · May 5, 2006 - 12:55 EST #12
Great Review of the Swift! Do you think that the headphone hole could be used to feed the tube of a hydration system through? Like that of a camel pack?
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · May 5, 2006 - 15:19 EST #13
Yeah, it should be big enough for that, Mike, although you'd probably have to disconnect the mouthpiece to feed it through.

Mike Grossman · May 5, 2006 - 16:16 EST #14
Great, how about the size, I cant seem to find the specs anywhere, im a bit on the short side, roughly 5'5, is this thing going to take up my whole back?
Simon Crosbie · September 27, 2006 - 17:14 EST #15
Just an addition to the comments about a sleeve for the Swift...

Absolutely neccessary, and make sure it's a padded one. On a short walk from the end of the road to my house, the right strap clasp of my Swift gave way. I noticed it had moved on the way home (on the bus today) and reseated it. A few minutes and a bus ride later, the swift was slung on my shoulder and I set of from the bus stop for about 500 metre walk home. My shoulder went very light and the Swift promptly dropped 5 feet to the floor. The rain cover saved it from scratches, but my 17" PowerBook has taken a hell of a knock. It was in it's thin RadTech PowrSleev (Very nice in itself) and not in the thicker SFBags sleeve, as thats bulky and I needed to fit my sketch book in to scan some illustrations at home. The back corner and hinge are badly damaged. There is little, or no protection offered by the Swift if it drops almost straight down. I'd be very surprised if it did much to help if you come off even a push bike, let alone anything bigger. I'm really annoyed after spending time and money researching and then choosing something to protect a significantly expensive laptop.
My other worry is the durability of the clasps on the straps. The right clasp on mine after about 8 months is decidedly out of shape.
Oh, and I now have a movie prop on my back, if anyone has seen Stormbreaker. Alex Rider has a carbon finish swift.
Grrrr. V. cross!
Etenia · September 30, 2006 - 18:20 EST #16
I actually own the Axio Mini, which is quite similar to the Swift, and I would suggest the Mini to any smaller framed people. Besides being easily scratched, I've encountered one problem. One text book I bought had a distinct odor and now the bookbag has a noticeable scent. I was wondering if you could suggest methods of the inside of hardpacks. I have Febreezed it to death but I would like other suggestions.


eddy van heffen · October 24, 2006 - 13:58 EST #17
thank you for these interesting reviews. what about the axio forza red any ideas about quality and water and scratchproof. eddy belgium
Esben S. Jensen · January 31, 2007 - 12:28 EST #18
Hi. I'm thinking about buying one of these. Do you think it's possible to fit a 15.4" laptop in it and still have room for a digital SLR camera? (Canon EOS 400D/Rebel XTi).
That's basicly my only concern, can you help me?
Benj "Yammy" Lemar · January 31, 2007 - 23:14 EST #19
I have been using the swift ever since it came out. As an Industrial Designer I can certainly say that this product does go pretty far in terms of an aesthetical form, and super functioning product. I guess I would have to say, I was fully convinced after the first bike crash I had with it on my back...Worked like a charm...I wouldn't expect anything less from polycarbonate infused with with an under pellet of ABS. Ultimately, there is nothing I can do but recommend this product as the first generation of hard-shell backpacks. Yes, we will see better ones in the future, that is a garuntee, but this bag will always serve as the podium to which the next one must surpass to make steps in showing whats really possible...When that bag happens I'll let you all know, and maybe I'll just give you one..! ;)

benj. yammy.
Stacey Marshall · February 2, 2007 - 17:28 EST #20
Thanks for the in-depth reviews. I'm considering the Axio Fuse. I'm a cyclist who cycles to work every day and have just got my first laptop. I need a bag to carry some essential tools (mini-pump, spare tube, tyre leavers, small multi-tool and bone-spanner), spare batteries, PDA and my lunch; the departments in the Fuse should help. Like Esben, I would also like to carry a camera on occasion (I could buy lunch on those days). I ride a road bike (racer) or a mountain bike (when I go cross country) and I'm mindful that I have fallen off a few times, though never directly on my back. Thus from your review I would need to buy a rain cover and a protective sleeve. Which makes we wonder if I should simply keep my current bag and purchase a sleeve... I'll check out the 'Brain Cell' and MaxSleeve.

