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PRODUCT REVIEW

The Slim Backpack according to bag expert Taylor Welden

At first, I thought ‘slim’ might have meant ‘less’ and expected the Slim Backpack would only be good for light loads or simple trips. Well folks, the only thing slim about this is its silhouette.

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At this very moment, I have the Slim Backpack sitting on the table at the coffee shop (aka my desk), next to my laptop and a towering cup of black coffee. It took maybe all of seven seconds for me to accidentally spill a heavy splash of the liquid gold onto the grey fabric. The feel of the fabric is soft like cotton. And I know that black coffee stains grey cotton. I’m mildly embarrassed by how I reacted to the spill (it was dramatic), but then I was pleasantly surprised when I wiped the hot coffee from the surface of the soft-woven polyester, leaving absolutely no evidence of it ever being there. Still looks brand new. Phew.

While this bag could be used for a variety of purposes (by a variety of individuals), in my personal opinion, it really shines as an urban creative’s work bag.

It has an incredibly simple construction, made from literally two large fabric panels. This is genius, as fewer seams mean more weather resistance. With this patterning, the fabric panels extend upward to form the main opening and fold over closure. Protection and access in one. Clever. I seem to find myself using this term (“clever”) quite a bit when I describe Bellroy products… That being said, I was curious to find out if I could make this bag work for me, with its uber minimalism.

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I’m pleased to report that the Slim Backpack continues to impress and surprise. Viewing this bag from the front, you’d expect a ‘what you see is what you get’ situation. At least I did. I’m a huge fan of having a small accessories pocket on the exterior and I didn’t see one. But Bellroy always has a trick tucked away in their pocket. In this case, the trick is the pocket. On the right side, there’s a generously sized zip pocket that visually disappears and doesn’t draw your eye from the clean lines of the bag. I’ve found this pocket effortlessly fits a half-liter bottle of water quite tidily – as well as valuables such as keys, phone, or portable battery pack.

While this bag could be used for a variety of purposes (by a variety of individuals), in my personal opinion, it really shines as an urban creative’s work bag. You could definitely take it on the plane for a weekend getaway, but it just checks all the boxes for a modern professional, while not appearing too serious or boring.

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Now, about that leather, it’s used for both accent and functional purposes here on the Slim Backpack. There’s that distinct vertical leather line coming down the center, with two positive-engagement metal magnets tucked behind the lift tab. Each time I open or close the bag, it feels so good. The magnets are legitimately strong, keeping all my stuff inside (even if the bag is turned upside down), yet they open easily with just a thumb and an index finger.

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That same leather is also used on the shoulder straps – down by the seat belt webbing where you adjust for fit and up at the top where they connect to the main pack. Originally, it appeared that the tabs up the top were purely aesthetic. But after wearing this pack while walking around town, I realised that they actually allow the shoulder straps to flex and rotate to suit your body. These two little tabs of leather allow this bag to equally fit my six-foot, 230-pound frame and my girlfriend’s at five-foot-seven and 140 pounds.

It has an incredibly simple construction, made from literally two large fabric panels. This is genius, as fewer seams mean more weather resistance.

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Once you get inside, you’ll find all the right pockets for the digital nomad. The laptop sleeve against the rear wall is lined with a black velvety fabric, with a cozy spot for an iPad (or similar) in front, and a spot for a pen or two. Bellroy didn’t quit there, though. There’s a liner fabric pocket that expands inward for another water bottle, a small umbrella, or other decent sized accessory.

Any time I get a new bag, I try to find things I would change or details I could improve. Sure, this backpack could have a crazy hiking suspension system, or be 20 liters larger, or be constructed from expensive unobtanium. But then it wouldn’t be such a perfect work bag for me. In this case, ‘slim’ definitely doesn’t mean ‘less than’. It means ‘everything you need and nothing you don’t’.

Taylor Welden is an industrial designer, Senior Editor of Carryology, and every bit the bag geek. He was commissioned by Bellroy to tell us what he thinks of our Slim Backpack.

Shop the Slim Backpack.