Bellroy Transit Backpack Review

The Bellroy Transit Backpack is a 28L travel-focused backpack with smart organization, ample main compartment space, and a comfortable carry.

Bellroy Transit Backpack In Detroit
Bellroy Transit Backpack In Detroit

Our Verdict

8.3 /10

Form

87/100

Design

87/100

Value

77/100

Pros

  • Quality materials and construction that feel excellent in the hand
  • Optimized layout and organization
  • Comfortable carry with no need for a hip belt or load lifters

Cons

  • Curved back panel does not work well for all body types
  • Quick-grab pocket is a little on the small side
  • Not huge fans of the horizontal organization inside the front zippered pocket

Technical Details

44 %

Carry-On Compliance (Beta)

View 71/162 Airlines

86 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity

    28l

  • Weight (lb)

    2.425 lb (1.1 kg)

  • Dimensions

    21.26 in x 15.3543 in x 7.08667 in (54 x 39 x 18 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    YKK Zippers, Polyester, Nylon, Leather

  • Manufacturing Country

    Philippines

  • Laptop Compartment Size

    15"

  • Warranty Information

    Bellroy 3 Year Warranty

Full Review

If you agree that smart is the best way to travel, you’ll want to give the Bellroy Transit Backpack a serious look. It’s a comfortable and stylish 28L pack full of well-thought-out organization—while still offering ample space in the main compartment.

Bellroy Transit Backpack In Use
Bellroy Transit Backpack In Use

If you’ve been around the gear scene for a while, you’ve probably heard of Bellroy. Its an Australian brand known for fashionable and dependable carry-on goods. And this new Transit Backpack is built to “flex between big commutes, adventure trips, and business travel.”

At the time of this review, our team has been testing the Bellroy Transit Backpack for two weeks in the Motor City. We’ve received a lot of specific questions about this bag from our Quick Hits video. If you’re looking for in-depth answers to those questions, check out our video review.

So, let’s dive right in.

Bellroy Transit Backpack In Detroit
Bellroy Transit Backpack In Detroit

Materials & Aesthetic

This is where the Bellroy Transit Backpack really shines (which is no surprise). Bellroy typically does a great job selecting materials and pulling them together in a thoughtful way. And this pack is a prime example of that.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Logo
Bellroy Transit Backpack Logo

From a branding perspective, the Bellroy Transit Backpack keeps it pretty simple. A Bellroy wordmark is found on a leather tab at the front bottom of the bag, and the signature Bellroy owl can be seen on the left shoulder strap.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Emblem
Bellroy Transit Backpack Emblem

The Bellroy Transit Backpack comes in three colorways, each made with different materials. The black version—which we’ve been testing—is nylon and feels great to the touch.

The Ink Blue comes in a recycled Venture Weave polyester—the same material as the Bellroy Sling that we reviewed a couple of weeks ago. This version also has a nice feel, but the black wins out for being a bit softer to the touch. The Charcoal bag is made with recycled soft-woven polyester. We’re always happy to see brands embracing more recycled or sustainable materials in their product lines.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Material
Bellroy Transit Backpack Material

A lot of us here at Pack Hacker HQ really dig the look of this bag. We also polled our Instagram followers and 86% of you agreed. This doesn’t happen often, so that says a lot about the overall aesthetic of this backpack.

Other key materials of the Bellroy Transit Backpack include YKK AquaGuard zippers for additional weather protection, magnetic buckles on the sternum strap (very satisfying to use, by the way), and some very professional-feeling leather zipper pulls.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Zippers
Bellroy Transit Backpack Zippers

The keychain uses ITW plastic hardware (more on that soon), and premium-feeling metal and aluminum hardware in select areas such as the adjustable shoulder straps.

External Components

Okay, let’s start with the harness system. The Bellroy Transit Backpack has dense shoulder straps that are very comfortable to wear—even with the bag fully loaded.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Harness System
Bellroy Transit Backpack Harness System

At 28L, you don’t really need the option for a hip belt or load lifters. That said, if you fill this pack with something heavy, like camera gear, you’re certainly going to feel it—which, of course, is the case for any bag.

