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It’s fall, which means it’s officially back to school time! And what better way to kick off your new school year, then with a brand new backpack?
The Pop Quiz backpack is one of Herschel’s best-selling school and work backpacks. In this review, we’ll check out why exactly this pack is so popular. We’ll talk about the features you’re going to love, but also about the features that you’re going to hate. I’m not going to go easy on this pack, and that’s because I want you to know exactly what you’re spending your money on.
I know you probably hate pop quizzes, but will you hate the Pop Quiz backpack? I seriously doubt that.
First thing's first; check out some of the main things you need to know about the pack, and the overall rating it got. We'll talk in more details about why it got this particular rating in the later sections of the review, so definitely stay tuned.
Intrigued to find out why the Pop Quiz got such average grades? You can read in detail about each of the rated features in the rest of our review!
The Pop Quiz backpack is quite different from what we usually review here. We tend to stick to sporty backpacks, for which we have certain expectations. But this is primarily a school and work backpack, so I will have to adjust (read lower) my standards a little bit, simply because you can’t expect the same features from the two vastly different backpack types.
First, take a look at the overall specs of this Herschel backpack:
17.5" (H) x 11.75" (W) x 6" (D)
Fits 15” laptops
Everyday packs like the Pop Quiz don’t really need to be as sturdy and durable as packs for hiking and travelling. In addition to that, most everyday packs don’t have a hipbelt or a sternum strap. That’s because they have smaller capacities and they will weigh much less when fully packed. Think about it – you need a hipbelt for a 40lb+ hiking pack, because there’s no way your shoulders can carry all that load. But for a 15lb pack that’s holding your laptop and some books? Not really. So, I didn’t consider the lack of those features as a negative when rating the pack.
I did however consider the lack of some other features, which I will tell you about in a minute. But for now, you need to know that the main thing we will be looking for in this pack is how good it is for everyday use.
Those are the questions that you’ll get the answers to in this review. So, let’s start answering them!
What makes a comfortable backpack? Well, I generally look for a backpack that had a padded backpanel, because that provides a barrier from its contents and your back. Otherwise, anything you put inside the pack can just poke you while you’re wearing it, and that’s not comfortable at all. I also want the shoulder straps to be padded, because the ones that are not will cut into your shoulders more easily, which is definitely not comfortable.
That’s the disappointing thing about the Pop Quiz pack – it’s neither padded nor ventilated on the outside. However, the laptop sleeve on the inside is padded, so at least nothing will poke you while you are wearing this pack. But the lack of ventilation is a serious downside; I get that most people wear these types of packs on one shoulder (cuz it’s cool), but I don’t think anyone would like to have a sweaty back. And when your pack doesn’t have any ventilation features, a sweaty back is unavoidable, especially in the summer months.
Those are the top two reasons why I’m not particularly impressed with the comfort of this backpack. But honestly, at least you get some padding from the inside – that’s most than you get with other packs of this type. Plus, it’s not like you’re going to be carrying anything too heavy inside it and that you need a backpanel with superb padding.
The Pop Quiz backpack has a decent capacity and some cool organization features. I’ll tell you about them in a little bit more detail, and you can decide for yourself whether they are good enough for you.
The main compartment of the bag is pretty spacious and it will definitely fit all your school/work necessities. Just keep in mind that the 22-liter capacity of the bag refers to the capacity of all the pockets as well as the main compartment.
One thing I really like about the main compartment is that is fully lined with Herschel’s signature striped lining. But that also makes me a little sad, since I know I would get it dirty in about two days.
For me, there is one downside to the main compartment (and it’s pretty much the only reason why the pack doesn’t get a 5 here), and that’s the lack of any internal pockets apart from the media pocket. I prefer to keep my personal items (wallet, phone) in the main compartment because I feel that they are much safer there. But that is completely a personal preference – you do get a dedicated media pocket and an organizer in the front pocket if you don’t really care about where your stuff goes.
The laptop sleeve on this backpack is very nice. It is padded and lined with fleece, so you know your laptop will be protected from any dangers. And if you accidentally drop your pack, the padding will protect it from getting damage, since it provides some shock absorption.
In terms of size, the sleeve can fit laptops that are 15” or smaller. I think that’s awesome; it works for most people, except for those who own a 17” laptop. In that case, don’t be disappointed just yet; I have some options for you if you’re specifically looking for a pack with a 17” laptop sleeve.
