I have been using the same backpack for years. I absolutely love it, and while it’s getting tattered and torn, the straps finally starting to tear, I have held on for dear life. The reason is simple: I have never really come across a backpack I like as much. But when I was given the opportunity to try out the Targus CitySmart EVA Pro backpack, I took a look at its specs and design and thought: this just might work. I was preparing to head to Las Vegas for CES 2024, so it was the perfect time to really put it through its paces.
What is the Targus CitySmart EVA Pro Backpack?
The Targus CitySmart EVA Pro backpack is a business backpack that can accommodate an up to 15.6-inch laptop in a padded compartment, along with a tablet or other items, like papers, files, books, and more. It has a patented checkpoint-friendly design so you can unzip the laptop section fully and lie it flat for TSA screening. A semi-rigid, impact-resistant EVA top pocket is designed for small accessories while the extra-large main compartment can hold larger items, clothing, and more.
With integrated, pass-through trolley straps on the back to slip onto luggage, the air mesh back panel with air flow channels keeps you comfortable and cool when you are carrying it on your back. The shoulder straps are adjustable and padded. There are quick access pockets to keep your essentials close. Everything is secured by durable, polished metal zipper pulls.
At the front is a zippered workstation with multiple pockets for supplies. Two pockets on either side can hold a water bottle, umbrella, and more.
Constructed with a weather-resistant base, the backpack has orange reflective accents that increase visibility, and add to the sleek look.
The bag measures 13.5 (W) x 18.25 (H) x 8.75 (D) inches and weighs 2.4 lbs. The laptop compartment is 10.43 x 15.23 inches. It ships with a limited lifetime warranty and sells for US$115 but you can find it in Canada for about $200.
Targus CitySmart EVA Pro BackPack Review
My first reaction when unboxing the Targus CitySmart EVA Pro backpack is that it’s larger than my usual backpack. The one I have been using for years is the OGIO SoHo backpack, which has since been replaced in the line (you can still find it on sites like Amazon). It is much more compact, both in height and width, but mostly also in depth. With that said, I often filled it such that it became much deeper, thanks to the multiple front compartments.
The Targus CitySmart EVA Pro is taller, wider, and slimmer than my OGIO bag. Sadly, while it’s fine as a carry-on, it exceeds the sizing requirements to qualify as a “personal item” on an airline like Air Canada. I could get away with bringing my old backpack and a carry-on suitcase for short trips, but that might not fly with this one. That’s something to keep in mind if you want to use it as an airline travel backpack.
I love that the backpack stands upright thanks to the stable base (my other bag would topple over because of the softer material). When you’re putting your bag down and picking it back up constantly at a show like CES, this is a big deal. The luggage trolley strap at the back is a game-changer as well for navigating a busy airport.
The material – Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (hence the name EVA) – is lovely: the backpack looks expensive yet also rugged and stylish at the same time. The orange accents are a nice touch for both style and visibility. Through my trip, I received several compliments on the look of this backpack.
Now comes the most important part: how much can the backpack comfortably fit? My essentials for CES 2024 are usually the same: my 14-inch MacBook Pro, noise-cancelling headphones in their case, several portable charging banks, charging cables, pens, notebook, my compact DSLR, and my small toiletries case (I always bring essential toiletries just in case of lost luggage!) This year, I was also bringing along the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 Creator Combo with its case (review coming soon!) and a small microphone and adapter set for iPhone as a back-up. Naturally, a water bottle is important and I was able to fit one (two during the show!) in the side pockets, where they fit securely.
If you can believe it, everything fit in this bag! I was unsure that the compact DSLR would fit along with everything else, but it surprisingly did. I could nicely organize all the smaller items in the front zippered pocket. I love the mesh zippered section, which is perfect for keeping adapters, power blocks, SD card reader, cables, and more separate from everything else.
There are slots for pens and other small items as well, like my protein bars, notebook, and more. At the top is a zippered pocket perfect for a pair of glasses of sunglasses (it fit my rather large sunglasses case perfectly).
Another front pocket is much more spacious than it seems: my notepad, the small mic kit, and a few other essentials like my passport, easily fit inside.
I love that the main compartment opens and flips up. This made it easy to put larger items inside, like the camera and DJI kit, then sit the headphones and my toiletries kit on top for easy retrieval once I boarded the flight.
The laptop compartment with the protective flap perfectly accommodated my MacBook while the secondary section could easily fit a secondary device, like a tablet, file folders, or books (I slotted a magazine inside to read on the plane). Since it was chilly in Vegas, I threw a toque and gloves in there as well.
For walking the CES show floor and other meetings and evening events, I left some items back in the hotel room, like my headphones. I was able to shove my packable jacket into the centre compartment without having to struggle to zip it up once inside. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how much this backpack could fit.
Should You Buy the Targus CitySmart EVA Pro Backpack?
The Targus CitySmart EVA Pro backpack is suitable for anyone who can appreciate its sleek design. It fits more than you might think but is also larger than you think in overall size.
Still, it’s comfortable to wear, perfect for school, work, or travel. I wore this backpack from morning to night for more than a week. While I had one day of bad back pain (likely unrelated to the backpack), the rest of the show was smooth sailing. I never felt like it strained my shoulders or was uncomfortable or hot.
One piece of advice: make sure to adjust the straps accordingly so it sits properly on your back. You don’t want it to be too low or it will put strain on your back, nor too tight such that it pulls on your shoulders.
If you’re not looking for a super compact bag and value a stylish backpack that can hold a lot without looking like a suitcase on your back, consider the Targus CitySmart EVA Pro backpack. As noted, it’s US$115 but a quick online search will bring it up for about $200 in Canada.