When it comes to backpacks, messenger bags, and other transport for Magic the Gathering and trading card games, It’s hard to beat the Amazon Basics camera bag backpack. For as low as $29.99, as I have reviewed previously, You can safely carry your Magic the Gathering deck boxes, wherever it is you need to go. So how, then, do we examine other products in this area? We must go forward with the acknowledgement that Amazon Basics bags do exist. They are inexpensive and effective but that does not mean that all other options are invalid. Similar items may not compare to the Basics camera bag, but what about dissimilar ones? After all, some people are looking for more than just a camera bag. They are looking for an item with different capabilities. Just because the Basics bag exists for 29.99 does not mean every alternative and every permutation fails in comparison. A question I’d like you to ask yourselves throughout this review is: If price were not an issue, how much would you still prefer the Basics bag to these other options? Speaking purely in terms of quality and function, which of these best meets your needs? And thus, today I will review and evaluate three carrying bags designed specifically for gaming. The Ultra Pro Citadel backpack, the Inked Gaming Crate, and the Ultimate Guard Ammonite backpack. So I guess that means school is in session. Let’s take a look, dudes. In my evaluation, the Ultra Pro Citadel is attempting to fill two opposing functions: board game/expo bag, and Magic the Gathering/gamer backpack. The problem with this is that it ends up only doing each job satisfactorily, without much in the way of excellence. With slightly over one cubic foot of interior storage, the Citadel can carry stacks of deck boxes, binders, and portfolios, or even an archive. The interior is very basic. As I said, this holds a cubic foot of storage, but as far as Magic the Gathering gaming is concerned, there are no straps nor pockets for deck boxes in here, just a loose pouch on the side, and other than that, dump your deck boxes in! It holds a lot of them. But so does an average backpack. Easy access top compartment for small items is nice, I can put some dice in there. And there’s also a water bottle pouch on the side for convenience. The exterior is a very nice quality, water resistant base, outer lining and padding that serves for comfort when worn, and also a little bit of cushioning if this is accidentally dropped. One area where the Citadel does excel over an average backpack is for portfolio transport, especially for those of us with four column binders which the Citadel easily and comfortably holds. If you’re someone who takes, say, half a dozen binders down to Magic Fest, yeah, the Citadel can accomodate you. I am less enthused about the protective cover, however. A large flap that covers the main compartment in an effort to deter or at least discourage theft. First of all, it does neither. The flap is loose and elastic and provides no real protection from potential theft as slipping your hands underneath is very easily accomplished. And it does have the extreme downside of making the backpack a pain in the backside to access. The flap can be detached, but then you have a very unsightly bar of snaps on the top side of the backpack, and with this always protruding and being a bit of an eyesore, it feels like the flap was not made with being removed in mind. There’s straps for playmats, but again, that flap neither tightly holds them in place nor even fully covers them. So yes, not a big fan of this flap, more trouble than it’s worth. In terms of board games… The Citadel… will accommodate… large boxes such as this Dominion… box, but it won’t hold too many. So as you can see, I’ve already got one box in here. I can stick Small World in, and that’s pretty much it – two.So this is what I mean by “it’s working to serve perhaps two separate worlds”. And again the flap… Does nothing. Pros, there’s durable construction and quality materials here and it can hold multiple board games, which I like. As well as comfortably holding a large amount of four column binders. There’s also that water-resistant exterior. But the cons are that protective flap that offers dubious protection, and is much more cumbersome than comfort. The interior is still very basic in regards to compartments for accessories, there’s a couple of straps meant for securing deck boxes, but all in all it’s a basic backpack interior. Yet this ends up being very large and bulky for a backpack, even when it isn’t packed full of things. And despite all of that, despite holding those board game boxes, it can only hold a few. Ignoring price, I’d grade this at a C for satisfactory. It does its’ job, but I don’t see much excellence in what it does. If it speaks to you, then it is indeed a quality enough construction. Price, for those interested is $89.99 Let us move on, shall we? If the Citadel’s problem was trying to be the best of both worlds, than the Gaming Crate by Inked aims for its own success by specifically trying to be the best of one: tabletop and board gaming. Advertised as, quote-unquote, not your normal tote, the customizable gaming crate lives up to that aim by providing a massive amount of storage in a simple, customizable design. At 16 inches tall, 14 and a half wide, and 11 deep, the crate is made from tough Cordura. This isn’t going to fray and fall apart, spilling its contents all over the convention hall floor, Like my World Wildlife Fund tote bag did one fateful summer morn. This is made to last, made to hold far more than most other carrying bags and totes that I’ve seen. In terms of board games using these Dominion Boxes, we can hold quite a lot. So this is one huge advantage over, say, a basics backpack for gaming convention goers. For Magic players, I can’t imagine you’d need to hold dozens upon dozens of deck boxes, but for even four-column binders, if you need to carry a huge collection, then the tote has you covered. The interior also has an elastic band to hold your games or binders in place. The Gaming Crate also has three exterior pockets. These can be used for anything from smaller items to holding drinks. The crate also has a detachable shoulder strap with long metal D-rings. The bottom of the bag has a no-slip grip rubber base while the interior has two additional pockets, a zippered one, and a slip pocket that accommodates something like a trade binder or laptop. A carabiner is included as well, which you can use for things like holding your keys, etc. So you’re going down to an event like Gamma or similar? You’re gonna pick up a lot of board games, let’s say, and you pack one or possibly two of these. Expand it and let’s see just how much this holds. Let’s start with