Hands-on review: STM Myth 28L ‘smarter’ backpack
Image credit: STM
If you've got a lot of stuff to carry around, you'll probably be wanting something strong and stylish to heft it from A to B and back to A again. Good news: there's a bag for that.
Schools and colleges are back. Commuters are commuting again. The 'new normal' is neither all that new nor particularly normal: life carries on, in one form or another. If you've got a lot of stuff that you need to carry with you as you make your way once again in this ever-changing world, you would probably benefit from having a strong, smart and capacious bag, like this STM Myth 28-litre backpack.
Australian luggage company STM ('Smarter Than Most') has built its reputation on producing technology-friendly bags and gadget cases that address the issues that can plague lesser products. What do most people want from a bag, especially one that will see daily use and is being entrusted with our most expensive and prized consumer technology possessions? What will best serve and protect the accessories of our digital lives?
Something good-looking, natch. We want a bag that suits our style. Something tough, obviously, and preferably offering good rainproof protection. You want peace of mind that your expensive electronic equipment will be well cared for. A sturdy bag that you're confident can take being repeatedly slung into the overhead racks and luggage bins of trains and planes. A strong bag, built to take the weight of its full 28-litre capacity, intelligently designed to remain comfortable to carry and to wear on your back for long periods. A bag with all the slots and pockets and compartments you need to organise your mobile techno life, without having to make compromises about what to take on the road and what to leave at home. If said bag also has a few neat tricks and nice surprises up its sleeve, so much the better.
This STM backpack ticks all those boxes - including the neat tricks / nice surprises bonus box. The name for this bag supposedly comes from the 'myth' (see what they did there?) that such a bag was previously thought unpossible. The Myth is STM's "smarter bag", incorporating the best elements of its other bags and gadget cases to create what it is calling "an epic carry". This 28l version is the largest backpack in the Myth range and makes for quite the accommodating, portly companion when stuffed to the gills.
An 18l Myth version is also available, with a marginally taller form factor and inevitably slimmer profile (10 litres adding girth to the 28l model). Certain nice-to-have features of the 28l Myth are not present in the 18l version, such as the external zipped side pockets, which will take a normal-size water bottle, becuase the 18l zips run almost entirely around the body, so the whole bag opens up like a suitcase. The 28l model is more of a traditional top-loading backpack. If you have less to carry, the 18l Myth still delivers on protection and a compartmentalised interior.
Both bags share a close family resemblance, with signature STM styling cues and the same three colours on offer: Granite Black (a professional-looking grey/black twin-tone affair, as tested), Slate Blue (all blue), or Windsor Wine (burgundy/cream two-tone).
The build quality is excellent, with TPU-coated webbing handles with rivets; reverse-coil zippers, to reject liquid ingress, and a water-repellent C6DWR coating applied to the outer fabric.
Given that laptops and tablets are typically both the most valuable and the most delicate objects we carry around with us, their protection is paramount. The Myth features STM's 'Slingtech' internal arrangement, which effectively suspends the laptop inside the bag, surrounded on all sides by thick foam padding and with gapless corners so the laptop is always positioned away from the edges of the bag.
It's a good system and there's plenty of room for larger laptops: most 15" machines, as well as the newest 16″ MacBook Pro. The compartment for the laptop is roomy, with additional slots for a tablet as well. All the interior compartments are lined with that lovely soft-fur feel, non-abrasive fleece, so the bag takes good care of your property.
The Myth also features STM's nifty 'CableReady' system, that allows you to pass power and charging cords between compartments inside the bag via small metal-ringed cutouts, so you can charge devices safely out of criminal sight. There are even cable clips at each stage of the cable's journey through the bag to keep things extra tidy. This might all sound like a minor benefit, but for long journeys, where you probably have multiple devices and powerbanks with you, the ability to manage all the charging without a tangled nest of cables sitting on your lap or sprouting from a jacket pocket is much tidier and less stressful all round. The Myth also has a dedicated AirPod pocket (as STM calls it: other wireless earbuds are available), along with a neat little wired earbuds buttoned keeper inside the bag. No more mess of wires stuffed into a side pocket or squashed at the bottom of your bag. Such tidiness and loving care might even have the welcome side benefit of fewer lost or broken items, saving you more money and the planet less e-waste.
Having a 28l backpack crammed full of stuff (with its external dimensions still within the standard carry-on allowance of most airlines) means it had better be built like a tank, so you don't get broken straps and handles, and supremely comfortable, so you don't get severe back pain.
From our experience of hefting a reasonably well-stocked backpack around for a few days, the Myth definitely holds its own (no pun intended). It is solidly constructed, with all the retaining tethers and straps securely stitched. The back panel has been thoughtfully designed to allow more airflow, also using breathable material, helping to keep you cooler, while the 'Comfortcarry' harness provides very well-padded shoulder straps and a lumbar support section to help ease the burden of your load, taking the strain off your spine. It is a very comfortable backpack to wear for several hours at a time, as we tested it. The top carry handle is also no flimsy afterthought, but a reliable second option whenever necessary. You can also slide the Myth over the handle of a wheelie suitcase, via the gap behind the lumbar section, to keep all your luggage securely together when passing through transit stations. Another simple but useful feature.
With the multiple sections of the 28l Myth, offering supreme organisational options, there is almost nothing (within reason) that you can't haul around with you all day, every day. Laptop, big on-ear headphones, tablet, smartphone, plus cables? Child's play. All of the above, plus power supply, charger, Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, work folders, notebooks, paperback books for the journey? No probs. Two laptops, plus all the rest? Sure, why not? It's up to you.
There are cushy soft-fur pockets for almost everything, such as documents, pens, business cards, the miscellaneous paraphernalia of the modern world - even a special fleece-lined sunglasses pocket - along with 'hidden' slits and ticket pockets disguised in the outer shell. Basically, if you can't fit your work and/or play life into a bag like this, your life may need some simplifying.
STM also backs its bags with a lifetime warranty when bought new, so it clearly expects the Myth to go the distance.
If you want to check out the Myth for yourself, there is actually a very neat augmented reality app available. We tried this out and the results were a lot of fun. The picture above is not actually of a real bag sitting in our office: that is an AR projection of the Myth 28l bag, which we selected and viewed in the app on our iPhone. If you download the STM app, you can actually 'trial' many of its products in this way. It was amusing to watch a virtual bag unzip itself (saucy!), then allow us to spin it around and view it from all angles and view the interior. There's also an X-ray representation, so you can better understand how it all works inside. For a prospective purchaser, this is great - given that we had the real bag on our desk, we can confirm that the AR experience is very realistic.
The STM Myth is a great backpack. There are cheaper options, of course, although you will get what you pay for - not necessarily in a good way. If you rely on carrying a fair amount of equipment, materials and papers around with you all day, every day - as well as being an ideal companion on a long weekend city break - you need a bag that can accommodate your life and that you can totally rely on. The Myth could definitely be that bag.
18L version, £99.95
28L version, £129.95
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