Backpack offers a number of tools to help business users get organized. The user can build to do lists and add notes, images, files and other items to their Backpack page. To do lists appear with check boxes that can be selected as each item is completed. The user can also see completed items along with those that need done. Backpack inserts page dividers to allow the user to sort their tasks and items for quick access. Files can be uploaded directly to the user’s Backpack page, with images organized into photo galleries. Clicking on the image allows the user to view the full size version. The user can add text directly to their page to store ideas. Users can design multiple pages to further organize and separate items in a way that works best for them. Backpack also supplies the user with group calendars, reminder notifications and whiteboards. The application also supports email submissions, so the user can email items to their Backpack page and they are automatically added by the application.
Backpack was launched in September of 2007. It was created by 37signals, a software developer focused on project management, CRM and collaboration tools. The company currently employs fewer than 15 individuals, including CEO and founder Jason Fried and partner David Heinemeier Hansson. 37 Signals is based in Chicago.
The main difference between Backpack and other competing applications, such as Huddle.net and Google Apps, is the lack of functionality available with the free version. Backpack isn't quite as generous when it comes to free functionality so, unless you are willing to hand over your credit card information, you won't be experiencing the full features. The free features that are available, such as the calender and writeboard functions, do work well, but they are the very least of what could be expected from such a product and nothing worth writing home about.
Backpack's look and feel, while functional, looks slightly dated and cluttered. Navigating between "pages" is also illogical and badly structured. The difference between many of the functions is difficult to ascertain. Lists, pages, announcements, reminders and writeboards; they all seem to be similar functions built to do essentially the same thing. This could cause some confusion for the end users, with valuable information getting posted in one function, but missed because somebody only remembered to read a different function. This is addressed somewhat by the availability of an SMS reminder service.
Minimum registration is required for the free version, with only your name and e-mail being needed. No other personal details are required, nor are you asked to confirm your e-mail before being able to proceed.
Backpack offers its users four membership plans to choose from. The first is the Basic membership which costs just under $25 per month and includes access for up to six users, 4 GBs of storage space, up to 1,000 individual pages, group calendars, message boards and enhanced security features. Next is the Plus plan, which costs about $50 and upgrades to allow 15 users, 10 GBs of storage space and up to 2,500 pages. The Premium plan cost just under $100 per month and increase to 40 users, 20 GBs of storage space and 5,000 pages. The most expensive plan is the Max which costs around $150 per month and upgrades to 500 users, 50 GBs of storage space and up to 7,500 pages.
Backpackit.com offers a few ways to keep a group informed and on schedule. If Backpack was the only product of its kind then it would be a satisfactory solution. However, there are better and cheaper solutions out there, such as Huddle.net and Google Apps.