July 29, 2008

Backpack – Throw All Your Thoughts Inside

With the overwhelming number of web applications available to help keep people organized, deciding which one is most suitable for oneself can be difficult. Some of the most sought after and simple to use are online dashboards, which essentially combine many methods of organization and planning into one.

37signals offers a selection of webapps to help people manage their lives. Backpack is one of these, which offers a number of organizational tools to help people consolidate the various, scattered aspects of their busy lives into a series of pages. While some of the other online dashboards out there attract people with flashy interfaces and features, one of Backpack’s best attributes is its simplicity. As with their other products 37signals kept this application easy to use and easy on the eyes, making Backpack an effective tool that doesn’t confuse it’s users.

Backpack allows users to add several pieces of information to a single page with just the click of a link. These “Backpages” can be accessed and searched from any other Backpage on the site, and you can create a new one at any time.

After adding other users to ones account, to-do lists, notes, files, calendars, journals, and messages can be shared with others or simply stored for personal use.

Practical Uses:

  • Organizing all of your notes and weekly to-do lists
  • Uploading your child’s soccer photos and posting for the rest of the team to view
  • Keeping track of school project schedules and assignments with the calendar feature
  • Host a movie night and use Backpack to organize all of the details and guest information
  • Instantly launch a project collaboration site or company intranet for your small to mid-sized business

Insider Tips:

  • Rather than creating a new username, use your OpenID to log in
  • Reminders logged on Backpack can be forwarded to email or mobile phones
  • Sign up for the Pro account and cancel within 30 days to get a full-featured trial.

What We Liked:

  • Intuitive and elegant user interface makes the experience fun
  • No risk trial allows users to try before they buy
  • Ability to share pages and allow multiple editors of the content
  • Offers a variety of plan options to consider

Offers options for smaller and larger groups

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Free accounts are available but hard to find (look for the small type under the paid plans)
  • No unlimited storage options
  • Pricing makes the service less affordable for casual users
  • Credit card information is required to sign up for a 30-day trial of any monthly plans


Company Info:

  • Launched in: 1999
  • Privately held
  • Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
  • Co-founded by Jason Fried, Carlos Segura, and Ernest Kim
  • Web site:


  • Free accounts available (excludes Writeboards and File Sharing)
  • Paid accounts start at $7/month for basic options up to $99/month for all features and greater file storage


  • 3/5 (very good)

Screenshot showing the creation of a new page within Backpack

Screenshot showing sample content within a Backpack page

Screenshot showing a sample Writeboard within Backpack


  1. Hi, i really like the way you review web apps, here is one more to look at – . It is an online project management, collaboration and knowledge management software.

  2. Thanks Arturas, I’ve added to our list of review candidates. Keep them coming!

Submit a Comment