Carbonado X 16 backpack review
Carbonado is a well-known name now in the Indian biking circles, thanks to their GT2 hardshell backpack (pictured below). Priced rather competitively, it is a low-cost alternative if you don't wish to stretch for something like an Ogio Mach 5. Now, the blokes at Carbonado have a more compact backpack in their line-up - the X. It isn't a hard-shell form factor and almost looks like a midsize hydration bag with some storage pockets attached to it. But there is more to it than meets the eye.
The Carbonado GT2 packs in a lot of space, but can get bulky for short rides
The new Carbonado X is, therefore, a good alternative for someone looking for a compact backup that can hold all essentials, including a hydration bladder
The Carbonado X gets its name from the X-shaped harness that fastens the bag to your back and keeps it in place for your high-speed ride. This harness attaches to the bag using side release clips at all four ends, which also enables strap adjustability at all four corners, making sure that you get a snug fit with the bag. However, I would have liked to see visible markers on the straps to get a symmetrical, balanced fit. The left and right sides of the harness attach around the rider's chest using a Fidlock magnetic fastener which simply snaps into place, making it easy to use even with your gloves on. The fact that the backpack can be detached from the rider by simply unbuckling all the side clips and this magnetic centre clip, makes for a safer removal in case of an accident.
The five-point harness, including the magnetic clip in the centre (pictured below), makes for easy removal of the bag in case of an accident. But I wish Carbonado had a better way to ensuring that the fit is even on all four sides
The magnetic lock snaps in place, but be careful, for if it is left undone the magnetic clips also snap on to metal rails around stairs, the metal bodywork of parked vehicles etc.
The bag itself comes with three main compartments in incremental sizes and waterproof zippers. The outermost and smallest compartment has two zipped pockets within and small compartments from knick-knacks. On the outer side is a threaded cross-loop that can be useful for stuff like a folded raincoat for example.
The cross-loop is functional and can hold stuff like a small tripod, folded rain gear, back-up gloves etc.
The outer compartment has plenty of spaces for knick-knacks and the small pouch holds the rain cover for the bag
The bag itself comes with its own rain cover folded in a pouch (pictured above) that sits in the outermost compartment. The centre compartment has space for a hydration bladder (not included). Interestingly, it comes with a removable thermal pocket that can keep your liquids cool or hot - mine stayed cool for around 6 hours during a sunny shoot. This central pocket has small Velcro straps and an opening below the main zipper to cleanly route the hydration pipe from the compartment into the right side of the harness. The bag comes with a small magnetic sleeve that can be attached to the pipe/bite-valve so that it snaps onto the harness.
The hydration bladder is not included with the backpack and you would have to purchase one separately (Carbonado won't sell you one). The one pictured here is the Hydrapak that came with my trusty Kriega backpack
The bag can be optioned in a 14 or 16 variant, which gets you space in the third compartment for a 14-inch or 16-inch laptop and a 13l or 16l overall capacity respectively.
The third compartment with a 15-inch MacBook Pro
With a sleeve in place though, the 15-inch MacBook Pro doesn't fit well inside the Carbonado X 16
The bag has a few niggles, though. We found a 2019 15-inch MacBook Pro to be a tight fit in our Carbonado X 16 test unit and a fat and ageing 15-inch Windows laptop from 2018 just wouldn't fit in. The straps around the harness often come undone from their elastic sleeves at speed and start flapping around the helmet. The magnetic fixture for the hydration pipe also comes undone quite easily and a simpler Velcro wrap would be a more ideal alternative. And within three months of use, the reflective straps at the bottom of the bag and the on the harness are already losing sheen.
Save for these minor shortcomings, the Carbonado X is an excellent backpack if you are looking for something compact. Its five-point harness makes it a surprisingly easy fit even over race suits with a hump, making it a better alternative than most similar-sized backpacks aimed at riders. The harness is quite slim on and didn't seem to overlap the chest vents on either of my touring suits The quality of materials and stitching is generally good and seems right for the price too. Given the compact nature of the bag, space is a crunch and more so if you are running a 2l hydration pack, therefore the X 16 variant would be my recommendation over the smaller X 14.
Price: Rs 3,950
Where to buy: Carbonado