One of the big selling items to the Nintendo Switch was portability. The idea that I can take this thing anywhere and game from wherever I feel like. Small catch: Nintendo didn't include anything to make traveling easy. You'd think they would have thrown in a small case or something since you're already plunking down $300 on it. Luckily, Nintendo is not stingy when it comes to licensing out third-party gear, which is how we ended up getting our hands on an Elite Player Backpack from PDP.
Now if you're going to properly review a backpack there's only one thing you can do: throw stuff inside it and take it wherever you're going to go! For me, I packed the system up and took it around for lunch and coffee to a few of my favorite spots. First and foremost, the main compartment of the pack is designed to carry the essential Switch pieces. This includes the Switch with joy-cons attached, the dock, controller, and additional joy-cons. There are additional areas we'll get to in a bit, but as you can see. everything fits nicely into the back with little effort. The drawback is there's only one slot for a controller, and it's preferred by the maker that you use a pro-controller rather than the joy-con combo. A bummer if you want to use more than one large controller.
The pack itself has a light amount of padding and outer cloth to make it durable and water resistant, but not super shock protective. I believe it was done this way on purpose for the design so that it remained light-weight with everything stored inside. In fact, walking around with it on my back, I couldn't tell I even packed it. However, if I somehow took a spill or the pack got knocked around, I'd grow a little concerned. It could have used a little extra padding on the sides and on the interior to relieve my fears. It made the system easy for transport to lunch and I cranked it out and played a little Breath Of The Wild at a vegan restaurant called Frisch.
I made my way over to Watchtower Cafe a few blocks down so I could hook the system up to their big screen TV and let the owners have some fun with it. The design is very unisex, as in it isn't too bulky to slim for anyone to use, and the straps can be adjusted to most any size of arms and back. Plus it has a nice mesh backing so it isn't some rough material rubbing on your clothing and arms all day. Here's Cori, one of the owners, showing off the backpack, because I asked politely and she agreed to see how lightweight it felt.
Since the Watchtower doesn't have HDMI cables at the ready, I brought my own, which fits nicely along with other cables into the top pouch. This isn't a giant pouch that will fit every cable you could ever need at once, but it does take care of HDMI and the power supply, which are your two essential pieces. if you're going to travel around with it. The trouble with it is that it fills up very quickly, so you're at a loss at certain points if you need to pack more small items.
There's two more areas on the backpack to talk about, the first of them being the front pocket. This area is designed to hold game cards and amiibo-type flat cards. You can fit other small, flat objects into this area, but I wouldn't recommend packing it as it may stretch out the fabric or not cause the zipper to close all the way.
The second area is between your main game area and the front pouch. This area I found had the most potential and use as a standard backpack. One pocket is dedicated to headphones. Here, I put in a pair of Zelda earbuds (which we'll discuss at a later date), but it can also hold full sized headphones. I discovered that it fits in headphones better if the ear pieces can be twisted to the side, but it still holds a standard pair (like my Razer set) fine with a little bulkiness. Meanwhile, as I prepared to go out for a game night, I was able to stuff a board game and my laptop in with ease.
In fact, I was able to cram in an entire second board game along with all my Switch accessories into the main part of the bag with all of those items already in it and didn't feel much of a difference. And that's a key element that I was worried about when testing this out because I know a lot of people who would want to know if it doubles as a regular backpack. The answer is yes, but you'll have to negotiate some wiggle room. I could easily pack in the Switch, some clothing for a few days, my laptop, a book, headphones, and toiletry items throughout the backpack and it would still be a pretty decent weight. Which means I could take this back on an airplane, a bus, or a train and not have any issues with it being a travel back that also happened to carry my entire gaming system.
Overall, I was really happy with the way the Elite Player Backpack turned out. The backpack can take a lot of stuff with it and also keeps everything for the Nintendo Switch safe. The color is a muted gray, which is totally fine and looks nice, even though I'm sure there are people who will complain it isn't black, red, or blue. It also has the Switch logo everywhere to remind you it's a Switch backpack, so there's also a hefty safety concern to keep in mind for would-be thieves. But for $50, this is an awesome buy that holds up really well. When I go to E3 this year, this is all-in-one traveling bag that I'll have with me in my room for all my needs and to make sure I have a Switch around to occupy my time in lines. If you like to game on the go with a Switch and are paranoid about breaking it, this is a solution to look into. Come find me getting coffee and playing Mario Kart sometime.