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ALPAKA Metro Backpack Review

The thickly padded back panel and simple straps on the ALPAKA Metro Backpack make it a comfortable, fuss-free daily carry with a well-organized interior.

Our Verdict

8.1 /10
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  • Simple straps and thick padding on the back panel feel like a no-nonsense, comfy setup
  • Front compartment’s sideways layout is straightforward to use and gear doesn’t fall out accidentally
  • Has a wide variety of pockets for a modestly sized 12-liter backpack


  • The gusset covering the entirety of the main compartment’s zipper makes it just a bit tricky to open
  • Interior pockets share space with adjacent front pockets
  • Not much extra room if you plan on using all of its interior pockets

Technical Details

92 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 134/145 Airlines

88 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    1.76 lb (0.8 kg)

  • Dimensions

    16.54 in x 9.84 in x 6.1 in (42 x 25 x 15.5 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Recycled Polyester, Ripstop Nylon, YKK Zippers, DWR Coating, Fleece

  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information

    Warranty & Repairs

Full Review

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Everyday carry backpacks like the ALPAKA Metro Backpack are designed with a balance of simplicity and features—often, those two clash with one another. As you add more features, you go from simple to complex. You want an everyday bag that’s simple enough that you don’t have to fuss with the strap adjustment each time, for example. On the other hand, it should have enough pockets so your gear doesn’t get mixed up by the time you reach your destination.

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Back 2
ALPAKA Metro Backpack | Simple on the outside, very kitted-out on the inside.

These are aspects that the ALPAKA Metro Backpack touts, and we like them. You still get the hallmark signs that this is an ALPAKA bag, such as quality-feeling materials, a city-dweller aesthetic, and magnetic hardware. In the Metro Backpack’s case, it’s a key holder—technically not included in this review since we’re sampling a pre-production unit. The rest of it should reflect the finished product, though, so let’s dive in!

External Components

The fabric used is a major shift from the Metro Backpack’s bigger siblings, like the Elements Backpack and Elements Backpack Pro. Instead of the usual X-Pac or ballistic nylon variants, the Metro Backpack features Axoflux Recycled Fibers Fabric, a 300-denier polyester fabric. In practical terms, this fabric feels a tad slicker and smoother, which makes sense given the fabric’s lighter denier than ALPAKA’s previous iterations. At the time of writing, the Elements Backpack Pro is also getting Axoflux fabric, albeit at a heavier 600 denier; ALPAKA seems content to keep the Metro Backpack lean and light, and that makes total sense as a small everyday carry backpack.

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Zipper
ALPAKA Metro Backpack | Solid materials all around, though the zipper pulls are unexpectedly don’t feel like Hypalon.

All of this isn’t to say that the Metro Backpack feels flimsy. The fabric is still pristine after using the bag for a few weeks, not even picking up that much pet hair, let alone lasting damage. It is worth noting that the zipper pulls feel uncharacteristically non-Hypalon. They’re still the soft, rubbery kind, yet they also feel more plasticky and slick; it doesn’t have Hypalon’s matte-ish texture. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things since the important part is that these are YKK zippers. They are as reliable as the brand’s highly-regarded reputation merits.

ALPAKA uses a mix of terminology like weatherproof and waterproof to describe how resilient the Metro Backpack is to water. For example, the front compartment uses a YKK AquaGuard zipper, while the main compartment has a simpler reverse-coil design further protected by a fabric welt. All of this is to say that the Metro Backpack keeps your gear dry if you get caught in a rain shower. However, it’s not the kind of waterproof bag you can dunk in the pool.

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Carry Handle
ALPAKA Metro Backpack | Even the handle gets some padding.

Other than that, the Metro Backpack is really devoid of external features. Even the branding is easy to miss, tucked away at the side. The most noteworthy feature here is the top handle. The handle, situated at the very edge, is very easy to hang onto shallow hooks and pegs, the kind you’d find at gas station restrooms. It’s also surprisingly padded despite how minimal and thin it looks. The Metro Backpack may be a 12-liter bag, but we’re glad to see ALPAKA being generous with the padding.

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Harness
ALPAKA Metro Backpack | It’s a no-frills harness system.