Lynn Padetha · February 20, 2007 - 21:58 EST #21
Hey, I just bought the Axio Forza Hardpack and I'm wondering if I should get the recommended sleeve that you can buy for 19.99 from Axio. Apprently it'll fit a 17" powerbook g4 so I might get that, but I also am still inschool, so I don't know if the sleeve may be a bit bulky? Help!
Marcelo Lupi · February 21, 2007 - 03:13 EST #22
Hi Lynn,

I bought a Forza hardpack with the Axio sleeve in December 2005 and I have to say that although the sleeve is quite bulky, it protects my 17" powerbook very well. I would recommend you get it, especially because the alternative of putting your laptop where they put the magazines in the promo pics is a sure fire way of scratching its surface. I have been able to fit three large technical reports (full length PhD reports) and one or two reasonably sized books in there, apart from the laptop, and the stuff that I always carry with it (extra battery, iSight, mighty mouse, charger etc). It gets tight in there, and I don't especially like to do that, nevermind the fact that the zipper is industrial strength.
Lynn Padetha · February 21, 2007 - 21:16 EST #23
Hey Marcelo,

Thanks for the info!
I plan on carrying the the 17in powerbook, a few folders, some paper, one or two 1 inch text books (Calculus and French) and the usual powercord and mighty mouse. That'll all fit, right? seems in comparison to your stuff, i think haha.

BTW, what do you think of the forza? I really like the design, although i havent recieved it yet (in the mail until February 26) and I am wondering about the normal wear and tear, and the scratching on the plastic outside and the zippers and everything... I paid quite bit for it and I need to have some form of reassurance that it was worth it. OK Thanks!

Marcelo Lupi · February 22, 2007 - 19:11 EST #24
Hi Lynn,

That should all fit... it'll be tight, but it should all go in. I would try to really minimize the amount of books you carry, not only from a space point of view, but also for increased comfort.

Regarding the wear and tear... the zippers, straps etc... are all in perfect condition. The plastic cover has a few scratches on it - you can use a bit of car polish to get rid of most of them, but in the end, you can't get rid of all of them. On mine, they're not noticeable unless you're looking for scratches. As long as you try to take care of it, it'll be fine.

I haven't regretted buying mine, and I wouldn't bat an eyelid if time came to get another one.

Hope it helps. Ciao
Ron Rudolph John B. Gimarino · July 17, 2007 - 02:12 EST #25
My cousin recently gave me a Boblbee backpack as a christmas present, unfortunately i don't like the color. I wanted to paint it metallic silver. My friend said he can do it for me but when he gave me the shell back it was all messed up. I'm planning to take the old messed up paint but I don't know where to start. Should I sand it down using hand sanding or is it possible to use a mechanical sander without destroying the bag? and what type of paint should I use? And lastly, how do those guys make it so shiny? :)
ATPM Staff · July 17, 2007 - 09:29 EST #26
Ron - be aware you may or may not receive a suitable answer here. Your query is rather off topic since this page's article was a review of the bag—not about repainting and paint removal methods.

Personal opinion, you're probably out of luck. If your "friend" messed it up, maybe your "friend" should be the one to either try to fix it or replace it.
Cédric · February 11, 2008 - 11:28 EST #27
Hi guys,

Great reviews. I have some questions though. What is the maximum laptop size that the Axio Swift can hold ? And what is the smallest Axio hardpack which can hold a 14.1'' laptop ?

Thanx !
john · March 23, 2008 - 16:19 EST #28
does anyone remember the Nike Epic exoskeleton backpack? i have ridden all over the world with this thing, carrying my leica digital and apple laptop. i need a replacement for this excellent hardshell/dernier backpack that is no longer made. HELP!
Jay · June 3, 2008 - 04:07 EST #29
This is a reply for John..

I too have the Nike Exoskeleton Backpack. Still using it and it is still going strong. A superb backpack that works great on a motorcycle and carries quite a bit although not specifically designed to tote a notebook about. I actually have just picked up the Axio swift to potentially replace/partner with it. The swift looks like it'll carry just as assorted a load as the Nike with it's very neat pockets and sleeve to allow for organized storage and the cavernous rear and botton that also allows you to "dump your junk in and roll".

