Finding a good backpack, one you can use in a range of situations, is tricky. But Venque’s Transformer A, which is currently on Kickstarter, might just fit the bill for a good chunk of customers, however. The modular pack is the latest from Venque, which got its start on the crowdfunding site back in 2013 but has since scaled to distribution via a range of retail partners and a big lineup of packs and bags.
The Transformer A is a bit of a departure for Venque, at least when it comes to the company’s style. It still uses the trademark Quanta fabric that is very durable one time (I backed their initial camera bag and it still looks like new after years of use), but it’s got a more urban commuter vibe, whereas previous packs have had more retro vibes.
Transformer A is still very stylish, despite also being incredibly utilitarian. As mentioned, it’s modular, which it pulls off thanks to an inset camera compartment zippered back which is also Quanta on the outside and can be used with an included strap as a separate shoulder strap. This is huge for anyone who wants to take a small mirrorless or DSLR kit with them on the road, but still have plenty of room in the pack for clothing and other gear.
The spacious main compartment easily fits the camera bag and enough clothes for a multi-day trip, letting you travel with a carry-on solution that won’t draw suspicious stares from gate attendants, or leave you in the lurch when you have to drop your pack in that measurement box to prove it fits airline requirements.
If you don’t have a camera to pack, you can carry even more; there’s a lot of space in that main holding area. The zippered top also makes sure everything’s kept very secure, and a buckle adds additional security. Straps on the pack’s back and sides will let you secure magazines, newspapers, yoga mats, tripods, and potentially even skateboards, and there are a range of slim accessory pockets to hide away your phone, transit pass, cash and more. One pocket on the rear is even RFID blocking if you want to keep your bank cards secure.
One of the best features, however, is an inset pocket that has an integrated USB cable. You can slide a backup battery bank into that pocket, hook it up, and then it’ll feed an external USB port where you can plug in your iPhone, tablet or other USB-powered device for some easy charging. I used this a lot, looping the cable into the convenient side pocket above, which safely held my phone while it was charging.
There’s also a back zippered laptop compartment, which is padded front and back and can hold up to a 15-inch notebook. Two handles, top and side, make it easy to grab and lift, and that camera bag mentioned earlier can also easily act as a small shoulder messenger back thanks to removable divider inserts. It also expands via a zipper release to gain a couple of inches of depth.
The Transformer A is a great all-around city bag from a Toronto-based company that has already proven it can ship quality bags at scale. It’s currently up for pre-order for $175, in two colours, though it’ll retail for $100 more once the campaign finishes up. After using it for a few weeks, I can vouch for its quality and the intelligence of its design: This is a multi-purpose back that can handle just about anything you can throw at it.