If you ask anyone who knows me well you will be told that the one thing about me that seems to change continually is the bag I’m carrying around. No matter what I’ve got on me I’m always looking for that next bag fix. The one with the extra pocket, the one that is more comfortable. The one with a waterproof base.
The bag I’ve been carrying around for the last few weeks is the Dicota Backpack Mission XL and its a laptop and tech day bag with one unusual attribute – a full and comfortable strapping system. This bag is designed to be worn and carried for a long time.
Comfortable strapping system
Straps are one of the more important parts of a bag but they are often almost an afterthought. The overwhelming logic seems to be get the pockets right, then the look and last of all the straps. The Mission takes things the other way and gives the straps the highest priority. As well as two well-padded shoulder straps and a padded back with a solid underlay the Mission gives a wide chest strap and waist strap. Both chest and waist are at good heights and well designed with interesting buckles that snap together at most angles rather than having to be perfectly lined up.
The end result is a tech laptop bag that feels more like a hiking bag. I end up carrying around much to much weight and the Mission may be the most comfortable way I’ve carried it around.
Simple internal layout
Sometimes you want a bag with 1000 internal pockets and sometimes nice big roomy pockets. The Mission has four big pockets. One laptop pocket. One large main pocket with three small internal pockets and one attached carabiner. Two half height front pockets with internal net pockets. Externally the bag is sleek and smooth with one set of loops running vertically down the centreline of the bag with another included carabiner.
Tech bags are designed to carry one large and expensive piece of kit – laptops. Some bags provide minimal protection and some alot. With the exception of hard briefcases the Mission might provide the most padding I’ve ever seen for the laptop pocket. The wall between your back and the laptop is well padded but has a solid unbending layer as does the internal divider between the laptop pocket and the rest of the bag. The bottom of the bag has a solid base that runs the full size of the bag and half way up the side of the laptop pocket. The top section of the pocket has very thick foam padding to top the whole thing off.
Perhaps the only problem is that the laptop pocket has only a single non-adjustable elastic strap to hold your laptop in place. Unless your laptop is exactly the right size it has a tendency to flop around a little. I’ve put a neoprene sleeve inside the bag attached against one side of the pocket that has got around this issue but unless your laptop fits perfectly it will be protected from the outside but still be vulnerable inside.
Dicota formed in Germany in 1992 specifically as a laptop and computer bag and accessory maker. The company built fast and went international in the late 90s and has been growing ever since. In 2013 Dicota shifted its corporate headquarters to Switzerland.
Environment and social responsibility
Dicota has been making tech bags for over 20 years and has one of the more exhaustive and commendable social and environmental policies I’ve seen. It covers everything from banning PVC to altering designs specifically to produce fewer offcuts and wastage.
Bags are a category which you can spend anything from a few pounds at the local Tesco up to £100s for specialist handmade bags. The Mission falls somewhere around the middle of the spectrum and I would judge it good value for the product. Add in the lifetime warranty and it turns into a very cost effective deal.
Environment and social responsibility
Dicota has been making tech bags for over 20 years and have one of the more exhaustive and commendable social and environmental policies I’ve seen. It covers everything from banning PVC to altering designs specifically to produce less offcuts and wastage.
Size: 52 x 38 x 15 cm external empty size
Capacity: (for bags, containers)
Laptop size : Designed for 15 to 17″ with max size 24 x 29 x 4.5cm
Item Weight: 1.2kg empty
Colour: Black with grey highlights
Straps: Shoulder, chest and hip.
Warranty: The Mission includes a lifetime warranty against defects. This is actually specifically restricted to 30 years only in Germany with lifetime meaning lifetime in the rest of the world.
There are no specific requirements for the Mission, but it is designed to handle laptops between 15 and 17 inches. A smaller laptop could be used but it would not be held tightly in the internal straps.
The Mission has an attribute that makes it more visually accessible than the large majority of bags and I wonder why more manufacturers do not implement – every pocket is lined with light material and all the internal net pockets are bright yellow. This means that the inside of the pocket is naturally lighter and makes finding things significantly easier. It is a small touch but the small touches count.
There are no electronics, LED’s, indicators or any other sort of bright aspects to the Mission. It would be accessible to anyone with any form of visual loss or
There is no built in audio component of the Explorer. When I overpacked it and stuffed it as heavy as possible I found the straps creaked slightly but under a normal use it is silent. There is no velcro anywhere on the bag. The waist and chest strap clips make a slight noise when they are opened or closed.
The Mission would be accessible for anyone with any amount of hearing loss or hypersensitivity.
Input and touch
The Mission is made from nylon with two main weaves. The outside and main body of the bag are made of a fairly tight weave that is slightly rough to the touch. Inside the weave is much smoother and feels soft to touch. The nylon outside give reasonable water protection – I was caught in the rain this morning and the inside of the bag was not touched. Neither weave is likely to bother anyone’s skin, even in the most extreme sensitivity cases.
The inside of the straps and the back padding are a much larger open weave that is designed to let the skin touching it breathe and wick away sweat. I found it reasonable at this, although in very hot weather I did get sweat building up more than I would have expected.
The buckles and clips on the straps are all made from a hard black plastic and the strap adjusters seem unremarkable. The clips are an odd design that lets you attach them at a wide variety of angles and can be removed by pressing a large single central button rather than the more standard push from both edges at the same time. I found the clips great once I’d gotten used to them. I was concerned that the button would be pressed accidentally but it turned out to be as secure as the normal system and easier to open when I wanted to.
Simple is a word that can be interpreted in a positive or negative manner. The Mission is very simple in a positive way. It does what it claims to do and does not try and add extra frills.
The Mission is made entirely out of nylon of different weaves and dernier levels. It is possible to be allergic to nylon – but most people will have no problems at all with the Mission.
We’ve looked at a number of bags on the site each with their own unique selling point. The Dicota Backpack Mission XL is designed to be strong, padded and comfortable and it succeeds on each of these. It is an ideal bag for a daily commute that involves some walking and will probably not face more than a few hours away from the desk. The really standout hidden feature of a lifetime guarantee on its workmanship. A tough workmanlike bag that will do good service for years. Recommended.