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Topo Designs Global Travel Bag Review

A stylish and slim 40-liter three-way travel backpack with stellar organization and a comfortable harness system, perfect for a weekend getaway
topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review
Credit: Topo Designs
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $229 List | $229.00 at Backcountry
Pros:  Distributes weight nicely, good structure, attachment clips, daisy chain, sturdy handles, comfortable harness system, plentiful organization
Cons:  Not great for bulky items, cumbersome security loops
Manufacturer:   Topo Designs
By Hayley Thomas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 5, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Features - 25% 8.0
  • Packing and Accessibility - 25% 8.0
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 15% 6.0
  • Durability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The aesthetically retro Topo Designs Global Travel Bag has modern-day sensibilities, like a laptop sleeve, and is the perfect 40-liter pack for a long weekend getaway. This minimal design is amazing on its own and also allows for seamless integration with other day bags and packing accessories from Topo. From the large laptop sleeve to the mesh pockets and roomy main compartment, there is sure to be a spot for all your weekend necessities. The slim build ensures you won't have any trouble carrying it on a plane or subway, the durable fabrics scream longevity, and the internal organization is useful without going overboard.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $229 List
$229.00 at Backcountry
$239 List
$239.00 at REI
$149 List
$149.00 at REI
$160 List$169 List
$169.00 at REI
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Pros Distributes weight nicely, good structure, attachment clips, daisy chain, sturdy handles, comfortable harness system, plentiful organizationVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, simplistic features, max volume carry, upgraded harness system for comfortTapered for easy loading, comfortable harness system, adventure friendly, very lightVersatile, sleek, camera box, vented wet shoe compartmentBig and lightweight, a duffel that can be carried as a backpack, weatherproof, super durable
Cons Not great for bulky items, cumbersome security loopsSoft body sags when not stuffed, no exterior easy-access pocketsDoes not sit upright, laptop sleeve unpaddedNo waist belt or sternum strap, no water bottle holder, back panel not very breathable, tallUncomfortable unless full, must pack with intention
Bottom Line A stylish and slim 40-liter three-way travel backpack with stellar organization and a comfortable harness system, perfect for a weekend getawayA well-thought-out, user-friendly, and versatile clamshell pack with high-level stuffability and a newly updated harness system for more comfortWith its tapered shape and backpacking pack structure, this is the perfect bag for the outdoor adventurist that doesn't want to spend an arm and legWith its convertible camera cube, ventilated shoe compartment, and padded device sleeve, this pack was made for the outdoor photographer on the goA duffel-style backpack with an unmatched weight to volume ratio for longer vacations or expeditions
Rating Categories Topo Designs Global... Patagonia Black Hol... REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Patagonia Black Hol...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Features (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Packing and Accessibility (25%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)
6.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
10.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Specs Topo Designs Global... Patagonia Black Hol... REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Patagonia Black Hol...
Volume of Main Compartment 40L 45L 40L 35L 55L
Measured Weight 3.65 lbs 3.35 lbs 2.10 lbs 2.10 lbs 2.57 lbs
Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better) 10.96 13.43 19.05 16.67 21.4
Detachable Daypack? No No No No No
Dimensions 22.5" x 14" x 7.5" 22.8" x 8.6" x 14.5" 24" x 13" x 10" 24" x 14" x 9" 26.7" x 15.7" x 11.8"
Carry-on Size Compatible? (22" x 14" x 9") Yes Yes, if squished No Yes Yes, if squished
Stuffed Dimensions 22.5" x 14" x 7.9" 22" x 14" x 10" 22" x 9" x 14" 24" x 14" x 9" 27" x 16" x 12.5"
Fabrics 1000D recycled nylon, 400D recycled nylon, 210D recycled nylon, 1680D recycled ballistic nylon Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate Recycled nylon ripstop and recycled polyester lining (bluesign approved) 600D waterproof polyester, 840D ballistic nylon 900D recycled polyester, 200D recycled polyester
Frame Type Foam with nylon padded backpanel Foam backpanel Ventilated mesh Foam padding None
Access Type U-Zip Clamshell design Top loading Panel loading Clamshell
Number of Pockets External: 2 large zippered security, 2 water bottle
Internal: 1 laptop, mesh organization
5 zip, 8 no zip 6 zip, 7 no zip, 2 water bottle 3 small zippered, 1 ventilated, 1 camera comparment, 1 main Internal/external zippered side pocket, interior mesh lid,
Laptop Sleeve? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Waist Belt Type Removable Padded Padded None None
Sternum Strap Yes Yes Yes Yes None
Different Sizes Available? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Volume Options 30L, 40L 26L, 45L 18L, 28L, 40L, 65L 35L 40L, 55L, 70L, 100L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The comfortable Global Travel Bag can easily accompany you on a multi-day road trip, through the hustle and bustle of a busy subway, or be slipped under the seat in front of you on an airplane. The thin but tall shape makes it easy to glide through crowds, and the retro design fits in with most any aesthetic. This pack allows for seamless integration with Topo's other travel gear, comes with built-in security measures, offers a spot for most belongings, and can be carried in multiple fashions.