For me it was a leap of faith paying this much for a backpack but when it arrived I was very pleased with it's suprising large size and quality. My only regret is that when looking to purchase I couldnt find the 'matte black' color anywhere. I instead got the 'Orange' which to my eye looks just like my 'Pure Orange' Shoei helmet, thus notably hi-viz while riding on my sportbike amongst the dangerous 'cagers'. I suspect I'll have this bag and it's very glossy shell scratched up in no time flat. I dont buy my utilitarian gear with a mind to be delicate with it, it will be used and employed as backpacks do I'm afraid.

Unless I'm missing something or didnt look properly inside the shipping box my Swift doesnt come with a notebook sleeve or some other construction internally that has me assuming it was made with notebook storage and protection first in foremost in sleeve, no velcro closed padded compartment at all. No worries for me tho, I did get it as a general carry-all on my motorcycle and not for a notebook inparticular.

If you can wait a bit (admittedly I dont know how long), Axio looks to have the next generation of products on it's website that you can look at, I'm a tall/big guy 6'3", 250LBS so for me the bigger the bag the better and the swift2.0 looks promising (larger capacity and compartment for notebook), it also doest seem to be as visualy 'audacious' as the swift which suits my style (also why I would have loved to have the matte black).

If you are looking for no compromise space and carry capacity and dont mind a soft backpack the Axio Hybrid-XL looks awesome, everything and the kitchen sink.

Either way, I think it's a shame Nike stopped making the exoskeleton packs, they are awesome hopefully in practice the Axio will be and successful replacement both in style, comfort (the Axio's do feel superb w/ regard comfort), utility and wear and tear.
Mike · October 25, 2008 - 08:04 EST #30
Yeah, great reviews!

I too am a Nike Exoskeleton owner for many happy years now- but it is starting to fall apart now sadly.

My question would be whether you reckon I should be looking at one of the Hardback or Softback options in Axio range. I'm inclined to go for a Hybrid XL. My concern though, is the pouch being more for a 17" that a 15" Macbook. And then also, has the softpack got a stiff enough lining on the back to protect the laptop from being quashed against my back? Do the hardpack models, like the Fuse- actually give that much more support than the softpack? I one advantage of the Fuse design, is that the laptop compartment is in the middle- so presumably better protected from being squashed?

Given this, would you suggest a Fuse or a Hybrid XL? I want the space for loads of gadgets. Dont care too much about rain. Don't ride a bike. But want to be able to protect my Macbook as much as possible- same or more protection than my Nike Exoskeleton.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Mike (2.0)
Fares Fayad · November 14, 2008 - 09:29 EST #31
Great reviews...

Personally I'm a bit confused between the Axio Hybrid XL and the Crumpler Beer Back... They both look pretty spacious... Thoughts?

Rachael · October 9, 2009 - 14:21 EST #32
I of course am female...and hate to carry around a purse, so I bought the Axio Mini pearl white. Aside from the normal wear and tear, it holds quite alot and is the perfect size for a woman. It really felt comfortable while on my motorcyle and never shifted during tight turns. I also had no problem in the rain, though I never really aimed to be out in the rain on my bike. And I guess the girly part of me likes all the compliments I get on the looks and unique factors it has. I have never seen another one....ever. I also enjoyed mine so much that I bought my father-in-law the Fuse for his Harley. He loves his as well. I'm thinking of buying the mini in match my helmet....but they're hard to find now.
anand · June 19, 2010 - 22:14 EST #33
Hi Chris.
Five years later.... thanks for the excellent review.
Alex Stephens · September 4, 2010 - 16:00 EST #34
hello chris (also five years later),

i've been looking into the hybrid pack by axio and i like it a lot, but there's also the hybrid XL. it's the same design but can hold more than a thousand more cubic inches. the load that you described that you carry (couple three text books, lunch, binders, laptop, reading books) is pretty much what i carry as well, so i was wondering if the XL would even be necessary... plus you thought the regular hybrid was nearly too big for you, and i'm also 5'10" ish but only 140 pounds. would the Hybrid Xl be too large for my needs and/or frame? please give me some input on this. thanks :)
Chris (ATPM Staff) · September 17, 2010 - 12:23 EST #35
Alex, I'd say the XL is probably overkill for most people (you and me included). However, if you can find a local retailer of these packs, it might be worth checking them out in person.

Imran Anwar · July 17, 2011 - 01:37 EST #36
Chris, My appreciation. You write well, and you know how to review, test and then articulate the aspects of a product users/readers will appreciate. Thoroughly enjoyed this review.


PS Wonder if this can be updated (sorry if it already is) with Axio Swift 2 info. Thanks.

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