review

STM Myth 28L backpack

6
£119.95

VERDICT:

6
10
Smart bag for light business travel – but not an obvious choice if cycling is your primary use-case
Excellent laptop protection
Loads of pockets of all shapes and sizes
Clever system to fit to your suitcase handle
No waist strap so all the weight goes through your shoulders
DWR treatment not full waterproofing
Lots of the internal pockets are open – stuff falls out
Quite pricey for what it is
Weight: 
1,270g

The STM Myth 28 litre backpack is a medium sized model aiming to be at home on the commute, in the office and the airport. It is not a cycling-specific backpack, but with a wealth of storage nooks and crannies it's one that will please those who like to have a home for everything they carry. It offers great bump protection for your laptop and some other clever features to help manage all the tech that we carry nowadays. However, if you're travelling further you'll certainly miss a good waist strap and for year-round cyclists the lack of waterproofing will be a problem.

STM says that its Myth bags "bring together an extraordinarily spacious carrier, cutting-edge contemporary conveniences, and an incredibly handsome collection of sophisticated tailoring". Yes, tailoring. STM stands for Smarter Than Most and is an Australian brand whose marketing can tend somewhat to the florid. We have the larger 28 litre Myth here; there is a smaller 18 litre version and a selection of other hand-carried luggage in the range. For me, "sophisticated tailoring" is a bit strong, but certainly this is a backpack that I'd have no qualms about taking into the office or on a business trip.

Pockets and compartments

Although 28 litres sounds like a lot (84 cans of Coke!), in reality we're talking about a carry-on sized pack – not something you'd take on an expedition. The main part of the bag divides down into three main compartments, with the plush padded laptop compartment next to your back, a larger main compartment next and finally a narrower section for all the small bits and bobs. Many cycling-specific backpacks tend to be built more like a pannier to be carried on your back, with one large volume and one or two pockets – the Myth is very much not in that category.

2020 STM Myth 28l backpack - inside.jpg

You can make arguments in both directions. If you occasionally need to carry something bulkier, then you'll be glad of one big volume, but in general I'd favour the approach of having more internal organisation to keep things apart and in their own places.

As well as the three main compartments, there are 13 pockets of varying sizes, designed to swallow items such as iPads, battery packs, sunglasses, pens and headphones. The larger ones, such as the plush-lined sunglasses pocket, are zipped, but there are six simple open pockets in the outer compartment whose size suggests they're aimed at things like wallets, passports, AirPods and the like. As these aren't zipped, elasticated or equipped with any other means of retaining their contents, you'll find that things tend to fall out if your bag is upended at any point.

2020 STM Myth 28l backpack - organiser.jpg

Weight and carrying

The sheer amount of features and compartments also add weight – at over 1.2kg, this is definitely towards the heavier end of the scale for a bag of this size. There are notably lighter bags on the market, such as the Osprey Tempest which is around half the weight. If you've got it loaded up with gear, the good news is that the shape and design of the shoulder straps and back padding are comfortable for walking or cycling, but I have a major reservation about this bag, and that is the lack of a waist strap.

2020 STM Myth 28l backpack - straps.jpg

A well-adjusted waist strap allows you to carry most of the weight of a bag through your hips rather than your shoulders, and this makes a substantial difference to fatigue levels in your back and shoulders. In fairness, it is more of an issue for walking than cycling, as in all but the most upright cycling position the bag is resting on your back rather than hanging from your shoulders. Nevertheless, if you're in the market for a bag like this, it's likely that you will be carrying it while walking at least some of the time, and the more weight you put in it, the more you'll miss having a waist strap.

2020 STM Myth 28l backpack - worn.jpg

There is a chest strap, which is well designed and helps keep the bag in place when you're on a bike. The elasticated section of this strap helps prevent it being restrictive too, and it is adjustable vertically to suit different people. One detail that's missing is a strap-end tidy system – there are various lengths of strap which are prone to flapping in the wind if you're riding quickly. Sure, it's not the end of the world, and STM makes no claims about this being a bag designed specifically for cycling, but plenty of other bags at this end of the market have a solution to this.