Performance Comparison


topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - the stunning global travel bag ready for a day of adventure.
The stunning Global Travel Bag ready for a day of adventure.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Comfort


The Global Travel Bag offers an extremely comfortable harness system, and the tall slim build distributes the weight nicely across the entire upper body.


The harness system comes with padded shoulder straps and load lifters that sit comfortably out of the armpits. The adjustable sternum strap distributes weight evenly across the shoulders, and the removable waist belt is nicely padded.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - the waist best padding is perforated for breathability.
The waist best padding is perforated for breathability.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

While the harness system is both comfortable and convertible, the overall shape of the Global Travel Bag is what sets it apart from the rest. It is tall and wide but shallow, which keeps the weight very close to your body. This makes carrying heavier items like a laptop or books effortless. The light foam in the main compartment and back panel also offers both structure and cushion.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - a 40-liter pack can get heavy but the global bag sits close to the...
A 40-liter pack can get heavy but the Global Bag sits close to the body and distributes weight nicely.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

The briefcase strap has a small amount of padding, which is comfortable for short carries, but this bag is a little large to carry over one shoulder. This style of carrying is great for quick transitions but is rather useless for extended wear.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - the padded back panel is minimal but offers plenty of comfort.
The padded back panel is minimal but offers plenty of comfort.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Features


The Global Travel Bag has everything from a laptop sleeve to external daisy chains to designated key clips. The additional features offer stellar organization and don't take up much space or add too much weight.


The two sturdy daisy chains, found on the front of the pack, are great for clipping items like hand sanitizer, a hat, or some climbing shoes. The security loops on the two main zipper compartments help prevent theft, although they are rather cumbersome to use. The convertible shoulder straps can be tucked away neatly, and the large, sturdy grab handles on the top and sides make stowing the bag easy.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - these zipper tabs come in handy when the pack is especially stuffed.
These zipper tabs come in handy when the pack is especially stuffed.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

The Global comes with a series of PackFast Clips for attaching a daypack. These daypacks are sold separately, and all the little straps and clips take a moment to navigate, but they are covert, and most of them tuck away neatly. Our biggest issue in this metric is that there is no clothing compression strap in the main compartment. This issue is easily solved with a couple of packing cubes, but a strap would be appreciated for those that don't have cubes.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - clips like this are found on the top and bottom of the global travel...
Clips like this are found on the top and bottom of the Global Travel Bag so you can attach a daypack.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Packing and Accessibility


The Global Travel Bag has a main compartment, two smaller compartments, a laptop sleeve, and two water bottle pockets. The quick-grab pocket has two smaller zippered pockets and a clip for your keys. We love an easy access pocket, but as far as security goes, this one is lacking, so it is important to be aware of your surroundings if you keep your valuables here.


