HEX’s latest line of bags involves a partnership with a company not unfamiliar with gamers: 343 Industries. And of course, their collaboration involves Halo-themed bags; more specifically, the designs are inspired from Halo Infinite. While the game itself has been delayed, those new gears can help you get in the mood without the need to break the bank. Indeed, despite being officially-licensed items, the HEX x Halo line isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg. The Spartan Backpack under review today is priced at $100 while the other bags in the HEX x Halo line include the Spartan Tech Backpack ($200), ONI Sling ($80), and UNSC Duffel ($150).
HEX’s Spartan Backpack sits somewhere in the middle of this line as it isn’t too small nor too large of a bag (17.5"H x 12.7"W x 5.0"D) and the cost is well within the affordable range. Of course, you might find cheaper backpacks elsewhere, but this one bears both the fancy officially-licensed tag, and also the specs to boot. By specs of a bag, I mean of course the quality and comfort.
In the last HEX product that I reviewed, the HEX x Serj Tankian Backpack, these “specs” were up to snuff and I was happy to see the company deliver once again on those fronts, if not improve, with their new line. All bags in the HEX x Halo line are constructed in 16 OZ Canvas with a water-resistant, polyurethane coating for durability. It indeed feels tough to the touch (more than the Serj Tankian one) with a rugged, if not military, feel to it. This feel is aided by the fact that the backpack carries Master Chief’s signature olive-drab color scheme.
All sides are well-padded to cushion your belongings, and this also gives the bag a rather stiff form factor. Also well-padded are the shoulder straps and the part where your back gets in contact with the bag. Both parts feature an airmesh for breathability to limit sweat/moisture accumulation and this indeed works as intended. The EV foam-padded straps and backside are among the most important parts of a backpack when it comes to comfort and it shows that HEX designed their new product with comfort in mind.
While this backpack is rather stiff, it still does bear some flexibility to expand and accommodate bulkier items, but it is limited in this respect. To carry more stuff, the $200 Spartan Tech Backpack from the same collection might be more appropriate, as the simple Spartan Backpack is more slim and sleek in design. Personally, I prefer the latter over a bulkier one; even if it means that I have to compromise on the space.
That said, even with its slim look, the Spartan Backpack is still generous on the storage space. The main compartment offers practically the full volume of the backpack for storage. One of my favorite design aspects of this bag is that its main compartment opens all the way down, so you can lay it flat and open it up to easily grab the required item inside. With most backpacks - at least those that I own - the zippers open only partly, or the main compartment opens only at the top. This means that there's a lot of fiddling around blindly while trying to reach something inside. As a result, this leads to messing up the arrangement of the stored contents, which isn’t ideal, especially when travelling. The HEX x Halo Spartan Backpack does away with this inconvenience and is positioning itself as a strong contender as my go-to backpack once I can travel again.
The main compartment also includes a dedicated laptop sleeve that is also EVA foam padded. It fits laptops/tablets of up to 15” and adequately provides protection from bumps and scratches. However, that is about it for the partitioning in the main compartment. It feels rather limited and I wish there were at least some pockets in this compartment to store cables, earphones and other smaller accessories.
Thankfully, there are dedicated pockets for these purposes at the front. There’s a concealed accessory pocket to store sunglasses or keys, but it can be hard to reach its full depth with your fingers. There’s also a side accessory pocket with the same issue, so you might not want to store smaller things in there. There’s a larger and more accessible, zipped pocket found at the lower, front side. This one can prove to be more practical as it features several partitions that easily hold pens, chargers, cables and your other smaller belongings.
There’s also another side pocket dedicated to hold your water bottle, and while HEX seems to have made it deeper than the one on the Serj Tankian backpack, it doesn’t stretch enough to accommodate more bottle sizes.
Another thing that I wish HEX improved upon was the inner lining. Just like with the Serj bag, this Halo one packs a nylon finish and has a plastic-y feel to it. I would personally prefer a different, softer material like textile, but it again comes down to personal preference. On the plus side, the chosen material can confer some additional water resistance to the interior.
As you might have seen, this lining features a printed pattern of the UNSC logo and the bag is filled with other subtle Halo references. For instance, the side accessory pocket features a small UNSC badge, while the left shoulder strap carries Master Chief’s Spartan-117 ID number. I am really a fan of how HEX designed those references to be subtle, yet recognizable by fans. What’s more is that if someone is unfamiliar with the Halo franchise the bag would seem normal, as it is not obnoxiously gamer or geeky. This is why I say that you can low-key cosplay as Master Chief with this bag as it was in fact inspired by the iconic Spartan himself!
As a $100 limited edition package, the HEX x Halo Spartan Backpack is more than decent. It safely protects your items with generous storage space in a sleek, stylish and subtly geeky fashion.