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Topo Designs Travel Bag Review

A stylish, slim, 30-liter, 3-way travel backpack with stellar internal organization and comfortable shoulder straps, perfect for a weekend getaway
Topo Designs Travel Bag
Photo: Topo Designs
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $189 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Tall and lean, security loops, foam structure, PackFast™️ Attachment Clips
Cons:  No water bottle pocket, no padding on hip belt, not great for bulky items, clips flop around
Manufacturer:   Topo Designs
By Hayley Thomas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 25, 2021
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 5
  • Features - 25% 8
  • Packing & Accessibility - 25% 7
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The aesthetically retro Topo Travel Bag has modern-day sensibilities, like a laptop sleeve, and is the perfect 30-liter pack for a weekend getaway. Not only is this minimal design amazing on its own, but it allows for seamless integration with other day bags and packing accessories from Topo. From the large laptop sleeve to the mesh pockets and large main compartment, there is sure to be a spot for all your weekend necessities. Its slim build ensures you won't have any trouble carrying it on a plane or subway, the durable fabrics are built to last, and the internal organization is useful without going overboard.

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Awards Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price Check Price at Backcountry
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$149.00 at REICheck Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
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Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Tall and lean, security loops, foam structure, PackFast™️ Attachment ClipsTapered for easy loading, comfortable harness system, adventure friendly, very lightVersatile, sleek, camera box, vented wet shoe compartmentVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, simplistic features, max volume carryGood suspension, lightweight, affordable, gobbles gear
Cons No water bottle pocket, no padding on hip belt, not great for bulky items, clips flop aroundDoes not sit upright, laptop sleeve unpaddedNo waist belt or sternum strap, no water bottle holder, back panel not very breathable, tallSoft body sags when not stuffed, harness system not fit for long adventuresSquare design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggage
Bottom Line A stylish, slim, 30-liter, 3-way travel backpack with stellar internal organization and comfortable shoulder straps, perfect for a weekend getawayWith 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 travel bag was made for the outdoor photographer on the goA well thought out, user-friendly, and versatile pack fortified by an Ironclad guarantee and cutting edge company ethicsThis is a durable and easy to pack travel backpack, but may be bulky for some airlines or uses
Rating Categories Topo Designs Travel... REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Patagonia Black Hol... Osprey Porter 46
Comfort (25%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
Features (25%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Packing & Accessibility (25%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Volume To Weight Ratio (15%)
7.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Topo Designs Travel... REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Patagonia Black Hol... Osprey Porter 46
Volume of Main Compartment 30L 40L 35L 45L 46L
Measured Weight 2.63 lbs 2.10 lbs 2.10 lbs 3.35 lbs 3.23 lbs
Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better) 11.41 19.05 16.67 13.43 14.24
Detachable Daypack? No No No No No
Dimensions (inches) 12.5 x 20 x 7 24 x 13 x 10 24 x 14 x 9 22.8 x 8.6 x 14.5 21 x 14 x 12
Carry-on Size? (22 x 14 x 9 in) Yes No Yes Yes, if squished Must be cinched down
Dimensions When Stuffed (inches) 12.5 x 20 x 7 22 x 9 x 14 24 x 14 x 9 22 x 14 x 10 22 x 14 x 12
Fabrics 1000D nylon, 400D nylon pack cloth, 210D nylon pack cloth liner recycled nylon ripstop and recycled polyester lining (bluesign approved) 600D waterproof polyester, 840D ballistic nylon Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate 420D nylon hex diamond ripstop, 420HD nylon packcloth
Frame Type Foam padding Ventilated mesh Foam padding Foam backpanel Stiff foam
Access Type Clamshell Top loading Panel loading Clamshell design Panel loading, zips all the way open
Number of Pockets 1 main, 1 outer, 2 mesh zippered, 2 opaque non zipper, 1 opaque zippered 6 zip, 7 no zip, 2 water bottle 3 small zippered, 1 ventilated, 1 camera comparment, 1 main 9 zip, 8 no zip 7 zip, 8 no zip
Laptop Sleeve Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Waist Belt Type Removable Padded None None Padded
Sternum Strap Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes, whistle
Different sizes? Yes Yes No Yes No
Volume Options 30L, 40L 18L, 28L, 40L, 65L 35L 26L, 45L 30L, 46L, 65L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The comfortable Topo Travel Bag can easily be worn through the hustle and bustle of a busy subway, slip under the seat in front of you on an airplane, or accompany you on a short road trip. The thin but tall shape makes it easy to glide through crowds and the retro design fits in with 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


The stunning Topo travel bag fits any aesthetic.
The stunning Topo travel bag fits any aesthetic.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Comfort


The TopoTravel Bag does not score particularly high in this department. It is comfortable enough for shorter wear but won't pass the backpacking-across-Europe test. That being said, it was not designed with the backpacker in mind.


The harness system comes with padded shoulder straps and load lifters that sit comfortably out of your armpits. The adjustable sternum strap distributes the weight nicely across your shoulders, but the removable waist belt is not padded. This renders it less comfortable than some of the other options in our test suite. We love a good harness system but the standard shoulder straps and sternum clip are not what make this bag shine. Its overall shape is what sets it apart from the rest. This bag is tall and wide but shallow, which keeps the weight very close to your body. This makes carrying heavier items like a laptop or textbooks easy as the bag does not hang far off your body. The light foam of the main compartment also offers some structure and cushion.

