lululemon New Crew Backpack 22L Review
The lululemon New Crew Backpack is a durable way to carry your daily gear and travel essentials, though it lacks structure and sags when it’s not packed full.
- Convenient access to laptop in a dedicated compartment
- Durable material has a nice shine that repels dirt and pet hair
- Compression straps hold bottles in place
- Overall saggy structure, especially when the bag isn’t full
- Carabiner gate gets out of alignment when used as a zipper pull
- Internal pocket obstructs main compartment gear, slowing down access
1.3 lb (0.6 kg)
16.5 in x 11.4 in x 7.3 in (41.9 x 29 x 18.5 cm)
Nylon, Recycled Polyester, Elastane, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware
Laptop Compartment Size
If you’re wearing or carrying lululemon, there’s a good chance that you’re an active person or at least want to look like one. With dedicated compartments for your laptop, workout gear, and travel water bottle, the New Crew Backpack aims to help you get from home to work and the gym, or carry the gear you need for your next trip. And with the large lululemon logo on the front, you can be sure that everyone knows you’re going to do it in style.
So, how does it work in daily use? Let’s take a look.
The New Crew Backpack’s water-resistant and shiny nylon has no trouble shedding water, dirt, or pet hair, even after a Pack Hacker pooch did his best to fuzz it up during his nap. The material doesn’t have much structure, though, and it can sag if you’re not carrying a ton of gear in the main area. Compression straps on each side, located a couple of inches above the bottle pockets, aim to help dial it in. However, the flexibility is still apparent, especially since the satiny material reflects the light wherever it bends.
We’re testing the Nomad colorway, which is a muted Army green, but you can also get the backpack in Black, Asphalt Grey, Silver Drop, and True Navy at the time of this review. They all feature the large round lululemon logo prominently front and center on the bag, with, surprisingly, few other nods to branding on the straps or zippers.
Instead, you’ll find YKK stamped on the chunky zippers. These work as well as expected, for the most part, although there are times that the pull twists on the head, making it difficult to open or close, and this happens more often than we find on other bags. Most of the zippers have webbing loops threaded through the metal pulls to give you something larger to grab when you’re opening the bag. The only exception is the front pocket zipper, which has a large plastic carabiner through the zipper head instead of a metal pull. It has a larger webbing loop connected to the bottom of the carabiner, with lululemon printed on it.
The carabiner’s inclusion slightly confuses us. If you were to take it off (as you may), you would lose the only way of opening the zipper. Additionally, it often twists and catches as you open and close the pocket, and the gate has popped out of alignment multiple times during our testing period. That raises concerns about the security of the clip and what one would do if the carabiner were to slide off when it’s not entirely connected. It also doesn’t seem to match the rest of the bag’s aesthetics, sticking out obtrusively as it does. Since this isn’t a hiking or climbing backpack, we’re left wondering why a carabiner that seems to serve no purpose is on this bag.
On the other hand, the Duraflex hardware slides work pretty well, staying in place where you have adjusted them. They do take a little effort to tighten or loosen, and you may have to feed the strap through manually, but if that’s the tradeoff for straps that don’t slip, we’ll take it.
A lightly padded carry handle and a luggage pass-through on the back panel give you more options. The former works well to hang the bag on a hook when you return home, although the padding develops a bit of a kink if you do this daily. At the same time, the latter is a nice add-on if you bring the New Crew Backpack as a personal item bag on the plane in conjunction with your rolling carry on luggage.
That same light level of padding spans the back panel, which is adjacent to the laptop compartment. It feels like enough to cushion the blow of the device you’re carrying, though, so we don’t really feel it needs more. There’s no effort made as to breathability, either, with the same recycled nylon spanning the rear. While we’re testing this in chillier weather, we think you may miss breathable mesh in higher temps.
Oh yeah, one more thing—there are no strap keepers, so smaller users and travelers who cinch up the compression straps may be popular with cats, thanks to the dangling straps as you walk through the house.