One thing we’ve noticed while testing the Transit Backpack is that under a heavy load, you may start to feel the edges of the straps on your shoulders and chest—an issue that Tom Bihn, for example, solved on its Synik 30 by using an edgeless shoulder strap design. It may not be a deal-breaker, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Shoulder Straps
Bellroy Transit Backpack Shoulder Straps

The Bellroy Transit Backpack features a very adjustable sternum strap on a rail-like design. It’s also easy to remove. While most bags hide the end of the rail a bit more (making it difficult to slide the sternum strap off) Bellroy leaves enough space for easy removal. It’s the little things, ya know?

Bellroy Transit Backpack Sternum Strap
Bellroy Transit Backpack Sternum Strap

Behind all of this, the bag’s back panel is padded, has two rows of foam ridges (which are covered in mesh), and a channel for airflow. The back panel does feel slightly technical, but it still looks nice and streamlined. And while it’s tough to completely avoid that dreaded swamp back—especially when trekking through Malaysia—this back panel should help.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Back Panel
Bellroy Transit Backpack Back Panel

It’s also worth noting that the Bellroy Transit Backpack has a natural curve to it. Some of the team have been really digging this feature in testing, while others have found it to poke into the bottom of their back. Depending on your body type and carry preferences, your mileage may vary.

At the end of the shoulder straps, you’ll find smooth aluminum strap adjusters, which glide easily. We also dig the soft seatbelt-like material at the bottom of the straps.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Shoulder Strap Adjustment
Bellroy Transit Backpack Shoulder Strap Adjustment

Lastly, (for the harness system, anyway) we have some plastic strap keepers on the straps that will help you manage excess strap and give you that oh-so-satisfying dangle free experience.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Strap Keeper
Bellroy Transit Backpack Strap Keeper

The top handle, made from the same material as the bottom of the shoulder straps, features a small amount of padding to create a very comfortable grab.

Beyond that, there’s not much more going on with the exterior of this bag—and we’d say that’s a good thing. It looks slick and it’s nice and streamlined.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Held By Top Handle
Bellroy Transit Backpack Held By Top Handle

Inside the Pack

As we mentioned at the beginning of this review, the Bellroy Transit Backpack has a lot to offer in terms of pockets and organization. So grab a coffee, tea, or your beverage of choice and settle in. Here we go.

The quick-grab pocket on the top of the bag has a lay-flat YKK zipper, which stays low-profile and out of the way—a nice touch, Bellroy. Although we like this drop-pocket, it’s not very deep. It has a decent width, though, so it’s probably best for flatter items like your wallet, phone, headphones, lip balm…etc.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Quick-Grab Pocket
Bellroy Transit Backpack Quick-Grab Pocket

The pocket does have a stretchy mesh material to help you fit more items in there, but ultimately it’s still a pretty quick-grab pocket. On the upside, it doesn’t cut into the main compartment of this bag too much.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Quick-Grab Pocket Access
Bellroy Transit Backpack Quick-Grab Pocket Access

The vertical pocket on the front of the Bellroy Transit Backpack opens up with a leather tab and AquaGuard YKK zipper. This pocket is a great size pocket to stuff larger items—your jacket, for example. Inside this pocket, there’s a horizontal organization pocket that fits smaller notebooks and two sleeves for pens, pencils, or styluses (styli?).

We like the size of the horizontal pocket, but—generally speaking—we’ve found that when pockets are turned sideways in vertical bags like this, things can get jostled around and become disorganized inside of the bag. Especially when there are no zippers of stretchy mesh. Just something to keep in mind if you’re big on keeping your bag neat and tidy.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Front Pocket
Bellroy Transit Backpack Front Pocket

You’ll also find an ITW plastic keychain at the top. While this keychain definitely does its job it, unfortunately, does not match the premium look and feel of the rest of the bag.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Key Ring
Bellroy Transit Backpack Key Ring

Next up, the water bottle pockets. There’s one concealed on each side of the Bellroy Transit Backpack and they open with a small heat-shrank paracord loop zipper pull, which is hidden and out of the way (hence, concealed).

Bellroy Transit Backpack Water Bottle Pocket
Bellroy Transit Backpack Water Bottle Pocket

These water bottle pockets open up to reveal a decent-sized compartment. They may not fit the largest of bottles, so if you’re someone who likes to stay extra hydrated, keep that in mind.