On that note, padding is a really strong feature of the Metro Backpack. The back panel is generously laden with it, and if you look at it from the side, you can see it’s nearly half an inch thick. Meanwhile, the shoulder straps are so simple that we wouldn’t call it a harness system. No, these are plain shoulder straps, well-padded, but that’s it. There are no sternum straps or optional hip belts. At most, there are attachment loops where you can hang accessories and soft-lined inner edges near the neck for additional comfort.

Fit Notes

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Side By Side
Left: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm) | Right: Lauren Maternowski, Height: 5’6” (168 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm)

Although the setup is simple, the shoulder straps and back panel padding are more than sufficient to handle this 12-liter backpack. Certain details are nicely balanced, such as the straps’ width, ideally distributing the weight on the shoulders. That said, we were slightly concerned that the bottom edge would poke into the lower hip, though that’s, thankfully, not the case.

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Strap
ALPAKA Metro Backpack | We like how comfy the back panel is.

Adjustment is also fairly easy. With only two straps to manage, we can only nitpick that there are no strap keepers to keep the slack in check. You’ll also notice that this bag lacks an external water bottle pocket, though we won’t harp on it too much. The water bottle pocket is internal, which should mean a tighter center of gravity—a minuscule detail to focus on a large travel bag, but worth noting on a small daily carry bag like this one.

Inside The Daypack

The Metro Backpack’s front compartment opens sideways, spanning almost the entire length of the backpack. We’re usually not fans of this orientation, nor the sideways layout of the pockets inside. They’re not as easy to access as more vertical layouts, especially if you’re trying to reach from the opposite side. That said, items sit securely where they’re slotted inside since the pockets are located near the mouth of the compartment, preventing them from slipping out.

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Pocket Empty
ALPAKA Metro Backpack | There’s also a magnetic key leash, but that’s not present on this pre-production sample.

The pockets are situated as such: two large liner pockets flanking two pen slots in the middle. The rest is open space you can use to stash a pouch. We stored a toiletry bag here during our testing, and it worked out pretty well for us, though not without caveats. In the bottom liner pocket is a strap. Our sample is a pre-production unit, but this strap typically has a MOD Key Tether at the end, which is a magnetic key holder. It’s a nice touch, but we won’t comment further since we don’t have it on hand at the time of writing. We will say that this bottom placement is ideal since it’s easy to reach when you swing the bag around on your shoulder—it’s a sign that ALPAKA tests its designs.

The main compartment’s opening is a bit tricky to open, given that a fabric welt covers it. It’s not a big deal per se, but we recommend placing the dual zippers on the track’s end to make finding them easier. Once opened, you get wide access to the interior. We’d usually find gussets at the sides to stop the opening from fully folding over. There are no visible gussets here, but the opening stays spread apart at a wide angle for easy access.

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Interior Pocket
ALPAKA Metro Backpack | There’s a wide variety of pockets for organizing gear.

On the back side is a laptop sleeve with a backside lined with microfiber-like fabric to protect your device. It’s rated for up to a 14-inch laptop, which is more than enough to fit a 13-inch MacBook. The adjacent pockets are two passport-sized ones made of stretchy mesh. We didn’t use these as much since the items that could fit here are easier to access in the front pocket.

The front side has a shallow zippered pocket at the top. It’s an ideal spot to store small tech items like a smartphone wall charger and a few cables. Directly below is a drop pocket on the left and a water bottle pocket on the right. However, once you have all those occupied, you only have enough room to fit one bulky item like a packing cube. You can get creative, packing bottom to top and seeing where the pockets don’t interfere.

ALPAKA Metro Backpack Stuffed
ALPAKA Metro Backpack | Space is a bit short, but that’s expected of a 12-liter backpack.

That said, we recommend packing the main compartment first, with bulky items going in at the bottom. Afterward, you can check how much space is still available in the front compartment and stash more items in there. In our case, we were able to fit a small toiletry bag.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Compact design is surprisingly roomy
  • Digging the internal organization
  • Minimal straps seem pretty comfortable
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Materials still in great shape—the bag barely looks used
  • Great size for everyday if you’re not someone who carries a lot on a regular basis
  • Though it’s made with waterproof and weatherproof materials, this is not a waterproof bag
By Lauren Maternowski
Created February 19, 2024 • Updated February 19, 2024
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