Bellroy City Pouch Plus Review
The Bellroy City Pouch Plus is an upsized version of the regular, retaining all its good—and not-so-good—features.
- Has a padded section for small devices
- Wide main compartment opening courtesy of purse-like shape
- Plenty of space for everyday carry items
- Loose threads around the logo appeared quickly
- Strap feels a bit too minimal at times
- Some planning required to avoid lumpiness
6.35 oz (180 g)
7.09 in x 9.25 in x 2.17 in (18 x 23.5 x 5.5 cm)
Nylon, Leather, Polyester
It’s not a sign of weakness to tweak an existing formula. Chasing a one-size-fits-all solution is near impossible for bags, so the next best thing would be to do variations. Case in point: the City Pouch Plus. Bellroy took the regular City Pouch, upped the size, changed the orientation, and ended up with a sling better suited for those who want extra space.
Unfortunately, the things we didn’t like in the City Pouch are still there, like the tendency to get bulky and the ribbon-like key leash. However, the City Pouch Plus still comes out as a rather stylish yet functional sling with its balanced organization, good interior visibility, and ease of access—a good sling. This is a worthwhile option if you’re the kind of user who daily carries their Nintendo Switch or ebook reader alongside everyday carry items.
Materials & Aesthetic
First things first: the version we’re testing here is the Premium Edition, which comes in two colorways at the time of writing: Storm Grey (this one) and Black Sand. The main difference between this and the regular version is that the Premium Edition has a soft leather front, whereas the regular has plain fabric. Otherwise, the two versions are functionally the same, and so are the materials and construction. With that out of the way, do we think it looks good?
This is Bellroy, so aesthetics play just as important a role as function. In our eyes, the light color and purse-like shape of the City Pouch Plus make for a very upscale and clean look. To achieve this, the front pocket is stealthily hidden by an upward-pointing gusset. By the way, the purse-like shape doesn’t mean it’s not fashionable for men as well. It’s still a gender-neutral design, though it’s still up to you whether you like it or not.
It’s also worth noting that the City Pouch Plus isn’t restricted to black or white colorways. The regular version also has a few colorful options for you to consider, such as Basalt, Ranger Green, and Bronze. So if the subdued elegance of black and white isn’t your thing, you can definitely pop off with these more vibrant options instead.
The City Pouch Plus isn’t without substance either. The main fabric is Dura Nylon, which Bellroy claims has a military heritage, durability, tear-resistance, and light weight. Sounds familiar? If so, you’re probably thinking of ripstop nylon, and indeed, the fabric bears the telltale grid-like pattern.
Most of the markups on the City Pouch Plus ended up on the soft leather, but that’s understandable given its rather delicate nature (the markups are purely cosmetic, though). Meanwhile, the ripstop-like fabric takes care of any abrasion coming from the back.
The bag’s overall integrity remains solid after a few weeks of use. However, there are loose threads at the front. These are, worryingly, located on the bit of stitching flanking the debossed logo, which is a really bad spot aesthetically. Fortunately, the damage remains just that: an aesthetic one. It’s also worth noting that the soft fabric does mark up, but its light color helps disguise most of it.
The rest of the bag holds up really well. The zippers are YKK-branded with Bellroy’s signature leather pulls, and we generally haven’t had any problems zipping these up. The hardware (strap adjusters) is unbranded. They are metal, though, so they’re incredibly resilient and glide along the strap smoothly despite their small size.
The City Pouch Plus’ strap is actually quite simple and straightforward. It’s a non-removable nylon strap that’s attached to the bag on four points. In theory, this last detail should help the bag remain stable in most situations. However, we found that portion of the straps to be particularly susceptible to twisting unless they have sufficient tension. This is most evident whenever we try to pick the bag up, and there’s a bit of mental gymnastics involved in making sure all four points aren’t twisted.
The keen-eyed among you may remember that Bellroy’s Sling Mini uses a similar-looking four-point strap. The purpose there is to have a rather clever self-compression system (which we like). The City Pouch Plus works with a similar concept. However, we don’t think it’s necessary, as we’ll show in the next section.