The padded main compartment offers structure.
The padded main compartment offers structure.
Photo: Hayley Thomas

While the Topo is not an uncomfortable bag, there is a lot of room for improvement. The hip belt is convertible, meaning it can be easily removed and stowed away, so why not put a little padding on it for those who are planning on long-distance carries? The briefcase strap has a small amount of padding which is comfortable for short carries as well. This style of carrying is great for quick transitions but is rather useless for extended wear. Overall this is a great bag for weekend getaways, bopping around on the subway, or quick business trips that require plane travel, but the comfort level only goes so far, so it is not going to be your favorite backpacking buddy.

Unfortunately the lack of padding on the hip belt renders it...
Unfortunately the lack of padding on the hip belt renders it uncomfortable.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Features


We love a good feature-rich item but only if every feature is functional. The Topo Travel Bag has everything from a laptop sleeve to external daisy chains to designated key clips, and we love it.


On the outside of this pack, you'll find small tabs to help brace the bag while zipping it open and closed, two sturdy daisy chains for clipping items like hand sanitizer, a hat, or a water bottle, and security loops on the two main zipper compartments for theft prevention. It also has large sturdy grab handles on the top and sides for easy stowing. This 3-way-carry bag comes equipped with a roller suitcase sleeve so you can give your shoulders a rest on longer trips and all the straps are convertible, so you can tuck them away or remove them completely while they are not in use.

This bag has carry handles all around for easy handling.
This bag has carry handles all around for easy handling.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Not only does this pack come with several great built-in features but it also has a series of PackFast Attachment Clips, which give you the option to attach a daypack. Topo also offers bundle deals for bag accessories to ensure that you are set up for the optimal travel experience. All these little straps and clips take a moment to understand, and unfortunately, they do flop around when not in use, but we still appreciate having them. Our biggest bone to pick in the features department is that there is no clothing compression strap in the main compartment. We know that this is picky, but it can make all the difference when packing for your weekend.

Anti-theft features like these security loops are appreciated.
Anti-theft features like these security loops are appreciated.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Packing & Accessibility


The Travel Bag is comprised of a main compartment, two smaller compartments, and a laptop sleeve. The outermost pocket is your easy access pocket. There are two small 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. If you are in an area where pick-pocketing is prevalent, it is best to keep these items in a spot that is more difficult to access.


The second-largest compartment comes equipped with a security loop to help mitigate theft. In this compartment, there are two deep open-top pockets and one with a zipper that is perfect for your daily planner or spiral notebook. The main compartment is large and minimal. There are two zippered mesh pockets found on the flap for your undergarments, swimwear, or any loose knick-knacks.

Details like the key clip make packing this bag a pleasure.
Details like the key clip make packing this bag a pleasure.
Photo: MAtthew Blake

The minimalist vibe and 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. Sadly, this minimalist design means that there is also no water bottle pocket. You can always clip one to one of the daisy chains, but it will flop around a bit while you walk. The mesh pockets in the main compartment are a great place for a few toiletries, however, you'll want to place them in something sealable and waterproof so that you don't risk a conditioner catastrophe.

The clamshell opening and padded main compartment make packing easy...
The clamshell opening and padded main compartment make packing easy with or without packing cubes.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Since this is only a 30-liter bag, it is best to wear your chunky shoes and pack your slim ones. 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. This travel bag is more suited for the minimalist weekend warrior rather than the gearhead or avid backpacker.

The large laptop sleeve offers more structure to the overall pack.
The large laptop sleeve offers more structure to the overall pack.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Volume to Weight Ratio


The Topo scores well for the weight held per liter of volume. This pack offers 30 liters of space and weighs in at a minimal 2.6 pounds. This is one of the lighter packs in our test suite, however, it is also one of the smallest.


This 30-liter pack is not going to take you across Europe for a month, but it will take you through the busy New York City subways in style. The outermost fabric consists of 1000D nylon and large YKK zippers which are both 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.

The lightweight material inside the pack helps keep the overall...
The lightweight material inside the pack helps keep the overall weight low.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Durability


During our time with the Topo 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 was clearly built to last.

The large YKK zippers never snag.
The large YKK zippers never snag.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Value


Topo Designs is not known for making inexpensive clothing and gear. That being said, the Travel Bag is very fairly priced. Between its durable material, minimalist design, and cabin chic aesthetic, this pack is worth every penny. It's a great option for those looking to get away for the 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 30-liter Topo Designs Travel Bag makes it the perfect option for the minimalist weekend warrior or a great carry-on option for those traveling with large rollers. It offers just the right amount of organization to ensure that you won't be rummaging around your pack in search of your headphones, without overdoing it with excessive pockets. While it is missing a few luxury features like clothing straps in the main compartment and a water bottle pocket on the outside, these flaws can be remedied with simple packing cubes or a carabiner for your bottle. This durable pack will carry you seamlessly from destination to destination without popping a stitch.

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.
Photo: Hayley Thomas

Hayley Thomas