Spyder Groove backpack review

Backpacks are like shoes, you can never have too many of them. At least that’s my logic. Backpacks are one of those things that I always seem to keep buying not matter how many I have. But this time around I decided to pick up one that offered something special. There are a number of MP3 player specific bags with built-in speakers, but I’ve found that most of them sound like garbage. I was skeptical when the Spyder Groove arrived at my doorstep. What is NXT? Is this even going to sound decent?

We’ll start with NXT and figure out what that’s all about. The Groove features an NXT flat panel loudspeaker that’s built from EVA foam, which is pretty durable. The EVA panel is coated in jersey and comes with two 25mm exciters that are powered by a stereo amplifier. You can connect to virtually any portable music device so long as it has accepts a 3.5mm jack. I’m inclined to believe that the front panel is durable and rugged enough a day on the slopes or venturing through the streets of Manhattan. It’s even water resistant! Now that we’ve covered what NXT is and how it’s involved in the Groove lets move onto the functionality of the backpack itself. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about sound quality, but I’m not a cheap slut, either. Keep reading to find out.

The bag itself has ample room for any skier/snowboarder or student. There’s a padded section for your laptop, but no internal pouches, which sort of sucks. There are three external zipped pockets; two small pockets on one side and one that runs the length of the bag on the other. One of the smaller pockets is essentially the pouch for your MP3 player because it has ports for earbuds and an internal port to run the cable from the speakers to your player. The shoulder straps aren’t the most comfortable and they may be adjustable, but the bag is geared towards mountain folk who wear layers and layers so it’s probably comfortable enough. But for the average city dweller, I wouldn’t recommend loading it with tons of gear. The back piece has a really cool embossed Spyder logo in case you were wondering.

Now we’ll talk about the good stuff. For starters, the Groove runs on three AAA batteries and it’s been rated to run up to seven hours. During my review I left it on and came back six or seven hours later and found it dead. My iPod’s volume was set somewhere around 50 percent so it should last about seven hours depending on the batteries you use and the volume you set it to.

So, how’s the sound quality? Pretty good, actually. I was pleasantly surprised. Even with the volume of my iPod set at max the sound quality wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. It was only very faintly garbled and I didn’t notice that much distortion. Will I abandon my headphones, docks or other listening apparatus for the Groove? No way Jose! I will, however, bring the Groove along for hiking trips and jaunts to the park or beach instead of bringing along a small dock. Why not kill two birds with one stone, right?

The Spyder Groove will be available in the coming months for $120.