But if you’re not, then this is going to work perfectly for you. The sleeve can’t be completely closed off, and I personally like that. It means that you can get out your laptop easier and faster, and I’m always a fan of that.
The front pocket is not too large, and it’s great for any smaller items, like your phone, wallet, pens and similar things. Now, the good thing about this pocket is that it has an internal organizer, along with a key clip. The key clip is really cool because it ensures that the keys are a safe distance from your smartphone’s expensive display. And the organizer is a great addition – it means that you can find a place for everything, rather than just throw all your things in the pocket and then waste time searching for them.
In addition to that, the zipper of this pocket is waterproof, which will certainly come in handy if you get caught in really rainy weather. But there is one thing I don’t like; the pocket is easily accessible to not just you, but also everyone else. And that’s something I’m usually afraid of with these type of packs – if you wear the pack on your back, someone could theoretically open up the front pocket without you realizing.
But there is a different spot for your phone inside the pack which I think you’ll appreciate. And just keep your wallet in your pants and you won’t have to worry about pickpockets. What, are they going to steal your pens? Good for them. :>
If you’re anything like me and dread the trend of killing of the headphone jack, then this pocket was built for you. Presuming that you’re still using old-school, wired in-ear headphones. I know I am, and I can only say that air pods will never save my phone from hitting the ground when I accidentally drop it.
But back to the pocket – you get an internal pocket for your phone, which has a tiny little hole that allows you to pull your headphones through it. This means that you can listen to music on the go (or in class, I don’t judge), with your phone safely tucked inside the backpack.
The pocket is easily accessible – it’s on the very top of the pack and it has zipper closure. I really like its position, because it ensures that you won’t squish your glasses with your books and laptop, which is a huge plus.
Especially if you tend to forget about these things and just throw the pack around. And that’s coming from a person who puts her phone in the back pocket of her jeans, and proceeds to sit on it on a wooden bench.
The Pop Quiz backpack is kind of versatile. For one thing, it’s a unisex pack, and both men and women can wear it. Plus, you can choose from more than 20 different colors and pick out the perfect one for yourself, so that’s something.
In terms of function, the pack is primarily intended for school and work – so, an everyday backpack. And it’s awesome for that purpose. Additionally, you could also use this as a carry on, due to its small size. You will be allowed to bring it inside the plane, but it’s not a TSA friendly backpack, and that’s something to keep in mind. You will have to take out your laptop when going through TSA checkpoints, which can certainly be a drag.
Other than that, it’s not really a backpack suitable for hiking, biking, camping or similar activities. It’s too small for a serious hiker, and it won’t fit enough gear. But I’m sure you could find other uses for the Pop Quiz – you can use it for gym gear, or as an overnight bag when you’re staying somewhere else.
Overall, even though it’s not truly a versatile pack, you can use it on multiple different occasions.
First thing to note is that I considered the price of this pack on Amazon when I determined its value for money. That’s because you can find some really great deals there – different colors of the backpack will set you back different amounts of money. So for example, you’ll pay the same on Amazon as you would on Herschel’s official site for the classic grey backpack. But the camo and burgundy variants are about $20 cheaper, which is always a bonus.
But I generally think that you’ll get some good value for money with the Pop Quiz pack. It’s not really too expensive – it’s certainly cheaper than most Ospreys. And you do get some really cool features that I’m sure you’ll use a lot, especially that laptop sleeve. So overall, you get what you pay for – especially if you go for a discounted color. ;>
So what do we think about the backpack overall? It didn’t get a really good rating, and that’s mostly because it seriously lacks some features regarding the wearer’s comfort – the harness and the backpanel are lack proper padding and ventilation. And what that ultimately means is that at full capacity, this backpack is going to make you sore and sweaty.
But, who really needs 20lb+ of gear for school? That’s one comforting thing. Another one is that the backpack has a pretty spacious main compartment which is fully lined, and which looks really good. Plus, it has a padded laptop sleeve, which will not only protect your laptop in case you drop the bag, but also provide some padding and comfort to your back.
There are a few more features you’ll really like about the Pop Quiz pack, like the sunglasses and media pockets and the thoughtful organizer in the front external pocket. But overall, the Pop Quiz isn’t as packed with features as some other backpacks you see today.
I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing; you want a ton of features on your hiking or camping backpack. But you don’t really need them for an everyday backpack, and I’m being completely honest here.
So, I suggest you head over to Amazon and check out all the different colors that the Pop Quiz is available in. Oh and try to find the ones that are discounted – that will guarantee that you get excellent value for money!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!