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Mobile Accessories

Get a Lifepack backpack with Solarbank for $189

Normally $269, this former Kickstarter darling features a built-in solar panel-powered Bluetooth speaker/mobile charger. Plus: an iPhone 7 Plus case for 15 cents!

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Twitter!

Cheeps! In case you missed it yesterday (CNET was kind enough to give it a coveted Sunday-morning spot), I chronicled my experiences switching from an $849 iPhone to a $180 Android phone. There's some great commentary from readers, so I encourage you to join the conversation!

For the record, I'm planning to cling to my already-paid-for iPhone 6S Plus as long as possible -- unless Apple somehow manages to engineer a hot-fudge dispensor into the iPhone 8, in which case all bets are off and money be damned.

Pack it in

I'm perpetually on the hunt for the perfect backpack. To me there's no better bag to travel with, as it's something I can comfortably sling over one or two shoulders and still fit underneath the seat in coach.

I first spotted the Lifepack at CES back in January, and I remember being impressed by couple of its features (of which there are many). Is it perfect? No, but it's definitely worth a look -- and I've got a Cheapskate-exclusive deal to share.


The Lifepack does all the things a stylish backpack should -- and then some.

Solgaard Design

Through tomorrow, you can get the Solgaard Lifepack anti-theft backpack for $189 shipped when you apply discount code CHPSK8 at checkout. Regular price: $269. It's available in your choice of black or titanium grey.

The Lifepack touts a dozen noteworthy features, none of which is earth-shattering on its own -- but put them all together and this is a mighty nice bag.

You can use your phone while charging it or stow it in a side pocket.

Solgaard Design

For starters, there's a solar-powered Bluetooth speaker/mobile charger built into the rear-facing pocket. The idea is that as you're out and about living your hipster urban lifestyle, the power bank will continue to recharge even as you use it to top off your phone. Which you can do, by the way, via a side pocket containing a USB port that's connected to the charger.

I thought this 11,000mAh brick -- good for up to six full iPhone 6 recharges, according to Solgaard -- would make the pack too heavy, but it's surprisingly light.

Let me pause right here to address the obvious: Yes, you could buy the same item (or even a separate speaker and charger) and toss it in any old backpack, and almost certainly spend less overall. But, again, I think the Lifepack is greater than the sum of its parts.

For example, it's made from a water-resistant material but also features an integrated rain cover, which you unzip from the bottom and pull up over the top. Scoff if you will, but I've been caught in the rain with my backpack -- and it's not fun to think about your laptop getting wet inside.

There's also an integrated corded combination lock that can help prevent would-be thieves from walking off with your bag, while at the same time keeping the two main compartments locked up.

Other perks: a padded laptop pocket (good for models up to 15 inches), miscellaneous other pockets (including a few hidden ones), a bottle opener and so on.

My only real complaint: There's no mesh pocket for holding a water bottle. One of the zippered side pockets does have a lassoo-cord thing that can zip around the neck of a bottle, but that leaves it dangling rather awkwardly and prohibits easy, one-handed bottle retrieval.

So, yes, are there much cheaper backpacks to be had? For sure. Is this a sizable savings on a premium bag, one that has some great features? Also for sure. Over at Amazon, the Lifepack scored a 4.4-star average from over 50 buyers.

Your thoughts?

Bonus deal: Calling all iPhone 7 Plus owners! No doubt you're pretty broke after buying that pricey phone (LOL -- see above), so how can you hope to afford a case? Check the couch cushions; can you scrape up a dime and a nickel? Because that's what it'll cost you for this iPhone 7 Plus case: 15 cents. Just click Claim Your Coupon, then copy the code, then click through to Amazon and check out normally. (Make sure to apply that code on the checkout page.) It should work for all three available colors: black, red and pink. The case is your basic shock-absorbing slim shell -- and 15 cents is a small price to pay if it helps your phone survive a fall.