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Targus Cypress Convertible Backpack with EcoSmart review: How good can recycled be?

By Ken Wong - 25 May 2020
Launch SRP: S$139

Targus Cypress Convertible Backpack with EcoSmart review: How good can recycled be?

Note: This review was first published on 5 May 2020.

This is the Targus Cypress Convertible Backpack with Ecosmart (Image source: Targus)

What is EcoSmart?

The Cypress collection was announced at CES this year. This is the third collection for Targus’s EcoSmart line that is made from recycled components. The goal is to reduce the number of plastic bottles destined for landfills by utilising them in the production of bags. According to the company, the bottles are cleaned, flaked, re-polymerized and spun into fibre that is woven into the fabric that is used for the bags.

This new collection consists four bags: a traditional backpack, a slim backpack, a convertible backpack, and a briefcase. The one that I'll be taking a closer look at is the convertible backpack. Its full name is the Cypress Convertible Backpack with EcoSmart.

I carry a number of devices every day. Each workday (at least before WFH kicked in), I pack at least seven to eight items into a bag to bring with to and from my home to the office. In Singapore, I tend to use a crossbody messenger from Pacsafe. It is theft-proof and I can fit everything I need into it. I like it and it has served me well for quite a while. But it is heavier than I’d like and I’d also like the option of being able to use it as a backpack if I get too tired or have too many things to carry. This is one of the reasons I was so eager to try this new bag. While not theft-proof, it's versatile and can be used as either a backpack or as a crossbody messenger. 

The PacSafe bag I usually use. You can see the water bottle holder on the side

 

Design & construction

I found the Targus a good bag to use in either form for daily use

According to Targus, 24 plastic bottles were recycled to make the fabric that is used to construct the Cypress Convertible Backpack. I like that it feels more rigid in design and construction than most messenger bags and doesn’t feel like any part of it is soft or will allow my devices to get damaged if I get a knock.

More crucially, it feels light (significantly lighter than my Pacsafe, at least). With everything I carry each day, it’s quite common to have a shoulder ache in the evenings from having my messenger slung Pacsafe drag on a single shoulder. But I felt fine using the Targus and that's a definite lifestyle improvement.

Size comparison between the Cypress Convertible Backpack and a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Targus lists its colour as black, but as you can see, it appears grey in direct sunlight. In terms of size, it states support for the latest 16-inch MacBook Pro and we were able to slot one easily (not pictured in this article as it has been returned). Therefore, it should have no problems accommodating most 15-inch notebooks. My usual laptop is a 13-inch MacBook Pro, so I faced no issues at all.

This is what I usually cram in my bag.

The strong zip build quality.

All of the external zippers run L-shaped across two sides of the bag to meet the demands of how it is being used. While they aren't YKK, the zippers feel sturdy and worked fine despite our repeated usage and rapid testing for 10 minutes. The pull tabs on the internal zippers weren’t as rugged as those on the outside but still felt better than some mass-produced bags.

 

User experience

The bag has two main compartments. One small quick-access pouch in the front and a larger main compartment for your notebook, pens, accessories. According to Targus, the bag comes with:

  • Padded laptop compartment
  • A zippered compartment and 2-velcroed pockets in the main compartment
  • 1-stash pocket on the front of the bag

My EDC (EveryDay Carry).

I carry a number of accessories. On any given day, I have a laptop, an iPad mini, spare phone, power bank, earphones, charging cables, pens, an old school paper notebook, and a water bottle with me. I like being able to store my accessories in zipped compartments or little pouches and pockets. This is where the Cypress Convertible Backpack lets me down.

As you can see the inside pocket doesn't extend all the way (Please ignore the state of my iPad case).

The main compartment only extends two-thirds of the way down the bag. I’d really have liked it to be down the full length of the bag so I can put more things in order. One other addition I’d have liked would be an external pocket for a water bottle. I get paranoid that it may open accidentally in the bag and wet everything I have inside. I get that it probably wasn’t included because it becomes wasted space when in the backpack position, but for my part, I wish it’d been installed by Targus.

But no matter how you use it, whether as a backpack or messenger, it is a comfortable bag to carry and use.

Unlike real travel backpacks, it won’t be supported by your waist so your shoulders could ache if carried too long. But used as a backpack you’ll find that the backpack straps are more generously padded and a bit more comfortable. They also curve in to hug the body and help the backpack sit pretty comfortably. It has an air mesh back to allow air circulation and aid comfort, but it didn’t seem to make a lot of difference to me. When not in use, the backpack straps can be folded and kept away.

You can see the lack of padding on the messenger strap

The messenger strap is a plain strap and it can dig into the shoulders especially if the bag is too heavy. The only fix is to get your own padding, or simply carry less. The messenger strap can be removed and kept away until needed. But even without it, the width of the strap helps ease most discomfort and help it sit easily on the shoulder.

Another point in the bag's favour is the price. Targus says that the bag costs S$139 and is available online now from Lazada, Challenger, Harvey Norman, Shopee and Amazon.  

 

Conclusion

As I said early on, I couldn’t wait to try this bag out. Being able to swap from a backpack to a messenger bag in comfort and effortlessly carry stuff was something I was really looking forward to doing.

I've tried other bags that claim to be able to be a backpack and messenger. But they either did one well and not the other, or fell flat in both. Apart from some minor gripes, the Targus Cypress Convertible Backpack doesn’t disappoint. I can fit what I need inside and the bag is still comfortable to use, no matter what form I choose. It would be nice if it was also theft-proof but that would add to the weight and price so this seems like a good trade-off.

You can see the contoured design of the backpack straps.

I guess you could say the bag makes things a win-win situation overall. I get a nice comfortable bag to use, and the world has been ridded of some nasty plastic bottles. Win-win.