Bellroy Via Workpack Review
The Bellroy Via Workpack is a slim way to carry everyday gear as a backpack or tote, although it lacks many pockets for small items.
- Comfortable harness system
- Integrated strap keepers eliminate dangling
- Easy to carry as a tote or backpack
- Minimal pockets for small gear
- Tight access to front pocket when bag is full
- Reversed zippers can take some getting used to
1.5 lb (0.7 kg)
17.7 in x 10.4 in x 4.9 in (45 x 26.4 x 12.4 cm)
Recycled Polyester, Nylon, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware, Woojin Hardware
Laptop Compartment Size
While a backpack is our preferred method of carrying a bag (we are Pack Hacker, after all), there are times when a different type of bag is more appropriate. Perhaps you don’t want to crush the shoulders of your freshly-steamed suit with shoulder straps, or you got sunburned on your beach vacation and would rather they didn’t rub your sore shoulders. Of course, you could also be in a tight situation and need to keep your bag in front of you instead of on your back. In any of those situations, comfortable carry handles are convenient.
With large tote handles, Bellroy’s Via Workpack lets you choose how you want to carry it. This streamlined laptop bag is aimed at commuters and business travelers, providing easy access to what you need to get work done along the way. So does it get the job done? Read on, and we’ll find out.
Of course, the first thing you’ll notice with the Bellroy Via Workpack is its understated, professional design. The recycled polyester is sleek and soft, with just a hint of sheen that stops far short of shiny. The material varies somewhat depending on the colorway you choose, with Black featuring recycled soft-woven polyester small ripstop, Navy getting a Looma-weave recycled polyester with an interesting texture, and Slate having a straightforward recycled polyester.
We’re testing Slate, a slate gray (duh!) with lighter gray handles, as opposed to Black and Navy, which each have black handles.
No matter which you choose, a small, lowercase “bellroy” is printed on the front of the bag, centered between the sides of the tote handle. It’s subtle, in true Bellroy fashion, and contributes to the professional look of the bag.
Bellroy uses YKK zippers on the Via Workpack, and a water-resistant model opens the main compartment. It’s pretty easy to use, although you will likely need two hands. If you’ve not had your hands on a Bellroy bag before, you may be unfamiliar with the brand’s reversed zippers.
While there are two heads, each with an easy-to-grasp nylon pull, the gap between the heads is on each side instead of in the middle. It takes some getting used to but allows you to get into the main compartment no matter which side is facing you. It won’t let you open it part way in the middle to pull something out; however, there aren’t many small slip pockets near the top of the bag you would likely want to reach into.
There’s unbranded hardware on the shoulder straps, and it works well, holding your adjustment in place even as you put the Workpack on and take it off. However, the key clip—which we’ll get to shortly—seems to be a collab between Woojin and Duraflex Hardware, since it sports both names.
Let’s chat about the carry handles before we get to the rest of the harness system. While they aren’t as long as what you’d see on a typical travel tote—you won’t be able to sling them over your shoulder, that’s for sure—they’re longer than the carry handle you’d find on a typical travel daypack.
The soft webbing is rolled on the edges and ever-so-lightly padded, so they’re comfortable to carry for some time, a definite plus since the Via Workpack is designed to function as a tote and a backpack, depending on your needs. Even with their height, we don’t find that they often brush up against your neck or get tangled in your ponytail, although your mileage may vary.
There’s a luggage pass-through on the back of the bag, too, in case you need to slide it over the handle of rolling luggage as you head out for a business trip.
As for the harness system, it features simple yet comfortably-padded shoulder straps. The undersides have a softer, silkier fabric liner, so they feel good against your skin, though there’s no breathable mesh. While you might miss that while commuting by foot through Manhattan in the middle of August, in general, this is a bag designed for business use, not long-term outdoor hikes.
Since it’s going with you to work, it’s nice that Bellroy created adjustable straps with built-in strap keepers. The adjustment is a closed loop, so there’s nothing extra to flop around as you walk. The adjustment takes a little effort (like, a very little bit), but the straps stay where you put them when you find the right fit.
We’re guessing that you won’t be surprised to find that the back panel lacks breathable mesh, too. However, it includes enough padding to blunt the feeling of your laptop pressing up against your back.
