The Crumpler Nhill Heist Is A ‘Slim-Line’ Laptop Backpack With Plenty Of Space [Review]


The Nhill Heist has plenty of structural support.
The Nhill Heist has plenty of structural support.

The Crumpler Nhill Heist is a laptop backpack that “allows you to step off your bike and into work, without looking like you’ve just stepped off your bike.” Built from water resistant 900D/300D rip-stop nylon, with reinforced stitching on all stress points, it aims to outlast its lifetime guarantee by being super tough.

It’s built to carry laptops up to 17 inches in size inside its main 17-liter compartment, which also leaves room for books or magazines, and has four pockets for things like pens, iPods, your wallet, and anything else you fancy stuffing inside.

There’s another large external pocket towards the top of the bag, plus a small external side pocket that aims to be accessible even when the bag is on your shoulders. It’s padded with EVA foam in an effort to be super comfortable, even when packed tight.

It measures 12.2 inches wide, by 16.9 inches high, and 4.7 inches thick when it’s empty, and it weighs 1.87 pounds. The Nhill Heist is priced at $175 — is it worth it?

The Good

The Nhill Heist is incredibly comfortable. It’s got plenty of padding on its back and on its straps, so even when you’ve got a lot inside the bag, your back and shoulders don’t feel it. I carried a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro — plus its charger, an iPad, a camcorder, and more — around London for hours inside this bag, and at no point did it feel uncomfortable.

Despite being labeled a “slim-line” backpack, the Nhill Heist offers plenty of room. Even with your laptop and its charger inside, there’s room for lots more. You won’t be able to stuff a large duffle coat in there, but you’ll be able to throw in your tablet, files and folders, media players, and more quite comfortably.

The pockets are divided nicely, too. In the large compartment, there’s space for your laptop in its own padded pocket, in addition to space for A3-sized papers, and four smaller pockets for leads and other devices.

There are also two external pockets: a fairly large one at the top of the bag, perfect for your iPhone or iPod, which means you don’t have to keep routing around for them inside the large compartment. Plus a small side pocket that can be accessed even while the bag is on your shoulders. I found this handy for things like headphones and gum that I wanted to get to quickly while I was out and about.

I’ve been impressed by the build quality of the Nhill Heist. It’s clearly built with high-quality materials that are made to last — and it shows. I’ve used mine for a number of trips in the past few months, and apart from a few dirty marks on its base, the bag still looks brand new. I haven’t exactly been delicate with it, either.

The bag’s biggest selling point, however, is its design. Its straps are actually sewn on to the front of the bag, so they sit over the pockets when the bag is on your back. It seems strange at first (I actually put the bag on backwards the first time I used it) but there’s a good reason for it: If the straps cover the pockets, it’s impossible to get into them while the bag’s on your back.

This is perfect for the security conscious, because it means nothing can be swiped by a pesky pickpocket in a busy subway station.

The Bad

While the Nhill Heist may be “slim-line,” it’s big — almost too big for someone like me, who uses a 15-inch MacBook Pro, which is less than 10 inches wide. If you’re not putting anything too wide in it, you’ll find there’s a little more space than you need inside.

At 1.87 pounds, it’s pretty heavy, too. While you may not feel it while the bag’s empty, it quickly becomes very weighty as your start filling it up. Again, if you’re not putting a lot inside, a smaller, lighter bag is going to be a better option for you.

Finally, I would have preferred to see another larger pocket accessible while the bag’s on your shoulders. There’s only one, and it’s really rather small. I didn’t want to stuff my precious iPhone inside with everything else I had in there, so I had to keep taking my bag off my back to get to it — or keep it in my pocket.

Another, easily accessible external pocket would have been great.

The Verdict

While the Nhill Heist may have been a little too big and a little too bulky for me, it won’t be for you if you have plenty to carry inside it. If other “slim-line” laptop backpacks are too small for you, this one’s likely to be a good size.

It’s comfortable, it’s durable, it looks good, and its lifetime warranty means that even if it does break — and it’s not your fault — Crumpler with repair or replace it. I think that warrants the $149 price tag, don’t you?

[xrr rating = 80%]