Dominion. Another expansion of course, Small World, and Catan. Can also put in Atlantis. We can fit an Island. Holds quite a lot. Pros: Extremely durable. Customizable with your personal artwork. Holds an astonishing large amount of either board games or folders. Can accommodate 4 column binders easily and holds a huge number of those as well. Water-resistant exterior and removable shoulder strap. Cons: I don’t have too much in the way of cons so much as a side note. And that note is that this is a tote, and I feel not really something many Magic the Gathering or other card gamers will be too interested in. But for board game expo-goers, I think this is one of your best options out there for snapping up swag on the convention hall. Incredibly made and holds a lot. Ignoring price, this is a solid A for the functions that it attempts to meet, it meets them with excellence. The cost for custom gaming crate is $69.99, but Inked has some pre-selected designs available that tend to run $59.99 on their website. I’ll include links in this video’s description. If Inked leaned all in for a tote design for board gaming/expos, then the Ammonite anti-theft backpack backpack by ultimate guard 2 decided to craft a love letter to Magic the Gathering and other TCG players. Let’s start with the one obvious bit of mislabeling on Ultimate Card’s part. It is still just as easy to steal the anti-theft backpack as you might any other backpack. You pick it up and carry it away. What ultimate guard meant was to highlight that the pockets and zipper design worked to deter easy pickpocketing that can occur with many average backpacks. The Ammonite’s backpacks and compartments can’t be accessed while it is worn on your back nor when it is on the back of a chair. So if you were in a crowded GP hall or on a bus, someone’s standing behind you cannot subtly unzip a back pocket and slip their sticky fingers inside. I think in addition to that deterrent, the Ammonite has both a sleek and useful design. Yet, I’m surprised Ultimate Guard leaned so heavy into touting the backpack as anti-theft, when I would have touted it as the ultimate Magic the Gathering player’s backpack, which is really what it is. Never mind that the contents aren’t accessible from the outside or from behind. Never mind the hidden compartments, the water resistant materials, and waterproof zippers. What I love is that this backpack was explicitly made for Magic the Gathering players. Opening it reveals an interior with pouches designed for Ulitimate Guard Boulders, Monoliths, Flip’n’trays, or similar sized deck boxes. So instead of just dropping your deck boxes at the bottom of the backpack, you have safe, easy to access protective compartments built in, and while I am sure Ultimate Guard would love you to exclusively use their brand of deck boxes, these pouches fit a variety of their competitors as well. So secure your Ultra Pro Satin Tower, or our EP Steel deck box, or Flip Tray. There’s straps that then secure and hold your boxes in place while still leaving the regular interior of the backpack available. Or if you really are carrying a lot of items, there’s also straps and configurations for Ultimate Guard archives, which is great for those with cube or a deck library on the go. Store play mats, or mat pods, or other magic accessories conveniently, and securely as well. So yes, there’s design and layout here that isn’t exactly found in a traditional gaming backpack. And yes, I can still save a lot of money and just grab an Amazon Basics backpack. But if I want to go next level, the Ammonite offers other features as well. In addition to the anti-pick-pocketing features, There are RFID secured pockets for things like your flash drive, and additional pockets on the shoulder straps for easy access to ID and credit cards or just your lucky d20. The back has reflecting safety stripes for cyclists or night walkers, and the ergonomic design comes complete with anti-shock foam and extra padding. As a cell phone addict who is always running out of juice at GPs, I love that there’s an interior USB for my power bank, which lets me much more elegantly plug in my phone to charge to the exterior slot. So again, I don’t know how much of a problem you feel pick-pocketing at is at GPs, but certainly with most traditional backpack designs, you can access them from the back. You’re wearing it in a crowded hall or it’s on the back of your chair. Whereas here, there’s no way anyone can access it from behind you. You can access it very easily, and this is not- I was worried when I saw the first ad for this, “Oh man, I’m not gonna be able to access my own backpack”, but actually… It’s quite easy to do so. We have the interior… pocket which can work for your laptop or your binder, It holds a very large amount and again, I really love the compartments for my deck boxes and the securing strap Pros: Anti… not theft, but anti-pickpocketing. The contents are not accessible from the outside, including hidden zippers, RFID secured pockets, additional pockets on the shoulder straps for easy to access, additional pockets on the shoulder straps for easy access, waterproof zippers, water-resistant exterior and materials, several hidden compartments, a luggage strap, reflecting safety stripes. You can hold a great variety of Magic the Gathering accessories and products, anti-shock foam, extremely durable special compartments for your notebooks or tablets, power bank compartment and a retractable adjustment belt to avoid dangling straps. Cons, honestly, the only con is the fact that this costs money, and not a small amount at that. If it were the same price as the Basics camera backpack, I would choose this any day of the week. It’s a solid A, but price is indeed high at $150, still, for those looking for more than just the basics and willing to spend to get a backpack both defining and excellent in function with top level protection, storage and transport, the Ammonite is simply fantastic. I hope very much this video has been most… groovy for you. You can help me out, and it would be radical, if you hit the subscribe button, or went over to Patreon.com and handed me some extra… cabbage. Better. I hope very much this video has been of some help to you. You can help me out by remembering to subscribe and remember, whether you’re buying packs of Magic cards, card sleeves or other accessories, when it is possible, when it is reasonable to do so, try and spend that money where you spend time playing this great game, and that’s at your local games store whenever possible. You’re supporting your Magic community. And this program was made possible thanks to a sponsorship from Card Kingdom, as well as the Patreon support of viewers such as you, so thank you. [music]