Backpack markets itself as a one-stop organization solution for businesses and groups of all kinds, but how does it measure up to those claims?  Furthermore, how does Backpack justify the fact that it charges for its services when other companies offer a good deal of what Backpack has for free, even if they are simply in bits and pieces?  These are good questions that we are seeking to answer in our review of Backpack.

What Backpack Offers: Overview

Backpack can be thought of sort of as a custom cloud service that lets users quickly create, modify, and share pages that are packed with (hopefully) useful information.  This service is augmented by built-in tools that groups and organizations might find handy when it comes to keeping everything together, such as group calendars, to-do lists, reminders/ticklers, files of all kinds, message boards, and notes.  The fact that all of these things can be seamlessly and quickly integrated into a web page makes Backpack incredibly impressive from many different perspectives.

While Backpack probably won’t be winning any awards from an aesthetics standpoint, it is imminently useful.  Do not mistake this as an indictment on Backpack’s visuals, but rather consider it to be a non-too-subtle implication that Backpack’s looks are far more functional than they are visually appealing.  That can be great, especially if users are easily distracted…and let’s face it, we’ve all been at a point sometime when we would much rather let our minds drift than do our work.  At least once…maybe twice…and that could be an argument for a minimalist design.  On the other hand, it would be hard to be offended by the design of Backpack’s pages, so there may not be much of a downside to Backpack’s UI from a productivity standpoint.

To Share or Not to Share

When new pages are created, it is possible to share them immediately with others in one’s group.  This allows everyone to see what is going on, and that can be important from a productivity standpoint.  For example, instead of logging in to three or four different sites to create ticklers, calendar events, to-do items, and notes, it can all be done in far less time using Backpack.  The same is also true when it comes to sending e-mails whenever something happens as Backpack can handle that too.  The total time savings can be very substantial, and that lets people get back to doing what they do instead of wasting their time wrestling with different tools.

There may also be times when some files or pages should not be available to everyone.  This is something that Backpack handles intuitively with a simple interface that permits one to restrict who can access a page and/or edit the page.  Life can be a lot simpler with a tool like this, and it certainly helps that the user interface is very clean.

The Power of the Cloud

Another major appeal of Backpack is that it is a true cloud app.  This means that all of the data is stored online, and is accessible from anywhere in the world.  This is not something that can be said of all cloud-based solutions, some of which may require alternate DNS and/or VPN services when traveling abroad.  This is especially true of those planning to explore exotic locations in Asia and the Middle East, where certain services and IP ranges may be blocked.  While there is no guarantee that Backpack will be available without a DNS and/or VPN solution, at least one does not have to remember which service(s) have to be activated in order to access certain kinds of data.  This also brings up one of the best arguments for Backpack: one username and password for virtually all of one’s account information.

Why Backpack is Worthwhile

This is where it literally pays to discuss the core problem: nearly everything that Backpack has to offer can be found online elsewhere for less money or even for free.  Does that mean that Backpack is not worth investing in?  Absolutely not.  The ability to create functional pages in a snap is almost impossible to argue with, and the ability to decide who can see/change what is also important.  The updates are a nice touch as are the reminders, but all of these features come at a price that can be measured in dollars and cents.  The price can easily be offset by increased productivity and lowered stress levels, both of which can be worth a lot.  Who says that tranquility cannot be purchased?

The Price to be Paid for Organization

Nothing of any value is for free, and Backpack is no exception to this universal truth.  There are four plans, starting with the $24/month Basic plan and ending with the $149 per month Max plan.  Each of the four plans has a different number of users, storage capabilities, and pages, but even the Basic plan offers an ample 4 GB, 1000 pages, and 6 users.  It is also worth noting that there is a 30-day trial that can allows organizations to give Backpack an honest evaluation of their own.  With nothing to lose but more hours of productivity, the question is: why haven’t you checked out Backpack yet?