Now, these pockets are one of the things we received some questions about, so check out the video review for some more specific information.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Solo
Bellroy Transit Backpack Solo

The Bellroy Transit Backpack can stand on its own if you have it packed in a very specific way (i.e., having something heavy at the bottom like a fully-packed camera cube to give it shape). Otherwise, it will probably flop over. If a bag that stands on its own is important to you, there are definitely some options out there that can do this better.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Laptop Compartment
Bellroy Transit Backpack Laptop Compartment

Potentially our favorite feature inside this pack is the laptop compartment. It opens up with a weather-resistant YKK AquaGuard zipper, has soft material on the interior, and it features a false bottom to protect your laptop from unexpected drops. Basically, it checks all the boxes for what we look for in a laptop compartment.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Tech Pocket
Bellroy Transit Backpack Tech Pocket

Two pieces of fabric on the side of this section prevent the horseshoe zipper from opening up too much. At the top of the laptop compartment, there’s a zippered pocket that’s a great size for storing tech accessories like cords, chargers, and the like. It also has a bit of padding and structure to keep everything safe.

We like that this pocket is very easily accessible. However, keep in mind that it can cut into the main compartment of the bag—so try not to overstuff it too much.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Main Compartment With Packing Cubes
Bellroy Transit Backpack Main Compartment With Packing Cubes

Speaking of the main compartment, it’s pretty roomy on the Bellroy Transit Backpack. You can easily fit one medium-sized Peak Design packing cube along with one small Peak Design packing cube, (you ask we test it).

Other packing cubes with more rigid edges may not fit quite as nicely since the Transit Backpack does have slightly rounded corners—your mileage may vary so find what works best for you (and check out our packing cubes guide if you’re not sure where to start!).

Bellroy Transit Backpack Internal Compression Strap
Bellroy Transit Backpack Internal Compression Strap

On the back of the main compartment, you’ll find an elastic compression strap to keep your clothes or cubes in place. We’re interested to see how long this stretch lasts, so we’ll make sure to keep you posted in the Usage Timeline below.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Mesh Pockets
Bellroy Transit Backpack Mesh Pockets

The front flap of the main compartment has a smaller, zippered, stretchy mesh pocket (there’s something about that Bellroy mesh ya just gotta love–it’s super stretchy and great to the touch). There’s also a larger zippered mesh compartment that covers the entirety of this flap—ideal for storing things like socks, underwear, and other small items.

Plus, we’ve found that one layer of packing cubes will still give you easy access to the rest of the pockets on the bag.

Durability & Testing

At the time of this review, the Pack Hacker team has been testing the Bellroy Transit Backpack around Detroit, Michigan for two weeks.

Bellroy Transit Backpack In Detroit
Bellroy Transit Backpack In Detroit

The curve of the bag wasn’t ideal for some. They found it a little bit uncomfortable—mostly because of the bottom digging into their lower back. Others, however, found this backpack to be very comfortable.

The whole team agrees that the overall organization of the Transit Backpack shows that some thoughtful design when into this thing. We especially enjoyed having that other horseshoe pocket of the laptop compartment as a place for storing tech gear. There’s smart organization without having pockets that cut into the main capacity too much. Instead, everything is pretty streamlined which allows you to take advantage of the full 28L—a great feature for one-bag travel.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Feels really great in the hand with Bellroy’s signature quality
  • Digging the organization and features so far
  • Comfortable to carry, although it takes a bit of getting used to if you have a longer torso—the bag is a tad “short”
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Organization pockets have been really handy—and you can still access them with the bag full of packing cubes
  • We’re digging the tech pocket, but it can cut into the main capacity of the bag

Overall

The Transit Backpack has everything you’d expect from Bellroy—and by that, we mean a sleek aesthetic, solid materials, smart pocket configuration, and a great blend of organization and open space. Although we have a couple of nitpicks, overall it’s a solid travel backpack. And it could be a great option for your minimal one-bag travel backpack. Plus, we’re convinced those small design details will continue to impress.

mm
By Tom Wahlin
Created November 7, 2019 • Updated November 7, 2019