Our love affair with small backpacks shows no sign of abating, and the latest object of our affection is the CamelBak Coronado. Why? Let's start with the latest camo pattern, multicam black. Camo is a religious topic among some – not us, but some other fanatics out there! – and multicam black will give you some serious cool guy points, for what it's worth. And OK, it's not worth that much, but the Coronado has some other cool features to recommend it.
The Coronado is what military types call an admin bag. It's tough, but not something you'd take into the field for operational work; it's something you use in garrison and on base, which makes it ideal for school, work and travel. What makes the Coronado unusual is the combination of a slick exterior, organized interior and a stiff clamshell deisgn that provides a little extra protection to contents.
Let's start with the exterior. There is a single zipped fleece-lined pocket on the top front, big enough for a Kindle, paperback book, small tablet or notebook. Behind the MOLLE panel is a very thin 8.5"x11" sleeve that will fit a standard sized magazine or small stack of paperwork. That's it, no bottle pockets or anything else, which makes it ideal for sliding under seats and into overhead bins without creating a yard sale. If you do need more carrying options, you can find pretty much anything you want to attach to the MOLLE panel.
The slick exterior belies what awaits within: pockets galore! Padded and fleece-lined sleeves for a laptop and a tablet, another larger paperwork/magazine sleeve, pen and phone pockets, you got 'em all. The tablet sleeve is suspended about an inch above the bottom of the pack for protection. The laptop sleeve goes all the way to the bottom, but the bottom is padded as is the entire exterior of the pack. Another nice touch is the clamshell design, with material at the bottom that allows the pack to open at about a 45 degree angle, making it easy to work out of but difficult to accidentally dump the contents.
The adjustable shoulder straps are contoured and have just enough padding to be comfortable even under a heavy load of books, etc., and there's a reinforced grab handle on top along with a couple of D rings in case you need to lash something onto the Coronado, or the Coronado onto something bigger. Overall the Coronado is a tough, practical pack that can be as slick or as complicated as you want to make it. If there's one thing we'd add, it's a single stack of MOLLE along the sides to mount bottle pockets or other small MOLLE bags, but for that CamelBak also makes the Quantico, a similar pack with built-in side pockets if you're looking for just a bit more.