Henty CoPilot Backpack Review: Challenge Accepted

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The folks over at Henty saw my review of the Tom Bihn Tri-Star and Aeronaut 30 travel bags and emailed me the following message: “This may end your love affair with Tom Bihn’s luggage.”

Challenge accepted…

CoPilot Backpack
Even the Henty packaging is non-traditional (Photo by Skip Owens)

Henty (named after a remote area on the West Coast of Australia) was started in 2012 in Tasmania by Jeremy Grey and Jon Gourlay in order to solve a singular problem:

“Henty was founded as a result of a seemingly simply problem: how to transport business clothing to and from the office and have it ready to wear on arrival.”

So whether you commute by bike to the office or are just taking a flight for a several day business trip, you most likely have a similar need. I am a frequent traveler for my day job and I am always looking for a way to take some of the hassle out of air travel.

Packing a Henty CoPilot Backpack:

I’m an engineer, so most of the time that means business casual (no suit and jacket for me). But that doesn’t mean I want to arrive at my destination with a bunch of wrinkled clothes that I now have to iron. So after I unpacked the CoPilot Backpack Henty sent me I pulled out all my clothes for my upcoming trip and started packing. First off I packed three polo shirts, two pairs of dress pants and a light jacket into the garment bag portion of the Henty CoPilot Backpack.

CoPilot Backpack
The garment bag portion of the Henty CoPilot Backpack packs just like a traditional garment bag (Photo by Skip Owens)

The second part of the CoPilot Backpack is the 20 Liter Inner Tube bag, where you store everything else you take a short business trip:

  • Tennis Shoes
  • Workout clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Undergarments
  • Power Adapters/Cords
CoPilot Backpack
Most everything else I travel with goes into the “Inner Tube” bag (Photo by Skip Owens)

But that’s not all you need to take on a business trip these days. Virtually everyone travels with some kind of computer, and in my case I take two…a MacBook Pro (for work) and an iPad Pro (as my personal machine, which includes writing for GeekDad). The CoPilot has a padded compartment built into the portion of the backpack that sit against your back and it was roomy enough to not only fit both my 13” MacBook Pro and my 12.9” iPad Pro but it fit them with each being inside their own padded case! Turns out the CoPilot had enough padding I really didn’t need the case for my MacBook Pro, but I like using a case for my iPad Pro because I tend to carry it on the plane in hand and I am prone to dropping it when trying to load by bag in the overhead compartment (I never said I was graceful). The CoPilot Backpack also has two additional pockets on the outside of the garment bag, one big and one small. I put my keys and wallet in the small pocket and my GRID-IT!® full of cords, adapters and dongles in the large pocket.

Once I had everything packed it was time to integrate the outer garment bag with the Inner Tube like some kind of cloth-based transformer.

CoPilot Backpack
The Inner Tube bag snaps into the garment bag so it can be “transformed” into a backpack (Photo by Skip Owens)

Everything I needed to take on the trip fit into the CoPilot and I didn’t feel like I needed to nest things or pack in some kind of special way to make it all fit.

CoPilot Backpack
The Henty CoPilot Backpack doesn’t cover your entire back (Photo by Skip Owens)

Traveling With the Henty CoPilot Backpack

Immediately after donning the CoPilot I noticed the unique shape really pays off in one big way and that is comfort. Because the CoPilot is a backpack that is designed to be worn while riding a bike it is skinnier and longer than a normal backpack. That makes it a bit easier to navigate through a crowded airport and it means there is less surface area touching your back (which in Florida means your back doesn’t get all sweaty). Even though it is a bit longer than a normal backpack it still easily fit in the plane’s overhead compartment.

CoPilot Backpack
The fully assembled CoPilot Backpack (Photo by Skip Owens)

One negative to the design is that going through airport security can be a bit difficult with this bag design. For one, your toiletries bag is probably only going to fit in the Inner Tube portion of the backpack which is not easily accessible (if you can get it to fit into the large outer pocket then you are all set). In my case I just got TSA Pre-Check so I don’t have this issue since I am not required to take my toiletries (liquids) bag out of my main bag (but for those without TSA Pre-Check this could be an inconvenience). I did, however, have my CoPilot Backpack pulled aside by airport security after it went through the scanner. Since I had both my laptop and my iPad packed into padded portion of the backpack, the luggage scanner technician could not distinguish the difference between the two computers so they had to have me unpack them. They told me when packing two electronic items together like that it is best to pull one of the items out of the bag and send it separately through the scanner. I don’t technically have to do this since I’m TSA Pre-Check, but they said more often than not they will be required to take a closer look so for my convenience they recommend I just take one of the computers out.

My last major observation is the portability of the CoPilot Backpack once I unpacked the bag and needed to use it as a simple messenger bag to attend my work meetings. I really thought this bag was going to be too bulky to work well as bag for my work laptop, but I was wrong. It was very light-weight and since it was mostly empty I was able to roll the garment bag up pretty tight and with no Inner Tube bag the CoPilot Backpack ended up being a fairly compact and light bag to take to my business meetings. The CoPilot Backpack does come with a chest strap and a waist strap and while the chest strap stayed out-of-the-way the waist strap did not. However, if you tuck the waist strap ends into the ends of the garment bag before you roll it up you can effectively make them disappear.

Pros:

  • Easier way to travel with your dress clothes without wrinkling them
  • Handles built into multiple sides of the backpack make it easier to handle the bag when it’s not on your back
  • Comes with a rain cover which is stored in a dedicated pocket in the garment bag which can be used to cover the bag and keep your clothes dry even in heavy rain
  • Long/skinny profile makes it comfortable to carry, minimizing the surface area of the bag in contact with your back
  • Padded portion of the backpack is also ventilated, so even the portion of the bag that does touch your back doesn’t make you too hot
  • After unpacking at your destination the CoPilot Backpack compacts down relatively well to serve as backpack to take to your meetings

Cons:

  • Liquids (toiletries) when stored in the Inner Tube bag are not easily accessible
  • If carrying multiple computers you may still need to take one of them out of the bag even with TSA Pre-Check
  • Lack of small pockets and compartments to store cables, dongles and adapters (luckily I already had a GRID-IT!® to keep all of those items organized in the single large outer pocket of the CoPilot)

I was honestly not looking forward to traveling with the Henty CoPilot Backpack. I was convinced that the form factor just wasn’t going to be practical…but I was wrong. The CoPilot turned out to be very easy to pack and quite comfortable to carry. The design of the bag is just flat impressive. The clip system for how the Inner Tube bag attaches and is then rolled up inside the garment bag and secured together with clips and Velcro is so simple yet effective. And despite its unconventional design it was still able to double as a light backpack to take to my business meetings at my destination. For my travel needs the “Pros” of the Henty CoPilot Backpack outweigh the “Cons,” making this my new favorite short trip all-in-one piece of luggage. In fact, I travel again in about a week and plan to use only the Henty CoPilot Backpack as my carry-on (and only piece of) luggage for that trip.

Disclaimer: Henty provided me with a CoPilot Backpack for the purposes of this review

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