Flowfold Commuter Center Zip Backpack Review
The Flowfold Commuter Center Zip Backpack is a durable and water-resistant backpack with enough space for both work essentials and travel gear.
- Center access zipper makes loading gear easy
- Bag stands up on its own for convenient packing
- Shoulder straps are padded but not bulky
- Laptop sleeve struggles to fit larger laptops
- Gear can get lost in cavernous main compartment
- No designated water bottle sleeve
14 oz (396.9 g)
16 in x 12.5 in x 5.5 in (40.6 x 31.8 x 14 cm)
ECOPAK, YKK Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
The Flowfold Commuter Center Zip backpack is convenient for use during our daily commute as well as during airline travel. The Flowfold company was born when founder Charles Friedman was working at a sail loft and took leftover sail material to make Flowfold’s first wallet. Since then, the company has expanded to packs, utility pouches, laptop cases, and other gear all made in the USA.
The Flowfold Commuter Center Zip backpack is made of durable and water-resistant EcoPak fabric that stands up to everyday use. We love the unique center zip that opens the pack up wide as well as the padded back pocket for tech storage. This pack works great for the daily commuter as well as the business traveler.
The Flowfold Commuter Center Zip backpack is made of EcoPak or canvas fabric, depending on which color you purchase. We have the Olive/Brick Red colorway on hand, which is made with the EcoPak fabric that’s durable, water-resistant, and made with 100% recycled polyester from plastic bottles, which we love. It’s also super easy to wipe clean if you happen to spill your coffee on it while getting work done at your favorite cafe. At the time of this review, the other two colors made with the EcoPak material are Heather Grey and Jet Black, and the canvas material is available in a color called “Moonstone”, which is an off-white with teal blue and black accents.
The lower section of the front of the pack has a zippered pouch that opens horizontally all the way across the front of the pack and is about 4 inches deep. Since this pack doesn’t have a water bottle sleeve, we find ourselves using this section to store our 18oz water bottle and a couple of small snacks. We also used this pouch as a spot to quickly slide in business cards we received during networking at a conference. Outside of these uses, this pouch could also be used to store other items like charging cables, keys, or other quick grab gear that you would like easy access to. We do not suggest putting important travel documents in this section, as it faces out when the backpack is worn with both shoulder straps and could easily be pickpocketed.
The entire back panel of the backpack opens with a vertical zipper on the left side. This is a thin compartment made to store a laptop, and while we found an older 15” Macbook is a bit too big, a smaller laptop or tablet fits. If you don’t use this space for your tech, it would be a good place for travel documents as it provides easy access yet is more secure due to the pouch being up against your back.
One of our favorite features of this pouch is the padding. Not only does it protect your tech, but it also creates a great frame for the bag, allowing the backpack to stand up on its own making loading and unloading of the main compartment a breeze. In one instance during our testing, we knocked this bag over onto the floor and it held its rigidity enough to stand straight up when it landed.
A unique feature of this pouch is the opening to the main compartment. The bag unfolds open at the top with a 10 inch zipper that runs down front of the pack. We love how this opens the main compartment wide and makes for easy loading and unloading. Fully opening this zipper also makes it easy to see inside the pack for quick gear retrieval. When it’s all loaded up, the backpack closes by by zipping up the front zipper, folding over the top flap, and securing it with the buckles on the left and right sides of the pack. These buckles can be loosened or cinched down depending on how stuffed the pack is, but we don’t find ourselves having to adjust them often.
One of our favorite features of this front zipper is how it is easy to pull the zipper down and drop small items in without having to fully unclip and unfold the top of the pack. We found this especially useful at the airport, when after showing the TSA agent our ID we were able to quickly drop our wallet and other items into the bag while emptying our pockets before going through the security scanners.
This pack has two shoulder straps as well as a top carry handle. We find this pack to be a comfortable carry due to the relatively sturdy structure of the back panel and shoulder straps that are nicely padded, but not overly bulky. One thing to note is this pack does not have a waist belt or sternum strap. We don’t find ourselves missing them, but you may if you have a long commute or heavy gear. We use the top carry handle for a quick grab as we take the backpack in and out of the car, and it’s also be useful if you need to take the backpack off while riding on a crowded subway or bus.
Inside The Pack
The main compartment of this pack is a large cavernous space that is divided by a mesh pouch that goes all the way to the bottom of the pack. If your laptop does not fit in the designated laptop sleeve or you’re bringing extra tech, you can use this area to store a laptop or tablet. The mesh pouch does not have a false bottom, though we feel there’s enough protection provided by the back padding of the pack and didn’t use an additional laptop sleeve. That said, just don’t set the bag down too hard if you’re carrying an uncovered device.
During our daily commute, we find the pack large enough to hold our work gear as well as athletic clothes and personal hygiene items for a visit to the gym. Since the main compartment is a mostly large open space, we find it easier to have our charging cords in a separate tech case and smaller gym items like soap and shampoo in their own carry case. This makes it easier to find all our gear instead of digging for that one charging cord or wayward travel soap bottle that always seems to hide at the bottom of the bag.
If you choose to use this as an overnight bag, we suggest utilizing packing cubes in order to keep gear sorted. Without them, clothing and other items easily get unorganized and pile up on top of each other inside the pack. We found the Flowfold Utility Pouches helpful with organization of smaller items, which is great if you’re a fan of using gear from the same brand, and we recommend opting for larger packing cubes to organize clothing as well.
When traveling on an airline, the Flowfold Commuter Center Zip Backpack is convenient for use as a personal item. It’s large enough to fit a tablet and notebook for work as well as a thin sweatshirt, charging cables, medicine, and water bottle, all while easily sliding under the seat in front of us during the flight. The tall and skinny design of the pack makes it easy to retrieve items during a flight, even in the tight space between seats in economy class.
Overall, we found the Flowfold Commuter Center Zip Backpack a joy to use. With the unique front zipper creating easy access and durable material, this backpack is fit for a range of applications from daily commuter bag to airline travel companion.
- Interested to see if it’s tedious to frequently access the main compartment
- Digging the durable, lightweight material
- Straps seem pretty minimal, though not uncomfortable
- Material is easy to clean in case of spills
- Harness system is beefy enough to handle a weekend’s worth of gear, but may not be enough if you tend to pack heavy items
- Works great as a personal item