We've seen how digital DJ gear has pushed into the forefront of the DJ and Pro Audio world over the past few years, especially in EDM culture. Not too long ago, DJs used to roll up with their own media (mainly vinyl or CDs), a pair of headphones, and they were ready to rock the crowd. Vinyl eventually gave way to CDs, which meant avoiding having to lug heavy crates of records in and out of clubs. CDs stored more data, were less weight to carry around, and if a CD ever got stolen or lost, you could re-burn the CD and have a fresh one for the next gig.
The rise of the digital DJ has made us come full circle to lugging more gear back into the club. Controller-focused digital DJs are now effectively bringing an entire DJ setup with them: Controller, laptop, and sound interface (if applicable). Digital Vinyl System (DVS)-focused digital DJs are also bringing, at the minimum a laptop, sound interface, and timecode control vinyls or CDs. That's a lot of very valuable stuff to carry around.
Orbit Concepts, the creators of the Jetpack Remix DJ bag seek to solve the transportation issues related to today's digital DJ. After meeting the Southern California based team, we decided that rather than do just a normal gear review, that it might be a good idea to take their Remix DJ bag on the road with me on my one month trip to Asia. This trip was a good mix of business meetings, as well as DJ gigs, which would give a good opportunity to put the bag through its paces in the real world.
We'll start by first talking about the basic design of the bag and then move onto its performance in the wild.
A team of 4 Southern California based DJs designed the Jetpack Remix. Each of these individuals are scratch DJs, so they built the Jetpack Remix with the modern scratch DJ in mind. That means that this bag is primarily focused for DJs who use a DVS setup like Serato Scratch Live or Traktor Scratch Pro. As such, if you're looking for a bag that is more controller focused, this might not be the right bag for you (more on this later).
Starting from the the front of the bag, the Jetpack Remix has a fully removable panel that can be customized with your own design. What's great is that the back side is finished and removable, meaning that any stitching you put on the front won't show through to the back. This all adds to the polished feeling that the bag gives you. This is great for DJs who want their logos on their backpack and the ability to utilize color and very fine detail in the stitching makes for a really clean, customized look.
Inside the customizable panel is a compartment for business cards, USB keys, keychains, and a large pouch for items like power chargers. A feature that's really interesting is that this compartment actually has a molded frame to it, so it leaves the right amount of space for any large or bulky items. That means that the profile of the Jetpack Remix stays the same regardless of whether or not you have a power charger inside it, thus effectively eliminating those unsightly bulges in an overloaded backpack and providing more efficient use of space.
Moving one compartment backwards, you have the laptop compartment, which contains a padded space for up to a 17" laptop (laptops with Speck-type cases also fit OK). The padding is sufficient and there is significant padding at the bottom so that you're $2,000+ Macbook Pro doesn't make solid contact with the ground when you set your bag down. Inside you'll find a compartment for headphones (again, the molded structure of the bag prevents bulges from occurring), 4 "storage nets" to hold miscellaneous cables and adapters, 2 velcro compartments to hold larger items like a Serato SL, Shure Needle Cases, or an Native Instruments Audio 10. The key to this compartment is keeping DJs organized. We all know how things can get after having too many drinks and the Jetpack Remix does a good job of keeping your gear organized.
The final compartment is the record compartment. Remember, this bag is designed for DVS DJs who need to carry timecode records or CDs. The Jetpack Remix has specially designed sleeves (4 in total) so that you can easily slide your vinyls and slip mats in and out. The sleeves have enough room for you to be able to double up your timecode records and slip mats within the same sleeve. There's also a slide out CD sleeve which has 6 separate slots. This compartment also has space for a 10" tablet (I was able to fit an iPad 2 with a large leather cover into it without a problem), as well as a customized compartment for a portable battery charger.
The battery charger is a really cool feature for the frequent traveler because we all know how our iOS and Android devices love to run out of batteries when we need them the most. The Jetpack team also built in a small pass through hole so that you can run the charging cable from the portable battery charger directly from the bag into your pocket. The Battery Bank (as named by Orbit) is 9600mah which is good for about 4-5 full charges for an iPhone and a single full charge for an iPad. The Battery Bank retails for $69.99, but you can get it for $45.00 if you pick it up with the Jetpack. This thing saved me a few times while at airports for long layovers or all day excursions.
All in all the Jetpack has a great design to it. Its able to stand up by itself when you put it on the ground (with or without any gear in it) and the molded structure to unit really does a good job of efficiently using space and preventing unnecessary bulges once it fills up.
So how does this thing perform in the wild? Let's find out.
Its safe to say that I spend a lot of time in airports. I flew almost 100,000 miles last year and the stress related to getting in and out of airports has not decreased one bit. For me, the key is to get through check-in, security, and over to the gate as easily as possible. That means that I need to have direct access to my main bag to easily put-in/take-out things like my passport, laptop, wallet, watch and cell phone (all while doing the TSA undress yoself shuffle). The Jetpack does a good job of providing direct access to my laptop because the compartment sits in the middle of the bag and the laptop easily slides in and out of its padded casing. The storage nets that are in the same compartment are also great to put smaller items like your passport, wallet, watch, and cell phone (I never leave those items in the TSA trays just in case they get lost or stolen). After you get through security its crucial to be be able to access all these items quickly so you can get the heck out of line and on your way. Because everything lies in one compartment, I was able to easily get through security with little pain.