The strap itself is quite thin relative to the City Pouch Plus’ size. To be completely honest, this seems like the weakest part of the bag, but Bellroy made some tweaks to improve it. Look closer, and you’ll see that the strap’s middle portion is wider than the sides. We’re not quite sure how much of an impact this makes in terms of comfort. That said, the City Pouch Plus isn’t an unpleasant burden on the shoulder by any means, though we wouldn’t mind some extra thickness and padding as well.
As mentioned earlier, the straps move via metal adjusters, one on each side. The adjusters stop where the wide part of the strap begins, hence why there’s one on both sides (to really give maximum adjustment).
Inside The Sling
Inside the front pocket is ample space for most quick-grab items like wireless earphones, coins, our ChapStick, transit cards, etc. The interior liner for this colorway is bright white, which may show stains much more evidently than darker fabrics. However, we still prefer this for the sake of visibility and ease of finding small accessories.
There’s nothing too special about the front pocket, but we do want to point out a small nitpick. The zipper doesn’t go quite all the way to the end whenever we try to do a quick unzip. It gets a bit stuck about half an inch away from the end, and from there, we have to do a more deliberate unzip. It’s not the fault of the YKK zip; it’s more because of how tight the opening gets towards the end. This may seem like a very tiny issue (and it is), but you do lose a good chunk of space for your hand because of this, so we think it’s important to point out.
Fortunately, the back pocket doesn’t have the same issue. You can also use it as a quick grab pocket, though you’ll have to keep the bulk to a minimum since they might jut out. This is an excellent spot for a passport, train tickets, and the like; stuff you want to keep secure but relatively easy to access. Note that this pocket doesn’t fit an iPhone 13 completely, so using it as a smartphone stash pocket is only feasible if you’re okay with it sticking out.
Moving on to the main compartment, the first thing we want to point out is the built-in key clip. It’s tethered via thin ribbon, the same kind we didn’t really like on Bellroy’s other gear. On the other hand, the carabiner-style clip feels robust and relatively big too.
The clip holds onto keys just fine; the only issue is that keys tend to land inside the device pocket. It’s not ideal for keys since that’s where our Nintendo Switch is, and we really, really, really (repeat a hundred times) don’t want that to get scuffed up. The solution is simple enough: make a conscious effort to place the keys in the middle, just in front of the device pocket. Still, this is something other slings do handle better.
Speaking of the device pocket, one of the key features of the City Pouch Plus is a padded area for small tablets. Yes, “small tablet” does include a Nintendo Switch, though we had to keep the Joy-Cons in one of the mesh pockets. Alternatively, you can also fit an ebook reader here, but not an iPad Mini, unfortunately.
Towards the front side of the main compartment are three stretchy mesh pockets. One is a pen silo, so it’s only two general-purpose pockets. The one on the side is slimmer than the middle pocket, but both comfortably fit a chunky charger or small-sized power. In our case, we put the Switch’s Joy-Cons in the slimmer pocket and a charger in the middle one.
There is more than enough space in the middle for something like a thick wallet. However, we have to strategize so that items don’t stack and bulk up the bag’s thickness. For example, stacking our Switch, Kindle, wallet, and Joy-Cons result in not being able to zip the compartment shut. Removing one of those items solves the problem, or by ensuring the Joy-Cons and wallet are sitting side by side and not in front of each other.
Before we end this review, one last thing we want to point out is that the City Pouch Plus isn’t all that different from the City Pouch. Side by side, the two share a similar footprint, with only a small increase in overall volume (Bellroy doesn’t specify the exact volume for either of them).
Accessibility is better by virtue of the wider openings courtesy of the shape, and you still get all the goodies that make the regular City Pouch good. The strap can use some refinement, and so does the stitching, but functionally, there are no deal-breakers here—a few rough edges, but style picks up the slack.
- Tablet sleeve has padding for protection, rare as far as slings come and go
- The bag looks slim, but it’s quite roomy inside
- Key strap is relatively wide, but it’s also thin
- No major issues, but some threading is coming loose on the front of the bag
- Lots of space for small devices like a Nintendo Switch or e-reader
- Profile can get pretty lumpy when packed out fully
- Key clip placement feels clunky
- Great for carrying everyday essentials and looks good doing it