Targus 17" XL Notebook Backpack Fix

If you have a 17" laptop -- any 17" laptop -- you've probably discovered, as we did, that there are only a few bags available for it. And if you want a backpack-style bag, there's only one: the Targus 17" XL Notebook Backpack.

You'll notice in the picture (left, above, from Targus' website project page), the bag looks really slick; All its parts are neatly connected, and the bag looks like one unit. Well, that's when the bag is perfectly stuffed full of paper and all the straps are adjusted to make it look just right. In reality, it looks more like the one on the left, which happens to be my bag. If you put anything at all in the outermost pocket (the one right above where the Targus logo appears on the bag), it flops down, making it damn near impossible to get anything out of it without dumping the rest.

Most of the other Targus bags, like the 15.4" Matrix, have a series of shoelace-like straps that hold the outermost section of the bag up tightly against the rest of the bag, regardless of what you have in it. Unfortunately, with the the 17" XL they chose instead to give you two MORE water bottle pockets underneath the outermost section. (This is in addition to the third water bottle pocket on the side.) So, unless you happen to carry two water bottles with you all the time, you're out of luck.

The 17" XL (no straps). The 15.4" Matrix (w/straps).

After some thought, I came up with a really easy fix for this that I thought I'd share. Installing a snap in each side of the outermost section and the corresponding nylon strap holds the bag up neatly (as shown). The nylon straps (and the section) are both plenty thick to hold the snap, and you can pick up a set of snap pliers (with the snaps included) for less than $20.

To install the snap, you simply line up the pliers where you want the snap, insert each part into the pliers, and squeeze. It's easy.

Hey -- you should have a set of these pliers anyway. Who knows when you'll want to install a snap? We liked this tool so much, we wrote it up in Toolmonger.com.

Best of luck, and I hope the rest of you with 17" laptops and backpacks enjoy finally being able to use that outermost pocket.