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Lifewire / Claire Cohen
Three comfortable carrying methods
Water-resistant polyester exterior
Small form that’s easy to stow
Internal protective pocket for laptops
Not very professional looking
Lacks any kind of compartmentalization
Foam padding feels flimsy
The Solo Duane Hybrid Briefcase Backpack offers plenty of versatility and comfort for the price, though it’s a little lacking in storage capacity.
One bag type often doesn’t cut it for modern life. Sometimes too much weight can bog backpacks down and other days a briefcase is too cumbersome to carry. Luckily, the Solo Duane Hybrid Briefcase Backpack can do all the things you need and more. With three different travel forms that are all equally comfortable, the bag is the Transformer of briefcases. Whether you’re using the removable messenger strap, the briefcase handle, or sternum straps that stow away into a compartment, the Solo Duane can go anywhere and do anything. That said, storage space is a bit on the low side, but given the affordable price, we found it an easy issue to overlook.
The Solo Duane is a workhorse bag meant to get the job done, and that doesn’t mean winning any beauty contests. It’s a very basic black bag with a compact body that easily fits into an overhead bin, car backseat, or crammed under a table.
The versatility of Solo Duane is its big selling point. The ability to easily transition between a removable messenger-style shoulder strap bag, a briefcase with a handle, or a stowable sternum backpack is a blessing. What we appreciate about the Solo briefcase is that it hides the hooks and straps out of sight when they’re not needed. The sternum straps can be stowed in the back compartment while the messenger strap can be removed completely.
The Solo Duane Hybrid Briefcase Backpack is a versatile bag ideal for just about anyone.
The versatility does come with a tradeoff— there just aren't very many actual storage compartments. There are two medium-sized zipper pockets on the front that lack any kind of zippers or further storage. The laptop compartment doesn’t have many added features either. The foam padding that lines this compartment, while completely encompassing, is thin and doesn’t inspire confidence. Overall, the Solo Duane seems to lack the protection and padding other more expensive bags possess.
Some of the other hybrid bags we’ve looked at had clear winners and losers in regards to what travel mode was most comfortable. In the case of the Solo Duane, none of them were uncomfortable.
The Solo Duane is a workhorse bag meant to get the job done, and that doesn’t mean winning any beauty contests.
In briefcase mode, the top briefcase strap has a pair of metal buckles that appear to be a combination of snap-in and magnetized. They must be opened to fully look inside the main compartment. Because of the Solo’s smaller size, the briefcase mode never feels too bogged down or overly heavy. Likewise, the padded sternum straps in backpack mode are fully adjustable and fit even over our fairly broad shoulders with ease.
Our favorite mode, the messenger strap, is completely removable if needed. We found it easy to sling the bag over our shoulder and get on the move, and the strong nylon and polyester blended strap is durable and long enough that the bag won’t cling to your body.
Take a peek at our guide to the best laptop backpacks available to purchase online.
Through a week of rough use, we found the Solo Duane and its polyester exterior to be resilient and fairly water-resistant. During a particularly rainy week, it did a good job of keeping water out. The foam padding that surrounds the laptop compartment is an added bonus in this regard. Because of the low price point, I worry about the potential cheapness of some parts of the bag, such as the stitching on the handles, but no problems arose through the week.
The Solo Hybrid Briefcase gets the job done for an affordable price, coming in at $54.99 (MSRP) and often costing less on Amazon. Sure, it isn’t the prettiest, most stylish bag in the world, but it’s a bag that can serve just about any need.
The versatility of Solo Duane is its big selling point.
Of the six bags we reviewed, the Solo Duane was the only three-in-one bag, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have competitors. The Booq Cobra Squeeze Backpack is a more stylish, compact option with more internal padding, but the nearly $200 price tag is daunting.
Mancro’s Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack is as no-frills and price-friendly as the Duane, and it also comes with a multitude of pockets. An additional advantage is that the Mancro is classified as eco-friendly due to being made from nylon, while also being water resistant.
The eBag Professional Slim Laptop Backpack is the closest hybrid bag of the lot, able to go from a sternum strap-based bookbag to a two-handle briefcase (one on the top, another on the side). The eBag offering has similar travel versatility to the Solo Duane, in that it can be threaded through the handle of a rolling suitcase, but the sternum straps just aren’t as comfortable.
Cheap and to the point
The Solo Duane Hybrid Briefcase Backpack is a versatile bag ideal for just about anyone. What it lacks in style and features it makes up for in the ability to be worn three different ways, all with comfort. Add in an extremely competitive price point and you’re looking at a bag that you can take everywhere.