I remember Pelican from my time both in the Marines and in Law Enforcement; we carried Pelican cases anywhere, and used them to stuff our comms, range gear, optics and occasionally stowed our firearms in them. I’ve always admired the tough, durable design and wished they would have applied that same design philosophy towards other products.
Well, just in time for some last minute shopping, here is the Pelican ProGear S100 Sport Elite backpack. More of a cross between a good field pack and a laptop bag, the ProGear S100 Sport Elite features everything I ever liked about Pelican cases and a little bit more. I’ve gone hands on with this backpack for a little over a month, and it has served its purpose extremely well.
The S100 is constructed of ballistic nylon and withstands being knocked around tossed very well. It has a rigid front plate that unzips for easy storage of an iPad or other tablet, and adjustable straps to increase or decrease the needed volume as you see fit. The top flap has a zippered compartment for keeping your smaller items, and two side pockets are ideal for carrying water bottles, a flashlight, or whatever other goodies you need quick access to, as well as two nylon loops on either side make ideal attachment points for ALICE clips. The removable belt and chest clip allow you to wear the backpack comfortably, while the built in, crush-proof case allow you to carry any moderately sized laptop without the fear of elements getting to it. I’ve been looking for something that gave me the comfort and accessibility of my long lost load bearing gear; the S100 gives me the feeling of carrying something high speed, without all the awkward stares from the general public.
You can’t really get much simpler than a backpack…even with all the zippers, extra pockets and laptop storage space, the S100 is just that. Put it on, cinch it up, and march forward. The rigidity of the backpack allows it to stand upright without support, with easy top loading access to the 25 liter main compartment; it also is the right dimensions to stow in an overhead bin, or even in front of your seat if you are flying.
Pelican builds their gear tough, and the S100 is no exception. The built in laptop case is waterproof, and features a built in automatic pressure equalizer valve, as well as twin points to attach a lock, and a carrying handle. The inside is lined with a soft, velvet type material, and the bag comes with several foam blocks, to snugly fit your gear. The interior dimensions of the the case are 15.15″ Long by 10.4″ wide with a 1″ depth. This would be large enough to accommodate most laptops, but I found that my MSI G series was just a little too thick by about half an inch. Still, the MSI is a concrete block with a built in LCD screen; most laptops would fit easily in this case. The tablet storage area in the rigid front plate is a definite bonus, as is the ventilated pads on the back and lumbar support if you happen to be carrying this thing for a long trek.
The actual physical appearance of the S100 is sleek, with either an all black, black and orange, or black and green design. It would be equally at home in the field, in a coffee shop, or in an office. It can also stand double duty as a discreet weapons case with plenty of room for a pistol, magazines and some extra ammo, knife and handcuffs; just don’t plan on needing rapid access to it though.
Nothing is perfect however, and this would not be a balanced review if I did not ding a few points here and there. While I feel that the overall design is definitely nice, I would have liked to have seen a few areas in the interior, like a divider, or perhaps a few slots for business items, such as a phone, extra pens and what not. The storage space is ample, but there is no organization to it; either you have to pack carefully or you just throw everything together in a pile.
In all fairness however, Pelican has several models of the Sport Elite, with different features available to each, so be sure to look around to find the one that fits your needs.
I’ve tried more than a few laptop bags and backpacks in the last decade or so. Between carrying gear back and forth to my former LEO job, school texts, and the occasional family trip, I’ve definitely seen a need for something precisely like the S100. This bag has taken all the abuse I’ve thrown at it, and still looks like a gem. It’s kept my gear and textbooks safe, withstood coffee spills and the attention of an overzealous six year old armed with markers. The thing that impresses me the most is the features I have seen in the firearm and optics cases incorporated here. I’m not likely to go out in the field with my laptop, but you could easily use other electronics in the case, such as GPS, comms or other essentials; the S100 is adaptable to many environments, and several different situations. Just because it says laptop bag, doesn’t mean that it would be ill suited for other roles as well.
If you have ever worked with a Pelican product before, then you know quality is without match. The S100 features the same design philosophy as their weapons and optics cases; you simply will not get better from any other product.
Going on familiarity with Pelican, you know you will be in for some sticker shock. The S100 currently retails at 269.95 direct from Pelican, but you can find it for about $157 on Amazon, with two day shipping if you are a member of Prime. Other retailers vary in price, so be sure to shop around. With a price point of $160 or below, the S100 is worth every penny to protect your investment and transport your gear.
I don’t need to convince anyone who has ever used Pelican products of how good they are. With the introduction of ProGear, the S100, and its sister models, Pelican carries that reputation forward.