2020 STM Myth 28l backpack - strap detail.jpg

On the tube

STM has given Capitalised Names to a lot of the features in this bag and even made YouTube videos about them. The name for the laptop protection on offer here is SlingTech. In addition to the padding that most bags' laptop compartments have, here the laptop pocket doesn't stretch all the way to the bottom of the bag, meaning that your laptop is suspended slightly off the bottom. That's the theory anyway – I found with a fairly heavy 15in laptop in there, it sat low enough that it was in contact with the bottom of the bag, albeit with plenty of padding to provide protection all around including the corners. STM says that it will accommodate up to a 16in MacBook Pro. There's a pocket inside the laptop compartment that'll swallow an iPad, too, which is also well protected.

There's another video about the "innovative AirPod pocket". This is literally just a small open pocket, buried inside the bag. Colour me underwhelmed. It would be so much better if it was external, for example on one of the shoulder straps, so that you could access it without having to take the bag off and open one of the main compartments.

Those metal holes between each of the three main compartments? "Our remarkable CableReady system...an incredible tech innovation" allows you to charge electronic devices from a battery pack in a different part of the bag without cables running outside the bag. There's a specific pocket for that battery pack too, in fact, with a built-in cable guide to help keep things neat and tidy. For the business traveller who needs to keep their devices charged on a long journey, this is a nice touch. How relevant it is to cyclists is probably open to debate – you're not going to take this bag on a 600km audax after all.

Another feature I like for travelling is the PassPort opening – you can slide the handle of your suitcase up inside the back of the bag where it emerges between the upper and lower halves of the back padding, meaning that it sits securely on top of the suitcase. What's that? Is there a video about that? Why yes, dear reader, there is.

2020 STM Myth 28l backpack - top.jpg

Rounding out the storage on offer are a pair of zipped pockets on either side of the bag with an unusual elasticated arrangement allowing each to expand to accommodate, for example, a water bottle.

On-bike needs

As I mentioned above, the Myth is not being marketed as a cycling-specific rucksack, and if your usage would be primarily on a bike then I would suggest that there are better options out there with lower weight, greater reflectivity and more cycling-specific features such as light loops and helmet attachments. Brands such as Osprey, EVOC, Vaude and Deuter are prominent here.

For year-round commuting, full waterproofing would be high on my list of requirements, and that's lacking here. There are lots of rolltop pannier-derived bags from the likes of Ortlieb, Craft Cadence and others that will keep the weather out for years and years; the Myth will shrug off a shower but don't expect to see bike couriers using it any time soon.

> Buyer’s Guide: 18 of the best cycling rucksacks

I think it does a decent job as a carry-on bag for air travel (remember that?) and a reasonable one for general off-bike commuting duties, although the lack of a waist strap is a serious omission for any extended carrying. Pricing is comparable to offerings from Muc-Off and less than most Chrome bags but there are also many backpacks on the market around the £50-80 mark, and I just can't see how the Myth justifies being so much more.

Verdict

Smart bag for light business travel – but not an obvious choice if cycling is your primary use-case

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road.cc test report

Make and model: STM Myth 28L backpack

Size tested: 28 litres

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

STM says:

It was thought that it couldn't be done - bringing together an extraordinarily spacious carrier, cutting-edge contemporary conveniences, and an incredibly handsome collection of sophisticated tailoring. This pack is no longer something to be imagined, it actually exists.

Slingtech

because the best impact protection is impact prevention

Most so-called 'laptop protection' packs and briefs use a foam padding design that has a major flaw: corner gaps. Our proprietary SlingTech features extra padding and gapless corners that suspend your device away from the edge of the bag, isolating it from the bump zone.