The second-largest compartment comes equipped with a security loop to help mitigate theft. There are a few pockets in this compartment, one with a zipper that is perfect for your daily planner or spiral notebook. The main compartment is large and minimal. There is a divider with two zippered pockets on one side and two zippered mesh pockets on the other, offering a little extra organization that won't get in the way if left unused.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - the compartment is perfect for all your travel knick knacks.
The compartment is perfect for all your travel knick knacks.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

The minimalist vibe paired with the option to open the bag up clamshell-style makes packing a breeze, but it's much easier when paired with packing cubes. The foam gives the bag a little structure, but clothing straps in the main compartment would go a long way. The elastic water bottle pockets, found on both sides of the pack, are surprisingly accommodating for larger bottles.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - the global travel bag offers a spot for everything from water...
The Global Travel Bag offers a spot for everything from water bottles to climbing shoes.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Because this pack is so slim, it is not great for irregularly shaped items, so wear your chunky boots and pack your sandals. Even though taking your boots off for TSA might be a bit more of a hassle, it will save you space in the long run. The Global is best for the minimalist weekend warrior rather than the gear head or avid backpacker.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - the divider offers a little more organization, and the main...
The divider offers a little more organization, and the main compartment is best used with packing cubes.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Volume to Weight Ratio


This 40-liter pack weighs 3.65 pounds when empty, making it relatively lightweight for its carrying capacity.


The Global, despite the name, will not take you across Europe for a month, but it will take you through the busy New York City subways for an extended weekend in style. The outermost fabric consists of 1000D nylon and large YKK zippers, both of which are very durable. Heavy-duty fabric can result in a heavy product, but Topo does a great job of pairing the heavier-weight outer layers with a lightweight 400D nylon packcloth and 210D nylon pack cloth liner inside the bag.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - the lightweight material inside the pack helps keep the overall...
The lightweight material inside the pack helps keep the overall weight low.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Durability


During our time with the Global Travel Bag we didn't experience one zipper jam, external blemish, or popped stitch. Even the mesh on the inside held up well. After researching the material used to make this backpack, it's no wonder why it still looks brand new after the abuse we put it through.


The stitching on the daisy chain and carry handles is heavy-duty. This is made clear by simply looking at it, but we also loaded the bag up with heavy items and swung it around by its carry handles to make certain — it passed the test with flying colors. The extra-large YKK zippers live up to their reputation and are easy to clean if they get gunked up. The outer shell is made of 1000D nylon, which is exceptionally strong. The rest of the pack, including the liner, is made up of 400D and 210D nylon, which both hold up nicely. This pack is clearly built to last, but if something does happen, Topo has a warranty and repair program to help you out.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - the large ykk zippers never snag, not even around tight corners.
The large YKK zippers never snag, not even around tight corners.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Value


Topo Designs is not known for making inexpensive clothing and gear. That being said, the Global Travel Bag is very fairly priced. Between its durable materials, minimalist design, and cabin-chic aesthetic, we feel this pack is worth every penny. It's a great option for those looking to get away for a long weekend by car or plane and fits in just as nicely on the subway in a big city as it does at your remote cabin.

Conclusion


The overall design of the 40-liter Global Travel Bag makes it the perfect option for the minimalist weekend warrior or a great carry-on option. It offers just the right amount of organization to ensure that you won't be rummaging around your pack searching for your headphones, but also manages not to overdo it with excessive pockets. While a few luxury features like clothing straps in the main compartment are missing, these flaws can be remedied with simple packing cubes. This durable pack will carry you seamlessly from destination to destination without popping a stitch.

topo designs global travel bag travel backpack review - this stylish pack will carry you from the city to the mountains...
This stylish pack will carry you from the city to the mountains seamlessly.
Credit: Hayley Thomas

Hayley Thomas
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