When you pack this bag full, it has a shape that, combined with the shiny material, looks pretty nice. It’s definitely casual but fits in well for exploring a new city, hitting the gym, and in the airport. If you have less to carry, there’s a definite sag to the top that can be minimized with compression straps but doesn’t entirely disappear.
This seems to be because the more rigid back panel is taller and slightly wider than the opening to the main compartment, which shortens and narrows a bit as you move from front to back. That means the carry handle and the main compartment zipper are definitely on the front of the bag instead of the top, as they would be with a more even bag.
However, it is comfortable to carry throughout the day, whether to dash into the office or for a bit longer. While we wouldn’t want to take this on a summer hike due to the lack of breathability, we don’t mind short walks to the library or farmer’s market.
Inside The Pack
We’ve already hinted at this in our talk about the zippers, back panel, and compression straps, but there are three places to tuck gear outside the main compartment.
To start, we have that interesting-to-open front pocket. Questionable carabiner aside, it’s a simple dump pocket encompassing the bottom third of the bag’s front. Toss in AirPods, a tiny toiletry bag, a minimalist wallet, travel size bottles, and any other gear—or snacks—you want to get while on the go. It’s not super deep and rather shallow, but it still works pretty well. The zipper is located right at the top of the pocket, though, so you want to make sure your gear is shorter than that so you don’t run into it as you try to shut it.
Both sides have water bottle pockets that also work well for travel umbrellas, a tiny tripod, or any other tallish and skinnier gear you want to slip inside. Since the compression straps are situated just above the pockets, they can hold your gear in place, and they do a great job of this with our 21-ounce Standard Mouth Hydro Flask. Of course, this won’t work if you’ve got the compression straps working as intended to cinch the bag, but in that case, you can slide the bottle over them, keeping in mind that it may slide out if the bag falls over or gets upended. There’s a bit of stretchy material on the back of the pocket to provide flexibility in the bottle size you can bring.
Finally, a zipper behind the carry handle leads to a laptop compartment. It can hold up to a 15-inch computer, but there’s no other organization inside, so you’ll want to use a separate tech kit or pockets in the main compartment for the rest of your accessories. We like the ability to put away and take out our computer without disturbing the rest of our gear, though, especially when the bag is lying under the seat in front of you on the plane.
Speaking of the main compartment, let’s head inside.
It opens with a double-sided squared-off horseshoe-shaped zipper. That allows the front panel to fold down two-thirds of the way, giving you access to most of the main compartment. The liner is the same color and material as the rest of the bag, and when you glance inside, you’ll see two sizable square slip pockets along the back panel. If you’re traveling, this is a good place for your passport or travel wallet after passing through security and customs, and we think it’s the best place to stash smaller gear in the main compartment without using additional pouches.
There’s another pocket on the front panel, but it’s quite large and floppy, so it’s better suited to larger gear. We toss tissues, sunglasses, and gloves inside, but you should be aware that doing so may block your view of the rest of the area. That’s because this pocket is very loose, and your gear can make it bulge forward, sometimes even spilling out due to the flexible nature of the pocket and the outside of the bag. Note to self: don’t put anything breakable here.
Even with the three pockets full, there’s plenty of room left for a packable travel jacket, a few packing cubes, a travel journal or other books, and anything else you need/want/desire. You don’t even have to opt for the World’s Smallest Uno if you’re going to pack a game; you can fit a standard-size deck, plus a picnic blanket to play it on, without any trouble.
That’s why, despite its floppiness, we still want to be part of the New Crew carrying this lululemon backpack. It transitions from everyday use to your next adventure, wherever life takes you.
- Interesting plastic carabiner on front zipper
- Fairly shiny material
- Organization seems easy to use
- Front panel flops forward easily when unzipped, spilling gear in pocket
- Lacks breathable mesh for carrying in warmer weather
- Material repels pet hair