Some of our most visionary features are the ones you can't see

Our remarkable CableReady system that lets you charge on-the-go with cords out of sight is an incredible tech innovation that sets STM apart from other bags. So, how did we top that? By adding an inventive AirPod pocket and ingenious earbud keeper.

Luggage Pass Through

We make travel easier by taking the lug out of luggage

Our PassPort luggage pass-through securely and easily connects your pack or brief to other baggage items. It's also integrated with the lumbar support of the back panel.

Nobody wants the weight of the world on their shoulders

Your everyday responsibilities are enough to carry around. So, we designed our air channel back-panel-and-yoke system to wrap around you and provide improved weight distribution. In other words: maximum comfort.

Additional features

AirPod pocket offers quick, easy access to your wireless headphones

Dedicated place to keep ear buds safely stowed, corralled, and untangled

TPU coated webbing handles with rivets ensures durability

Water repellent C6DWR coating applied to fabric

Air channel back panel system promotes air flow, keeps you cool and comfortable

Reverse coil zippers protect teeth, keep moisture and grunge out

Internal fleece lined sunglasses pocket

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Fits up to 16in laptops

Main material(s): 100% polyester

Outer dimensions: H 18.5 x W 11.8 x D 6.7 in in / H 47.0 x W 30.0 x D 17.0 cm

Weight: 2.69 lbs / 1.2 kg

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

Feels well made, stitching is solid throughout. Unbranded zips used with nice chunky pulls. The zip for the laptop compartment is a water-resistant one. No additional abrasion protection underneath.

Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10

It has ample storage options for all sorts of gear, from larger laptops to AirPods. Fragile things like laptops, iPads and the like are particularly well looked after here. The straps and back padding are both comfortable but if I'm carrying it for an extended period then I really miss a waist strap. It uses a DWR water-resistant coating, but that's not the same as full water-resistance, so you wouldn't want to be caught in a major downpour. There's no waterproof cover included either.

There are no loose-end keepers on the straps – this is disappointing at this price.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

No issues during testing and no obvious weakpoints. I'd like to see some additional abrasion (and perhaps water) protection on the bottom – that is where I'd expect to see it fail in the end.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
4/10

For a bag this size, it is on the heavier side. This comes from the wealth of storage options and the substantial, hard-wearing fabric used. Depending on your usage, it could be a price you'll be comfortable paying.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
6/10

For shorter carries and when loaded moderately, there is nothing much wrong in terms of comfort. But if you're travelling a bit further or it is loaded a bit heavier, then you'll really miss a waist strap. There are tons of options with waist straps at this price or lower – this is a major omission for me.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

The backpack market is extremely crowded now and there are some mainstream brands offering very compelling products for significantly less than this.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It has a wealth of storage options. If you're after a carry-on rucksack for business trips then it's a good choice, but this is a cycling website, and for most cyclists there are definitely better options.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

There are a lot of pockets so there is a place for everything, and the protection for your laptop is very good. Business-friendly looks aren't out of place in a meeting or at the airport. Comfortable when not heavily loaded. Passport system to attach to a suitcase is nifty.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

For my money, I'd want a bag with a waist strap and if I was using it for commuting I'd want full waterproofing. All of the smaller internal pockets are open, so there's a risk that having got everything in its place, half of it will end up loose in the bag after all.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

We've tested quite a number of commuter-type rucksacks which are priced similarly to this, so on that basis, it's somewhere midships. That said, there are many, many good options on the market for significantly less than this, and for me it doesn't really justify the extra cost.

Did you enjoy using the product? When lightly loaded.

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Unlikely

Use this box to explain your overall score

I'm scoring this as a cycling backpack. I like it as a carry-on bag, but this isn't businesstravel.cc. Full waterproofing aside, it does a good job of protecting its contents, but it's heavier, less reflective and less well-geared to use on a bike than lots of other options out there.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 188cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh  My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

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