Kensington Contour Terrain Notebook Backpack Review

Kensington Contour Terrain Notebook Backpack Review

Kensington Contour Terrain Notebook Backpack

by Greg Ross

The Kensington Contour Terrain Notebook Backpackis a new offering in Kensington’s product line up.  Designed to hold 15.4 notebooks and still be able to carry plenty of extras, this $49.99 backpack is a solid offering that should interest students, executives, and travelers alike.


  • Color: Khaki
  • Exterior Dimensions: 14.5 L x 15.5 H x 6.5 W
  • Notebook Compartment Dimensions: 14.4 L x 11.4 H x 2.0 W
  • Material: Canvas, Corduroy accents
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime


Weighing in at 2.4 lbs, the Contour Terrain Notebook Backpack has a large number of unstructured pocketsand compartments for maximum flexibility in the backpack’s usefulness.  As a result of its padded backpack straps, built in elastic expansion bands, and built in lumbar supportthis backpack is endorsed by the ACA (American Chiropractic Association).

The Kensington Contour Terrain Notebook Backpack

From the exterior pictures, you can see both of the Velcro side pockets at the bottom as well as the front zippered pocket.  Near the top of the pack there are two pockets designed to hold your favorite drink or a water bottle.  Each of these compartments are easily accessiblewhile on the run, so items like tickets, a cell phone, pencils, calculators, USB keys, and that Gatorade bottle can all be grabbed at a moments notice.  Fortunately.  There is essentially no chance that the Velcro pockets can come undone and spill their contents onto the floor.  The two bottle holder pockets elastic bands tighten around the object is placed into it, and thus it can secure drinks of almost any size without trouble.  Finally, you can also see the top loading main compartment’s opening flap, which is tightly secured by a plastic buckle.

Main compartment’s buckle clip, the drink holder, and a key ring holder in the front most pocket.

The inside of the top loading compartment is where this backpack really shines.  Featuring a fully open construction, it contains one notebook pocket, one verylarge main compartment, and a small zippered pocket hiding in the front.  The notebook pocket itself is lined with semi-thick foam padding to protect that precious machine.  Combined with the notebook sleeve I have, I know that my HP nc8430 is well protected wherever I go.  As a matter of fact, the lining alone (without the sleeve) should easily prove sufficient to protect your goods through long campus walks or quick runs between airport terminals.

Look at all that space…

The zippered pocket on the inside is somewhat small, but it is perfect for school supplies or as a place to hide your classroom snacks.  Alternatively, you could put earphones, a USB mouse, and other small trinkets in there.  Either way, it is convenient to be able to separate some of the items in the main compartment.

Lastly, the main compartment is quite deceiving in its carrying capacity – it looks a lot smaller than it actually is.  When I first started using this backpack I thought it was unsuitable for long daily campus hauls with a large amount of textbooks and notebooks, but as I will describe in a later section I definitely underestimated its capacity.

Quality & Looks

The backpack itself is made of a high quality, very thick and mildly rough canvas material.  All of the seams and pockets have no defects, and I have no reason to doubt that this backpack should be able to withstand extended abuse before showing signs of age.  Even while stuffing this backpack with as much as it could hold, the material showed no signs of strain or weakness while still maintaining its form.  This material is also waterproof.  While I was not able to seriously test that claim, the backpack did survive a few parking lot walks in the rain without getting anything in the inside wet.  The water itself seemed to brush off the darker colored canvas material while being only slightly absorbed by the lighter material (the rest brushed off as before).  Again, no water actually seeped through to the value contents of the pack.

For those of you who enjoy the earthen colors of this backpack, you are in luck because this backpack is designed to look good while working well.  If you are not a fan of khaki and sand colored accessories, you will need to think hard about buying this backpack as there are no other color schemes available as of this writing.  That being said, the backpack itself is made mostly of the lighter colored khaki material with dark green-tan canvas color highlights along the top, sides, and rear of the pack.  All of the inside pocket liners are also made of nylon, with a similar shade of khaki.  In my opinion, even if you do not agree with the color scheme of the backpack, you should still seriously consider buying this backpack as it was designed for maximum functionality and flexibility.

Carrying Capacity & Comfort

As I said previously, when I first received this backpack I thought it was not going to be suitable for long daily hauls to campus.  On any given day, I will probably carry 1-2 textbooks, 2-4 notebooks, pencils, pens, a calculator, and my computer.  It would also be nice if I can fit my cell phone and MP3 player in there as well.  Since I happen to have all that stuff lying around right now, it seemed fitting to stuff this thing until it was fatter than a Thanksgiving turkey!

A semi-typical book load (I don’t carry the game book on campus, but it is about the same size as a lab write-up book) (view large image)

For my stress test, I rounded up the following items:

  • Two 2 thick textbooks
  • One recreational reading book
  • 3 notebooks
  • HP nc8430 w/ Power AC Adapter
  • USB Mouse
  • USB Stick
  • Earphones
  • Cell Phone
  • MP3 Player

To start, I decided to load up the backpack without my computer in it.  After all, I do not need it every day.  For those days that you do not have your laptop with you, the laptop compartment can double as either a separate compartment or it can fold away to minimize the lost space.

The bottom line: this backpack swallowed everything on that list…and I still had not filled up all the side pockets!  As a matter of fact, the main compartment still had several extra inches of vertical space where I could have shoved a few more things on top of the textbooks.

Almost everything fits without a problem. (view large image)

Fitting in the notebook and power adapter was a little trickier; I actually wanted to fit the adapter in there with all the other items still in the bag.  But I had reached the bag’s limits; I ended up removing one of my three books in order to make room for the laptop.

But I had to trade a book to put the laptop in the backpack (view large image)

As far as the comfort level goes, I am generally satisfied with it.  When carrying around only the laptop and a few notebooks, the shoulder straps spread the weight evenly, and the bag did not press into my back at all.  Once I put just about everything except the kitchen sink in, the bag did feel significantly heavier, but not uncomfortably so.  I did start to feel the laptop digging into me justa little bit, so additional padding on the backside of the notebook compartment is needed in order to correct that deficiency.


Overall, the Kensington Contour Terrain Notebook Backpack is a top-notch backpack offering from Kensington.  Its flexible design, high quality build, and reasonable price make this notebook backpack one of the first choices that a student, business executive, and road warrior should consider.


  • Fairly large amount of storage space, and maximum flexibility in how the space can be used.
  • Padded straps and built in support to ease the burden on your back.
  • Large number of compartments and pockets.
  • Two drink holders.
  • High quality padding for laptop protection.
  • High quality materials, lifetime warranty, and waterproof design.


  • With a heavy load in the backpack, a laptop (or book) near the back mightdig into your back a little bit.
  • In order to utilize all the storage space of the main compartment, you have to stack things vertically.  That is not healthy for books or notebooks in the compartment.





Leave a Reply