Getting Around the Airport
So we're through security, now we've get to the gate. Lugging a laptop, headphones, power brick, sound interface, etc. gets tiring when you've started at gate 60 and you've got to walk up to gate 75. This is where the ergonomics of the Jetpack Remix really shine. The raised and padded back side of the bag provide for adequate air circulation (preventing the sweaty back syndrome before you've even boarded the flight) and the lumbar support on each side make the bag extremely comfortable even though there's about 25-30 lbs of stuff in there. Most important, the bag sits flush against your back which effectively allows you to balance your center of gravity. Remember when we were in middle school with our Jansports and you saw kids leaning forward to counteract all the weight of books? Well the Jetpack Remix actually allows you to stand straight up which significantly reduces the amount of fatigue on your lower back and neck. Its a small detail, which has a really big impact to daily usability.
One area I had trouble with was the profile of the bag. While the bag pretty much stays the same size and form factor whether its packed to the brim or not, the profile of the bag is very deep. This means that when you're wearing the bag in line and turning left or right, you're side swiping people with the bag. This happens in tight conditions with any bag, but I frequently found myself bumping into people with the bag even in relatively empty lines.
On the Airplane
My usual routine on the airplane is to leave as much as I can into my bag, take the essentials (iPhone, iPad, headphones) to my seat, and store my bag in the overhead. This usually means maneuvering through the guy/girl who might already be in their seat and all the folks who are trying to board behind you. Its usually chaos. Because of the storage net in the Jetpack's main compartment, I was easily able to access my headphones and iPhone. The iPad compartment also made it very easy to quickly grab my tablet and close up the bag without having to dig too much. That's the nice thing about this bag, everything is pretty much within reach and well organized, so you don't have to go digging through a seemingly bottomless pit to find find the item you're looking for.
One thing to take into consideration is that I the Jetpack did have some trouble fitting underneath the seat in front of me on a United 737 (3 + 3 seat configuration). The width of the bag fit just fine, but the depth of the bag prevented it from sliding fully underneath the seat in front of me. For those who take two carry on bags with you on the plane, this might be a concern. If there is not enough room in the overhead, you may not be able to fit your Jetpack under the seat in front of you. Keep in mind that all airlines have different configurations so your mileage may vary, but just a consideration if you plan to carry on more than one bag.
In the Club
I had an opportunity to take the Jetpack Remix out on the road for a club gig. Please note that I am not a DVS DJ (I use Traktor, 2 X1s, and an Audio 8), so this bag was not designed for DJs like myself, but I thought I'd give it a spin at the club. I "reconfigured" the bag to be more suitable for DJs, rather than traveling through the airport. This mean that I used the nets inside the main compartment to hold cables and adapters (instead of passport, iPhone, etc.). I was not able to put my controllers in the bag, but this was to be expected, as the bag isn't designed to hold controllers. The organization to the bag actually helped me get set up with my Audio 8 much easier, as I knew exactly where my RCA and USB cables were. I was also able to fit a Magma Traveler stand inside the compartment where the timecode vinyls/CDs would go.
One thing I would have liked to see is to allow the main compartment (the same one where your laptop lies) to open up wider. I found it really hard to find items closer to the bottom of the bag and when i tried to "stretch" the bag open, it became a little difficult to try to keep the bag open, while trying to reach for items in the bottom nets of the main compartment.
Most importantly, after the gig (and a few drinks), I was able to easily put back all of my digital DJ gear: Audio 8, RCA cables, USB cables, laptop, laptop stand, etc neatly into my bag. If I had an empty net in the main compartment, I knew that I was forgetting something, so having dedicated storage nets is crucial to making sure you don't forget your gear at the booth.
In the Office
I had a chance to take the Jetpack with me on a few business meetings. I usually travel light to these meetings, taking a notebook and my 15" Macbook Pro with me. Its also important to note that the record compartment can now be converted into a file organizer. Here I put my folders where I'd store loose documents and receipts.
Aside from storage, the main thing about the Jetpack is its relatively inconspicuous and clean exterior. The last thing you want to do is roll into a work meeting with a neon colored bag. This inconspicuous exterior is particularly important when traveling abroad. Being a foreigner in another country with a bag that contains $3,000+ worth of gear can potentially make you a big target to theifs. In this case, having an inconspicuous exterior helps you blend in a little more and the Jetpack does a great job of that.
After spending a month with the Jetpack Remix, here are a few thoughts:
What do we love about it?
* Great design that works well for anyone who DJs via DVS
* "Molded" construction prevents items like headphones from getting crushed, but also prevents from extra bulges in your bag
* Strap design allows you to balance center of gravity which reduces muscle fatigue and improves posture while you walk
* Customization options for DJs who want their logo on the front
What do we think can be improved?
* Profile of bag is a little bit too deep
* Laptop compartment of bag does not open wide enough to reach into the bottom of the bag
* No external storage compartments for smaller items that you need easy access to
A month on the road with a bag is enough time to realize whether you love it or hate it. While I used the Jetpack primarily as a travel bag and secondarily as a DJ bag, its definitely a bag that I'll be taking me with me on the road in the future. Its ability to easily move between a regular backpack, DJ bag, and work bag are all key sellers for me.
Manufacturer: Orbit Concepts
Material: Heavy Duty Water Resistant Balletic Nylon
Price: $149 (add Battery Bank for $45.00)
Release Status: Available for sale
Logo Customization: Available (contact Orbit Concepts for Pricing)
Outer Dimensions: Inches: 17 x 12.5 x 8 | CM: 43.18 x 31.75 x 20.32