Indeed, we find the Via Workpack comfortable between testers of different sizes once you get the straps adjusted to the correct length. The padding stops just short of the top of the bag, giving them plenty of flexibility to go around broader shoulders.
Even when it’s packed with a laptop, tech accessories, and other gear, the bag is comfortable to wear over both shoulders, so it’s a good travel companion for daily use as well as longer travel. While some bags lack structure when you’re not carrying a computer, this back panel feels great whether you carry a device or leave it behind.
The Via Workpack has a professional vibe, although the carry handles feature prominently in the design, so it’s something to be aware of if that’s not a look you care to rock.
Inside The Pack
This 18L bag has enough room for your daily carry, although it might not be big enough to pack for a weekend. Unless you have Barbie-size clothing, in which case, Mattel has probably designed an entire lineup of bags for you!
The bag has two places to pack: the front pocket and the main compartment. We’ll start with the front, which opens with a one-sided zipper protected from the elements with a stiff fabric welt. The zipper is easy to open, although it doesn’t extend all the way to each side of the bag. Because the opening is shallower, it can be hard to shove your hand inside when you have more gear in the main compartment.
You won’t have to dig for your keys since a thin, shiny webbing leash is attached to the top right of the pocket and ends in a triangular gatekeeper clip. However, your keys can obstruct your access to the bottom of this section, which will come into play in a moment.
Before we get to the bottom, there’s a few slip pockets where you can slide small gear. Well, one piece of smaller gear, like a minimalist wallet or headphones, and two pens or styluses. That’s it for organization in this section and on the outside of the bag, so your phone, lip balm, hand lotion, mouse, and more will simply fall to the abyss at the bottom if they lose the toss on getting placed in the one pocket. Small pouches come in handy here, but you’ll still have to scrape your hand down to the bottom to grab them, and depending on the size of your hand, that could mean actually scraping it against the zipper.
We wish we could tell you there was a ton of organization in the main compartment, but alas, it’s minimal. When you open the zipper, from whichever side you prefer, you’ll see that they extend a few inches down each side, overlapping a fabric gusset that provides depth when you need it and compresses a bit when you don’t need as much. The main compartment is slim, so it won’t protrude too much even when you stuff it full, maintaining its sleek design.
Against the front panel, at the top, you’ll find a stretchy zippered mesh pocket, which is the only place for smaller gear. It’s at the top to keep your glasses and other delicate items out of the “crush zone” at the bottom of the bag, and we’ve had no issues keeping our sunglasses safe throughout testing. It’s not overly large, though, so if you use it for glasses, you may not be able to use it for much else. We can fit a phone in here, but then it’s behind two zippers (the main opening and the mesh pocket), so that’s less convenient, especially since you can’t open the main compartment in the middle of the zipper track.
On the right side is a travel water bottle pocket. It’s topped with elastic to hold your hydration in place, though it goes without saying that you’ll want to use a bottle you trust not to leak here since the internal pocket is right next to your laptop and other gear. So carry your coffee in a travel mug in your hand! It’s also a good spot for a travel umbrella when it looks like it might rain, although probably not to store it after the storm.
Speaking of your laptop, a padded sleeve against the back panel can accommodate up to a 16-inch MacBook Pro. It is padded on the bottom, which is, ever so slightly, suspended off the bottom of the bag. It’s not a huge false bottom, but it will provide some additional protection if the bag slips and falls a small distance.
And that’s it for the main compartment! There’s some remaining open space for tech pouches, an extra layer, and some notebooks or folders, so you can carry what you need throughout the day. Its slim size does make it a good daily driver, as long as you recognize the shortcoming of the minimal organization.
While we have no problem using additional pouches, we find it somewhat annoying wriggling a phone from the bottom of the front pocket whenever we want to take a call. Your mileage will vary, of course, and if you’re looking for a slim, sleek bag to carry daily or as a personal item bag for some minimal gear on the plane, the Via Workpack could be a convenient way to do so.
- Like to see carry options
- Very slim and looks sleek
- Interested to see how internal bottle pocket works out
- Enjoying the slim profile, though it doesn’t hold a ton
- Wish there was more organization in front pocket
- Reverse zippers interesting