Dare To Roam Prodigy Backpack Review
The Dare To Roam Prodigy Backpack is comfortable to carry all day even when packed full, though the lack of organization calls for additional cubes and pouches.
- Well-padded straps stay comfortable throughout the day
- Nylon polyester material dries quickly and hides stains
- Removable sternum strap easy to adapt to any body type
- Minimal organization can make finding items difficult
- Water bottle can slip out of holder if bag tips
- Front heavy when lightly packed
1.5 lb (0.7 kg)
17 in x 11.5 in x 7 in (43.2 x 29.2 x 17.8 cm)
Nylon, Polyester, DWR Coating, SBS Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
The reason to pick up the Dare To Roam Prodigy Backpack is right in the name—those who want to roam will find lots of reasons to love this pack. An open-concept bag with minimal organization, the Prodigy works well for a day on the go with room for jackets, snacks, drinks, and more.
With features meant to make carrying the bag as comfortable as possible, we find this workhorse holds up through days at a theme park just as well as it does with everyday use. A slight backache is an unavoidable hazard after spending a long day on our feet carrying a stuffed bag, but the padded straps and cushiony back of the Dare To Roam Prodigy Backpack help keep it at bay for at least 10 hours. Now, let’s take a look at the bag.
Materials & Aesthetic
The Prodigy isn’t doing anything revolutionary, but we appreciate the care put into its design. With the outer constructed of water-repelling nylon and the interior made of polyester, the bag itself resists moisture, keeping contents dry even when accidentally placed in water. It also dries quickly and includes antimicrobial technology to protect the bag against harmful and odor-causing bacteria. The exterior fabric obscures stains, which is good since the Dare To Roam Prodigy Backpack is spot clean and hand-wash only.
A fabric flap prevents rain from seeping through the SBS zippers on the main compartment and front pocket. While that can make zipping the bag slightly unwieldy at times, it’s a feature we’d rather have than not in a backpack meant to be used in the great outdoors.
The Prodigy is available in a variety of colorways with creative names, including Vulcan (black), Midnight (navy blue), Pearl (pale pink), Tango (bright red), Barley (tan), Halogen (lime green), Moonlight (light gray), and Militia (army green). It has minimal branding, with just the DTR initial logo in white on the front pocket zipper pull and color-on-color logos on the main compartment zipper pulls.
Embroidered color-on-color letters spell out Dare To Roam on the nylon webbing straps sewn onto the padded shoulder straps for a minimalistic look we appreciate, and there’s a small embroidered Dare To Roam on the bottom of the side pocket, too. Again, it’s the same color as the backpack, though, so it’s easy to miss.
The straps also include four D-rings, two on each strap, to attach small items we want on hand at all times, like hand sanitizer. We find this to be a convenient feature that keeps the items within reach but not in the way. Let’s take a look at the other features of the Prodigy.
The Prodigy backpack includes an adjustable, removable sternum strap that allows the user to place it anywhere on the shoulder straps or detach it entirely. We don’t use it much, finding the shoulder straps provide a comfortable fit on their own, but other users may like the added support. Your mileage will vary. The shoulder straps and back panel are well-padded without being bulky. Although the bag can feel heavy when fully packed, the padding ensures that the bag doesn’t dig into our backs while in use.
The shoulder straps are also easily adjustable but lack strap keepers. Surprisingly, the excess straps don’t catch on anything, even as we go in and out of doors and amusement park rides, but having a way to tuck the excess strap away would be appreciated. We think the Tom Bihn Strap Keepers might help solve this issue if it becomes a problem.
The bag also features a hanging handle on the top made of the same nylon webbing that runs down the straps. It’s large enough to throw the bag on a hook but isn’t ideal for carrying a fully-packed backpack as it digs into our hands after some time. It’s a convenient place to put a luggage tag, however, as it lays flat against the back of the pack while not in use, and there’s no other place for any other identification on the bag.
The Prodigy also features two side pockets for storing a water bottle or umbrella. A narrow bottle with a 2-3 inch diameter, such as the Hydro Flask 18 oz Standard Mouth Water Bottle , fits in the slot, but not anything too wide. We find it difficult to slide in a bottle if it’s nearly the same width as the pocket and the backpack is fully packed. Additionally, we did lose a water bottle while testing this pack at a theme park. User error? Probably, but it does show us that with enough jostling around, the side pockets will not hold items as secure as we’d like when it’s fully packed. Now let’s take a look inside.
Inside The Pack
Taking a look inside the Dare To Roam Prodigy backpack, it contains three separate compartments: a padded laptop compartment that will fit a 15-inch device, the main compartment, and a front pocket. The laptop compartment, located against the back of the back, is padded enough to provide security but has enough room for an extra laptop sleeve to ensure protection.
It opens with a seamless dual zipper that reaches each of the side pockets, enabling us to easily see and grab anything in the compartment without it falling out. The minimalist zipper streamlines the bag’s look by hiding the compartment, but since we think this is the compartment most in need of extra protection from the elements, a fabric flap over this zipper would have been appreciated, as well.
There is ample room for any size device, although there is no extra organization for battery packs, power cords, chargers, or a mouse—that all ends up in the main compartment when we head to the office. We use the Peak Design Tech Pouch or similar tech pouch in the main compartment for additional storage and organization.
However, when we aren’t using the laptop compartment as designed, it’s a great place to store flatter items like ponchos, winter hats, and gloves. Doing so prevents them from sliding to the bottom of the main compartment and keeps them easily within reach when the weather calls for their use. Because they’re slim, they didn’t dig into our backs as we wander through our day.
The main compartment opens with a dual-sided zipper as well, with rubber loop zipper pulls that make it easy to grab. There is minimal organization inside, providing plenty of room for jackets, snacks, and other items we need throughout the day. At the top, there is an 8-by-6-inch zippered pouch that’s a great place to store a wallet, cash, passport, or other items easily lost in the bottom of the bag that we don’t want to put in the easy-access front pouch for security reasons.
The one caveat to doing so, however, is that it’s a bit unwieldy to access the inner zippered pouch when the compartment is filled with other items, so we make sure to grab our wallet before getting to the front of any checkout line. Nevertheless, we feel the security is worth it—we may not have felt it if someone tried to reach into the front pocket while we were wearing the bag or if the zipper had accidentally come open.
The front pocket is a 9-inch deep quick-grab pocket that spans the width of the bag—a great place for a phone, tissues, batteries, gum, and more. It includes a key clip that we also find extremely useful for an earbud case. While the 22L capacity of the Prodigy backpack is a boon, it can also be a hindrance when trying to locate that one small item that’s slipped to the bottom, so we appreciate all of the features included that keep small items separate.
Overall, the Prodigy is a great pack for on the go, with enough space to haul a day’s worth of items for a small family (saving the cost of a locker rental) but in a small enough package that it easily fits under the seat of an airplane, in the front seat of a car or in a roller coaster. The fact that it includes a laptop compartment, enabling it to serve double-duty as a student or work backpack, is just the icing on the cake.
- Main compartment’s opening seems more biased towards the front
- Front pocket’s zippered opening is well-shrouded by fabric
- Shoulder straps are quite well-padded
- Laptop compartment doubles as storage space for thinner gear
- D-rings convenient place to clip hand sanitizer
- Comfortable to carry by one or two straps for extended periods of time