Its rare for us to stray from articles or reviews purely on games here at Darkworld Gaming, occasionally we’ll delve into console accessories, and I’ve done one or two on arcade sticks before, but I think this is the first time we’ve reviewed a bag before – so lets get to it with the SteelSeries X Targus “Sniper”!
This opportunity came at an appropriate time as earlier this year, for my day job, I got given a laptop so I could work away from the office more. And while it’s not quite the gaming laptop that this bag was no doubt designed for, in many ways it is even better for putting it to its limits.
My laptop is the heaviest laptop I’ve ever experienced, it’s a stupidly expensive 3D CAD “Mobile Workstation” laptop, with the highest end workstation laptop GPU nVidia sells in it. And while I’m a big guy not fussed by the weight, the laptop bag that I was given with the laptop, also from Targus, clearly wasn’t brought with the weight in mind, simply by the screen size.
The original bag I had mostly did the job, the laptop fit in it, and it had enough pockets for what I needed to carry around with it for work stuff. But the issue I soon found was, that I didn’t trust the straps to hold the weight on their own, both straps were fine, the carry handle was fine, but a single strap, to just go from the car to my desk etc, always seemed like it was straining to take the weight.
With how expensive the laptop was, I was on the verge of asking for a new bag. But then I got offered the SteelSeries X Targus “Sniper” to review – so it seemed as good a time as any to try something new for the website!
In researching for this review, as laptop bags are hardly a “speciality” of mine, I’ve noticed that manufacturers don’t tend to mention maximum carrying weight or anything like that. While the previous Targus bag I had would be ideal for a “regular” laptop, or even many gaming laptops, as previously mentioned, it doesn’t seem trustable for the high-end machines that weigh a lot more.
But this, so far, doesn’t seem to be even remotely a problem for the Sniper. Immediately upon sliding my laptop into the dedicated pocket, and giving the bag a “practice heft” it seemed much sturdier. And with the huge power brick, various other cables and bits and bobs I must carry around for work, it still didn’t even seem to notice the weight on the straps. Everything seemed a lot stronger all round. With equipment this expensive, you really need to feel that you can trust to handle the job. The Sniper ticks that box!
When I first got the Sniper out of the box, I wasn’t sold on the aesthetic, it’s a very square bag – which does make sense considering what it is designed to carry. Whereas the previous bag I was using was nice and rounded – but did take some tugging to get the zip done up. The detachable pockets on the front of the bag didn’t seem to look quite right either, I thought. But having used the bag for 2 weeks, the aesthetic has really grown on me – to the extent that I think I now prefer it over the previous bag.
Functionally the bag is designed entirely for the travelling gamer, the back pocket is a sleeve for a laptop up to 17.3” (though it is quite roomy, you might be able to squeeze slightly bigger in), with an incredibly soft, almost microfibre style, material lining it. This padded pocked is still surprisingly comfortable against your back as you wear it, so is given added protection on one side as its being worn.
The second pocket, took some getting used to for me, but from a design point of view is very clever indeed. 3 sides of the pocket unzip to allow it to open 180 degrees, a bit like a book, to access all the purpose designed pockets within. These small pockets are for all your gaming accessories, there are pockets for your keyboard, mouse, mouse mat and controllers, as well as a few smaller zipped pockets for other bits and bobs you might have. This can also serve as a good place to keep your paperwork if you’re not using all the pockets for their intended means. (I only use the mouse pocket, and fit the various pads of paper I need to carry to meetings etc in this main compartment).
The next compartment is where I store my power brick and other cables, it’s a nicely sized pocket, and has straps with snap buttons to hold things in place, which I use to separate my power brick cables from other cables I don’t need quite as frequently – namely HDMI cables as well as my spare monitor power cable.
Then on the front of the bag are two removable pouches. A smaller one at the top of the bag, which is about the size of a pencil case, but could easily be used to store anything that will fit in it that you might need to handily remove from the backpack itself. I do just use it as a pencil case and to store my various USB pens. The other, bigger, removable pocket is another 180 degree “book” opening pocket, seemingly designed to store your fancy gaming headsets in, ideally ones that allow the ear cups to fold flat I’d have thought. It has a separate pocket inside to stash away the headsets cable, with a snap button strap to hold the headset in place.
Lastly there is a small hidden pocket at the bottom of the bag at the small of the back, potentially a good place to stash money or small valuables while travelling. And there is a hidden waterproof cover in the bottom of the bag, that you can pull out to cover it up if the weather turns on you – don’t want your gaming kit getting wet now!
This entire bag has been designed with its function in mind which, as someone who studied product design at university, I really appreciate. The designers have written their brief, and made sure that everything that the travelling gamer might need to take with them, has a pocket to keep it in. They’ve thrown in a few extra clever ideas, such as having the smaller front pockets be detachable, want to leave your laptop behind and just take your headset somewhere? Just pop the pocket off and away you go! The hidden stash pocket is a nice touch as well, being quite a cautious type by nature, I very rarely trust leaving valuables around, and knowing something is well hidden is always reassuring.
As mentioned before, the aesthetic of the bag took a bit of time to grow on me. Its quite a “blocky” design, but for something like this function does trump aesthetic. I like the black colour scheme, with white logo accents. And I like the minute details, like the SteelSeries rubber zip pulls etc. The aesthetic did grow on me in time though, mostly because it is such a good bag you can’t help but start liking it!
Considering the “blocky” nature of the bag, it is actually very comfortable to wear. The shoulder straps and back of the bag are very nicely padded, meaning no matter how heavy the bag gets, it still feels comfortable. Even though it doesn’t have a waist strap.
I’ve not really found many downsides to the bag as a whole. I did take off all my PC accessories to put them into the bag along with the laptop, everything did fit nicely where it was meant ot go, and the straps and handles all seemed quite happy with the weight of everything which was extremely reassuring. Though I did find that with all the pockets filled with my various accessories I didn’t have a whole lot of room for much else of size. I could just about fit a pad of paper in the accessories compartment, but struggled to fit my, admittedly old and very large, external hard drive anywhere. (I did eventually manage to squeeze it into the cable pocket)
It was clearly a tossup; the bag was designed to fit all a gamer’s accessories while also carrying their laptop – to make it big enough to carry more would’ve made the bag bigger than a regular backpack. I daresay there are “hiking” size backpacks on the market for travelling gamers who need all the accessories and a bunch of other bits and bobs while on the go if that was really an issue.
I’ve found that the bag works perfectly for work, can carry the laptop and all my work stuff, or it will work perfectly for carrying gaming accessories with the laptop.
The only other niggle I’ve got, and I’m not even sure its worthy of the title of “niggle”, is that there isn’t a waist strap. Carrying heavy things on your back for extended periods can start to hurt, and carrying the weight on the hips/waist instead is much more comfortable – hence why all hiking rucksacks have big sturdy waist straps. But it struck me as odd that the first bag I was given when I got the laptop had a waist strap, but this bag didn’t. I never felt a need to use it, which is why I’m not sure it is even a niggle or not. Once I had my laptop, and all my accessories in the bag, it did get quite heavy, and standing/walking around for extended periods of time could start to get painful on the back I imagine. But with my bad knee, I regret I couldn’t really go for a long walk with the bag on to check this out. It’s comfortable to wear, so could well be ok even without the waist strap – I’ll update this if I ever walk longer than 20 minutes with the bag on!